The Enthusiasts Guide from “Yes” to “I Do”

Host Leah Longbrake is pulling back the veil to bring you honest advice and creative ideas from those in the wedding industry. From the Engagement to the Honeymoon, get all the details you need from wedding and event experts on how to make it your best day ever!

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How Do I Know It's the One? Choosing Your Dream Wedding Dress (or Jumpsuit!)

How Do I Know It's the One? Choosing Your Dream Wedding Dress (or Jumpsuit!)

Ball gown? Sheath? A Romper? There are so many wedding dress options it can be overwhelming. Clara DeLisio, Co-Owner of Galleria Gowns, shares her advice on how to choose your dream dress, as well as when you should start looking. She'll also give her do's and don'ts when shopping for the big day, and what the trends will be for 2021-2022.



Get to know Clara:

Clara DeLisio wears many hats these days, including one of her favorites as Co-Owner of Galleria Gowns Bridal Boutique. Together, with her mother Pina Sbrocca, the duo built their business from the ground up. Pina opened the business in 1998 while Clara was completing her BA in Education at Ohio University. Soon after graduation, Clara found herself working at the boutique and loving every minute of it. Fueled by her passion for fashion and design, she quickly learned every aspect of running the business, from buying trips to Chicago with her mother to fulfilling the CFO duties. In addition to picking and choosing all of the inventory, she made sure to learn how to sew and fit dresses properly. Through the years, she has custom designed many bridal gowns to make them one of a kind!

Clara has been humbled to see the store and business grow throughout the years from a small 1,400 sq. ft. boutique to its new and current location of 6,000 sq. ft. On any given Saturday, you will find Clara in her element at the boutique helping brides find their dream dresses. To her, this is the most rewarding part….making friends along the way!



Follow Galleria Gowns on The Knot, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook!

This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Executive Producers David Moss, Gerardo Orlando, Production Director Brigid Coyne and Audio Engineers, Sean Rule-Hoffman and Declan Rohrs.

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Leah Longbrake:
Hello, and welcome to Weddings Unveiled, the podcast for your wedding planning process. I'm your host, Leah Longbrake. We know how exciting and stressful planning the big day can be, and we're here to help, providing you with information and advice from industry insiders and those with firsthand experience. On today's episode we'll discuss what you should look for when choosing your wedding gown and bridal look with Clara DiLisio, co-owner of Galleria Gowns.

Leah Longbrake:
Welcome to the show, Clara. A lot of new brides are ... I wish I had this going into when I planned my wedding a year ago, you know?

Clara DiLisio:
Well, it's a process. And you do have to be prepared before you walk in the door, or you will be completely overwhelmed.

Leah Longbrake:
Yes.

Clara DiLisio:
So doing a little bit of research is always, always, always suggested, it's always a great idea to know what you're walking into when you come into the store. Because honestly, you're going to get bombarded by 400 or more gowns, and then you're not going to know what to do. But that's where we come in. Our stylists, our consultants, we know these gowns like the back of our hand, we know how they look on, we know how they lay, we know how they feel, the fabrics. So it's important for them to put a little trust in us and a little bit of faith, and then we become partners in search. And it usually works out well.

Leah Longbrake:
I was a bridesmaid consultant back when I was 20, and that is the hardest thing for brides, to let go of ... I don't know if it's a control thing or what, but having that trust in the consultant is difficult for some reason.

Clara DiLisio:
It's very difficult. But we like to start off, I like to start our appointments talking to the bride one on one. What do you expect out of this appointment? What do you expect from your girls? Because that's really an important question. If she expects them to find their dress on their own, if she expects them to do the work and make the decision themselves, that's a whole different appointment or a different approach, as opposed to the, "I want to see what you girls look in and then I can choose what I like." So we like to start the appointments with the bride one on one, without anybody in her ears. Or we set ourselves aside and we say, "Okay, how do you want this to go? Do you want to look for colors first? Are you very particular in a color, you want to find that first and then we can move on to a dress or a designer? What do you expect from your girls?"

