Sivan Ayla Wedding Dress
Yes, THAT dress. In my head getting married boiled down to one major detail before I could really decide anything else about my wedding: what dress am I going to wear?

Like most brides, I had an idea of what I would walk down the aisle in but quickly realized during my first attempt at finding THE dress that it wouldn’t be so easy. I had pinned countless backless, lacey, beachy, simple dresses and at the time thought I would never steer away from that look. Little did I know my beach wedding vibe would be flipped upside down when I picked a long-sleeved dress that was anything but beachy.

Let me tell you the story of how this little beauty became mine.

My mom and sister had joined me on my second visit to a bridal store that was hosting a trunk show for the incredible Israeli designer Galia Lahav. If you don’t already follow her on Instagram you’re making a mistake. Her images and dresses are absolutely breathtaking, with a sort of drama that I never thought I possessed. Her dresses sort of intimidated me and I couldn’t bring myself to try on any.

I had browsed the racks and found nothing. I tried on my “beachy” dress by a different designer and came out of the dressing room slightly embarrassed from how lackluster I looked. I didn’t need a dramatic dress, but maybe a little wow-factor would be nice. We all shook our heads in disappointment and headed out of the store. Right as I walked out I glanced one last time at their window display and noticed a beautiful, black evening gown on one of the mannequins. “That’s pretty, but I obviously can’t wear black,” was apparently what I said out loud. And (I’m about to get realllllly cheesy) just like my very own fairy godmother a sweet woman told me she could make it for me in white! Galia Lahav herself wanted to customize one of her gorgeous gowns for me?! Um, yes please.

So I tried it on, fell in love, and it looked like this:

Black Galia Lahav Dress
We decided the lace would be milky white, not too white, and we would forgo the beading, the belt, and the bat-wing. Slight adjustments to make the dress perfect for me. And rewind back to the part when I walked out of the dressing room: there was a moment of silence before anyone uttered a word and suddenly chaos broke out as everyone had to touch me, hug me, photograph me, and I knew this was it.

Months later my version arrived. I was a nervous wreck leading up to the day I saw my dress. I had nightmares it was a total disaster and I had made a serious mistake. I think it’s safe to say that if you are having those feelings about your wedding gown it is totally normal. Very odd, but normal. The dress came and there was still work to do. It was far too tight, I couldn’t raise my arms because the lace had no stretch, and my boobs were practically out. I was hopeful the seamstress could fix the problems but didn’t sleep quite right until my final fitting. Truth.

Galia Lahav Veil
Now, the veil. I thought I would 10000000000% NEVER wear a veil. It didn’t seem very me. My mom forced me to try every variation but nothing felt right. I felt like a beekeeper. But….when Galia included a gorgeous cathedral veil in the delivery of my dress there was no saying no. It was stunning, delicate, and part of the dress. Not gonna lie, I felt a little Kim K with the length, but there was no denying the veil was gorg. We decided because I’m so incredibly, unfairly, short that the top shorter layer of the veil needed to go and it would just be one long length.

Sidenote for those who are considering a cathedral veil in an outdoor setting. The thing is heavy. Like, really heavy. With a slight breeze it feels like someone is dragging you by your head / hair. I was obviously planning to remove the veil after the ceremony but that thing has a mind of it’s own. I was able to withstand it for the 18 minute ceremony, but it was no easy feat. Just something to keep in mind 🙂

Needless to say, the whole experience of finding and perfecting my dress was something I will never forget. My mother was in charge of my gown the moment I tried on the black version, had my alterations, and the moment it left the store and boarded the plane with her to Greece. She practically had her own seat on the plane. Yes, wedding gowns are expensive, sometimes frustrating, and will only be worn once. But, I can tell you with certainty that I wouldn’t trade my dress and process for anything in the world, especially because it meant my mom and I had the biggest secret to keep for 2 years and I couldn’t have done it without her. My dress will always remind me of my mom and the unforgettable and ridiculous stories we have. So thank you, Mommy, for being the most important part of the most important dress I will ever wear.

Sivan Ayla Vardi Wedding

Sivan Ayla Wedding
A few shots from the day by Adonis Kekidakis.

And a few outtakes with my girls in their beautiful JetSet Diaries dresses.