Lexi Hubenak says she was never really a crier. She didn’t believe in getting emotional over a piece of clothing and used to think people who did were overdramatic. Maybe even a little crazy.
Until she found her wedding dress.
When Hubenak caught a glimpse of herself in the ivory, fit and flare gown with a low back and bohemian lace detailing, the stay-at-home mom from Iowa burst into tears and became one of the very people she used to laugh at.
Wedding attire in the United States comes with many traditions and superstitions. For example, brides often wear something borrowed, something new, something old, and something blue for good luck, and the groom isn’t supposed to see the bride in her dress before the wedding.
Finding the ideal wedding dress is often an emotional process, according to the executive director of From This Day Forward, Heather Krempel.
“Every bride wants their dress to make them look perfect,” Krempel says. “But the definition of ‘perfect’ is very biased and varies for each person.”
Krempel runs From This Day Forward, a nonprofit organization located in Fort Wayne that assists individuals in planning a special event with limited resources. The organization also has a boutique that offers new and gently used gowns and formal wear.
“Our organization works hard to help individuals celebrate their special moments, but also works to make sure the focus is ultimately on building a healthy relationship, which is the foundation for a stronger and more stable family,” Krempel says. “We would much rather let our gowns go to good homes if it means our clients don’t have to get another job or go further into debt to be able to afford it.”
According to Wedding Stats, planning a wedding in 2021 comes with a price. The average U.S wedding today will cost anywhere from $29,000 to $31,000. The average cost of a wedding gown this year is just over $1,200.
For Hubenak, it took her a few tries to find her perfect dress. Because she was getting married in five short months, she felt rushed into buying her first dress.
When COVID-19 caused Hubenak to postpone her wedding, she decided it was the perfect opportunity to search for a new dress. But her second experience didn’t work out either. She drove five hours away, only for her dream dress to no longer be available.
The third time truly was the charm in Hubenak’s case.
“It was the greatest experience,” she says. “Prior to my appointment, they basically did a phone type interview to ask what styles I liked and didn’t like, what type of theme my wedding was and to share with them my vision. They, also, had me email pics of styles and dresses I liked.”
Hubenak then received one-on-one time with her consultant and tried on eight dresses.
“They never let me feel overwhelmed. I ended up picking the last dress I tried on and it was amazing,” she says.
According to Statista, the global market for wedding dresses has increased significantly in the last few years, from $32.5 billion in 2017 to approximately $40.9 billion in 2021.
Krempel thinks buying a wedding dress is a carefully thought-out process.
“There are a lot of factors that go into the decision. Price is a big one,” Krempel says. “Also, is there enough time for alterations? Does it match my theme? Does it fit with the season?”
She thinks the concept of the commitment that a soon-to-be bride or groom will make to one another can cause an emotional response.
“It’s pledging yourself to your spouse for the rest of your life,” Krempel says.”Finding the dress that you will be wearing during this monumental moment is incredibly special.”
Hubenak will slip into her dream dress and walk down this aisle surrounded by family at an outdoor ceremony this September.
And she is just one of the many brides that will say “I do” in 2021. A study by The Knot found that nearly 47% of couples who originally planned to get married in 2020 postponed their weddings because of COVID-19 restrictions. The Knot 2020 Real Weddings Study estimates that 2021 will be one of the busiest years for weddings as a result of the return of in-person ceremonies.
When it comes to shopping for the dress, Hubenak recommends staying true to yourself.
“Just do things the way you dream of doing them, because everybody’s going to have an opinion,” she says.