Jacqueline Courtney had, in her own words, a lovely wedding: "I married the right guy in the right dress." But the road to finding that dress was not so easy. That's why the wedding dress consultant founded Nearly Newlywed, an online bridal boutique that helps brides-to-be find the perfect bridal gown. We recently caught up with Jacqueline, who revealed which wedding dress silhouette she thinks is most flattering, and even shared a few of her own personal wedding photos.
BRIDES: Tell us about your shop.
Jacqueline Courtney: Nearly Newlywed is an online bridal boutique for fashion-forward brides that demand style, quality, and value. We carry new and nearly new wedding dresses priced at 40 to 90 percent off of retail (we like finding a good deal!) and offer options for modern brides to buy and sell back their dresses, to achieve the look they want for their wedding, for less. We hope to make the experience of shopping for a dress fun and to offer access to the best of the best designs to girls all over the country, big city and small town girls brides alike, at incredible values.
BRIDES: How do you decide what gowns to sell in your shop?
JC: When I got married, I began tearing out red carpet photos of my favorite celebrities, dresses I had swooned over for years, and top gowns from runway shows, bridal and ready-to-wear alike (and of course, Paris couture). It was finally time for me to play dress-up like all the celebrities I had dressed as a publicist. I carry that guiding principle with me when I choose dresses for the shop; we only carry items that girls will lust over and dream about wearing. A dress must be jaw-dropping.
Photo: Melissa Mlejnick of LaDeDa Photography
BRIDES: Any trends you wish would go away?
JC: I am not sure if it is a trend, but the whole idea of glamorizing being a "bridezilla" is not my cup of tea. I am all for a woman being the center of attention and having her day, but I hate seeing women losing sight of what it's all about—and their relationships suffering for it.
BRIDES: What's a common misconception about gown shopping?
JC: That there are a lot of rules you need to follow when purchasing a wedding gown. So many girls I talk to think they have to buy their dress a year in advance, it has to be white or ivory, it can't be short, they can only wear one type of silhouette, and the list goes on and on. I think that more and more, for modern women, a wedding is becoming a form of expression for the bride and her partner. And as cliche as it sounds, the only rule is that you need to be true to yourself and to have fun. That counts double for picking your dress.
BRIDES: What is your favorite recent trend?
JC: Color! Not just blush, pastel, and red, but bright oranges, blues, and patterns too. Valentino and Elie Saab, especially. And, wearing more than one dress. A fashionable girl's version of having her cake and eating it too: Can't pick one? Then don't—try two!
BRIDES: What is a perennially popular silhouette?
JC: Fitted with a bit of flare.
BRIDES: What is a silhouette that's hard to pull off?
JC: Empire dresses can be difficult to pull off for many women's shapes, often emphasizing the wrong feature and not showing off others. Dresses with a lot of volume and architectural dresses can also be tricky, but it all depends on the girl.
BRIDES: Why are strapless gowns so popular?
JC: I think the allure of strapless gowns is the versatility—you can dress it up and around in so many different ways with necklaces, capes, boleros, you name it. And the décolletage has always been a delicate and sophisticated way of showing some skin, so I think many women defer to that when looking for a gown. Solid options for dresses with sleeves and high necklines have also been limited, but I think that is changing (along with more color!) so I think we will see a growing number of exceptions to the strapless rule.
Photo: Melissa Mlejnick of LaDeDa Photography
BRIDES: How do you approach a bride's dress budget?
JC: Budget should be discussed and respected, but not dwelled on too much. It needn't be too much of a limiting factor. Girls can get the dress of their dreams and the look they are going for on almost any budget—it just depends on their flexibility and how they care to approach the process. If a bride doesn't mind wearing a once-worn dress and passing it along after her big day, a woman on a $1,000-budget can suddenly afford a $10,000 gown, so the options are really limitless.
BRIDES: How do you help a bride decide between dresses?
JC: I think talking (or emailing and chatting online) with a bride makes it easy to help her decide. When I talk to a bride, we review what she is looking for, where her wedding will be, and how she sees herself looking on that big day. The dress is all about how it makes you feel, because at the end of the day, that is what is important—looking amazing so that you feel amazing. And when you talk through those things, usually the bride finds the answer herself—I just help her point it out and feel good about it most times.