Sunday, December 09, 2001

Sept. 11 attacks extend wedding shopping season




By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Enquirer in February spotlighted the nationally known “Bridal Row” in Reading, where brides come to shop for and plan their nuptials. Jim Stewart, Reading's Chamber of Commerce president, was delighted with the pre-spring traffic.

        “If you look around on Benson, especially at this time of year,” he said in February, “the street is swarming with mothers and daughters, and it makes the area a really special place.”

        The events of Sept. 11 changed many places, including Reading's Benson Street. Recent wire stories indicate that not only is patriotism “in” now, but so is getting hitched. Engagement ring sales are up, and the online wedding site theknot.com has reported a rise in bridal registries. Couples who had wedding dates set as late as 2004 are now moving them to next year.

        Reading merchants, too, are noticing an atypical surge to the altar during what's normally a quiet season.

        Patricia Lang, owner of Patricia's Weddings and Custom Cakes Unlimited, reports more business this year than last fall. It's not as crazy as the spring wedding season, but “I can say there has been an increase,” she says. A typical weekend will see eight to 10 wedding cakes escorted from Patricia's store.

        Another store experiencing the bridal bump is Paris Hats and Veils. Debra Moreland, founder of the internationally known millinery, is seeing the effects across the country as well as in Greater Cincinnati.

        “We're seeing a lot more lookers,” Ms. Moreland says. “Right now is typically our slow time, but the tidal wave of customers is going to come here later, after the dress is picked out. Our sales numbers are not recorded yet, but we know there are a lot of people looking,” including a big increase in post-Sept. 11 rush orders for veils for Christmas and early spring weddings.

        “I think the tragedy may have pushed people into feelings of commitment and introspection,” says Ms. Moreland, “finding out what's important and keeping that someone special in their life.”

        “Regardless of what happens in the world, girls are going to get married,” says Linda Stallings, founder of Aunt Linda's Weddings and Events in Madeira and wedding consultant for theknot.com.

        “I think the rush to be married may be based on the fear they may not get to be with that person,” Ms. Stallings says. “They still need to have the ceremony because family is starting to mean more to them. I've seen a big jump in the number of engagements, too. Five of my (employees) are engaged,” she says.

       



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