Thursday, February 08, 2001

Reading wedding planner

Three-block area home to 23 businesses tied to tying the knot

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        As the spring wedding season approaches, Benson Street in Reading — the answer to every time-pressed bride's prayers — is abuzz.

[photo] Anne Means of Chicago waits while an associate at Paris Hats and Veils picks one for her to try on.
(Craig Ruttle photos)
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        What's distinctive about this business district is its specialty and proximity. Within three blocks, there are more than 20 stores devoted to planning and celebrating weddings. From the dress to dessert, the district offers a one-stop nuptial mall. (There's even a church around the corner on Jefferson, St. John United Church of Christ.)

        Each vendor in this bridal Mecca feels inspired to assist in this special day.

        “I make cakes because I like to see people happy,” says Patricia Lang, owner of Patricia's Weddings and Custom Cakes Unlimited. Ms. Lang has been baking multilayered, multiflavored cakes for nine years and has delivered her cakes as far away as Augusta, Ga.

[photo] At European Bridal, Melinda Isch of Dallas is fitted for her gown while her mother (left) takes photos.
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        “Every woman should wear a crown at least once in her life,” says Elisabeth Bova of Paris, the internationally known milliner. Founded by Debra Moreland, Paris creates elaborate veils and hair accessories for brides.

        Bridal and Formal, which has 3,000 styles available for order and up to 900 off-the-rack gowns, opened in 1981, starting the Benson Street phenomenon, says Jim Stewart, Reading Chamber of Commerce president. Neighbor and rival Bridal Wearhouse and others quickly followed.

        Reading the out-of-state license plates in the district's free parking lots tells how well-known the area has become. Drop in one of the wedding gown shops on any given day and find brides from Boston to Dallas looking for that perfect dress.

[photo] Benson Street in Reading is a mecca for brides.
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        “If you look around at other communities like Reading, they have blocks of empty stores, Mr. Stewart says. “If it was not for the stores here on Benson, we'd look like those other communities.

        “If you look around on Benson, especially at this time of year, the street is swarming with mothers and daughters, and it makes the area a really special place. I've lived in Reading all my life, and I'm proud of the way it's developed.”


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