Carla Ruiz on the runway in Barcelona.

Royal weddings are to the bridal industry what the Olympics are to sports participation — fans want to dress the part and follow suit. Bridal industry executives are revved up about how this weekend’s nuptials between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will help spark sales for wedding gowns. Weddings are big business, after all, with the average U.S. wedding costing $25,764, according to The Wedding Report. Just as attendees at last month’s bridal market in New York were energized about the upcoming season, many of them took that upbeat outlook to Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week.

Last month, 27 designers showed their collections on the runway including Amsale, Carlo Pignatelli, Peter Langner, Sophie et Voilà, Pronovias, Reem Acra, Isabel Sanchis, Cristina Tamborero, Carla Ruiz and Jesus Peiro. Acra held her show during Barcelona Bridal Night at the Maritime Museum on April 25.

Attendees had a lot to look at, considering more than 28,000 wedding and formal dresses and accessories were on display at the trade fair. This year’s event featured more than 370 brands of which 68 percent were international brands at the professional trade fair. That was a 20 percent gain over last year’s fair.

The record-breaking turnout included more than 20,000 attendees from more than 90 countries, representing a 6 percent increase compared with last year. Another notable increase was the 1,000-plus key buyers — 17 percent more than last year. More than half of the retailers were from European countries outside of Spain with buyers from Italy, the U.K., France, Germany, Portugal and Belgium helping to lead the way.

Four-hundred guests showed up for the Elle International Bridal Awards at the University of Barcelona. This year’s winners included well-known labels like Carolina Herrera, Reem Acra and Viktor & Rolf. The best advertising prize went to Pronovias and the best new talent was awarded to Sophie et Voilà. BBFW director Estermaria Laruccia noted how the event is known as “the bridal capital of the world,” thanks to the quality of the content, the wide base of national and international brands and the attendance of high-powered buyers.

As for the Markle-fueled spike, BBFW attendee and Kleinfeld co-owner Mara Urshel said Wednesday, “I believe there is more excitement in the air than any other previous Royal wedding. Meghan is a very stylish woman….brides-to-be will likely be inspired by Meghan’s dress choice and want to look as regal as her on their wedding day. Whether inspired by a silhouette or fabrication, the inspiration will definitely trickle down to both bridal designers and brides-to-be.”


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