The History of Hope's Bridal & Prom

Hope Kolsto opened Hope’s Bridal in her renovated dairy barn on April 7th, 1972. She was a cake decorator, who saw firsthand that area brides had nowhere to shop locally for their wedding dress besides the department stores. Mark and Diane Niebuhr purchased the business December 1st, 1985, just a couple of years out of college. Diane was a Business major and golfer at Iowa State, while Mark was pursuing his farming career after graduating with a Farm Operations degree from ISU. They leased the building for the first couple of years, but purchased the buildings and farm ground in 1987.

Their oldest daughter, Johanna, was born just three months after purchasing Hope’s, and Ariel came around in 1989. Mark and Diane raised the girls in the pink house on the property, and they were regularly at the shop with Diane. Mark farmed the Hope’s property and the Niebuhr family farm near Blairstown.

They expanded the business to the Village of East Davenport in 1993. They loved getting involved in the community and learning about the fun history of the Village.

Their third daughter, Moriah, was born in 2000. She was also a regular at Hope’s, but the family moved off the property when she was young to utilize the house as needed added space for things like storage and sewing.

Today, the whole family is involved in the business. Diane continues to run the everyday operations of Hope’s, with a staff of around 30 kind, talented women between the two stores. Mark is an integral behind-the-scenes co-owner, as he takes care of things like maintenance, payables, and payroll. Johanna is the Director of Marketing, while Ariel is the Atkins Bridal Department Manager. Moriah, still in school, gets to help whenever she is free. Hope’s is a quintessential family owned and operated business!

It’s truly amazing to see so many of our brides today coming in with their moms, aunts and sisters who were past Hope’s Brides.  For many, Hope’s has become a family tradition for life’s most special events!

From the Niebuhr Family

It has been a true honor to serve Eastern Iowa’s women during some of the most cherished moments of their lives the past 30+ years. We recognize that a wedding is a huge day, but that the bigger picture is the lifetime you are committing to. What a special privilege to be a part of that beginning! We also LOVE the prom business, and it’s so fun to see our “repeat customers” back for their wedding dresses! Each of our clients has such a unique story, and we truly thank you for choosing Hope’s to be a small part of it.

All our respect and well-wishes,
Mark, Diane, Johanna, Ariel & Moriah


Want to know a little more about us? Here are some fun Niebuhr Family Facts:

-Diane was a four-time Iowa state qualifier golfer, along with her two sisters. All three went on to be leaders of the Iowa State Women’s Golf Team. She was also VP of the Residence Hall Association at Iowa State. She was a busy lady!
-Music has always been a huge part of Diane’s life. She continues to spend time with special music at our church.
-Mark was president of his ISU fraternity. One of his favorite memories is hosting Coach Johnny Orr for dinner.
-Mark has been an elder and high school Bible study leader at our church for years.
-Johanna taught middle school Language Arts for five years in an inner-city St. Louis school before having her daughter and choosing to work part-time with Hope’s. (She still works remotely from STL!)
-Johanna and her husband JD love to travel. Their favorite trip was a one-year anniversary trip to SE Asia. They are looking forward to taking their two-year-old daughter to Europe in 2018 for their friends’ wedding!
-Ariel worked at Disney World right after high school until moving back to Iowa in 2012. She jumped back into the bridal world, creating “Magical Moments” for Hope’s Brides!
-Ariel grew to love Zumba while in Florida, and now teaches Zumba several times a week. She especially enjoys teaching at area nursing homes!
-Moriah followed Diane with the musical talent. She is a drum major and leader in her choirs. We all love hanging out around the piano while Diane plays and Moriah sings!
-Moriah is an animal lover, and somehow convinced Diane to let her get two cats. Guess who ends up taking care of them? (Ha!)
-We all have been blessed to go on several mission trips through the years. Volunteering is something important to each of us in our own communities and elsewhere. We try to bring that spirit into our business by providing opportunities for or staff to help with fundraising and non-profits, as well as donating dresses to a number of causes.

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