Talk about a dramatic twist. Just days after 32-year-old Emily Maissami thought she'd found her dream wedding dress—a traditional white ball gown in heavy winter silk—at a small boutique near her home in Hinsdale, Illinois, the store sent out an email announcing that it was going out of business. No alterations. A total gamble.
"I panicked," says the brunette hairstylist, who met her fiancé seven years ago when he came into her salon for a trim. "But my mom thought it was a sign. She said, 'Let's keep looking.'" So the two women made an appointment at Chicago's Ultimate Bride, where Emily fell hard for Badgley Mischka's classic strapless organza ball gown with a ruched bodice and a sweetheart neckline. Up until that point, Emily had steered away from strapless, because she was planning to be married in a Catholic mass at St. Thomas More Church, but the Badgley Mischka gown swept her off her feet. "My mom and I both knew the second we saw it," says Emily, who realized she could commission the designers to create a custom Chantilly-lace bolero and a cathedral-length veil to make the dress more modest for the ceremony. "When I tried it on, I burst into tears," she continues. "I said, 'This is my dress! I love my dress!' There isn't a doubt in my mind that everything conspired to get me into it."