Clara DiLisio:
And that way everyone's on the same page and it really works out very well. Communication is key, and as long as everybody understands what is expected of them, then the appointment can usually be very, very successful. Of course you have those that aren't, but we're women and we have lots of opinions.

Leah Longbrake:
Well, yeah, and if you've been dreaming about it your whole life, it's not only a process but it's an overwhelming process. Or can be. Tell us, Clara, how you got into the business.

Clara DiLisio:
Well, interesting story. My mother, her name's Pina, she opened a store. I was on my way to college, so I was a freshman going away, and she was a designer back in Italy along with her mother, who had taught her all she knows about sewing. And I never got a chance to meet my grandmother, she had passed before my mother had any children. So it's very surreal that we're in this business together, and I feel as if she started it but never got a chance to really see it. Well, she is. So back in Italy my grandmother knew how to, she had a class of women that she taught how to design. And so my mother was designing clothes for herself at the age of 10.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, wow.

Clara DiLisio:
Yeah, very talented, and then came to America and that dream went to the wayside. And years and years later, a friend of hers had owned a store, a bridal store, and she asked if she could come and help her. And then that's where her passion and love began. And then she opened up a store 30 years ago thinking that she would just try it and see how it worked out. And 30 years later I joined her, I actually never left. I worked through college there, I was there during all the buying markets, I went with her to Chicago and wherever else we went. But it was always us two going everywhere together, and I really loved it. And it wasn't what I went to school for, but I am definitely doing what I am supposed to be doing, and I have a huge passion for it.

Leah Longbrake:
And you can tell, and your store has been so successful for so long.

Clara DiLisio:
It has been. And we've had our ups and downs through the years, you can't be in business for 30 years and not have somewhat of a roller coaster at some point. But you get through those times and you figure out what works for you. And sometimes it takes a little longer for you to figure it out. And some people figure it out right away. We figured it out a long time ago and really, we focus on customer service. If we didn't have good customer service, we would not be where we are. And we're not in business to sell a dress, we're in business to make memories, we're in business to make friends, we're in business to help people. And that's why we're still here. At least that's why I think we're still here.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, absolutely. So when a bride wants to start looking for her dress, is it best to make an appointment? Can you just walk in? What's the start of the process for a bride?

Clara DiLisio:
The start of the process for the bride, honestly, is the Internet. That is really where she should go first. And what I mean by that is, just get an idea of what dresses look like. I'm not saying find your dress on the Internet. I am just saying browse, look to see what there is. That's sheath dresses, there's A-line, there's fit and flare, there's mermaid, there's ball gowns, there's strapless, there's V-neck. I could go on and on. It's just a great idea to have visually seen dresses prior to walking in the store.

Clara DiLisio:
Now, the second thing is to set up an appointment. So aside from going online and doing a little bit of research, you really need to set up an appointment. It is by appointment only right now. We want to ensure that you have a consultant. If you come into the store and there is no consultant available, then your experience will be very, very different.

Leah Longbrake:
That's pretty universal with most bridal shops, correct?

Clara DiLisio:
Yes. Very universal. We'll take walk-ins if we're free, if there's a consultant we'll absolutely help you. So we wouldn't turn anybody away, but it is very important to set up an appointment. And you have that one on one with your stylist, and that's where you develop a relationship with them, and that is where it begins, with the relationship. You have to trust the person helping you. Because we have seen it and we know what we're doing. And we're there for you. That is all we are there, we are there for you, the bride.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
We're there for the entourage, for her mom, for her mother-in-law, for her sister, we are there for you. And that is key.

Leah Longbrake:
How many people should a bride be bringing? Because you now see things like Say Yes To the Dress, for example, and they have like 10 people and they're getting all of these comments thrown their way, which you already had your own personal comments about yourself, and then you add 10 other people. What do you think is the best route to go as far as who to bring with you?

Clara DiLisio:
So it's such a great question. It's such a confusing question. And for the bride, she doesn't want to hurt anybody's feelings. So it's confusing for her, who she should invite. What I always tell my brides, "You bring your most trusted and valued entourage of three to five people."

