Photo Dawn Derbyshire. Courtesy of Bridal Maven.

Hannah Balash wants your walk down the aisle to start at Bridal Maven.

On Oct. 1, she opened Pittsburgh’s first wedding dress resale shop at 1443 Potomac Ave. in Dormont. The long-vacant space is now an elegant parlor filled with chiffon, satin, taffeta and tulle.

Balash, who lives in Dormont with her husband and two daughters, has more than 200 gowns in stock for brides, their moms and their besties. She accepts new, used and sample consignment gowns that are less than five years old, originally sold for $750 to $10,000, are dry cleaned and in excellent condition. She researches all of the dresses, which come in sizes ranging from 00 to 30, to verify the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Hannah Balash loves working with brides to find a special and affordable gown. Photo by Dawn Derbyshire courtesy of Bridal Maven.

Recently, there’s been a fashion shift from the classic, white, A-line look to a more relaxed Bohemian vibe, with botanical laces and pops of color. Bridal Maven customers limit fashion waste by purchasing upcycled garments. Balash calls these laidback, eco-conscious, soon-to-be-wed women Bridechillas.

But, she warns people not to be too lackadaisical when it comes to planning. Current supply chain issues due to Covid-19 are impacting the bridal industry. If you’re less than one year away from saying, “I do,” you need to select your outfit for the big day now.

A wave of 2020 wedding cancellations has resulted in a flood of 2021 nuptials.

Ladies looking to take the plunge can set up an appointment Wednesday through Sunday to peruse the selection with their bridal party.

Balash encourages shoppers not to put too much pressure on themselves.

“It’s not intuitive,” she says. “You need to try things on. I’m not like a used car salesman pressuring you to buy a certain dress. I’m here to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.”

Balash has been in the bridal business for years, working at shops in New York City, where she parlayed her acting experience into a sales position. She watched a lot of brides choose dresses based on superstition (“brides must wear white on their wedding day”) while shunning beautiful, albeit used, gowns because of the stigma associated with a secondhand outfit. (“I guess that marriage didn’t work out.”)

Photo courtesy of Bridal Maven.

In February, Balash opened a Bridal Maven pop-up shop on West Liberty Avenue, just a few blocks from her current space. She wanted to test her resale concept before she made a commitment. After one month generated only one sale, she got cold feet.

Eventually, the numbers increased and she converted the former tattoo parlor into a permanent business, becoming part of a business district resurgence that includes Tal & Bert, Moonlit BurgersDad’s Basement and Potomac Station Coffeehouse.

Balash is excited to lend her expertise on everything old, new, borrowed and blue.

“Working with brides is really a joyful thing,” she says. “It’s a very positive environment.”

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.