Is it just us, or did the wedding industry—specifically the wedding fashion industry—kick into high gear this year? A news scan from this week alone shows Jason Wu's recently-launched bridal collection with Net-a-Porter, Rent the Runway's forthcoming lineup of wedding dresses early next year, and next month's launch of The Aisle New York, an e-commerce site offering gowns by fairy-tale designers Oscar de la Renta, Jenny Packham, Marchesa, and more.
While these retail developments definitely indicate a growing bridal market in general, they also point to one that's more increasingly reliant on the web. Net-a-Porter's buying director Holli Rogers says the the e-tailer's bridal boutique fulfills the needs of "busy brides to be" and also "the more spontaneous among us who don't have time for custom made" gowns.
Gilt Groupe took the bridal path too earlier this fall, with the launch of Gilt Weddings, a four-day event retailing everything from gowns to honeymoon travel packages and housewares, while designers expanded their usual lines to make way for brides-to-be as well. Judith Leiber will be launching a bridal collection of bejeweled handbags in February, and hip, downtown footwear label Loeffler Randall's Spring 2011 offerings will include several shoe styles in wedding whites.
While it's impossible to pin down a reason behind this supposed wedding boom, there is some truth to our speculation. According to TheWeddingReport.com, average wedding costs climbed 21.9 percent from just a year ago, with 45 different areas of goods and services seeing gains in spending.
It's true that more women are likely to get married—perhaps many times, even—than attend a Met Ball or a red carpet event in their lifetime, which might explain the "go big or go home" mentality, but why now? We asked Marchesa's head designer, Georgina Chapman, who conjures up dream dresses for both types of affairs what she thought of these large-scale productions. "A wedding is a day that most girls dream of. It should be a fantasy, "she said. "There shouldn't be any boundaries. It's your day. If you want to go for it, go for it." On whether or not she agreed there was a particular craze for over-the-top weddings going on of late, Chapman laughed. "I hope so!" she said.