NEW YORK (
) -- Wedding bells can be heard around the world, as Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot Friday in what will surely be remembered as the ceremony of the century.
But not everyone, well almost no one, can actually afford a Royal Wedding.
While some retailers are taking advantage of the media frenzy with quick gimmicks, like
Royal Wedding phone, there are others who offer bridal collections that can actually serve to grow the bottom line.
Wedding sales grew about 23% in 2010 to $50 billion, according to estimates from TheWeddingReport.com. But this is still off 20% from the peak of $62.8 billion in 2007.
The average wedding cost about $24,641 last year compared with $19,581 in the year prior. This average is 14% below 2007's peak of $28,732.
It's clear couples are hesitant to go back to the same splurges they made on weddings pre-recession, and retailers are now delivering cost-conscious ways for couples to host their own fairytale wedding.
was really the pioneer of this trend, as one of the first mainstream retailers to embrace the wedding business, successfully introducing gowns and bridal party attire in 2004, before the economic downturn. The collections were originally solely sold online, but this summer the privately-held retailer, which was recently bought out by TPG and Leonard Green, opened its first bridal boutique in New York.
Here's a look at other retailers that are offering affordable options for the masses.
99 Cents Only Stores
In light of the Royal Wedding,
99 Cents Only Stores
( NDN)announced this week that it is launching a bridal registry "for couples who want to feel like kings and queens and save royally on their wedding day."
The dollar store boasts more than 999 wedding-related items to choose from, including housewarming gifts and table décor.
In 2009, 99 Cents Only Stores ran a promotion marrying nine couples on 09-09-09 in the aisles of its store.
Next to massive rolls of paper towels and bulk packages of tomato sauce at
, you can also purchase your wedding dress.
Coscto began working in collaboration with bridal designer Kirstie Kelly to sell six exclusive wedding dresses for about 40% off their typical retail price.The gowns are sold at trunk shows at Costco warehouses around the country, and range in price from $700 to $1,400 in sizes 2 to 24.
The company also made headlines in April when it began selling its most expensive item yet, a $1 million diamond engagement ring. The 6.77 carat rock was appraised at $1.6 billion, making Costco's offer a deal.
Aside from wedding dresses and jewelry, Costco is attempting to become a one-stop shop for all wedding needs, selling floral centerpieces, invitations, honeymoon packages and offering catering packages.
launched its own bridal collection in February.
The line, Bhldn (pronounced Beholden), features vintage-inspired wedding gowns in the range of $1,000 to $4,000, as well as special occasion dresses for $200 to $600. Bhldn also sells veils, shoes and other bridal accessories.
The goal with Bhldn is to fill a void for untraditional, edgy weddings, as the line boasts its shorter dresses, bold colors, and absence of pure white dresses.
Urban Outfitters is hoping Bhldn will be a one-stop shop for brides, with cake pedestals, place cards and tabletops being offered in May. Invitations will be introduced next year.
Currently, you can only purchase from Bhldn online, and Urban Outfitters plans to launch it in a few stores in 2012.
quietly launched its own bridal collection in November 2010.
The high-end department store opened its first salon in Chicago, followed by 14 additional locations nationwide. Gowns and bridesmaid dresses range from $138 to $2,000. Designers include Monique Lhuillier, Notte by Marchesa, Kate Spade, Nicole Miller, Milly, Trina Turk and BCBGMAXAZRIA.
During its original pilot test of its Wedding Suite in March 2010, Nordstrom saw a 30% boost to new customers visiting the nine locations.
This came as other department stores shuttered their bridal salons.
exited the wedding gown business in 2009, while
also shut down most of its salons.
White House Black Market chain unveiled Vow last year, a signature line of bridal and bridesmaid dresses.
The dresses, which range from $348 to $698, are available online or at the company's Chicago-based boutique. The collection, which launched in Spring 2010, also includes shoes and accessories.
Chico's has put samples in a full-range of sizes into select stores for brides to try. They can then order the dress from the company's Web site.
--Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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