Leah Longbrake:
Max.

Clara DiLisio:
Yeah. They don't always listen, they don't want to leave out the one sister or the one cousin or the one friend. And so that can be tricky, and we understand that. We would never want anybody's feelings to be hurt because they weren't included. But the bottom line is that sometimes our guests forget who they're shopping for. So I always try to remind the people that are with her that this is for her. "Do you think this is her style? Do you think this is a dress she would look good in, or she would wear? Does this replicate her personality? You know her best." We try to remind them what they're there for and who they're there for. And we as women, sometimes we get worked up and we are looking at dresses and clothes that we would like for ourselves.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
But we're not there for us. We're there for somebody else. So we do have to remind them of that sometimes. And your trusted, most valuable entourage should be a mix of family and friends, or family only. Whoever that is for you. And so the appointment, we always have to remind everybody, is for Sally the bride.

Leah Longbrake:
It has to be tough, though, when you have a mother, for example, that has dreamt about her daughter getting married and she has this whole princess mindset, big ball skirt, Cinderella, but the bride wants more like Meghan Markle chic, or just wants to be on a beach with the flower crown. How do you help navigate that?

Clara DiLisio:
Yeah, that happens every single day. It happens every single day at the store. And it can be so tricky. So I want to appease the mom. I want her to see her daughter in a dress that she's dreamed of forever. So she says, "Oh, can you try this ball gown on?" Moms always want ball gowns. "Can you try this ball gown, can you try this on?" We will try it on her, yes. We will let you see it on her. And it's up to the bride sometimes to say, while she's in it, "It's very pretty, but it's just not me." Or sometimes they actually fall in love. It's Mom's dream, you know? She found it.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah, you just don't know.

Clara DiLisio:
You sometimes never know. That's why when you come in for an appointment we always want to put on almost every style possible on the bride. And then we figure out where she's going.

Leah Longbrake:
So you really should come in with an open mind.

Clara DiLisio:
Exactly. An open mind is the best. "I want lace, I want straight or sheath, and I don't want strapless." And she leaves with a strapless ball gown.

Leah Longbrake:
That was me. Not a ball gown, but I went into my appointment, "I know I want very Bohemian and some straps, a V-neck," I had this whole idea in my head. I walked out with a strapless high-low.

Clara DiLisio:
Yep. See?

Leah Longbrake:
You just don't know.

Clara DiLisio:
You trusted your stylist.

Leah Longbrake:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Clara DiLisio:
So that was probably a great appointment for you.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
Or a great experience. And it's an experience, and you'll never forget it.

Leah Longbrake:
Absolutely.

Clara DiLisio:
Right? So we're a part of memories, we're creating memories every single day. And it's a great feeling.

Leah Longbrake:
What should a bride bring with her besides an entourage? Is there anything else she should come already with? You mentioned searching the Internet. Should she come with photos? Do you need to bring shoes and undergarments?

Clara DiLisio:
Well, we have all of those things at the store. We can provide all of those. So really what we would love is for a bride to say, "I have a Pinterest page that I can show you." And that page will consist of floral arrangements, color palettes, dresses that she has pinned. And it really gives us an overall feel. Is she boho? Is she formal romantic? Is she glitz and glam? What type is she? And it's really a great tool. And I didn't have that when I was getting married.

Leah Longbrake:
Right.

Clara DiLisio:
And it's a wonderful tool. And I love that we can see it right in front of our eyes, right that very moment I can say, "Oh, great, she's getting married, she loves rustic, she loves barn. I know she's going to want a comfortable dress, she's going to want a flowy, maybe big floral pattern, flowers." And so your mind starts going as soon as you see those pictures. And you can say, "Okay, I've got three dresses specifically in mind that I'm going to grab for you, and I want you to try them on." And then we go from there, and it becomes fun, and we show her all the dresses. And it's really a great time.

Leah Longbrake:
How important is it for a bride to have the venue selected before going into getting the dress?

