Bridal boutique owner hopes to join supply, demand
North Beach mayor says shop adds to town’s appeal as a wedding destination
Open for about six months, the Champagne Taste Bridal Boutique in North Beach has been positioning itself as the dress shopping destination for customers from not only Southern Maryland, but also the general area that covers Washington, D.C., Annapolis and Baltimore.
Before opening the store, the shop’s owner, Sara Lehnen, said she knew that a relative used to own a store in Dunkirk and closed it for personal reasons a few years ago.
“Since then, there’s really not one” in the area, she said. Her shop, she hopes, would fill that void.
On a macro level, her boutique fits nicely with the town’s efforts to promote North Beach as a prime wedding venue for couples statewide.
“We are pleased, of course, when any new businesses decide to locate” in the town, said Mark Frazer, the mayor of North Beach.
Since North Beach has been promoting the town as a wedding destination to stimulate the local economy, Frazer said Lehnen’s store is “one piece of the puzzle that will eventually make North Beach a wellknown wedding venue.”
With close to 550 dresses, Lehnen said her consignment boutique offers a variety of lines of dresses with different styles and sizes.
In general, dresses at the shop cost between $300 to $3,000. Lehnen said customers on average spend between $650 to $1,500 on a dress.
With each customer, she always looks forward to the moment when the bride-to-be finds the perfect dress.
“It puts this glow on her … they are standing there, twirling,” Lehnen said. “You just see it in their eyes; they just don’t have any words.”
On a wall of her shop, there’s a sentence that says “… and the story begins here!” — which Lehnen said explains her entire philosophy behind the bridal store. “It’s exciting to be part of that story,” she said. “To get to experience it with them … it’s the reason we do what we do ever y day.”
She once worked as a sales and catering manager for the Chesapeake Beach Resort and Spa for about four years, which is when Lehnen fell in love with weddings and got a taste of the excitement the industr y offers.
A graduate of Calvert County’s Beach Elementary, Windy Hill Middle and Huntingtown High School, Lehnan, 23, said she has always loved fashion and liked to play with clothes. When she was a teen, Lehnen used to design dresses in her sketch book. Once she drew a dress, which she later found on display in a mall.
Part of her was excited to see that dress on sale because it validated her taste and showed her that someone else saw value in that design too. At the same time, she felt annoyed that she wasn’t the person who made it happen. With strong, mixed feelings, she bought the dress, which remains to be in her closet.
Described as a “go-getter” by her family and friends, Lehnen said she was willing to take the risks of running two small businesses — the bridal shop and a clothing boutique in town — because she was more afraid of not taking the risk and regretting it later. “Crash and burn” is better than not knowing, she said.
Since opening her new store, Lehnen regularly goes to bridal shows and related events to “get the knowledge out that we are not far.”
So far, North Beach has hosted four weddings and there are three more planned for this year, according to Town Administrator Stacy Wilkerson. In 2016, the town hosted six weddings.
Frazer, who got married about a year ago at the pier, said the town council is applying to get a permit from the Maryland Department of the Environment to build an open-air pavilion at the end of the pier.
Hopefully when people see the pavilion, they will identify the pier and the town as a location for weddings and other life events, Frazer said.
The 1,000-square-foot pavilion is planned to be about 8 feet high with white columns and a blue roof, which could add another 6 feet to the structure, he said.
Sara Lehnen stands in her shop, Champagne Taste Bridal Boutique, in North Beach.