READING — Meredith Burke, 23, of Blue Ash made shopping for a wedding dress a splendid affair – part big family outing, part pre-nuptial party.
“I had two of my bridesmaids, my sister, my cousin, my aunt, my mom and my future mother-in-law,” she says. “We spent the whole weekend shopping for dresses.”
Burke was particularly excited about newly opened Splendid Bridal. The store offered her and her group an experience straight out of TV’s “Say Yes to the Dress” – the TLC program that features real brides and their families shopping at Manhattan’s upscale bridal boutique Kleinfeld.
“I wanted to feel pampered and for someone to help guide me,” Burke says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”
The owners of Splendid Bridal, Mark and Donna Snyder and Ed and Wanda Nime, say that Burke’s shopping expectations are typical. Today’s brides want friends and family to help in the hunt. They want privacy and one-on-one attention at the store. And they want plenty of room, with upscale plush furnishings, for everyone to join in the gown reviews.
Happily, Mark Snyder wanted the same thing. He had owned a bridal store in Dayton for many years, and envisioned a bridal store concept here that could rival the now-famous Kleinfeld.
“We knew there was nothing like this concept in the Cincinnati area,” says Snyder, who declines to talk about sales figures or the number of gowns his stores sell. “We knew we had something special to offer.”
The Reading Splendid Bridal is the second location for the owners. A Florence, Ky., store has been open a year. Both stores feature dresses by popular brand names, ranging in price from $700 to $1,800, the most common purchase points for gowns, Snyder says.
The stores stock dresses in a variety of sizes for brides to try on. Once purchased, the bride orders her dress specially made to fit her. No off-the-rack gowns are available. Fitting rooms are private and spacious, and oversized mirrors mounted on stage platforms offer ample views of the gowns.
Ed Nime owns the historic building where the store is located at the corner of Reading Road and Benson Avenue. He and his wife became partners in Splendid Bridal after being inspired by the Snyders’ bridal shopping concept.
“I saw their vision and passion, and I saw that this was right for our times,” says Ed Nime, who has a background in financial management with Deloitte. He also has acted as a consultant to numerous bridal businesses in Reading, including Paris, one of the nation’s leading bridal accessories companies. It started in a storefront in Nime’s building more than 20 years ago.
Industry veterans say TV shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” have transformed the bridal gown business.
“It has absolutely changed everything,” says Fred Caldwell, owner of Bridalrama, a bridal show scheduled at the Duke Energy Convention Center on Feb. 18 and 19, at the height of bridal shopping season.
“It has created a new image for the bride when she imagines shopping for a gown. She wants luxury, personal attention, to feel special, and Mark and Donna are masters at that.”
Says Snyder: “We’re the closest thing to Kleinfeld’s you’re going to find between here and New York City.”
The Reading Bridal District
Proclaimed the largest bridal district in North America, the roughly half-mile stretch of Benson Avenue between Reading Road and Interstate 75 includes at least 25 bridal businesses from gown boutiques to photographers to wedding cake and catering suppliers. For more information, go to www.reading- bridaldistrict.com.
Written by: Val Prevish
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