With a lengthy list of celebs and notable clients known the world over, British-born Jenny Packham is a phenom in the fashion design world. Her bridal collections—available in our Wedding Suite—are forever sought after for their romantic blend of classic touches with a modern edge. Jenny spent some time telling us about her newest collection, her favorite things in the bridal world and must-see places required for any London itinerary worth its salt.
Matthew Christopher pretty much embodies the American Dream. After growing up in rural Iowa on a pig farm, Matthew swapped swine for sewing and moved to the Windy City to pursue his passion for design at school, subsequently making a splash on the NYC bridal scene. Now, with over a decade of owning and designing his eponymous couture label under his belt, Matthew Christopher has designed countless collections of gorgeous wedding gowns for brides around the globe—and he’s still going strong. We caught up with Christopher to get a peek inside his world.
Founded by master tailors with roots in the Alsace-Lorraine region of eastern France, bridal house Anna Maier is a testament to the enduring allure of luxury couture. Today, the company is owned and all gowns designed by Anna’s great-grandson, Charles W. Bunstine II. A master in his own right, Bunstine has expanded the house’s prestige and legacy with fabrics of the highest quality and designs painstakingly crafted to suit each individual client. With selected Anna Maier bridal gowns arriving at Nordstrom soon, we took a moment to catch up with Bunstine over email to understand his world of couture.
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.
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.
The much-adored bridal designer Amsale Aberra spent some time telling us her top five favorite things about New York City, tips for brides on selecting bridesmaid dresses, where she finds inspiration and more.
What is the one question you always get asked by brides-to-be, and what do you tell them?
The modern-day bride doesn’t ask too many questions. They are so well informed and prepared when they start gown-shopping that they know exactly what they want.
What do you love most about the spring 2016 collections?
My favorite part about the spring 2016 collections is that they all have a clear point of view. Seeing the collections continue to evolve and take on their own identity is what truly excites me.
What are five favorite things about New York City that you’d share with a visitor who’s never been, to show them ‘your’ New York?
- Times Square. When you drive through the city, particularly Times Square, seeing all of the people and bright lights just says “New York”.
- The Hudson River. Getting away from the city and seeing the nature that surrounds; you can see the natural beauty New York has to offer.
- Madison Avenue. For people who love fashion it’s exciting to see an entire avenue filled with luxury fashion. For the non-fashion crowd, they can’t believe a pocketbook cost $20,000!
- The Statue of Liberty. To see how strong a symbol the Statue of Liberty is for such a tiny island can be very compelling to any traveler.
- Food. You can never run out of ideas. You can get whatever you want, whenever you want.
You started your career after designing your very own wedding dress. What did you learn and/or believe at the time that stays with you even until today, as you continue designing gowns and dresses?
How important a wedding dress is for a bride. This is a momentous occasion that only happens once in a woman’s life. I take pride in the ability to be part of her day and take designing such an important gown very seriously.
As a designer and creative individual, where do you find yourself going for inspiration?
My mind is always going. Just living in New York City, I’m inspired everyday by everyone. It’s a big source of inspiration. I’m also creative under stress, so an intense environment can sometimes be helpful. Whether it’s developing a new collection or planning our next fashion show, the stress can be exciting and brings out my creativity.
What are your most important tips for brides selecting dresses for their bridesmaids?
Bridesmaids set the tone for the entire wedding—they are the first people your guests see at the ceremony and they are one of the most significant elements of the entire event. They also bring a lot of life to the party. That is why you should dress them in gowns that make them feel gorgeous and confident.
Bridal designer, New York City dweller and self-described ‘procraftinator,’ Hayley Paige is engaged(!) and giving us the scoop on designing her own wedding gown, what celebs she’d love to dress and a sneak peek into her wedding plans.
The Wedding Suite: Living in New York must be a constant source of creative fuel for designing your gorgeous dresses. Now that you’re engaged and making a dress for yourself, what will a Hayley Paige design look like for Hayley Paige herself?
Hayley Paige: As a bridal designer, it’s important to keep an open mind and find inspiration externally; you want to avoid just producing things you would want to wear. I like surrounding myself with a ton of visuals to help improve my aesthetic vocabulary. More is more for me! Living in New York is also ideal because the women here are so eclectic and magnetic. I love channeling their playful characteristics and assuming a “day in their shoes” to really understand what makes something beautiful.
However, being newly engaged puts a charming spin on all that I do. I’ve had a fun-yet-challenging time shifting that external fascination to a more personal dialogue. I’ve been relating my whole situation to what happens when the tooth fairy loses a tooth! For my own wedding, I want to do a little of everything that makes the Hayley Paige aesthetic so unique and versatile…but also push the envelope stylistically and individually. This will most likely result in multiple looks; I certainly don’t want a circus, but I could definitely give Cher a run for her money with the wardrobe changes I am dreaming up!
A business to run. A wedding to plan. No doubt you’re a busy woman! What keeps you grounded?
My family has been the leading support system in my life…and they have met a fierce game-set-match with my fiancé in the past year! I’m very blessed to have people that keep me inspired and also grounded. When you have genuine people around you, you certainly don’t want to let them down! I am also grateful to have a CEO that took a chance on me at a young age. He has given me some great tools and fabulous coworkers to grow as a designer and businessperson.
Not that you probably have a lot of it, but what are some favorite things you do with your downtime?
I like tiny adventures and a good margarita! I am also a sucker for Pinterest and finding fun things to create/build/DIY around the house. I just learned the term “procraftinate” the other day—where you procrastinate by doing super-crafty organization projects. I could not think of a better word for me and what the wedding planning process is like! I find myself wanting to put a “unique chic twist” on just about everything. Hobbies aside, my absolute favorite thing is to have an engaging dinner conversation with my fiancé. He is a smart cookie and makes me laugh.
It’s been so exciting to see your dresses on the Red Carpet lately! Is there a particular celebrity that you dream of dressing?
I love any good trailblazer, fashion “it girl,” and/or athlete-turned-entrepreneur. I think Sophia Amoruso, Jamie Chung and Misty Copeland would be at the top of my list.
Lastly, we have to ask: can you tell us a little about your upcoming wedding? Sneak-peek time!
It’s going to have a “wild at heart” vibe to it. My goal is to mesh my over-the-top girliness with Danny’s humor and masculine charm. There will be sparkle, there will be some fancy dance moves, and there will be some memorable surprises.
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!
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.
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
-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
-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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!