Hannah Hart and Ella Mielniczenko are in the midst of planning a spring 2020 wedding and know there are many choices and compromises to be made in their near future. But there is one decision the couple—Hannah is the YouTube star behind "My Drunk Kitchen" and author of the upcoming cookbook "My Drunk Kitchen: Holidays!," while Ella is the director of editorial video at Buzzfeed—has decided to make separately, and that's what they will wear on the big day.
"Hannah and I have the same favorite moment at weddings—the look on the couple's faces when they see each other for the first time," Ella explains. "That moment is full of surprise, love, and excitement, and we want to experience that on our wedding day." With a big outfit reveal decided on, the couple then came to another conclusion: They didn't want to tackle dress shopping alone! So they called on the experts at Kleinfeld in New York City and found a compromise, ultimately orchestrating a day of shopping that allowed Hannah and Ella to have their own appointments and spend time together between.
On August 26, 2019, Brides joined the couple to help navigate the many, many dresses and document the exciting, emotional time with the help of photographer Allan Zepeda. Keep scrolling for a play-by-play of how the day transpired, but we'll go ahead and tell you this: There were tears, laughs, and amazing decisions made by all.
As for the wedding itself? "It's gonna be pretty majestic," Hannah says. Ella adds: "You can expect glamour with a twist, and that's all I'll say for now!"
The day of shopping began with Ella's appointment at Kleinfeld. "I've been a big fan of 'Say Yes to the Dress' ever since it first came out when I was in high school," she says. "My not-so-guilty pleasure is wedding reality shows because there's something so special about watching people fall in love with the way they look."
That said, Ella admits that she wasn't entirely sure what to expect from dress shopping. "As a queer person, I have quickly discovered that the wedding industry isn't as welcoming as my high school day dream," she says. "So I was hopeful but nervous about dress shopping!"
Thankfully, those butterflies went away when Ella met with bridal consultant James McAlvanah. "He guided me through my appointment, navigated my family, and made me feel like a bride for the first time," Ella says. "For other queer people out there, I highly recommend working with other queer people for your appointment. Having that baseline understanding made me feel seen and safe."
For her first dress, Ella tried on the "Jem" gown by Hayley Paige, which was met with applause by her entourage, including her mom, aunt, maid of honor, future sisters-in-law, and several close friends. "I was a little overwhelmed with worrying about how they would interact," she admits. "But when the day came, everyone was so positive and joyous. I was so happy I decided on a big group."
Ultimately, everyone decided dress one was a winner—but not for Ella's wedding. "This dress was definitely red-carpet worthy," she says. "I will manifest a time to wear this dress but I want to wear a 'wedding dress' down the aisle!"
Next up: Ella tried the "Lili" gown by Tony Ward Couture. She loved the train ("Just look at it!" she says) but moved onto the next after a quick spin around the salon.
The blush-hued "Romee," also by Hayley Paige, was another favorite...but it wasn't the one. "The great thing about marrying your best friend is that she will love in absolutely anything," she says. "We both encourage each other to dress in ways that make us both feel the most beautiful. I'd marry her wearing anything and I know she feels the same about me."
As Ella tried on gowns, loving some and eliminating others, consultant James filled the group in on a secret: "I like to play a game called 'Beat the Dress,'' he says. And with that, they kept shopping.
In the game of "Beat the Dress," James always suggests trying on different silhouettes and styles. To that point, Ella tried on her first form-fitting gown of the day: "Style 1078" by Martina Liana, which was made with French lace, sheer paneling, and a nude underlay. "This dress felt so bridal but I want BIG," Ella says.
After two hours of shopping and nearly a dozen dresses tried, Ella ultimately said "yes" to a beautiful gown by Hayley Paige. "The experience was really emotional for me and my family," she says. "I was so overwhelmed happiness. There was a moment that everyone was tearing and looking at me. I'll never forget that."
Even so, Ella had a few requests to be made, mainly, "How can I make my dream dress danceable?!" Naturally, at this point, Kleinfeld had Hayley Paige swoop in with a solution, which is still very much a secret—even from Ella's shopping entourage! "Hayley Paige is making my vision come to life," Ella says. "Queer people sometimes have the responsibility of creating our own spaces, looks, and traditions, and to have a wedding dress designer be so open to everything was honestly incredible."
With Ella's decision officially made, it was Hannah's turn to take over Kleinfeld alongside her sisters and several friends. "It was the perfect group to have with me," she says.
Hannah's initial reaction to the showroom? "OMG so many dresses! Should we all wash our hands?!"
"The first thing Ella said to me was, 'It's very overwhelming,' and then she walked away," Hannah says with a laugh.
With Ella out of the room, Hannah went straight for a crown—what to pair with it would come later.
Hannah ruled out a dress before she started shopping, instead focusing her search on a one-piece, jumpsuit-like style. "I'm calling it an outfit because I want it to be one piece," she explains. "I haven't been calling it a jumpsuit because that makes me think of something a mechanic would wear."
Consultant James was ready with "outfits" in hand, but had a few questions for Hannah to answer first. Color or sparkle? "Not wedding." Sparkle and ivory? "I'm more into that. " Lace? "We love lace!" Fitted pants? "Yes, please!" In short, Hannah described her vision as "structured, sexy, and sparkly."
"When we got started, I was really, really nervous that I would never find something I liked," Hannah admits. "But then, after we tried on the first outfit, I knew I was in the hands of passionate professionals who really guided my way."
The first outfit? The "Sonia" jumpsuit by Lakum. Hannah had mixed feelings about this look—she loved the shine of the fabric and its bright white color, but wasn't in love with the fishnet detailing at the neck.
Next up: Hannah tried on two ivory-hued pieces—the "Taye" top and "Peyton" pants—by Martina Liana. Unsurprisingly, she loved the look's fitted pant. "I want to show off my butt as much as I can," she says. "We are pro booty! This is a booty positive family." That said, Hannah was turned off by the color, saying, "I want pure white! Is white out? Does nobody get married in white anymore?"
With the white factor decided, James gave the crowd what they were asking for: sheer lace in the form of a Rivini by Rita Vinieris suit. "It's like it came right off the runway and right onto Hannah," she says of the unlined piece. She thought it was beautiful but ultimately determined it "too naked" and "too distracting" for this occasion. "Maybe I'll wear this to the VMAs in 2020, but it's not for my wedding," she adds.
After a no-go with another sheer jumpsuit that didn't make it out of the dressing room—"The bodysuit was like an unflattering one piece," she says with a laugh—Hannah tried another style by Lakum, the "Allison." She liked it, but not as much as what she ultimately said "yes" to: a look by Pronovias that's, you guessed it, "bright white!"
To end the day, Hannah surprised her friends with a Pnina Tornai dress they'd selected for her to try. "I know I'm not going to wear a dress for the ceremony but I wanted to try one on for laughs," she says. "I was at Kleinfeld! I had to try on one big pouf-y dress...just one!" Everyone loved it. "What can I say, I look good in dresses, they just aren't me," she admits with a laugh.
As for what is Hannah, she says we'll have to wait and see but leaves us with this: "I feel beautiful. I feel regal. And I think I feel like a bride!" she says. "I didn't want to take it off....and I think that's a great sign."