Insider Tips From Chicago’s Hottest Bridal Stylist

Chicago wedding dress designer
As the saying goes, 'we've been planning this day our whole lives." In reality, you couldn't book a venue when you were seven, and playing dress-up in your aunt's old prom dresses didn't get you very far. So, luckily, all you local ladies have Libby Salerno, who specializes in styling for special events. Since it's spring (no really, have you felt this weather?!) we've asked Libby to prep our beloved readers for Chicago's wedding dress season. Don't worry if you're not headed to the altar just yet, the definitive guide to dressing for all these weddings is coming soon! We've got Libby's do's, her don'ts, and all of her favorite tips and hot-spots in between. Plus, if you like what you read (and we're thinking you will!), Libby is offering Refinery29 readers 50% off an initial consultation—just let her know we sent you.

Libby, we're engaged. Help!

After you say yes, where do you start? While we've all got our day-to-day style on lockdown, we might not be so adept at styling ourselves for, let's say, the most important day ever. For style starters, Libby's got three tips to follow. After that, drop her a line at to set up a time to chat all about you and your event of the moment.

1. The real YOU is in there—all you have to do is look: "There are clues to your wedding style inside your home, and you probably don't even realize it. Take a good look at what is already in your closet and what you wear everyday." Libby wants her brides to be the best version of themselves on their wedding day—not the best version of a total stranger.
2. Let your Chicago wedding dress style you: "Pull inspiration from your venue, season, time of day, and city where you'll be married." All of these wedding components help Libby determine what is appropriate and what isn't, and they also give more clues to the bride's personal style, making the whole experience cohesive and appropriate.
3. Do build an inspirational look-book: This is the fun part! "Peruse magazines—definitely not just bridal—and build a look-book of your favorite dresses, shoes, and accessories. Pretty soon, you'll see patterns emerge, and you can begin to narrow things down."

We're having a blast, but we want to stay on track. A cheat-sheet please!

Libby knows how easy it is to get wrapped up in the fun and forget that there's really a goal—and a deadline! Here are her favorite do's and don'ts for staying on track.

DO: "Know your budget before you start shopping." Libby can't stress this enough. A little planning beforehand will make your shopping experience fun and smart, instead of a huge, out-of-budget downer.
DON'T: Take more than one person with you when you shop. "Everyone has an opinion, and their opinion may not be the same as yours. Guess whose opinion matters most?"
DO: Be open to looking in non-traditional places for your dress, shoes, or accessories. "If you're on a time-crunch and can't wait weeks or months for purchases to arrive, this will help."
DON'T: Waste your time. "Trying on dresses that are not true to your style or within your budget isn't smart. You won't be happy afterward."

Okay, just cut to the chase. Where do we start looking?

"My favorite Chicago spot for designer gowns is Belle Vie Bridal Couture and Vera Wang Chicago on Oak Street, they have impeccable service and a gorgeous selection. Have fun!" If you want a traditional wedding gown without the price tag, your dress might be closer than you think. "Nordstrom's Wedding Shop has a lot of great traditional options, plus here you can shop for the whole wedding party at once!"
Belle Vie Bridal Couture, 34 East Oak Street; 312-751-2222. Nordstrom, 520 North Michigan Avenue (at Grand Avenue); 312-379-4300.

But our wedding is in a month! Can we speed things up a bit?
Of course! Libby's got great ideas for the insta-bride. "Try Net-A-Porter for looks from major designers. You don't have to totally break the bank here, and it's arguably one of the best places to find a fashion-forward look." If you want something extra unique, try Etsy. "The beauty behind Etsy is that all items are either handmade or vintage." A.K.A one-of-a-kind. We like that.

Libby, we love your advice, but we want more!

For hands-on help, Libby offers a wide range of styling services. Whether you need the whole styling enchilada or just big-day beauty, Libby's your go-to. Get in touch via email, twitter, or call her at 312-805-1041. Congrats!

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