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Queens offers brides-to-be many dress options

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With spring comes flowers, sunshine, and love. It is a fact that most weddings take place in spring, and Queens has an abundant supply of bridal shops able to cater to the needs of its customers.

Brava Boutique, located at 70-10 Austin St. in Forest Hills, was established 15 years ago by Greta Elias. The company caters to all occasions, for any event in life. The boutique handles everything from the dresses to the tuxedos to the invitations for a wedding.

It was Elias’ plan to create a place where people can go and get everything done to save them the hassle of having to go to different places. “You can walk in the shop and dress everyone,” Elias said. “We take care of it all”.

What makes Brava Boutique so different from other stores is that Elias makes custom-designed gowns right there in her store. Elias said she travels to different places to get the best material and the best quality.

The current trends in marriage ceremonies involves the color of the gowns, Elias said. “Surprisingly, they are not the traditional pure white color they once were. Couples getting married nowadays are a bit older than what they once were and it isn’t necessarily the first marriage for either member of the couple. So, the women are now walking down the isles in light blue, pink or even black and white dresses.” Elias said that we will be seeing a lot more of this in the years to come.

Across the borough in Jamaica there is also a very popular place for getting fitted for those special occasions. Da Zone, located at 116-18 Liberty Ave., has been in business for the past six years. Its owner, Marie Racktoo, said that she was sitting at home for seven years and one day decided that she wanted to start her own business. “You start from nothing and build yourself up,” she said.

Racktoo specializes in all formal events such as weddings, proms, graduations, communions and more.

Her daughter was actually the one to think of the name. It came from the basketball term “the zone,” which is a concept in which you feel as though you can not make a mistake.

When asked what sets her aside from the competition, Racktoo was clear to say: “I don’t bother with competition. I just bring in what people want. If it goes good then that’s great.”

Racktoo said the price of gowns are increasing tremendously. Parents are spending $400-$500 on their daughters’ gowns for graduations or proms. She said the average price for a formal gown is anywhere from $299-$699. She thinks these prices are absurd and tries to keep her dresses — for weddings as well — at a reasonably moderate amount.

Over on 40-01 28th Ave. in Astoria there is Gabriel Custom Maid. This store focuses on formal eveningwear for women, including bridal gowns as well as dresses for the mother of the bride, flower girls and even prom dresses. Everything is personally ordered and hand sewn for that beautiful custom look by the owner herself, Maria Lopes. Lopes has only been in business for the past 2 1/2 years and she said she couldn’t be happier. “I just want to do my work and make people happy. As long as they’re happy then I know I’m doing my job,” she said.

Lopes agreed with Racktoo that the prices of wedding gowns have gotten outrageously high. She said “brides come to me and tell me how expensive a simple A-line dress can be in other stores. An average wedding dress can cost any where from $1,000-$8,000.”

She said the current trend for a bridal dress is sleek, strapless and A-line. Lopes said that big, poofy dresses just aren’t in anymore and that it is a shame because she loved to make them.

Lopes said that one thing that sets her apart from the competition is that “people get exactly what they want — for less money”. Lopes said that she works very hard to make sure that her customers are satisfied with the service and with their purchases.

Queens is filled with bridal shops, and these are just a few. To find a bridal shop in you area, check the Yellow Pages or go to www.theknot.com.

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