Clara DiLisio:
I think it's super important. Because I like to pair my dress up with the venue.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
If my bride says, "I'm getting married inside with chandeliers," that is a completely different look than if she's getting married outside. Not in a barn, but next to a barn, or in a field, or just in a backyard. Those are really, really different looks. And I think that it's important to pair your dress with the theme of your wedding. And although you might not have a theme, you kind of do.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah, you know if you want to be a black tie or if you're going to be a beach or coastal.

Clara DiLisio:
Exactly.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
Exactly, and that's a different dress too.

Leah Longbrake:
So the dresses that you're bringing in, and I know, again, I've gone through this myself, where you see the dress on the hanger and you don't think it's that great. And the consultant says, "Trust me," and you put it on, and it's perfect. I'm sure you get this all the time, though, but how important is it to keep open about the look of the dress on the hanger versus what it's going to end up being?

Clara DiLisio:
It's almost as if you've been in my store before, because that is what I say all day long.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
"It's not the best hanger dress, trust me, it's beautiful on. It's absolutely gorgeous." And they'll say, usually if I say that they'll say, "Okay, I'll try it on."

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
And so if they're very hesitant I'll say, "What don't you like about it? Talk to me, tell me what this dress is saying to you." And she will, she'll say, "Well, I don't like this and that about it." And if it's something I think that maybe she has a misconception about once it's on, I'll say, "You still need to try it on." And she will. And she usually takes our advice and our opinion. And nine out of 10 times we have found the dress for them.

Leah Longbrake:
So trust your stylist. Don't judge a dress by its hanger.

Clara DiLisio:
That is your takeaway today.

Leah Longbrake:
Absolutely. So when you get the dress on, it can be shocking to see the number of the size. Let's discuss how bridal sizing is so incredibly different than your normal clothes shopping.

Clara DiLisio:
It was worse and it's getting better, but sizes in our bridal world are not the same as in our everyday world. Some of our designers are really trying to get on board and change their sizing. So we have seen a few of them start it, which is great. The closer we get to our average size, the better we all feel. Nobody wants to feel that. We do not talk about sizes at our store. We don't mention what size the dress is, it's not important what size the dress is. We just want you to try on the dresses that speak to you.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
So when it comes down to the dress that you fall in love with, we then start talking about the size of the dress. But before that, we don't bring it up.

Leah Longbrake:
That's great.

Clara DiLisio:
It's irrelevant and it shouldn't be an issue. Talking about it at the end is really just a conversation about, "We need to get the dress that best fits your body, and let's have a conversation about it. Let's measure you, let's see, you're between two sizes," which most of us are. And which way do we want to go? Do we want to go up, do we want to go down? It's never a great idea to say, "I am losing weight, I want to go down a size."

Leah Longbrake:
But you hear it so often.

Clara DiLisio:
You do hear it. What I say to that is, "You know your body better than I know your body. And if you think that you can get down to that size, that is your choice and I will support you, and we can go ahead and order it. You'll have to sign off on it, but I will order that dress for you. In the end, you're going to have to wear it. I'm not going to have to wear it." But I always say it's easier to take in a dress than to let out a dress.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah, I was going to say, in alterations you can take in pretty much as much, depending on the beading and that, but you can't let out.

Clara DiLisio:
Right, you can't let out. And so I always say, if you go with the size that's a comfortable size, you can then choose the comfort level for you. You could take it in in your hips if you want, if that's where you want it taken in, and leave the rest where it is. Or you can have it taken in in the top if that's where your comfort level is best. Rather than the dress deciding your comfort level for you, you can then be in charge of it. So that's how we like to handle the sizes. And usually we come to an agreement together that is the same, usually.

Leah Longbrake:
And this goes for bridesmaids and mothers' dresses too.

Clara DiLisio:
Absolutely.

Leah Longbrake:
All of it, yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
All of it. It's the bridesmaids that really want to go down with the sizes. Not so much the bride.

Leah Longbrake:
So true.

