Costco will sell a designer's line of wedding dresses at in-store 'trunk shows' around the United States.
By Christina Cheddar Berk, CNBC.com
Call it Costcouture.
For several years, Costco has been promoting itself as way to for brides and grooms to create a memorable wedding day without busting the bank. The warehouse club store sells everything from engagement rings to invitations and flowers to the honeymoon trip.
But this year, the retailer is taking a bigger step into the bridal business by saying "yes" to the dress.
Costco has struck a partnership with Los Angeles designer Kirstie Kelly to sell a line of wedding dresses at in-store trunk shows. The first of these events will take place in California, but the trunk shows will tour to other Western states such as Colorado, Arizona, Washington and Oregon, as the year progresses, according to Costco spokeswoman Kara Hawker.
Hawker said it is "hard to quantify" the exact size of Costco's bridal business, but it has been growing mostly through the retailer's Web site, where couples can select invitations and flowers.
The retailer also featured its bridal offerings in its latest edition of "The Costco Connection," a magazine that gets sent to its membership.
For the past two years, the bridal industry has been hurt by the downturn in the economy. However, a recent survey by media company The Knot found that fewer couples were saying the economy was forcing them to scale back their wedding budget.
Still, the average couple in the US will spend nearly $27,000 on their wedding day, the Knot said. That's a big expense, especially for couples who are increasingly footing the bill themselves.
No matter what the state of the economy is, couples look for places to save, Hawker said.
Kelly's Signature Collection bridal gowns do offer brides considerable savings compared with her typical bridal collections. The six designs offered in the Costco line range in price from $699 to $1,399, compared with $2,000 to $7,000 Kelly's dresses usually cost.
According to the Knot, most brides spend about $1,099 on their gowns.
Oh, and never fear, brides trying on gowns won't have to stare at packs of toilet paper and laundry detergent while they try on dresses. Costco will section off part of the store to build a temporary bridal boutique.
And, in case you're wondering, nationwide there is a wide range in the size of wedding budgets. The Knot found the most expensive place to get hitched was New York City, where a wedding can cost $70,730 on average. The least expensive area is Utah, with an average budget of $13,214.
Nationwide, about 12 percent of brides spend more than $40,000 on their big day.
The wedding budgets from the Knot's don't include the cost of an engagement ring or a honeymoon, and were based on the responses of brides who were married last year and had memberships at the The Knot.com or WeddingChannel.com.