One of the best things about being a bridal stylist is learning unique family stories and other cultures. Our real bride, Elena is someone our whole team enjoyed styling. Her love for classic fashion, family, and culture made us fall in love with her. When Elena was engaged, she had a full vision for her wedding. It was important for Elena to have a classic wedding that celebrated her culture and family. Elena has always been close with her grandmother, her grandmother helped her plan most of the wedding and was an inspiration for her classic mantilla veil. I had the opportunity to interview Elena after the wedding. She shared in-depth details about her grandmother’s historic veil, her tips for real brides, and her experience as a bride.
The History Behind Her Great Aunt’s Mantilla Veil:
The veil was made for my great aunt, Bella, in Cuba from English lace by an embroiderer that made lace for the Queen of England. She was married in 1914 so the queen during that time was Queen Mary, wife of George V. The embroiderer was brought from England through family contact to work on my grandmother's veil and dress. She was there for several months. After that, the veil was taken to Spain by Tia Alejandrina (my grandmother's sister) where it was stolen by the Red's (the Communists), however, she kept her dress in Cuba.
What was your experience like at The Bridal Finery?
Absolutely amazing! My first appointment with The Bridal Finery was for a Girl and a Serious Dream and Maria Elena Headpieces Trunk show. I was blown away by the attention/customer service and how Tali helped me customize my Lasso, earrings, and veil. She (Tali) pushed me to embrace things I wouldn't have tried before. I had already bought a dress at a different store but I was having serious doubts about it. It was a Friday the 13th (13 is a lucky number for me), Tali had given me her cell phone number so I texted her explaining the situation with my dress and that I would really like to come in and see what they had! Tali said yes to come in later on that day! It was the first time, and i have been to at least 5 other salons, that anyone sat me down and really really interviewed me and challenged me about what was MY vision and how did i see myself! She wanted to see photos of the venues hear about why i had bought my previous dress and why I felt unsure about it now. She was amazing! I had never pictured me in anything but a big ballgown. When I saw Kate Middleton’s wedding gown years ago, I was like, “bitch stole my look!” But I had tried on form fitted gowns and shockingly really loved the silhouette on me! So Tali put me in a ballgown first which I liked but didn’t love and then on the second dress it was BINGO! The best part was she had listened to me in the interview so well and really understood my vision and what i had liked and not liked about other dresses I had worn. The dress I ended up picking was Ines Di Santo and we pretty much customized the entire dress to what I wanted! Sarah (their seamstress) is a wizard! I wanted an off the shoulder neckline and she showed me how we could make the dress into what I wanted! Honestly, I don't think I would have been sane without The Bridal Finery! Tali was so on top of everything! She was such a resource for EVERYTHING! My mom said it best when she said that “Tali would go over my dress in each fitting like it was her own and how she raise points that I or my mom wouldn’t have really seen or noticed”.
Who or what was your source of fashion inspiration for your bridal look?
Grace Kelly and Kate Middleton. Also, my family like my Abuela’s bridal look and my great aunt Bella’s bridal look because she had always been more of my grandmother than just a great aunt. I told my planner that my vision for the wedding was Grace Kelly does New Orleans! I wanted classic, timeless beauty with personal touches that made the wedding feel more like me.
What was your favorite part of the entire wedding day?
This is such a hard question! I loved so many things! I would say the top 3 were when the doors opened there was an audible gasp from the crowd and I loved walking up the aisle to Jon knowing when I walked back down I would be his wife! Another was the Second Line, this is a traditional New Orleans flare that really made the wedding fun and unique! Third was seeing my Abuela in photos and in wedding details, who had passed in September. I loved seeing all of the things we had planned together come to life! Since I had gotten engaged, my grandmother and I spent days and months passing the time planning my wedding! She was amazing through it all! And also how well our tributes to those loved ones that we had lost! My Abuela was supposed to be a bridesmaid so I had a photo of her on her wedding day framed and put on the pew with flowers to save her seat with my bridesmaids. Jon’s mother passed away when he was 16 years old, so I made charms for my bouquet of people that had passed (Tio Dave, Tio Angel, My Abuelo, Abuela, Dr. Arslanian and Copper (our family dog) and one of Jon and his mother for his boutonniere. We also had the photos put throughout the reception venue.
How did you choose your wedding venue and location?
