Real Talk: I Own a Bridal Salon. Here’s How I Picked Out My Wedding Dress.

"It was the most awesome piece of clothing I have ever worn."

Welcome to Real Talk Week at Philadelphia Wedding, where the pros behind the city’s most stylish weddings dish on how they handled getting hitched themselves. Up today: Ivy Solomon, owner of Lovely Bride in Old City, on how she selected her own wedding dress when she buys them for a living. 

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I was single when I opened my store. Less than a year in, I had a trunk show with the designer Carol Hannah. There was a dress I put on — they’re fun, gorgeous gowns; of course I want to try them on — and I texted the designer: I can’t buy this for my store because I wouldn’t let anyone else try this on.

I’m four-foot-eleven. Not a lot of things work on my body, so when something hits me in the right places, I really love it. Knowing I could work with the designer to customize the gown was also very important to me.

As I was dating my now-husband, I always had that dress in the back of my mind. It would have been hard for me to wear a dress that I’d sold to other people. When we did get engaged, I was kind of like, Okay, we’re gonna go to the Carol Hannah studio. I’m going to make sure I still love that dress, and I’m probably going to get that dress. And that’s exactly what happened.

She did the whole dress custom to my measurements. From the waist down stayed exactly the same; the fabric stayed the same. The original was a corset, so I changed it so that there were no cups and the boning just continued over my bust line. Hannah also added tulle straps that had some of the sequins from the gown scattered throughout.

After I ordered the gown, we got in a dress at my salon that was stunning. After seeing a couple of people in it, I had a bit of an “Oh my God, was I hasty?” moment. I put it on and was immediately like, No, I was not hasty. That dress was a little more A-line, not like the fitted column that I wore. It was just a really good reaffirmation. This was not the time to try a silhouette I’m not confident about.

Everyone asked me what I was going to wear, but I didn’t tell anyone. My parents knew, and I showed a picture to my mother-in-law, but I didn’t even text her a photo, because I didn’t want anyone to have a photo of it. Your wedding dress is your decision. It’s one of the most exciting pieces of clothing you’re ever going to wear, and you’re not going to please everybody. Someone is going to have a negative opinion of it, and if you love it, that doesn’t matter.

A friend of mine who got married before I was in the biz told me on her wedding day, she was really excited to marry her husband, but she was more excited to put on her wedding gown. At the after-party, people asked her: Don’t you want to take your dress off? She said, “No, I love this thing so much, I never want to take it off.” That always stuck with me, and I definitely felt the same on my wedding day. It was the most awesome piece of clothing I have ever worn. I wanted to be in it forever.

carol hannah sequin wedding dress

Ivy Solomon, owner of Philly’s Lovely Bride, in her Carol Hannah wedding dress. Photograph by Love Me Do Photography

As told to Sarah Zlotnick. 

This story was originally published as “I Knew My Dress Before I Knew My Husband” in the Winter/Spring 2019 issue of Philadelphia Wedding. To order your copy, click here

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