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Interview

Our bridal buyer Sharon sums up our feelings for designer Olia Zavozina perfectly: “We are really proud to carry Olia’s designs in our suites. They offer brides a twist on traditional dresses, with unique fabrics and customization options. Plus, Olia is incredibly sweet—we love her!”

And you will, too. We asked Olia to share everything, from her early-age designs to her own wedding to her favorite Saturday activity. Read on to get to know this designer and see her gorgeous gowns!

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The Wedding Suite: Hi, Olia! Take us back to when you first started designing wedding gowns. 

Olia Zavozina: The first wedding gown I ever designed was for a Barbie doll when I was a little girl. I always liked love stories and fairy tales. In 2008, when I was getting married, I realized that there were not that many options out there, so that was the start of my line.

You recently celebrated your 5th wedding anniversary—congrats! Tell us about your wedding.

Olia: I was busy attending MBA classes at the time, and my parents told me in April that they could only come to my wedding if it was in June—so I had two months to plan a wedding!

When Robbie, my husband, told me that he was going to have 14 groomsmen, I almost had a heart attack. This is when I had to come up with the ladies on my side. I came up with eight bridesmaids and had him cut it down to the same amount!

We got married on June 7, 2008. It was an outdoor wedding on a lakeside. I had my friend Ochi do my flowers, and they were wonderful.


One of the unique things about your gowns is that they are customizable. What does that mean exactly?

Olia: The choice is yours! That is the beauty of it. We can do any length, neckline or fabric you would like, from any gown in our line. Brides often want to take a gown we already have and put their own twist on it.

For example, we had a bride who used the ‘Treasure’ fit model; however, she wanted to add in pieces of her great grandmother’s gown from nearly 100 years ago. So I took her grandmother’s gown apart by hand and pieced it together to lay it over a silk duchess. It turned out beautifully, and the bride was really happy with it. It is one of my favorite gowns we have done.

My goal is to make sure the bride feels beautiful in her gown and that it is everything she dreamed it could be. If I can help make that dream come true, I have done my job.

‘Treasure’ gown, double-tiered Alençon lace with silk charmeuse underlay & chapel-length train

Speaking of fabric, you have some of the most interesting fabric we’ve seen! At what point in the design process do you choose fabric?

Olia: Fabrics are very important in a design of the gown. Most of the time, before I start designing, I have to see, touch and feel the fabric.

‘Britt’ gown, embroidered lace overlay with blush-colored silk charmeuse underlay & peplum accent

‘Ann’ gown, fit & flare floral lace with sweetheart neckline & keyhole back

Do you have any tips for brides who are shopping for their gowns?

Olia: Be open-minded and trust your wedding stylist. Be honest and let your stylist know what your concerns are. What is important on your wedding day? Do you want to be comfortable? Do you want to be different or traditional? Try on dresses for fun, preferably by yourself first, before you invite your friends.

Now a tell us a few fun things about yourself! What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning?

Olia: Take my two dogs to the park! It’s great exercise, and the dogs love to swim in the creeks.

What’s your favorite city?

Nashville is my American home, but New York has become a second home to me. I like the city because you can feel like you are part of the world: everything is close, all of the nations within in a couple of blocks.

What was your last vacation, and what’s your next? 

Olia: Cabo, Mexico, was fantastic! My brother-in-law was getting married and we all got a chance to have a mini mandatory vacation; how can you not love it?

My parents have a beach house on the Black Sea in the south part of Russia. In preparation for the Sochi Olympics, we’re all thinking about going to visit and stay in the mountains by the Black Sea.

How many weddings do you attend a year?

Olia: Traveling over 100 days a year, I attend fewer and fewer weddings, but I would say I attend four to six weddings a year. I love weddings! Usually, I sit in the back and cry at how beautiful everything is. The thought of something beautiful like two people getting married makes me so happy, especially when I become a part of the big day.

