The average wedding in the U.S. now costs around $32,000, according to wedding site TheKnot.com. While that kind of fairytale wedding would be great, most of us are on a more modest budget.
The most expensive part of the wedding is the reception venue, followed by the ring. For the average bride, a dress will cost around $1,500. But considering you only wear it once, why pay that much? A new trend in wedding attire here in Yakima allows you to get hitched in style, without breaking the bank.
Paul Napolitano of Lin-Paul’s Bridal & Tuxedo calls them “Vintage Gowns.” And no, they are NOT used. A light bulb went on for him, as he surveyed the dresses in the store’s back room a few years ago. He says “We had back stock, new, never worn, just discontinued stock, why not bring them out?”
Now, he has scores of wedding gowns on display, for only $99. They’re from discontinued lines — or they’re last year’s models; but they are gorgeous, with beautiful designs, fabric and detailing. You’d never know they’re not fresh from the factory.
He says what Yakima brides want in a dress has changed over the past few years. “Obviously the economy today isn’t what it was several years ago, but the second reason is the venues. We live in a valley that has beautiful vineyards and golf courses and everybody wants to get married outside.”
And if you’re getting married outside, a big poufy dress with a long train is the last thing you want when you’re traipsing across the grass. “A simpler dress fits more,” he says. “More of the girls are spending around $500 when they’re picking out new styles and they want a simpler dress, and quite a few of our vintage dresses are more simple.” He’s seeing lots of backyard weddings, where people fix up their yard, which is an investment they’ll get a return on. And if they buy a less expensive dress, they’ll have more money for things like landscaping.
Even dress designers are jumping on the vintage trend. Alfred angelo now has a line called “Modern Vintage.”
Napolitano is also noticing more brides who want a dress they can re-purpose and wear as a cocktail or party dress. His daughter Jackie Crawford, who is the women’s manager at Lin-Paul’s, says “If the grandma sews or family, or they know an alteration lady in town who can do modifications, and because (the dresses) are so reasonable, they can afford to do those modifications.”
There’s also a move toward more practicality for grooms, Paul adds. “We’re seeing a trend towards suits rather than tuxes. Purchase rather than rental, because it’s something you can use again. You’ve got a gray suit, you can wear that again. I can rent it, or I can buy it for almost the same price.”
He says Lin-Paul’s average tux rental is around $100, and the competition’s prices can be $150 or higher. But if you spend another $150 — you can get a beautiful suit that will last you for years, instead of something you wear for just one day.
His son Zach Napolitano modeled a gray wool-blend suit, made by Vinci, that goes for just $299. It fit him like a dream. He says the “Slim fit” suit is super popular right now. “That’s what everybody’s going for, the pants with the slim leg, and more tailored jacket.”
The whole family smiled when they talked about the groom’s role in all this. Paul says usually, the bride and groom come in together to pick his tux or suit, so she can keep an eye on things. Paul grins. “Once in a while the groom will venture in on his own, but he’s got the instructions with him.” Often the only thing the groom gets to pick on his own — are his socks and shoes.
Paul, Jackie, Zach and his brother Vincent all work in the store, which has been run by their family for 50 years. Paul’s wife Debbie also pitches in. They say their favorite part of the business is seeing the joy they help bring — on one of the most important days in a couple’s lives. It means the world to the Napolitano family when they hear back from customers after the wedding is over.
“All we see is your nervous faces beforehand, and we don’t get a report. But when mom comes back, or dad, you get to hear how it went and how it looked.” Sometimes couples will link wedding photos to Lin-Paul’s Facebook page, and Paul says “Seeing the happy group, looking sharp — That’s why I do this.”