Designer Hayley Paige on How You Know Which Wedding Dress Is the One
To Hayley Paige, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman in love. In what could be the most high-pressure position of all time, the bridal designer gleefully helps women dress for the day that most of them have been dreaming, planning and Pinning about for years prior to their first fitting. “Sometimes it feels like the most stylish trust fall of all time,” she says. Like a magical fairy godmother to each of her brides, it is easy to imagine Paige wielding a wand until the Lumi ballgown appears, shimmering and ethereal for the modern-day, fashion-forward Cinderella.
Of course, it’s not quite that simple in real life. To turn her visions into reality, Paige operates by the three C’s: composition, construction and consistency. Paige’s dresses, which are produced in New York, are one wildly feminine story after another—exquisite craftsmanship and flattering, fierce silhouettes are their common denominators. “My goal is to create imaginative and unique gowns,” says the designer. “You must be willing to take risks and always be evolving.” The designer’s personal whimsy distinguishes her creations from the ivory standard. “Each one harnesses different energies, just as each bride embodies a fantastically different spirit,” she says, describing her process.
She acknowledges a responsibility to her brides, who rely on her for one of their most memorable life moments. Searching for a wedding dress is a highly emotional undertaking, but Paige has some pretty simple rules for making sure it’s a success. “If there’s no glow, it’s a no-go,” the designer advises. The bride should feel the dress is right by how it registers on her face. Additionally, the designer encourages brides-to-be to dress for the now. “What’s the worst that can happen? You look back and realize you were a little wild and a whole lot of fabulous?” And just because you never imagined yourself in a beaded bolero doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for the wow-factor. “Try on at least one gown that you normally wouldn’t go for,” she encourages. “You would be shocked at how many times a bride walks into an appointment thinking she’s Jessica Rabbit and leaves as Cinderella.”
Hayley Paige’s original sketches
But that’s not to say that Paige brides are all types. There is a certain category of woman to whom the dresses appeal, and whom Paige imagines as she sketches her designs. “She’s a go-getter and a thrower of confetti. She also has a great sense of humor,” says Paige. “She looks for a gown that complements her unique attributes in an artistic but playful way.”
This hypothetical woman sounds a lot like the designer herself. Paige didn’t spare a single ounce of fun when it came to designing not one, but three gowns for her 2015 nuptials—two ceremony ballgowns and a slinky, illusion number for her reception. In an extravagant two-ceremony wedding, the designer married her Prince Charming surrounded by family and friends in stunning Lake Tahoe—a day filled with laughter, excitement and, naturally, a blue unicorn. It was as idyllic a fairytale wedding as one could imagine—and an exclusive peek into the designer’s dazzling imagination. “One thing the Hayley Paige bride will never be is underwhelming,” Paige assures.
Hayley Paige wears the Hayley embellished English net & tulle long-sleeve ballgown
Her favorite dress from the big day? The Hayley ballgown that she wore for her church ceremony, which is now available in her bridal collection. For Paige, that her own wedding dress is available for future brides everywhere sums up her motivation. “It’s like a magnetic connection to the very women who inspire me,” she says. “The ultimate camaraderie.”
In addition to being the head designer for Hayley Paige, Blush by Hayley Paige, Hayley Paige Occasions, Hayley Paige Red Carpet and La Petite Hayley Paige, Paige is also the creator of Holy Matrimoji (the first wedding-focused emoji app of its kind) and is the subject of TLC’s latest addition to the wedding circuit, Hayley Ever After: The Dress. “I loved the storytelling element of the project,” says Paige, who mentors a team of emerging designers as they take on The Bachelorette’s Kaitlyn Bristowe’s wedding dress. “I didn’t always have confidence in myself, nor understand design as a profession,” Paige says, “so I wanted to create a space that is inventive and inspiring for young designers.”
For the designer who’s become synonymous with fairytale endings, it seems there’s a whole lot after the happily ever after.