The wedding gowns at Sandra Gonzalez's Sparkle Bridal Couture in east Sacramento are stylish and lavish, contemporary and traditional and they're in sizes 14 to 30, serving a market Gonzalez says is often neglected by traditional bridal retailers.
"We want that glamour. Why should we be left out of that glamour and beauty?" Gonzalez said.
It can be a frustrating question for fuller-figured brides-to-be.
Gonzales, whose family has long owned Gonzalez Bridal Boutique in Lodi, plans to answer that with her 2,800-square-foot space on Folsom Boulevard at 32nd Street.
Inside her spare showroom, creamy, beaded gowns of her own design and by designers such as Robin Jillian stand on display as Sinatra serenades them from the sound system.
"My brides should have the same choices as someone under size 14," Gonzalez said.
More and more, they do, said Heather Levine, a senior editor at wedding website The Knot, as designers and retailers seek out a growing segment of the $1.7 billion wedding dress industry.
For Sparkle and others, catering to those who wear size 14-plus makes sound business sense.
"It's definitely a niche," said Shane McMurray of the Wedding Report. "You have to adapt to your market, (and) it's a good market."
"Retailers have always had their eyes on the plus-sized market," Levine said. "Now they're realizing that they need to market the dresses the same way" as they do to their other customers.
Designers including Henry Roth, Alfred Angelo and Jim Hjolm, as well as David's Bridal and other national retailers, are seeing the same opportunity.
"It's a good time. Designers really try to create a collection for every woman edgy, traditional, plus, petite," Levine said. "Style is not determined by what size you are."
The average size of the American woman is 14, up from size 12 in 2005, according to Women's Wear Daily, and some apparel lines are adapting to the change.
Successful advertising campaigns such as Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty and the recent buzz created in Vogue Italia's June issue with its Steven Meisel-shot cover featuring plus-sized models reaffirm a body-positive aesthetic.
Gonzalez wants her shop to be the next step in providing service and selection in the bridal studio for women sizes 14 and above.
"I know the frustration of trying to find stylish and affordable. I've seen people expect that they wouldn't have the true bridal experience they deserve," she said.
That inspired Gonzalez, who developed her concept over the past three years, buying time and searching for a space to open shop before landing on Folsom Boulevard.
"It's a gut-feeling location. I felt it would really work. It adds to that eclectic mix of being in east Sacramento," she said.
Opening a business in tough times can be risky, but Gonzalez says she's hanging her shingle at the right time.
"Starting a small business right now is not easy if you don't have the capital or the resources, but for this move, it was something I was able to do" she said.
Beyond the business plan, she was able to affordably move into the Sacramento space.
With a sluggish real estate market, "construction costs are down, lease space is down, prices are down for real estate," she said.
Her family's reputation and her experience working in the family business also paid dividends.
"That really helped establish ourselves in Sacramento. We're very proud of that."