Here at Catalyst, we are always on the look out for inclusive wedding wear and so we were thrilled to hear that our friends at Urban Set Bride has created a new collection of gowns available only at their boutique in Richmond, Virginia. Christine Haines Greenberg and Jennifer Haines have been bringing plus size and inclusive wedding attire to the Central Virginia area for the last five years, and we were lucky enough to sit down with Christine and hear more about the new collection.
What inspired you to create your own line of wedding gown?
We proudly carry six bridal designers, but there are always fabrics, silhouettes, and styles we feel like we are missing. We wanted some control over the design, but we don't have the artistic eye or time to create a new line from paper to runway. We identify more as stylists than designers. Jennifer, Hunter, and I have a keen eye for fashion, especially bridal, but the idea of creating a gown design from scratch was daunting.
We partnered with a design house in New Jersey who paired us with an independent designer who already has a sketchbook of looks for us to work with. We trusted his vision and kept things very clean and simple. That's what we were missing: a small collection of affordable gowns that can be dressed up or down to match the person wearing it.
What message do you want to send with these new wedding gown designs?
Much like the collection itself, we wanted to incorporate a boho vibe without letting trend take control. The most important thing is to see two relatable women in pretty gowns and let that be the focus. Photographer Shawnee Custalow is already our dear friend, but her ability to capture light and mood is incomparable. Her studio was a perfect backdrop and she was warm, inviting, and ready to knock this out of the park for us.
How do these new dress designs compliment the other collections you offer at Urban Set Bride?
A large part of our success as a boutique (small, but mighty) is the diversity of our collection. We really value the ability of our larger designers to handle detailed beadwork, stunning imported laces, huge skirts with billowing layers of english net, and dramatic trains. We are so excited to have Audrey Joyce to complete our story, we will never expand it past a capsule. Every designer plays a part in our little ecosystem, it's all about balance to accommodate as many clients as we can.
Describe the design process for creating these new wedding looks.
Larger bridal houses employ independent designers that work with boutiques to create capsule collections to fill the voids they find in their shops. The caveat is, once the design is made, there are no customizations allowed. We've found this allows the designer to keep our cost (and in turn, our customers’ cost) lower because the production of the gown is simplified.
This option seemed to be the best of both worlds for us. It allowed our team to find modern, chic, well-made gown options for our clients at an attainable price point while removing the pressure of designing gowns from scratch. We've kept the lines and details of the gowns very simple, so we can guide our clients through personalizing their bridal look once the gown arrives in the shop.
Can we expect to see this collection grow more in the future?
We are going to grow this very slowly. We've been in business for five years now and we take on new projects annually, so we are going to see how the collection performs, get feedback from our clients and make a slow and steady move forward. Not quite as sexy or exciting, but Beyoncé wasn't built in a day.
Ready to see all the new looks on offer at Urban Set Bride!? Here are the six new wedding gowns you can find exclusively at their boutique.
“Kelli” is a sweetheart neckline crepe gown with optional spaghetti straps. Crepe has been huge in our shop, but finding it at a good price point has been tough. This gown hugs every curve with plenty of stretch to wiggle around on the dance floor with ease. We have a bride who will be pairing it with a badass tulle bridal cape with beaded shoulders and a giant beaded belt. We can't wait!
"Meghan" is the only gown not named after a local. We had to show love to our favorite duchess! It's also made of a crepe material with a super flattering off the shoulder neckline and body hugging silhouette. Classic, elegant and really sexy.
"Angela," also in crepe (do you see a pattern here), is a drop waist ballgown with pockets and buttons cascading down the back. It's tough to find a classic ballgown that isn't made of satin or silk. Those fabrics, while stunning, can feel a little too stuffy for people. The flat crepe material looks elegant but it drapes beautifully and can still translate as casual on the right client. We loved the ability to dress up or dress down all of these gowns.
The “Kendra” Wedding Dress
We are all really picky about lace quality and it can be a challenge to find lace that doesn't feel cheap and/or look like a tablecloth.
"Kendra" has a keyhole back and Alençon lace, and is a nice way to dip your toe into the boho trend without going to wild with it.
The “Brittanny” Wedding Dress
"Brittanny" has a slim, flowy a-line skirt of chiffon and a structured top. We wanted something that would work for a city hall wedding to a casual backyard fête. So many of our clients opt for comfort and simplicity and that can be hard to find with the larger design houses.
The “Bethany” Wedding Dress
"Bethany" also has Alençon lace and has a slit in the front, as we wanted to have a little fun with the elements of the gowns but stay true to an elegant, simple vibe.
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Christine met her very first bride in 2011 when she leased her an apartment in Richmond. The bride needed a temporary home because her fiance was in a medically-induced coma awaiting a heart transplant. So, she uprooted her life in Chicago to move to Richmond and be near her loved one. Christine bonded with her immediately as she had just lost her fiance the month before to brain cancer.
A bond was created and planning a wedding was a good distraction for both of them. A year later, the groom had a new heart and had made a full recovery, ready to greet his new wife as she walked down the aisle at Pippin Hill Farm + Vineyard in Charlottesville. And a career for Christine was born.