Photo: Jason Riker
Boutique owners from across the country shared insider secrets, local intel, and everything else you'll need to have a blast finding your wedding dress (Think mani-pedis, brunch, and cocktails with your besties!). Chicago's Ultimate Bride owner Elena Grapsas has spent the past 15 years at the helm of this Oak Street bridal salon. Here, she offers up her top wedding dress shopping tips and local hot spots that'll make your day extra special.
Brides: Tell us about your store.
Elena Grapsas: We have exclusivity with all the designers we carry, including Monique Lhuillier and Oscar de la Renta, so you won't find our gowns anywhere else in Chicago. And we have in-house teams to customize everything else—even a staff milliner who makes custom headpieces and veils.
Brides: What are your brides looking for?
EG: "Updated mermaid" and "fit and flare" styles are very popular—our brides like a soft trumpet-style silhouette, because it's sexy but still has a sense of grandeur.
Brides: Favorite recent trend?
EG: You might wonder who has the money to spend on two wedding dresses, but it happens more than you can imagine. A lot of brides are buying a traditional gown for the ceremony and a fun party dress for the reception.
Once you've found (or at the very least, tried on) the gown, here's where Graspas suggests you celebrate.
Brunch at Spiaggia: "This restaurant is located in the One Magnificent Mile building—a must-visit."
Engagement photos: "The Lake Michigan shorefront is gorgeous, and you have to get some shots with the Chicago skyline in the background!"
Celebratory Drinks at Le Colonial: "Go here for French-Vietnamese food and awesome martinis."