Swanky Bridal Gowns at Belle Vie

Today, I'm taking a departure from my “normal” fashion postings to gush about one of the most important shopping days in a girl's life. Or rather, the most important dress.

I'm sure many of you don't know about my background or how I got into the fashion world. My first job was working at Volle's, a bridal boutique in Lake Zurich. I was surrounded by sparkly bling and tulle and extravagant bustles. While in undergrad, I worked at a catering company and nearly always got assigned to work weddings. In grad school, I interned at Bridal Guide Magazine in Manhattan.

I have always been surrounded by bridal, yet I've never even been to a wedding and certainly never shopped for a bridal gown. When my recently engaged friend mentioned that she was visiting Chicago and planning on stopping at a few bridal salons, I was ecstatic. I had never been on the aiming-to-purchase side before!

We had an appointment at Belle Vie, an upscale bridal store on the Gold Coast. (Pictures weren't allowed inside, so here's myself and the bride outside striking the hunched model pose.)


Owner Amanda Bonnell was attentive to our group of 7, peaking her head around the wall to the area in front of the mirror where we waited for the bride-to-be. Wearing platform pumps and a ivory dress with scalloped layers, it's no wonder she makes Chicago's best dressed list regularly (as she pointed out to me in a copy of Chicago Social magazine).

In contrast to many wedding dress boutiques, Belle Vie keeps all of their dresses on the floor and pulls those which the bride and her entourage feel drawn to. No messing around with miscommunication here. Dresses start at $3,000 and rocket skywards, but quality is guaranteed. I've seen my share of dresses from David's Bridal to classic Maggie Sottero to Vera Wang. To me, the fabric is what makes a dress, and Belle Vie has great choices.

Another fun bonus? The bride left her heels back at the hotel so her consultant provided her with a pair for getting a proper height ratio with a gown. They were glittery Christian Louboutin heels. Score!

My friend has yet to commit to a gown, but it's no question that Belle Vie's French and Italian made dresses are near the top of the list. Visit this couture salon if you want all the attention bridal gown shopping can give you.

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