Clara DiLisio:
It really is the bridesmaids. And I say to them, "Listen, I'm suggesting this size, and if you want to go down to this size, you have to sign off on it." But a lot of them do end up listening to us, which is nice.

Leah Longbrake:
As a bride I'm glad I listened to my consultant, because I said, "In a year I'm going to lose all this weight." I didn't lose a pound in a year, in all honesty. So my dress was perfect.

Clara DiLisio:
Right. And look where we are now? Who would have thought that we'd be in the situation that we're in currently? And so lots has happened in a year, and you can't predict what's going to happen, ever.

Leah Longbrake:
With that, though, before we go into the different style dresses again, because you already touched upon it, but what are the trends we're starting to see for 2021 and 2022, and has the COVID and quarantine pandemic crisis changed the way things are going in bridal wear, as opposed to what we had seen previously in the collections launched for 2021?

Clara DiLisio:
So I'm happy to say that COVID has not influenced in any way, in any negative way, our industry as far as fashion and style. We are seeing some amazing, amazing trends right now which I'm super excited about. In bridal specifically we're seeing a lot of sparkle tulle, and it's just such a delicate sparkle that you can see it but you can't see it, you don't know where it's coming from sometimes. When you turn the light catches it. It's just very unique. And it's not blingy by any means.

Leah Longbrake:
It's just glistening.

Clara DiLisio:
Glistening, yes. And it's so pretty. It's one of my favorite details that we're seeing in 2021 and I'm sure 2022. We're starting to see a lot of pearl embellishments, which I was very surprised about. So we've seen a few glimpses of some of those dresses, and we're still seeing the long sleeves. The big floral lace patterns are so pretty, and they're so pretty on that flowy A-line dress with a deep plunge neckline. It's just gorgeous. And when you walk, the movement is so natural. It's a different look than a ball gown, these flowy A-lines. And I'm really, really loving them, and I can't wait to see more of them.

Leah Longbrake:
Sounds beautiful.

Clara DiLisio:
I can't get enough. Trains are really big too. So a lot of our sheath gowns have this stretch, cool touch fabric. One of our designers has a patent, Allure Bridals. And it feels like Spanx, but not quite.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, I like that though.

Clara DiLisio:
It's more ... Right? It's more comfortable, it's not as tight. But yet you still feel secure and less conscious, less self-conscious. And they're usually in our sheath gowns, and so we've got a great figure going, and then we have this, boom, awesome, long train with these lace embellishments. They're gorgeous. It's amazing when you go to work and you have five new dresses that just came in, and you love one more than the other and you can't wait to see them on somebody.

Leah Longbrake:
It makes me want to go shopping again for my dress, and I've been married for a year already.

Clara DiLisio:
Exactly. And I'll say to one of the stylists and the consultants, "Try this one on, I want to see it, it's so pretty." And so we do. We want to see what they look like on.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. It helps you with the client, though.

Clara DiLisio:
It's a fashion show in the back room.

Leah Longbrake:
If you ever need a volunteer, I'd happily help out. All right, there's two other trends. With the recent royal wedding of Princess Beatrice wearing Queen Elizabeth's dress, do you think we'll see more vintage looks in bridal going forward?

Clara DiLisio:
So vintage, it never really went away. It's still around. Vintage, I think it flows into our boho look a lot, and so it's that lace, it's that thicker lace, it's that long sleeve. And it can also be that big ball gown. A traditional dress has never gone away. A traditional dress will always be with us. A traditional dress is classic, elegant, timeless. And so we'll always, always have those. There'll always be a need for them. And they're around because they're classic. They always look good.

Leah Longbrake:
And you can look back at your photos and not be like, "Oh, that was definitely 1982." You never know.

Clara DiLisio:
You never know. And so yeah, I think vintage will be around just like those classic traditional dresses. I think it'll be around for a very long time.

Leah Longbrake:
Now, what about the other end of the spectrum, with the more modern, the pantsuits, the capes, the high-lows? Are you still seeing those as being popular or are they kind of fading off?