See more of Olia’s gorgeous gowns in our online lookbook, or in select Nordstrom Wedding Suites!

Photos courtesy of Olia Zavozina

On Tuesday, we participated in our second Google+ Hangout, where we chatted live with an all-star lineup of wedding industry experts, answering questions from brides-to-be! It was a great Q&A, covering topics ranging from bridesmaid dress trends to invitation styles to diet and exercise tips.

If you missed the hangout, you can watch the video right here.

The panel included Andrea Wasserman, Nordstrom Bridal Director; Colin Cowie, celebrity event planner; Jess Blazejewski, Lead Stylist at Style Me Pretty; Jennie Ma, Fashion & Beauty Editor of TheKnot.com; and Kim Forrest, Editor of WeddingWire.com. They all gave advice backed up by their years of experience and expertise. Here’s some of our favorite tips and ideas!

On planning and budgeting:

-First three steps to take when planning: the dream, the budget, the guest list. —Colin
-On a budget? Splurge on photography, one of the few things that lasts. —Jess
-Use secret Pinterest boards! Great for brides—and people who aren’t quite engaged YET! —Andrea
-Prints and patterns are also great for wedding invitations, like in the inside of an envelope. —Kim

On the dress:

-Want a non-white wedding dress? “I loved Jessica Biel’s look—she wore that beautiful pink wedding gown, which was fantastic.” —Andrea
-Gold and silver metallics are also a great way to add subtle shimmer to white, but not be too bold. —Kim
-All brides should feel comfortable wearing white if they want to: It doesn’t matter if you have kids, are getting married for the second time, whatever! —everyone

On bridesmaids:

-Pay for your ‘maids hair, makeup, or nails as a bridesmaid gift, and to help them offset the costs of being in the wedding party. —Jess
-Bridesmaid dress color trends: emerald, blush,  and neutrals.  Textures like lace, and prints like polka dots or florals are also big right now! —Andrea

On  gifts:

-How to ask for gift cards instead of gifts for a destination bridal shower? “Tell close family and friends your preference and have them help spread the word.” —Andrea

On the big day:

-Crash diets are a DON’T. Lots of water is a DO.  “Get in the habit of drinking water all the time!” —Kim
-Day of the wedding: Don’t eat a salty breakfast. Eat cottage cheese and fruit. —Colin
-Before you walk down the aisle…”Take one deep breath, pull your shoulders back, hold your bouquet as low as possible. It will make you taller and thinner, two things every bride wants!” —Colin

Remember to continue to check back  for expert advice from our guest bloggers, and keep your eyes and ears open for more live chats to come!

Our love for shoes at Nordstrom is pretty well-known—and wedding shoes are one of our favorite topics! So we’re especially thrilled to announce a new shoe line in our Wedding Suites by event planner and designer extraordinaire, David Tutera.

With so much experience in the event industry, David was on our “must interview” list, and now we can pass along his ideas and advice to you!

The Wedding Suite: David, we’re excited get your expert advice on two major wedding topics: planning and fashion! You have designed amazing events for celebrities, charities, and of course, brides. And you’re in the 5th season of your hit show My Fair Wedding With David Tutera. Congrats! First, tell us how you got started in the industry.

David Tutera: I got started at the age of 19, when someone asked me to do a Bar Mitzvah for them. It was because I had a small singing telegram company and I decorated my store window differently every month. This woman came in and asked me to decorate for her son’s Bar Mitzvah ceremony in the same way I had decorated my window, so that was my introduction into the world of events. I had no knowledge, not even a clue that people spent a lot of money decorating for parties. This led to planning parties, which led to my career…and here I am, 26 years later, answering this question!

What is your favorite part of the event planning process?

David: I love the event planning process because I get a chance to take people’s direction, ideas and imagination and bring it to life. My job is bringing ideas to fruition and really turning a fantasy into a reality.

If you could offer our brides one piece of planning advice, what would it be?

