Belle Amour Bridal offers unique trends, designersWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Owner of Belle Amour Bridal Boutique Michelle Menningen has loved the bridal industry since she was a little girl.
“When I was young, girls would subscribe to Teen and all that. I had a wedding magazine [subscription],” she said with a laugh.
Menningen has owned the boutique at 927 N. Summit St., Toledo, since September. Before the store was Gallippo’s Bridal and Formal, where she previously worked for two years.
Since taking over, Menningen has streamlined the inventory, gutted the front bathroom and has plans to transform the backroom where the store’s seamstress works and the dressing rooms are.
“Before when it was Gallippo’s, there were over 2,000 gowns. I did a whole inventory of it and I kept 400,” she said.
“The Gallippo’s brides, we’re servicing them, and they can’t believe how different it is. They think we put in skylights; they think we added a bar and I’m like, ‘It was all here’,” Menningen added of the space that used to be the Miller Country Store.
Belle Amour carries Gallippo’s top six designers, including Allure, Watters and Justin Alexander. The store also stocks bridesmaid, flower girl and mother of the bride dresses in addition to shoes and accessories.
The designers that the store carries are what separate Belle Amour from other bridal retailers in the area, Menningen said.
“The quality of the gown for the price is the big thing. I know the designers that other stores carry and what their quality is comparatively to the designers that we carry. And I’ve heard, not just my own opinion, from brides that the quality [at Belle Amour] is much better for the price,” Menningen said. The average gown at Belle Amour is about $1,400.
Erica Brindley, a Fremont resident getting married Oct. 26, said she appreciated Belle Amour carrying unique items like colored gowns. She decided to shop at Belle Amour after finding that a Watters dress she wanted was stocked there.
“I’ve been to David’s Bridal and I just think everything looks the same,” she said. “I didn’t see any reason to go elsewhere.”
Menningen said colors like champagne and café are big this season. Lace and intricately detailed backs are other trends, she added.
The storeowner got her start working at Lace & Elegance in Tiffin and she later worked at Atlanta Apparel Mart’s bridal department. When she was engaged, Menningen became familiar with Gallippo’s after she learned that the wedding dress she wanted was available at the Toledo store. Unfortunately, the dress was too expensive and Menningen couldn’t purchase the gown right away. After later returning to the store to see if her dream dress was on sale, Menningen got two surprises.
“[The owner] came out and said, ‘Honey, you don’t need to worry about the price of this gown because I’m hiring you,’” Menningen said.
Menningen said she would like to open a second location where she could sell discontinued gowns in the next two years. Discontinued gowns are on sale at Belle Amour until March 30.
“I’ve been thinking about a lot things. I would love to see this area grow because this building (where the store is located) is just beautiful and they’re talking so much about developing this end again and that would be wonderful,” Menningen said.
Menningen said she also hopes that Toledo eventually develops a bridal district like the Cincinnati area has.
“I would love to get a bridal district. I would love to do something just on the small scale in Toledo where it would be one stop. Girls could go see a coordinator; they could see a florist, see invitations; they could go have coffee talk about things,” she said.
Belle Amour employs five sales associates including Menningen. Brides can choose what associate they wish to work with based on their biographies at www.belleamourbridal.com. Store hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.