Carolina Bride and Groom

Mecklenburg Bridal Gallery to close its doors after 35 years; owner announces retirement

Chase, Karen

Karen Chase, owner of Mecklenburg Bridal Gallery, announces her retirement at the end of 2016.

PINEVILLE, N.C. — With a background as a registered nurse, Ohio native Karen Chase always knew that caring for others came naturally to her. But back when she was in training for her nurse’s degree, she never could have imagined how those skills would come in handy many miles and years later in Charlotte.

After a move to the Queen City, then taking some time off to raise 3 children and do some volunteer work, Karen enjoyed helping a friend in the tuxedo business during a busy prom season. And so when Karen’s husband, Steve, suggested that the couple purchase Mecklenburg Bridal Gallery in 1999, it just seemed like the right fit. Karen’s caregiving skills seamlessly translated into helping brides find the perfect dress for their perfect day.

But after 17 years and several thousands of happy brides, Karen has decided to retire at the end of 2016. This means that Mecklenburg Bridal Gallery, one of Charlotte’s oldest bridal gown stores and often a first stop among Charlotte-area brides, will close after 35 years. The shop will close at the end of December, and between now and then the store will offer rock-bottom prices on all of its designer gowns and accessories. Everything must go before the end of the year.

Having almost two decades of experience in the bridal industry, Karen said that playing such a big role in someone’s wedding can be extremely gratifying. One of her favorite moments has been seeing a bride’s excitement when she comes to pick up her dress for the big day. In fact, two of Karen’s favorite memories involve helping her daughter, Kristen, and her daughter-in-law, Meagan, find their dream dresses for their own weddings.

Having played the role of mother-of-the-bride herself, Karen knows exactly what the other mothers are feeling as they focus so much on the bride and planning that they often forget about what they themselves will wear. Karen takes the opportunity to enlighten and remind the mothers that their outfits are actually quite significant: “Remember you are the hostess of the party — second in importance only to the bride — we just don’t ever share this with the groom!”

All these skills Karen acquired over the years has helped her become a vital part of Charlotte’s wedding industry. In retirement, she officially plans to spend more time with the grandchildren, but, she adds a footnote with a sparkle in her eyes: “Who knows? Maybe I’ll return to the bridal industry someday,” she said.