David: The most important advice I have is to take a deep breath, step back, don’t overthink your decisions and really have a plan. I think nowadays, brides really don’t have plans. They’re so overwhelmed with information that they can end up making the wrong decisions.

If you take a step back and acknowledge the fact that you have a budget and make decisions based within those perimeters, you won’t be so stressed or feel disappointed. Do your homework, gather all of the information and plan.

David Tutera: The Big White Book of Weddings

Ok, now we have to get the scoop on the shoes! When you designed this line, were you thinking of a specific type of bride?

David: My first collection was specifically made to make my girls feel like they’re not just wearing bridal shoes down the aisle. All of the shoes can be worn long down the line. I think that’s what’s important; we get so caught up in the world of bridal fashion that it has such a short shelf life, and the cost spent on something can’t live beyond that one day. But now, brides can wear these shoes far beyond the wedding day.

I love when I see a bride kick her foot out when she’s sitting down or coming out of a car or walking down the aisle and you see a pop of color or a pattern; my shoes provide that. They’re fashion-forward as opposed to just bridal fashion.

David Tutera ‘Joy’ Sandal (also in black, lavender, and white)

Good line! We agree that they’re fashion-forward. Now, tell us about the special “something blue” detail on the shoes.

David: There is a genuine sapphire Swarovski crystal on the bottom of the sole of every shoe, and that is my “something blue” for each of my brides. So when you have to come up with your “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, I’ve already checked one thing off your list for you!

David Tutera ‘Sweetie’ Pump

What trends are you seeing in bridal footwear for this year?

David: I’m setting the trend and I’m seeing patterns, colors, florals, metallics, wedges, platforms, and higher heel heights. I think these trends are coming from the fact that these are fashion-forward, designer shoes and not just bridal footwear.

David Tutera ‘Cascade’ Pump

Do you have any advice on wedding attire overall?

David: The two most important things to keep in mind when it comes to wedding-day attire are comfort and understanding the right silhouette for your body type.

Another piece of advice regarding shoes: you can’t put your shoes on for the first time an hour before you walk down the aisle. You need to buy the shoes ahead of time, wear them around the house, break them in, so you know that you can walk in them for your wedding.

David Tutera ‘Vintage’ Pump

Good call, David!

Shop more wedding shoes for the bride and wedding party, and tell us about your favorites!

OK, we’re pretty excited (read: really thrilled) about this! We recently chatted with the fabulous Nicole Miller to bring you the details of her design inspiration, the hottest trends and how she got started in the bridal business. Plus, she tells us which dresses she would pick for different wedding destinations. Juicy! Read on, friends!

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The Wedding Suite: When did you decide to start designing wedding gowns? What kicked it all off?

Nicole: It was a natural progression. Friends of mine began asking me to design custom wedding dresses, usually loosely based off styles already on the line, in white versions. I realized the demand was there, and the rest is history… bridal is a big part of our business today!

Now you’re designing for the modern bride. We’re seeing metallic fabrics in a few of your designs, as well as the peplum trend. Any other trends you’re excited about for 2013?

Nicole: Many of my new gowns feature back detailing—lace continues to be a huge trend, but also scoop-backs, delicate beading and button accents as well as unique trims. Brides want to look gorgeous from all angles, especially from behind, when facing the altar!

Nicole Miller ‘Elizabeth’ Gown

How do you start designing a new gown or collection? What’s your first step?

Nicole: Now more than ever, bridal trends are mirroring ready-to-wear runway trends. Since designing my Artelier and Collection lines, I often adapt the trends and feelings of those collections and put a bit more of a bridal spin on them. I always take feedback from our brides and vendors into consideration while designing, too.

Are there any specific places where you seek inspiration for bridal design?

Nicole: I find inspiration in the most unexpected places! I love looking at vintage photographs and watching old movies, and I also sometimes find myself inspired by new technologies.

