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Trying on Wedding Dresses with Bride-to-Be Hannah and Smart Advice from Our Suite Stylist

We had the extreme privilege of being flies on the wall at real-life, bride-to-be Hannah Schultz’s appointment at our Wedding Suite. Not every woman would let a crew of people (not to mention a camera!) into a private dressing area, but Hannah was as gracious as she was convivial. Though she’s a wedding planner herself and old hat at attending wedding dress appointments, we were still honored that she agreed to let us document and share her personal Wedding Suite experience.

Joined by her family, Hannah spent a few hours trying on a handful of beautiful wedding gowns—along with the help of wedding stylist Rachael Sanchez—in search of “the one” to wear to her fall 2017 wedding. Read on for more about Hannah, some sage stylist intel on gown shopping and lots of gorgeous dresses.

Vera Wang fawn wedding gown at Nordstrom.

Vera Wang fawn wedding gown at Nordstrom.

Vera Wang Fawn wedding dress (in store only)

First off, we asked our stylist Rachael to give us the lowdown on our Wedding Suite experience: “It all begins with the bride booking an appointment. After that, a stylist will email her a consultation prior to the first meeting, which includes questions about the bride’s personal style, her overall wedding theme and how she pictures herself looking on her big day. Before the appointment, the stylist pulls a number of styles for the bride, who sometimes comes with an entire entourage and champagne, though some brides come in alone. The aim of a first styling is really to narrow down a silhouette or particular aesthetic. After that, a bride normally has one or two more appointments before saying, ‘yes!’

“The gown usually arrives 4–6 months later and the fittings begin. A bride will have 2–3 alterations appointments about 4 weeks before her wedding. The dress is then packed up, steamed and picked up by the bride a couple days before the wedding. That being said, each and every bride is different and special in her own way…each experience is unique to the bride, and we know and love that part about what we do as stylists.”

Bliss by Monique Lhuillier BL16228 wedding gown at Nordstrom.

Hannah on her wedding: “My wedding will be in Boston at the Cyclorama. It’s an amazing industrial, raw space with a really unique and funky vibe that I can’t wait to glam up with tons of hanging florals, fun combinations of tables and linens and amazing food!”

Bliss by Monique Lhuillier BL16228 wedding gown at Nordstrom.

Bliss by Monique Lhuillier BL16228 wedding gown at Nordstrom.About our bride: “It might sound a bit cheesy, but as a complete wedding and event addict, my life completely revolves around events. (Seriously, I am obsessed!) In my free time, I love researching the hottest new trends from around the world and figuring out ways to implement them for current and future clients. I also love to host parties for family and friends, and to customize my events to each of my clients’ personalities. I am so excited to finally be able to represent both my fiancé and me in terms of our own tastes and preferences. I really want people to walk away thinking our event was glamorous, elegant, but most importantly, lots of fun!”

Bliss by Monique Lhuillier BL16228 (in store only)

On her ideal wedding dress: “Well, since most of my clients have ended up getting dresses that are entirely different than what they were initially expecting they would, my mind was wide open. I just wanted something white or off-white that looked great on me and wasn’t too busy to the point where people were focusing on the style of my dress instead of focusing on me.”

Bliss Monique Lhuillier lace and tulle mermaid wedding dress at Nordstrom.

How the stylist guided her: “Ideally, I loved the notion of a mermaid-style dress, but knowing that I am short and somewhat curvy, mermaid is often not ideal for my body type. Regardless, since it was my first time trying dresses on, I decided to try a mermaid-style silhouette anyway. As expected, I looked short and wide—definitely not how I wanted to feel on my wedding day! Then Rachael suggested trying on mermaid dresses without any ruching, since that has a tendency to add extra volume. She also suggested trying on a dress that hit the leg a bit higher than the knee, since this tends to be more comfortable and elongates the body. She was so right! She picked out a dress that matched what she was describing, and it looked gorgeous!”

Hayley Paige Nicoletta floral-sequined bodice tiered-tulle wedding dress at Nordstrom.