Clara DiLisio:
You know, they're fading off a little bit. The pantsuit was here, and I love that concept, I'm a huge fan. But fashion is just always, it's a revolving door. It's always changing. There's always something else coming around the corner. So just when you thought you figured it out, guess what?

Leah Longbrake:
Something new comes.

Clara DiLisio:
Something new comes around the corner, and it's just as pretty. So that's just fashion. In with the new, out with the old. But it's not old by any means. I still love a great pantsuit, I myself have them and I think they're great.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. Especially like a City Hall wedding or something more low-key.

Clara DiLisio:
Definitely.

Leah Longbrake:
So one of the biggest parts of anything in wedding planning is budget. What's a good budget to go in with planning, not just your wedding dress, but the whole wedding look? Because everyone thinks about the price of the dress, but they forget alterations, accessories, et cetera.

Clara DiLisio:
Right. So I'm going to break it down for us, because I think that is more important than giving an overall big budget. An average cost of a wedding dress and the average ticket price is probably anywhere between $1,000 and $1,500 for a wedding dress. You get an amazing dress for an amazing price. And then you have to figure in, you're getting that dress, but now you have to fit it to your body. Your body is different than the next body. And so we have to alter it, we have to hem it, we have to do shoulder straps, we need a bustle, you need it steamed. And when it's all said and done, you can spend anywhere from $300 to $500 on your alterations, and that's average. So now we're at $2,000. And you need a veil, maybe you need a belt, you need some jewelry or a headpiece, and you're going to add another maybe $300 to those items.

Clara DiLisio:
So anywhere from, I would say budget up to $2,500 for everything. Everything included, that's the dress plus your alterations plus your headpiece and your accessories, and don't forget your jewelry and shoes. So all these things together do add up. But it's important that you understand it beforehand so that you're not shocked. And if you come to the store and you say your budget for your dress is $1,000, then your dress budget is $1,000, but all the other things that go with it are additional.

Leah Longbrake:
And don't try on dresses above your budget.

Clara DiLisio:
That's correct, that's correct. And if you have a budget, it could be a firm budget or it could be an around budget. If it's an around budget and there's a dress around your budget, a little bit more, and I think it checks off all the boxes, I am going to bring it and say, "Hey, listen, this dress checks off all your boxes. It's a little bit more than what you said. Do you think it is worth trying on?" So that's the conversation you have beforehand, and then you go from there.

Leah Longbrake:
How many dresses is too many dresses to try on?

Clara DiLisio:
70. So too many dresses can be too many dresses. We like to limit our stylists' appointments to about 10 dresses. Because at that point you should know the style you're liking, the silhouette, do you like beads, do you not like beads, what kind of neckline. And we like to narrow it down so that we can get you the best dresses for what you're looking for. And it's around 10. Sometimes it's over. But you don't want to go in and try 20 dresses on in one day. That's way too many. That's, "I'm so confused I don't know what to do now."

Leah Longbrake:
How do you know if the dress is the one? Because I personally thought that I would be a blubbering mess bawling, so excited. And I kind of got teary, but I didn't have that moment I thought I would have that you see on TV and in movies. So is it okay not to cry?

Clara DiLisio:
It's definitely okay not to cry. I tell my bride, "Don't worry if you're not crying. Not everybody cries." So you have the 50% that cry and then you have the 50% that don't cry, and that's a process of elimination for them. But the dress really should ... It's an emotional attachment. You are feeling an emotion when you have that dress on, and you're feeling emotionally attached to that dress. And that's really how you know. Because I tell this to my brides all the time, you can try on 100 gowns, they can look amazing and all beautiful on you, but they're not all you. They're not all your personality, they don't speak to you like some of the others. So you narrow it down to the ones that you feel the best in. Remember, when you put your dress on that day of your wedding, you want to feel the absolute most beautiful you've ever felt. That is the goal.

