Here comes the bride

Liberty alumnus opens bridal shop and shares his faith with his customers

Ministry — Val Nicosia sees his bridal business as a unique opportunity to witness to whoever walks through the door. Photo credit: Alanna Mitchell

Ministry — Val Nicosia sees his bridal business as a unique opportunity to witness to whoever walks through the door. Photo credit: Alanna Mitchell

Owning a business that also doubles as a ministry is an area in which Liberty University alumnus Val Nicosia feels blessed.

Nicosia is the manager of Absolute Bridal & Formal, a local bridal shop located at 1015 Main Street in downtown Lynchburg.

Absolute Bridal & Formal is the largest independently owned bridal shop in Virginia. The 10,000-square-foot shop operates as a warehouse while offering boutique service, according to Nicosia.

The bridal shop offers a wide variety of wedding gowns and accessories, dresses for bridesmaids, flower girls and the mother of the bride, as well as tuxedos for the groom and groomsmen, according to Absolute Bridal & Formal’s website.

Nicosia has provided services for weddings in 18 different states, three different continents and four different countries.

Attending Liberty played a significant role in preparing Nicosia to own his own business. However, it was not just the college courses that Nicosia took that prepared him for business, Nicosia said. Rather, it was the education and cultural diversity at Liberty that helped him see God’s calling.

“When God puts his calling on you and gives you steps to go through every single day, it’s really all those things being built together for good for those … called according to his purpose,” Nicosia said. “I don’t think that it was so much the classes (themselves) as the classes were a genesis or a creative hand that God used to guide.”

Nicosia attended his first semester at Liberty in the spring of 1988, focusing his studies on communication and psychology with the intent of going into counseling.
“I was praying and asking and really finding my place in dedication to Christian service,” Nicosia said. “I really felt a strong calling toward marriage and couples.”
Nicosia attended counseling sessions, which he said had a great influence on his coming to know Christ.

“(W)hen I began to pray about it, I wanted to have something to do with that and kind of felt like it was going to be counseling,” Nicosia said. “But God has a sense of humor. Now I sell dresses.”

However, Nicosia has had the opportunity of using the business of his bridal shop as a form of ministry. According to Nicosia, he has been able to share the gospel on a regular basis with the women that come into his shop.

“I never would have envisioned what God had in mind here,” Nicosia said. “It’s become a very regular, perfect opportunity when a girl comes in and has no idea what the Christian covenant wedding is all about, and you get to share the steps that she’s going through and what she’s doing and what (the groom is) doing and what they mean.”

The idea to start a business came while Nicosia was working at Liberty during a financially difficult season. It was then that Nicosia decided that he did not want to have financial debt after school. So he set out to turn his hobby into a business.

“I went ahead and took my hobby that was in my woodshop and made it, you know, make more money,” Nicosia said. “In fact, this business literally started about two blocks down the road here in the community market.”

Nicosia and his former wife put their talents together, Nicosia working in his woodshop and his former wife sewing, to officially open up a business.

“I said, ‘You know, I’m going to take what we have and start to just see what it will do out in the open,’ and it really, really took off,” Nicosia said. “And it was literally going from there on weekends to opening a store probably within six months.”

Customers began requesting Nicosia and his wife to sew more than they were able to, and they could not keep up with all of the requests.

According to Nicosia, the store that he and his wife opened was doing so well that they had two stores and were about to open a third location. But tension between the couple resulted in them separating in their business and personal lives.

“(T)hat kind of threw a wrench into a lot of things that (were) going on, the plans that were going on stopped, and so I gave her one of the stores, and I kept the
other one running,” Nicosia said.

Nicosia continued the business for about three years before deciding to close the doors and take a year off. It was during this time that Nicosia went back to Liberty to finish his education. It was not until 2007 that Nicosia reopened the doors of Absolute Bridal & Formal.

Nicosia first reopened the bridal shop on Memorial Avenue right in front of Food Lion, but soon after moved to a space in River Ridge Mall.

According to Nicosia, Absolute Bridal & Formal stayed at the River Ridge Mall location for four years before moving once again.

“(B)y that time, the business had grown from the prior spot, (and the business) doubled in size,” Nicosia said. “God has just really blessed in ways that I didn’t see coming, especially through a down economy.”

With the bridal shop moving once again, Nicosia faced the task of finding a new location. The building in downtown Lynchburg was not Nicosia’s first choice for his bridal shop, but God had different plans.

“I remember walking across the threshold there, we opened the door, and I’m not kidding you, I put my foot on the inside and as soon as I did, God said ‘You’re home’ in my head,” Nicosia said. “And I did a stupid, stupid business thing. … I turned to (the seller) and said ‘I’ll take it,’ and I hadn’t even seen the (rest of the) building.”

The newest location for Absolute Bridal & Formal has two additional floors upstairs and a lower level as well.

According to Nicosia, Absolute Bridal & Formal stands apart from other bridal shops in the area because the staff members truly care about their customers.

“I can honestly say that I don’t know anybody else that literally prays for the brides he doesn’t know before they get here,” Nicosia said.

Nicosia said he prays that his store will not simply offer good customer service, but that he and the employees have a servant’s heart to serve those people.

“I’m humbled and honored that I get to be injected a little bit into their dreams, and I hold that in very high esteem,” Nicosia said.

With several moves over the past years, Nicosia hopes to keep his business located in downtown Lynchburg.

“My prayer right now is that God would just get hold of me to where I can faithfully do his will in this business to where it will blossom and bless people,” Nicosia said. “My ultimate want, the reason I ultimately went into business, was flexibility for ministry.”

For more information about Absolute Bridal & Formal, visit

BUNNER is a feature reporter.

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