On her Wedding Suite experience: “Amazing! The suite was so elegant and gorgeous. Truly something straight out of a magazine. Rachael was also so sweet and helpful, really making me feel like I was getting the full ‘bridal treatment’—pulling out coordinating belts, veils and other gorgeous accessories for me to try on with each dress. She and I talked a lot about how I want to feel on the wedding day, which I thought was very important, because it was a really individualized approach to better understand me personally as a bride.

“Rachael had tons of suggestions based on what I was looking for, and was so knowledgeable about the fit and how the dresses looked on different body types. She gave me so many additional ideas of how to branch out and look into styles I wouldn’t necessarily have been drawn to based on how the dress looked on the hanger. She also knew every detail of how each dress could be altered depending on the construction of the dress and my body type. I was so impressed!”

Hayley Paige Nicoletta floral-sequined bodice tiered-tulle wedding dress at Nordstrom.

Hayley Paige Nicoletta floral-bodice tiered tulle wedding gown (in store only)

Monique Lhuillier dulce V-neck lace and tulle sheath dress at Nordstrom.

Her favorite dress details: “Honestly, I really loved all of the dresses I tried on, but there were a few that really stood out. The Vera Wang gown was ridiculously gorgeous, and I loved how it literally felt like I was wearing pajamas. It was so lightweight and stretchy, yet somehow still kept its shape. It was also so easy to walk around in, so I hands down award this the honor of ‘most comfortable dress ever.’

Monique Lhuillier dulce V-neck lace and tulle sheath dress at Nordstrom.

Monique Lhuillier dulce V-neck lace and tulle sheath dress at Nordstrom.

Monique Lhuillier Dulce V-neck lace sheath dress (in store only)

“The Monique Lhuillier mermaid dress was classic, yet still so fun and stylish. The dress had detailed floral lace appliqué touches everywhere, and was so flattering on. It was also surprisingly pretty comfortable. Rachael styled it with a gorgeous sparkly belt that really pulled the whole look together.”

Hayley Paige's own wedding dress: Hayley embellished english tulle long sleeve gown at Nordstrom.

Hayley Paige's own wedding dress: Hayley embellished english tulle long sleeve gown at Nordstrom.Her advice as a wedding planner for other brides-to-be: “To help streamline your search for the perfect dress, I would definitely suggest beginning the process by trying on one dress in each silhouette. This will help you home in on the best shapes for your body much faster. Once you know your favorite silhouettes, focus the rest of your dress hunt on exploring dresses in those shapes.

I would also suggest talking to your bridal salon attendant about exactly how you want to look and feel on your day—whether it’s sexy, fun, dramatic, demure or whatever else you want to feel. Then be sure to give them honest feedback on the dresses you try on; these ladies know what they are doing, and are just so thrilled to help you find your special dress.”

Hayley Paige's own wedding dress: Hayley embellished english tulle long sleeve gown at Nordstrom.

Hayley Paige's own wedding dress: Hayley embellished english tulle long sleeve gown at Nordstrom.

Hayley Paige's own wedding dress: Hayley embellished english tulle long sleeve gown at Nordstrom.

Last words of wisdom from our stylist Rachael: “Be open-minded! Most brides end up purchasing something completely different than what they had imagined. I cannot count the brides who come in saying they don’t want strapless and end up leaving with a strapless dress. You really don’t know unless you try it on.

“Also, try not to have any preconceived ideas of what your bridal journey will look like. I have so many brides who are hesitant to say ‘yes’ to their dress, because they aren’t overwhelmed with emotion or crying like ‘all of their friends did.’ Everyone is different and everyone will have a different journey. As hard as it can be sometimes, it is so important not to compare your journey to other people’s. You could be missing out on your own special moment by trying to re-create some else’s.”

EXPLORE: more wedding dresses

Images: Elizabeth Rudge | Styling: Rachael Sanchez | Hair & Makeup: Jenny Verador

Our sincere thanks and warmest wishes to Hannah!

—Jeff Powell