Claire Pettibone, who recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of her fashion label, is a leader in creating enchanting bridal gowns from the finest European embroideries and laces. Her romantic designs, which are inspired by vintage fabrics and incorporate delicate lace and floral embellishments, are perfect for brides – like Mark Zuckerberg's beloved Priscilla Chan – who are looking for unique and timeless creations. With a flagship salon that looks as though it's out of a fairy tale in Beverly Hills and a newly launched bridal collection titled Romantique, Claire Pettibone is one of the wedding industry's most influential and romantic bridal designers. Having also recently celebrated her 20th wedding anniversary to husband Guy Toley, she is the perfect person to offer brides advice on fashion, the wedding day, and life-long love.
1. Approach dress shopping with a sense of joy and adventure. If you walk into every salon with the intense pressure of finding The One, it can be overwhelming. It may take some time, but you will find your gown. You found the groom – that's the hard part!
2. Don't overdo it. Choose details and elements that truly mean something to you, not just because they fit into your theme or are a hit on Pinterest.
3. Trends come and go, so find a dress that you really love. My goal as a designer is to enhance your beauty, and there is nothing better than when a bride not only looks amazing, but also has an emotional connection to her gown.
4. Do not expect your dress to fit perfectly without alterations. A wedding gown is not like any other item of clothing. You can't just choose your size and go. On average, it takes three fittings to achieve your personal, best fit.
5. Make it your own with accessories. Veils, jewelry, belts, hair adornments, shoes – there are so many ways to individualize your look!
6. Incorporate some homemade touches. Whether you create them yourself or enlist the help of family and friends, features made with love add another dimension that you will miss if your wedding is overproduced.
7. Tape your third and fourth toes together with surgical tape to ease the pain of high heels! The nerve between these toes causes pain in the balls of your feet, so taping them together lessens the strain put on the nerve and helps alleviate pain (why did I not know this years ago?!).
8. Let it go. When the big day arrives, don't stress about what may go wrong. The secret to a fabulous wedding is when the bride and groom enjoy every minute. Your guests will follow your lead.
9. Ask your caterer to prepare a plate and have it waiting in your honeymoon suite. After all the guests have gone, and you and your husband are finally alone, you will realize you are starving!
10. The one thing that absolutely every bride needs? A one-of-a-kind groom who is madly in love with her.
Opening photograph by Elizabeth Messina