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Thousands attend bridal expo

January 11, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- It was a simple philosophy, a belief that everyone who walks through the door is part of the family and as a member of the family, deserves respect, compassion, attention and service.

To Jim and Barbara Resh, owners of J&B Bridals and Formals, there is no other way to run a bridal business.

That simple philosophy has drawn many to its flame and, on Sunday, thousands of people, including local photographers, florists, caterers, hundreds of brides-to-be and the wedding industry's crme de la crme flocked to J&B's annual bridal expo at Wilson College.

"You have to be obsessive-compulsive and completely love it (the wedding business)," said Ronnie Rothstein, owner of Kleinfeld Manhattan and star of "Say Yes to the Dress" on The Learning Channel. "Jim and Barb are just that."

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About 26 years ago, the Reshes had the idea of gathering everything a bride needs for the big day under one roof to help take the mystery and stress out of planning the most important day of her life and that of her groom's.

Some brides have been molding their dream wedding since childhood. Others need a jumping-off point to get them started on the long and stressful process, so Jim Resh said he lined up 27 vendors to show what the area has to offer a bride-to-be in photographers, venues, entertainment and more.

A wedding revolves around the dress, but finding the right dress and saying "yes" to that dress is what keeps Jim and Barbara busy year-round.

Mara Urshel, who owns Kleinfelds with Rothstein, is an expert on finding the right dress. Her advice: Have some details, like a venue or a color scheme, decided before you search for your dress.

She said knowing if you want to get married in a church, outdoors or on a beach makes finding the perfect gown much easier.

"I tell brides to do some research, look at dresses, at what strikes their fancy and come prepared," she said. "Though what they have in mind when they come in is rarely what they walk out with."

The rose-pinned brides-to-be were able to glimpse some of the best wedding dresses in the world on Sunday at the expo, Jim Resh said.

Rothstein and Urshel debuted the first portion of their exclusive Kleinfeld collection, Alita Graham, on the runway Sunday at Wilson College's Laird Hall.

Madeline Gardner, designer for Mori Lee of New York City, also brought her collection to the expo runway.

Gardner said her spring collection is glamorous and romantic.

"There are draping fabrics, and lots of detail and glam," she said. "To me, glamorous is high style, that old Hollywood feel with shape and form."

The designers appeared to have listened to the brides, said Amy Strait of Fort Littleton, Pa., after the runway show.

"I want flowing and draping," she said. "One of the dresses looked exactly like a dress I tried on at J&B the other day."

Jim Resh said it was likely that Strait saw the same dress on the runway as she saw in the store because the Alita Graham and the Mori Lee collections will be available at J&B.

"I am so excited to work with Mara, Ronnie, Mitchell (Udell, owner of Mori Lee) and Madeline. They are the pinnacle of the industry," he said.

Urshel said J&B is the first independent bridal boutique to feature the Alita Graham collection.

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