Clara DiLisio:
And that's the dress, that's the dress for you. And that's how you know. You know when you are comparing a dress, every time, to that other dress. What's that other dress? You need to go get that other dress, whatever dress that is, that's your dress.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
And so process of elimination for a lot of people, but for a lot of other people it's an emotional attachment right there and then.

Leah Longbrake:
How do you stop shopping, though? Because I ran into that problem, I bought my dress, I loved my dress, but I kept looking online and I kept having doubts. Even after the wedding, I still was like, "I loved my dress and it felt great, but I kind of wish I would have got a different dress." And I don't know why that is.

Clara DiLisio:
So there are so many choices and so many pretty dresses. In one way I feel so excited for the brides now because there are so many different styles to choose from. It's endless. You have endless choice. And that can also be a bad thing, because you can only wear one dress.

Leah Longbrake:
Right.

Clara DiLisio:
And you might like the way two different silhouettes look on you, and you might feel really good in both of them, but you have to pick one at the end of the day that really feels the best and the most you. So I say at the end of the appointments, "You have to stop shopping. You have to just stop shopping." We're women. What do we do? We shop all the time.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
So yeah, it's totally normal that we keep looking for dresses, because they're so pretty and gorgeous to look at, and you're getting married. So it's great to look, it's fun to look, and it's okay to look. But you have to stop shopping. And once your dress comes in and you put it on, you probably felt just as amazing.

Leah Longbrake:
Once you buy your dress, should you keep it at home tempting you, or should you keep it somewhere else?

Clara DiLisio:
You should keep it at the store. You should not take it home, you should keep it at the store. We keep all of our brides' gowns at our store. So A, we know nothing is going to happen to them at the store, because they're in our stock room and nobody's touching them.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
So we know nothing's happening to them. And B, because nothing's happening to them, they're in a safe space, and you don't have the opportunity to try it on all the time. And when you try it on all the time, things happen. Things rip, or you have animals at the house, or there are lots of different scenarios. And we just feel like it's best to keep it at the store, and then when you're ready for your alterations, you can come into the store, you can try it on, and set up an appointment for that, but when you're ready for your alterations then it goes in the alteration department. It's best at the store.

Leah Longbrake:
You mentioned it's a good idea to find your location before dress shopping just so you have a better idea of the dress fitting the theme and the look and feel. How far out from the wedding should you be dress shopping?

Clara DiLisio:
I'd say a good year, so 12 months before your wedding you really should start looking. It's a great time to start looking, you should start checking things off your list. And your venue and your dress and your ceremony should be the first three things you do. So it's super important to get your venue and then get your dress. I feel once you find your dress, I feel that it's so much easier to pick your flowers, to pick your color schemes, to pick your bridesmaids' dresses, to start with the décor and your invitations. And they should all flow and fit with your dress style and then the style of the venue and everything. So everything should fall into place right afterwards.

Leah Longbrake:
What do you do if you start to feel overwhelmed? Because there's a lot of pressure to have the dress.

Clara DiLisio:
There is pressure, and I wish there wasn't so much pressure, because it's supposed to be fun and exciting. And for the most part it is, but if somebody is super overwhelmed and really feeling it, we tell them to step away. You need to stop looking, you need to go home and relax if this is overwhelming. Don't look at any dresses, don't go anywhere and look at any dresses, give yourself a couple weeks. Something happened, you're confused in your head, you don't know which way you're going, is somebody talking to you in your head, or is somebody influencing you? You don't know who to listen to, should you listen to yourself? So take a step back. And it's okay to take a step back and realize that, "You know what, I am feeling overwhelmed and I'm really not sure which way I want to go." Go home, we totally get it, call us when you're ready, we will be here for you. So giving yourself time probably is the best advice I could give a bride who's overwhelmed.

Leah Longbrake:
I know once you find your dress, as a bride you're excited, your family and friends want to see what it looks like. I know I was super protective, and only my mom and grandma, who were shopping with me, got to see the dress, that's it. But a lot of people were asking to see it, and I said, "No, you'll see it the day of." Do you recommend brides showing people the dress, the picture of it, before?