Pick your favorite dresses for these types of weddings: laid-back beach nuptials, modern hotel affair and classic garden party.

Nicole: Our ‘Aneka’ lace gown is perfect for a classic garden party, and has that beautiful back detail. The ‘Merril’ peplum silk faille gown is understated and chic for a modern city wedding. The ‘Sharon’ techno metal gown is the ultimate destination gown—the fabric does not wrinkle, is lightweight with a hint of beading and is extraordinarily comfortable.

Nicole Miller Peplum Silk Faille Gown

Nicole Miller Strapless Techno Metal Gown

Nicole Miller ‘Aneka’ Gown

Any advice for brides-to-be shopping for their gowns?

Nicole: The most important thing is to feel comfortable. Then, of course, you have to feel gorgeous. Then you will glow with confidence!

Well said, Nicole!

Shop Nicole Miller wedding dresses online or in our 18 in-store Wedding Suites.

Hers is a name you should definitely know, because her gorgeous wedding dresses will sweep you off your feet! We are so excited to officially introduce Kelly Faetanini as a new designer in our Wedding Suites across the country. This month, we have four of her gowns debuting: Georgina, Reid, Becky and Felicity. (How cute are those names?!) Browse them all online in our new lookbook, and get a closer look (and try them on) in store.

Because we adore Kelly herself as much as her designs, we thought you should have a chance to get to know her too. Here’s our Q&A with the New York-based designer—and newlywed—on all things bridal!

The Wedding Suite: You were married in May last year. Tell us how you stayed cool under all the pressures of your big day.

Kelly: We were married on May 5th, 2012, and the launch of my collection was two weeks prior—needless to say, there was lots of pressure from both ends! The first thing I did to stay calm and collected on the big day was to delegate as many tasks as possible to my wedding coordinator and my bridesmaids. It was wonderful, because not once did I have anyone running to me with emergencies on my wedding day!

My second-best piece of advice is to let go of everything and savor the moments. When you allow yourself to melt into the moment, you can focus on the wonderful things surrounding your day, rather than focusing on how hectic it is. Of course, there were little things that went awry throughout the day, but I made sure to let go of anxiety so I could enjoy all the amazing memories!

How much time did you spend designing your wedding gown? What did you discover about yourself and your design signature during this process?

Kelly: Creating my wedding gown was the hardest design I’ve ever had to do. I typically design collections about a year ahead of their launch dates, so my mind is always swarming with new ideas. It took me about two weeks to design my gown, and once I did, I decided it had to be final. I didn’t want to drive myself crazy by changing the design over and over, so I stuck to my instinct, and the gown came out beautifully.

During this process, I discovered the true mentality of a bride. I wanted a style that would be unique yet classic, sophisticated but romantic. I’ve always heard brides use these terms, but I learned their true meaning when I was designing my gown. This really shaped the way I design now. I try to ensure that every gown has a timeless feel with a modern touch.

You’ve said that your mission is to create a magnificent luxury experience for each bride. How do you go about doing this?

Kelly: Finding your dream gown is an emotional experience. I’ve witnessed brides struggling to find the perfect dress, and I believe that every bride should have exactly what she wants in her wedding gown. My brides can customize their gowns to make them uniquely their own, which I believe embodies the luxury couture experience. Brides can choose different fabrics, opt for beading or no beading, and experiment with removable necklines and embellishments. All of these little details make the experience of finding the perfect dress a luxurious one.


When it comes to gown selection, which one thing do you see brides struggling with the most? How can they overcome it?

Kelly: One thing that I see so often is brides struggling to choose a gown that their friends and family like. Everyone has their own taste—and sometimes what friends and family want to see is different from what the bride envisions for herself. Ultimately, brides should remember that they need to follow their hearts and choose gowns that they truly love themselves. At the end of the day, a bride’s family and friends will think she looks beautiful no matter which gown she chooses.



Which unique elements set your spring/summer 2013 collection apart from others?

