How Meghan Markle’s wedding dress will impact the gown industry

Meghan Markle will walk down the aisle in less than two weeks — and the U.S. wedding gown industry is royally pumped.

The industry is hoping the American actress’ choice of a dress is just sexy enough and trend-setting enough to spark an uptick in sales in the $32 billion wedding dress market, the New York Post reports.


Included in the expected 1 billion-strong TV audience will be plenty of wedding gown designers — who will quickly sketch similar patterns. The Markle-inspired designs could be complete in minutes, and e-mailed to factories before the end of the ceremony.

Designer Madeline Gardner, of New York’s Morilee, will be one of the 1 billion watching. She expects her Markle designs to be shipped to stores across the country in 10 days.

Gardner has a lot riding on what kind of dress Markle chooses.

“Meghan is a trend-setter,” Gardner told The Post. “When she wears a coat, it sells out in a minute. I think she’ll push the envelope with her gown a little bit.”

The same amped-up anticipation preceded Kate Middleton’s wedding to Prince William on April 29, 2011.

In fact, Gardner began producing her gown at 5 a.m. that day and by 1 p.m. she had it on a model standing on the steps of New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where a film crew from “Inside Edition” captured the moment.

middleton dress reuters

Copies of Kate Middleton's wedding dress were readied for display the same day, though they didn't sell too well — Kate's tastes were apparently a bit too conservative for Americans.  (Reuters)

Alas, dresses based on Middleton’s wedding-day choice didn’t sell well at all — industry sources said it was a bit too conservative.


At J&B Bridals, in Chambersburg, Penn., the owners plan a gown unveiling like the one it hosted for Middleton’s wedding in 2011. Then, shoppers trekked from as far away as Virginia to gawk at the dress.

“We reached out to the media and the word spread like wildfire,” recalls co-owner Jim Resh. “People are truly obsessed with the royal family.”

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Despite not being popular with American brides, Middleton's dress helped to re-popularize sleeves, which became "more acceptable" for brides to wear after the royal wedding.  (Reuters)

In St. Paul, Minn., the staff of The Wedding Shoppe will be wearing decorative hats and pouring champagne for their customers on May 19 while at New York’s RK Bridal, a sprawling 32,000- square-foot store, the owners will host a trunk show and serve champagne and dessert.

Even fast-fashion chains are getting into the action.

Last month, H&M trotted out a $299 white lace replica of Middleton’s Alexander McQueen-designed gown to coincide with the upcoming nuptials between Markle and Prince Harry.

Bridal fashionistas are hopeful the gown Markle wears reflects her fashion sensibility rather than the House of Windsor’s.

“Sleeves became more acceptable after Kate’s wedding,” said Gardner, among the top wedding dress designers in the country. “The only thing we were selling before were strapless gowns. These royal gowns are more about trends than a boom,” in sales.


Damping desire to own the gowns is the fact that royal gowns are more conservative, showing little cleavage, no leg and mostly not form-fitting, say industry experts.

“I’m hoping Meghan might have some flair, maybe a plunge, not a high neck or a long sleeve,” said Madison Debany, whose family owns RK Bridal.

This article originally appeared in The New York Post.