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Lover.ly taps search to help brides shop for dresses

For brides put off by expensive dresses and a lag in new fashions, Lover.ly is aiming to fill the gap.

The wedding planning startup is adding a new line of bride and bridesmaid dresses that cost between $180 and $500 and come in a range of colors and styles that were developed by trends in the company's own data and on social media.

Lover.ly, which has raised about $5 million in venture funding, was created in 2012 with the goal of harnessing the power of the web to shake up the $99 billion wedding industry.

"We've built a rich dataset and have been monitoring what our brides are looking for," Lover.ly founder Kellee Khalil told CBS MoneyWatch. "We can see what is trending and what they are not finding" when brides are searching for just the right styles for the big day.

Last year, for instance, Lover.ly noticed that brides-to-be were searching for crop-top dresses, but finding one in bridal stores was still far from a reality. Although many designers included two-piece dresses in last fall's collections, there can be an 18-month time lag by the time those designs end up on brides, Khalil noted.

That's why a white crop-top dress, called the Jax & Paloma Set, is one of the designs included in Lover.ly's first dress collection. The outfit includes an A-line skirt and a matching crop top, selling for $480. Colors were also influenced by search terms, with brides looking for specific shades for their bridesmaids, such as lavender and sage.

The goal, Khalil noted, is to design dresses at an affordable price point, and in styles that brides and bridesmaids would want to wear again. The average wedding dress will set brides back by more than $1,000. Lover.ly's dresses are all made in the U.S. and are designed by Eva Franco, whose clothing is carried by bohemian-chic clothing store Anthropologie.

Lover.ly is planning additional dress lines, as well as a decor and stationary line. While the wedding industry is huge, it hasn't yet been transformed by the digital era, which is something Khalil wants to change.

"No one has transformed the way people plan their weddings," she said. "We are leveraging our data to make the experience smarter for brides."

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