Interview

Joanna August, bridal designer.

The talented designer Joanna August is in the business of dreaming up beautiful and innovative bridesmaid dresses. With a wide range of colors, styles and silhouettes, there’s something in Ceremony by Joanna August to make any bridesmaid happy (even jumpsuits!). Read on to see more dresses and some sage advice from the woman behind these pretty, romantic bridesmaid dresses.

Bridesmaid Dresses by Joanna August.

Your journey into bridal designs began with your own wedding in 2008 because you couldn’t find dresses you loved for your bridesmaids. What was missing from the market and what defines the look and style of your dresses today?
In 2008, everything on the market for bridesmaids looked like a bridesmaid dress! Even the pretty ones would have some sort of detail, like a satin sash or satin piping–something that marked the dress “for weddings only.” Then, if you looked for “regular,” off-the-rack dresses, you would find the perfect dress but not in the colors you wanted. From the beginning, the look of my dresses has been romantic, ethereal and most importantly, wearable! Nothing about my designs limits the dresses to the bridesmaid category. The only thing real “bridal” about them is that they are available in many colors, so the bride is able to customize the look to achieve her overall vision for her wedding.

Now, in 2015, there are a lot more options for bridesmaids, so, while I continue to put out fashionable, wearable looks, I also focus on pushing the envelope and introducing new and unexpected options for bridesmaids. I was one of the first to design separates and jumpsuits for bridesmaids, and I continue to search for unique options for the fashion-forward bride to express her taste and creativity through her bridal fashion choices.

SEE MORE DRESSES AND JOANNA’S TIPS FOR DRESSING ‘MAIDS OF ALL SHAPES AND STYLES

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For the second season in a row, we’re counting down the crucial pre-Christmas shopping days with a series called Gifted Givers, in which friends old and new share their thoughts on stylishly spirited giving and receiving.

Hayley Paige

Designer, newlywed, force of positivity and unicorn lover, Hayley Paige is today’s gifted giver. After hearing her answers to our gift-related questions, we couldn’t help but wish we could find a way onto her recipient list. At least we can all be inspired by her gift-giving prowess and shopping while schnapps-ing philosophy.

IF YOU’RE HAYLEY’S HUSBAND DON’T CLICK THIS LINK: EVERYONE ELSE THIS WAY!

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Or should we say dresses? Bridal Designer Hayley Paige gives us a sneak peek at the details of what she’s designing and what she and her maids will be wearing during her upcoming July wedding.

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1. Not a single dress has been made yet for my July 11th wedding. Gulp! I am kind of approaching the wardrobe like I would a typical bridal season: one style at a time and fresh off the pattern table. It’s nice to have a design room at my disposal, but it also gives you that added panache of fashion show pressure.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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

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Hi, everyone! It’s Molly, your Nordstrom Weddings Site Merchandiser here. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know one of our wedding designers, Heidi Elnora, since we launched her brand seven months ago. Let me just tell you that she is a fantastic human being and a brilliant designer. She has enough energy to fill the Superdome, the ability to make you smile so big your cheeks hurt and is one of the best huggers I’ve met!

I recently asked Heidi if she could name a favorite wedding dress from her collections. She told me, “The Coco Marie is one of my all-time favorite gowns.” I couldn’t agree more. The Coco Marie is a dream dress. It’s beautiful all on its own but can be complemented with many different pieces and styles. Here’s what else she had to say about the dress and how to style it.

“The Coco Marie was named after one of my first brides, Nicole Marie Richter. Her husband is a DJ and a very dear friend of mine, DJ Coco–therefore, the Coco Marie. This gown is simple yet has a perfect fit, which is the key to a great wedding dress. It can be worn with the Katie Grace cover-up, the lace bodice, by itself or with a great sash.

“The best thing about the Katie Grace cover-up is that it is reversible. You can wear it with buttons in the front, giving you a very traditional look and a low V-shaped back, or you can reverse it so that the V gives you a cap-sleeve feel and a see-through lace back. This option looks great with full covered buttons down the length of your Coco Marie. By adding a ruched waistband, you complete the look while cinching in your waist at the same time. What girl doesn’t love a tiny waist!

“Another great option for the Coco Marie is our lace bodice. This bodice is used as an overlay on the Coco Marie and finishes at the natural waist. The Coco Marie is one great gown that is as versatile as my brides!”

Want to try the Coco Marie or any other dresses in our Heidi Elnora lookbook for yourself? Head to one of our Wedding Suites where a Wedding Stylist can help find the perfect way to customize this gown just for you! –Molly

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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!

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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.

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