Something Bargain: Bridal Gown Now Offered at Costco

two bridal figures for cake - costco bridalNow you can buy a wedding dress at Costco. The warehouse club is opening pop-up bridal shops at select stores, hoping to cash in on the booming bridal business.

The chain will roll out a collection of dresses from designer Kirstie Kelly. The Signature Collection is comprised of six different styles in sizes 2-24, ranging in price from $650-$1,400. And no, you won't have to buy them in bulk or try them on next to the frozen foods or giant packages of toilet paper. The stores will erect temporary, enclosed salons with private changing rooms and lounge areas in select stores, beginning in Southern California.

Kelly is a self-professed celebrity designer. Another, well-known designer, Vera Wang, also announced a line of inexpensive dresses. White by Vera Wang is sold exclusively through David's Bridal and has 12 styles in the exact same price range as Costco's Kelly: $600-$1,400.I've not been a bride, nor do I follow celebrity weddings, but I have been a bridesmaid a few times and know just how expensive and all-consuming pulling off a wedding can be. Costco's move is part of a bigger trend of mainstream retailers trying to get into the bridal business.

J.Crew boasts bridal boutiques and sells everything from gowns to accessories, honeymoon attire, and will even outfit the groom and his men. Nordstrom department stores now operates bridal salons within 14 of its stores and White House/Black Market (part of Chico's) now sells bridal gowns for as low as $400.

There's a lot at stake: more than $2 billion was spent on weddings last year in the U.S. and bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses can cost many thousands of dollars. And the national obsession with all things wedding-related is reaching a fever pitch with the arrival of spring and the upcoming royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. TV shows like "Bridezillas" showcase women behaving badly in the quest for a perfect weddings and "Bridalplasty" actually forces brides to compete in challenges to win plastic surgery, thus achieving their perfect face and body in time for the big day.

Judgment aside -- and there's a lot to criticize -- retail initiatives such as Costco's and David's could go a long way toward making your big day a lot less painful to the pocketbook.
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