This was such a fluke of how everything fell together and truly a small miracle. So Jon being in medical school has a very set schedule as to when he would have time and when he wouldn’t have time for the wedding. So we got engaged on November 18, 2017 and in order for us to be married in 2018 it would have to be early October at the latest so we had originally chosen October 13th because 13 is a special number for us. But NOTHING was available. I had seen the venue, Maison Montegut while searching for uniquely New Orleans locations and fell in love with the courtyard that has the oldest magnolia tree in the quarter in it! I also just so happened to hire a wedding planner that is one of like 3 that are able to book there. So after searching and searching my planner asked me if we would be able to be flexible with the dates I said yes as long as it wasn’t later than that weekend. Suddenly by switching our date to October 12, we had my dream location (Maison Montegut) and the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France which is like a miracle because I had hear they book out years in advance! The Maison was on Royal street right behind the cathedral so the locations worked out so perfectly!
What's your number one tip for engaged brides?
Be flexible and adapt! Things won’t always go as planned but like in our case if we hadn’t been flexible with the date we wouldn't have had our amazing venues! Don’t sweat the small stuff! Pick a top three most important things for you and your wedding and focus the attention and budget there and let everything else fall into place. For me, my top three were my dress, my photographer, and cinematographer and the second line! So the first vendor we picked was the photographer!
Would you do it all over again?
Absolutely yes! But if you were to ask me this during the thick of the planning I wouldn't have had such a positive answer! I had a love hate relationship with the planning process. But when the day came and I saw how it all came together it was just perfection! I wouldn’t trade the memories I have and the hours spent with my Abuela before she passed working on my wedding for anything! It was so special to see how it all came to life and knowing how much she would’ve loved it!
Whats a bridal ‘must have’?
A great photographer and cinematographer - in the end photos are all you have! Make sure you meld with your photographer’s personality too. They’re with you from start to finish of that day! My photographer and I were getting on like a house on fire within 2 mins of getting on the phone! I also really loved how her company included her husband and good friend as the cinematographers! I think
How did you know your wedding gown was "the one"?
Well, I had been to about 5 other bridal stores and tried on a lot of wedding dresses. I even purchased a dress before find ‘the one’. I never got “the feeling” or “the moment” so I kinda just figured I was going to be one of those brides that never got it! And I didn’t get it right away in my first dress either! I knew the Ines Di Santo gown was my dress was when I could visualize myself walking down the aisle to my fiance. I had “the moment” and tears shortly followed!
What is the biggest misconception about wedding planning?
That its all about the bride and that its all fun! There are so many fun aspects to planning, but it is also really not fun too. I have creative ideas, but would prefer to leave the nitty gritty details and logistics up to someone else.
How can friends and family best help you during wedding planning?
Be supportive, don’t be negative or add drama! Offer advice when asked and don’t if you’re not directly asked. I had the best bridal party ever they were truly amazing stepping in at different times when I needed help!
Elena & Jon’s New Orleans Wedding Vendors
Florals: Poppy and Mint @poppyandmint
Hair and Makeup: PreauxFace @preauxface www.preauxface.com
Photography and Cinematography: Mon Soleil Weddings @monsoleilweddings and @monsoleilproductions www.monsoleilweddings.com
Bridal Salon/Stylists: The Bridal Finery @thebridalfinery
Veil, Robes: Girl and a Serious Dream @girlandaseriousdream www.girlandaseriousdream.com
Silk and Ribbons: Tono & Co @tonoandco www.tonoandco.com
Secondline Brass Band: Kinfolk Brass Band @kinfolkbrassband2019 www.neworleanskinfolk.com
Secondline Umbrellas: Bought at Rendezvous Linens & Lace www.rendevouslinens.com Customized by me
Wedding Planner: Emily Sullivan Events @emilysullivanevents www.emilysullivanevents.com
Tuxedos: The Black Tux @theblacktux www.theblacktux.com
Dress Designer: Ines Di Santo @inesdisanto www.inesdisanto.com
Invitation Suite: The Stationery Stylist @thestationerystylist www.invitationsbyfergie.com
Calligrapher: Calligraphy by Maria-Helena calligraphybymariahelena.com
Save the Date Watercolor Painting and Design: Alyson Johnson Creative @alysonjohnsoncreative www.alysonjohnson.com
Crown, earrings and lasso: Maria Elena Headpieces @mariaelenaheadpieces www.mariaelenaheadpieces.com
Linens: Lovestruck Linens @lovestrucklinens www.lovestrucklinens.com
Cake: Bittersweet Confections @bittersweetnola www.bittersweetconfections.com
Caterer: La Bella’s Catering https://labellascatering.com
Venues: Maison Montegut
Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France http://www.stlouiscathedral.org