Kelly: We strive to have a fresh perspective on designs each season. There are many beautiful gowns available by other designers, but we always offer something that’s unique. One element that’s become my signature is detachable components: each season, we offer gowns with detachable necklines and skirts. This is such a fun feature, and it allows a bride to have two or more looks for her wedding day.

The lovely Anne Barge is one of our favorite gown designers, and we couldn’t be happier to carry new gowns from her La Fleur and Anne Barge lines in our suites this spring! Anne’s new gowns have a cohesively modern but also vintage feeling—a classic, timeless look that she manages to reinvent each season.

For her 2013 collection, Anne was inspired by the news of the Ritz Paris closing for a two-year renovation. Built in 1898 by César Ritz, the hotel was an immediate success and at its pinnacle from opening day through the early 20th century, serving as home to the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Coco Chanel.

Anne describes more about her creative vision behind each uniquely designed dress: “My focus for this season was 1898 to the 1920s. I incorporated a silk organza hand-stamped lace motif gown into the collection and a number of watercolor pastel pieces in honey, oyster, blush and latte. It was all from a painter’s palette—think Monet and Renoir.”

We envisioned a palette and inspirations around the ‘Emmanuelle’ gown below. Ah, now we’re dreaming of a Parisian wedding! Ooh la la!

Renior painting | Paris rooftops | White peonies | Bouquet | Badgley Mischka ‘Cissy’ Sandal | Anne Barge ‘Emmanuelle’ Gown | Monet painting | Peony painting | Clutch similar to Sondra Roberts sequined pouch | Degas painting | Hôtel Ritz Paris

Get to know model Codie Young. Since appearing in the Valentino spring 2013 campaign, her fiery red tresses and svelte physique have made her hard to go unnoticed. We chatted with the fresh-faced beauty, a London-based Aussie transplant, about everything from books to boys to her dream wedding, as she was primped and polished backstage at Tadashi Shoji.

Wedding Suite: What book are you holding in your hand?
Codie Young: At the moment I am reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It’s about this guy, who is a firefighter. The book takes place in the future, during a time when firefighters actually start fires to burn books because they are outlawed. I must say, I’m loving this book. Reading is a great way to pass the time while I’m getting made up from every direction.

Tadashi Shoji is known for his dresses and gowns. Some of the looks in the collection could be worn for a wedding, right?
Totally! The white and ivory dresses I would definitely wear.

Oh, we like the way you’re thinking. Can we ask if you’re in a relationship?
Well, I am VERY single, but what girl hasn’t thought about the perfect wedding dress? I would wear something simple and probably wouldn’t even wear heels. I couldn’t imagine myself having a big wedding either.

Stay tuned for more ready-to-wear meets wedding-inspired looks from the runways of New York Fashion Week.

Qianna Smith

We asked designer Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss to take a minute to answer a few of our questions about her inspirations and give some advice to brides about choosing dresses for their bridesmaids.


Tell us about your design inspirations and philosophy.

I started my line out of my frustration with fashion. I felt there were no beautiful, elegant, youthful and flattering clothes that suited my body type. I knew there were a lot of women who felt the same.

I wanted my collection to be inclusive, something special that women would feel good in–no matter what the occasion was. I thought that I had a good point of view and something to say, and I still feel that way.

Who is the lady you design for?
The brand has grown as I have grown and has evolved as my life has changed. I was a young girl focused on designing cute, wearable, fun clothing to go out in, and as I’ve become a mom, a wife and a businesswoman, I have more needs in my life, and the product line and the customer base have grown.

So it has evolved from a young girl, to a working woman, to a mom, and to a woman in her 40s or 50s who is in good shape and needs dresses and swimsuits that are appropriate and make her feel good.

I focus on being celebratory of women and their bodies and making clothing that looks beautiful, celebrates the shape, and is appropriate for all.


What is your favorite dress trend for fall?

