KENNEWICK -- Few people fall in love twice in one year, but that's what happened to Amy Morris of West Richland last year. Her first love is her husband, Ryan Morris. Her second is the whole idea of weddings: the gowns, the flowers, the feeling of being a princess, if only for a day.
"Planning my wedding discovered I love everything bridal," she said. "Even after my wedding I still bought the bride magazines."
Months later, when she became pregnant with twins, Washington Closure, where she worked as an environmental scientist, put her on extended maternity leave.
"That gave me a lot of time to think," she said. "I really didn't want to go back to my job. There's a lot of stress involved."
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Morris began planning how she could make weddings her new career.
"I was thinking about opening a wedding venue. Something that would accommodate around 250 people but that meant investing in acreage. When Ryan crunched the numbers, it was a lot more expensive than we'd thought."
While shopping for her own wedding dress, Morris noticed there were few shops in the Tri-Cities specializing in bridal.
"I thought, we could use another dress shop," she said.
According to the Bridal Association of America, the average cost of a wedding went from $26,450 in 2005 to $30,860 in 2009. Those figures include everything from the engagement ring to "I do." The bride's gown -- what causes women so much angst -- is a small part of the total, averaging about $1,500. Even adding in the veil/headpiece, shoes and other accessories -- the average cost of these is $607 -- the bride's entire ensemble costs about $2,112.
The Morrises made up their minds to take the plunge into the bridal business in late September. By mid-October Amy's Bridal Boutique went from an idea to reality. The store celebrated its grand opening last week.
Morris contacted wedding gown vendors and found they were as excited as she about a new bridal shop in the Tri-Cities. Soon, she had 120 gowns on order, many by her own two favorite designers, Sottero & Midgley and Venus.
She also placed orders for bridesmaids and mother-of the bride/groom gowns, flower girl dresses and -- some of the most elaborate and colorful gowns at Amy's -- quinceaera dresses. Morris also will carry a line of tuxedos for rent.
She also sells all the accessories to outfit her brides and their wedding parties: petticoats, veils, garters, shoes and longline bras, an essential undergarment with some gowns.
Two Richland artists, Amber Hulquist and Karissa Ciolli, are handcrafting jewelry for the store.
"If you like one of their designs but want it in your wedding colors, they'll gladly make it to order," Morris said.
The majority of the wedding gowns at Amy's are shades of white to taupe but she also carries mocha, pale gold and a blush pink. Styles were chosen to flatter a variety of body types.
Bridesmaids and mother-of-the-bride/groom gowns come in a Crayola box of colors.
"Find a style you like and I can order it in just about any color you can think of," Morris said.
Some of her gowns are available off the rack, others need to be ordered.
"If it's a popular style, vendors keep them on hand and you can get them quickly, four to six weeks. If not, it'll be made to order and can take anywhere from three to six months to get here," she said.
Amy's Bridal Boutique is at 2417 W. Kennewick Ave. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday to Monday. The phone is 942-9106. The business also has a Facebook page.