Photograph by Tamia Stinson
When the Bridal and Formal boutique opened in 1979, owners Larry and Linda Hochberg had just two employees and five designers featured in their inventory. Today, the Reading Bridal District shop—now owned by daughter Lisa and her husband Andy Star—is one of the largest in the country, boasting 3,000-plus gowns from more than 50 designers.
Wading through thousands of gowns can be rather intimidating, so a bridal consultant guides each customer, offering one-on-one help and expertise.
Longtime general manager Tina Minshall has been working at Bridal and Formal since she was 14, and she says keeping things enjoyable is the shop’s focus. “We help you narrow it down and walk through and navigate it, because it can be incredibly overwhelming—I mean, it’s probably the most expensive thing you’re ever going to buy for yourself,” says Minshall. “So we try to make it fun; it’s an emotional purchase.”
Bridal and Formal’s stock—in a range of price points (from $500 to $11,000 and up) and sizing (from 1-30)—includes something for just about anyone. Already found your dream dress in a magazine or on Pinterest? The staff will gladly order it for you if they don’t already have it in stock. They regularly host trunk shows on the weekends as well, where designers will come in and showcase their newest collections.
After finding the perfect gown, you’ll be led to the Paris room, where you can shop accessories like jeweled hairpieces, brooches, and necklaces. Another room just down the hall houses all manner of veils and blushers. “It’s great for brides [at B&F] because we give them options they don’t have at other bridal boutiques—they can get it all here,” says Minshall.
Which is why Bridal and Formal has become a regional destination for wedding fashion: “We regularly have brides come from anywhere within a 4-5 hour radius: Louisville, Lexington, Chicago, Indianapolis, and West Virginia,” adds Minshall.
The shop doesn’t merely cater to brides, either. In stock are bridesmaid, flower girl, and mother-of-the-bride dresses—there is even a dedicated “Prom Room” for prom dresses. And they’ll let you know if someone from your high school has purchased a particular dress, too, so you can avoid any unintentional twinning. Customer service, for the win!
300 West Benson St., Reading, (513) 821-6622, bridalandformalinc.com