I am not necessarily a “trend” believer, but my favorite dress for fall is a fitted bodice with a full skirt. Variations of this shape include different fabrics, embellishment at the neckline, embroidery, sleeveless, three-quarter sleeves…the possibilities are endless.

Do you have any tips for a bride trying to choose dresses for her bridesmaids?
Think about how your choices will flatter the shapes and coloring of your bridesmaids. Options for bridal parties are so vast that there should be a nice compromise between what you want your party to wear and what they want to wear.

When designing, I take all shapes and sizes into consideration, so bridal parties have more than one option to choose from.

Check out our Shoshanna dresses available online—perfectly pretty for any bridesmaid!

On the heels of announcing our newest collection of Nordstrom-exclusive wedding gowns—Roses by Reem Acra—we couldn’t think of anyone better to answer your bridal styling questions than the genius designer herself. Fans over at our Nordstrom Weddings Facebook page asked the questions, and Reem Acra has the answers!

What is the best fabric for a dress when it’s a beach wedding in tropical weather?
You have many options for a beach wedding or tropical weather: silk, chiffon and tulle are very good choices.

I feel like my gown’s bustier sits too high up (underarm level); how can I tell if the height is correct?
You will know if the gown is too high in the arm if it rubs on your arm when you move it. You should always feel comfortable.

Is a full-laced gown and a lace-lined veil too much?
It always depends on how it is worn and your own personality. If you can carry it off, you can look amazing. If you feel overwhelmed, it will show. Stick with what you feel is best for you.

Are veils even in style anymore?
Although veils seem to be traditional, you can have fun with your veil by being creative with how you style yourself. You can look at some of my veils—some cascade from the waist or the shoulder rather than the head.

We’re so excited to announce the upcoming addition of a little southern sparkle to select Nordstrom Wedding Suites across the country—heidi elnora bridal gowns, arriving March 26. The sweet and charming Alabama native spent a few minutes chatting with us, sharing everything from her tips for finding THE dress to her advice for planning the perfect day.

Tell us about the woman you design for.
A heidi elnora bride is a romantic at heart. She loves clean lines and attention to detail. She isn’t afraid to step out of the box while maintaining a classic and timeless day.

Why did you go into the wedding industry?
That’s a long story. Just know that it has to do with falling in LOVE!

What is your design philosophy and what sets your gowns apart?
My design philosophy is “simple sophistication with a touch of whimsical flair that creates a vintage vibe”—that’s a whole lot of something, but it pretty much says it all.

A heidi elnora gown is different because it isn’t screaming, “I’m a bride.” Yet, you feel and look like one.

What is the biggest trend you’re seeing right now for weddings?
Trends come and go, but currently a big trend for bridal is simple dresses with some type of WOW—for instance a peplum, capelet or neck/sleeve adornment.

What are your tips for finding the perfect dress?
After working with hundreds of brides, I would suggest you get on Pinterest and start tagging things you like. This will help you to see what you are leaning toward. This is also an easy way to share your ideas with your friends and family. I love my Pinterest page. I often use it for inspiration for the upcoming collection.

You recently visited our San Francisco Wedding Suite. What did you think?
Brides in California are so lucky to have such talented and knowledgeable stylists at their Wedding Suite. These ladies really take their time to learn about their bride. It reminds me of being back in Alabama; it’s just comfortable.

What advice would you offer to our Nordstrom brides?
For all of the brides planning your big day, I would advise you to do your research and not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Remember that too many opinions can make you crazy, so only bring one or two super-supportive and positive people. It will make the experience that much more enjoyable.

Find heidi elnora wedding gowns at select Nordstrom Wedding Suites.* Visit our Wedding Suite online for more gowns, inspiration and information about creating your perfect wedding.

*Available at Brea Mall, California; Garden State Plaza, New Jersey; Houston Galleria, Texas; Michigan Avenue, Illinois; NorthPark Center, Texas; San Francisco Centre, California.