Clara DiLisio:
I really don't. But I'm of the mindset, we don't have a lot of surprises these days. Everything is handed to us all the time. We have everything at our fingertips. We can know sex of our baby if we're pregnant. We can Google something up and look at it immediately. So the surprise factor is so limited that I just love the fact that you didn't show anybody your dress. And let me ask you, how special was that day when you put your dress on and everybody got to see it for the very first time?

Leah Longbrake:
That is what I wanted. I wanted that moment once I got to the top of the aisle and everyone was looking, the surprise on their face. Because I felt like ... And I protected all the wedding details. They knew the venue, obviously, but I wasn't telling anybody anything, because to me if you knew ahead of time, one, you're going to have the critics saying, "Oh, why are you doing this? Why don't you do this?" Blah, blah, blah. And then the other thing is, if they already know going ahead of time, once they walk into the ceremony and reception venue, they already have an idea of what it is and they're not surprised, it's not anything big. But instead, with no one knowing anything, they walk in, "This is so cool, this is great, I love that you have this." If they didn't like it, I don't care.

Clara DiLisio:
Yes. So there are people that need to show Grandma, and I get that. I understand that. Or their best friend who came in from out of town over the weekend and she wanted to share that with her. But we don't really suggest setting up appointments to show girls their dress unless they really, really want to. And of course that's their choice. But I really love, love the idea of the surprise factor. And if everybody has seen your dress, what type of a surprise is it that day?

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Clara DiLisio:
And so I hope maybe some people who are listening maybe take my advice and say, "Hey, that's not a bad idea. I think I like that."

Leah Longbrake:
I fully agree with you.

Clara DiLisio:
Yeah. Because people might not think about it.

Leah Longbrake:
It's true, it's absolutely true. What other advice do you have for brides when it comes to the bridal dress shopping process?

Clara DiLisio:
So we did talk about having an open mind. An open mind is very, very important. I think that another important thing to bring up is, don't get lost in the detail. We can really drive ourselves crazy in the detail. "This one flower right here on the side of my waist. Can we move it?" Nobody's looking at it. Nobody's looking at that one flower, okay? We can drive ourselves crazy if we spend all our energy on the itty-bitty, itty-bitty details. I'm not saying don't be detail oriented. Don't pick apart something that you are the only one that might notice it. And try to get past it. I'm not belittling anybody's opinion about how something feels on them. But if it's something so minute, look past it. Look past it, look at the overall picture of what you're wearing, how you're wearing it, and less concentration on that one bead, if you know what I mean.

Leah Longbrake:
And sometimes I think that could just be reaction to stress, making it a control issue.

Clara DiLisio:
For sure, for sure. We understand sometimes people come in and they've had a stressful day, and it's two weeks before their wedding and they're coming in for their fitting, and they're totally, totally stressed out. I get that. I understand. And I say, "Take a deep breath. It's going to be okay. Let's try your dress on. It'll all be good. We'll figure it out." So you're taking an approach to acknowledging somebody's frustration, that's always important. We get frustrated. It might not be us per se, it might be. But open lines of communication are also very important. So as long as we're all on the same page, and I say over and over again like a broken record, as long as we're on the same page we'll be good.

Leah Longbrake:
How can we get more information about you and Galleria Gowns?

Clara DiLisio:
So Galleria Gowns is located in Highland Heights. We've been in our new location for three years, we're super excited about it. It's a much bigger store than our previous store. You can find us on the Internet, galleriagowns.net. We're on Facebook, we're on Instagram, we're on Pinterest, we're at Google. You name it, we're there. We're on The Know, we're on WeddingWire. You can find us everywhere. Everywhere and anywhere.

Leah Longbrake:
Thank you so much for being with us today.

Clara DiLisio:
It has been my pleasure. This has been such a fun podcast. I'm so happy to be the bridal expert and share this day with you.

Leah Longbrake:
Thanks for listening to Weddings Unveiled. Make sure you subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode. This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Bridget Coin and audio engineer Sean Rule-Hoffman. Don't forget to enjoy the journey.

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