Curtis and Linda

We all met Curtis and Linda at Chelsea Piers for a game of bowling. They are die-hard bowlers so Gino thought it would be fun to meet them and talk about their wedding details and location. I suck at bowling! Gino threw down a strike. So of course the next day he asked if we remembered his strike. Ha! Yessss Gino…

I really admire and respect Linda. She knows what she wants. This girl proposed to Curtis on his birthday. She gave him a ring and he said yes! Now that is a story. How many women out there have the courage to propose to their significant other?

But I hated to hear that her mother doesn’t approve of Curtis. Her mom is old fashioned and wanted an ‘arranged’ wedding for Linda.

The wedding ceremony was classic. Gino married them in a vintage taxi riding over the Brooklyn Bridge. AND they also got the sunset.

This was something the viewers didn’t get to see but after their ‘taxi ceremony” Gino and I then headed to another location in Brooklyn where their guests were waiting. Gino married the couple again but this time in front of family and friends.

This bride got 2 wedding ceremonies in one day. What a lucky couple!

Alison and Skip

These 2 were so into each other. Alison was married to a woman for 4 years. That ended and then Alison met Skip one random day. It was instant attraction at Home Depot! Maybe I should hit that place one of these days.

I really admire her story. She is a cancer survivor. I’m one of her biggest fans.

It was a great day at Washington Square Park. What a location to get married in! It was crowded that day in the park but the energy was lively. The ceremony went without a hitch. They read their vows to one another from their iPhones? Really?! I’m old fashioned and I would have loved to see them say their vows without the help of technology. Oh well. Thank god their iPhones didn’t go dead.

Gino put me in charge of holding a netted basket filled with butterflies. As you saw Alison and Skip released them at the end of their ceremony. They shipped these live suckers overnight FedEx in a box. Who knew you could do that?

Did I hear that right? Linda proposed to Curtis? The bride proposed to the groom? Tonight’s big question is how many brides would be OK with having to propose to their groom? Linda is a force of nature and Curtis is one of the funniest grooms I’ve ever met. They needed more help to get her mother on board with this wedding so that’s where we started. When Catherine Angel, an AMAZING jeweler at de Simone jewelers in Greenwich Village, came on board to help me with Curtis’ ring I knew this was going to be good.

To bridge the gap between Curtis and Linda’s mother I thought it would be cool for us to spend a little time in China Town, that way Curtis could really immerse himself in the Chinese culture. Hopefully Linda’s mom can come around and see what a GREAT guy Curtis is and how hard he is trying. We had a blast together that day, learning about the color red and how it’s good luck in Chinese. I never knew that!

Everything was coming together until Curtis changed wedding locations in a New York minute …but it turned out to be really cool…I can’t believe I married a couple in the back of a vintage yellow taxi going over the Brooklyn Bridge ….now that’s a strike!

Alison and Skip have quite the back story. She was married to a woman and met Skip, while he was working at home depot. Somehow that meeting changed both their lives in huge ways! My life as a wedding planner is never boring! I’m not sure they loved my “ride” but I loved theirs. They seem like a cool California couple to me even though they are from Long Island. Alison and Skip do everything together. They enjoy each other’s company so much that we all went dress shopping together. That was a first… to have the groom dress shopping. Can you believe the first dress she tried on was the winner?

Skip owns his own business; it’s a contracting company so I thought, let’s get them to do something I have never done before with a bride and groom. I got Sam who owns a metal working studio to let Alison and Skip design their rings. That was super cool! When Alison said she wasn’t nervous at all, she just wanted to be married, I just knew I needed to pick up the pace and marry these two love birds. Ok, did you see them read their vows off of their iphones! Alison and Skip I know you’re going to be very happy… SEND!

Goldilocks and the 3 Brands

There are so many ways in which to look like a bride, it’s no wonder the modern bride is bewildered by the world of choices before her. But how to feel like a bride is such a strange and personal thing. For some, the quintessential bridal moment comes when the veil is added to the picture. Even if it already feels like the dress, the addition of the veil places the bride in the moment of getting married– in that moment where she stands before her witnesses to recite her vows. Powerful stuff. But what if, no matter what you tried on, you could not conjure up that picture? What if no dress was able to bring out the “you” that you wanted to be on your wedding day? Whether it’s a question of physical discomfort in a gown, a “costumey” feel that many dresses might give off, or a deeper seated issue relating to the engagement itself, the fear is a real one. Most of the time it just takes a little soul searching and the right gown designer–someone who gets your style or reflects your sensibilities. Sometimes it might take a little more…

Jessica was one of those brides. Anywhere she went, she could essentially eliminate 95% of the collection with her fabric preference alone, never mind the style. What she truly wanted was a floaty, ethereal chiffon sheath with a bit of Grecian flair. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And yet such a look can be difficult to achieve without losing its bridal feeling. The gown she was seeking was somewhere between the most gossamer of Christos looks and the purer executions of the Amsale aesthetic.

Jessica is a fashion editor at O Magazine. This fact did not make her need an over-the-top wedding look. If anything, Jessica had a motivation for her look that came from somewhere else entirely–her mother. And lest you get the wrong idea, not an overbearing mother, but a mother who had passed away some 5 years before. Jessica was very stuck on having a gown of perfect softness because such were the visions she and her mother shared when they talked about what her wedding someday would be like. Without her mother to sift through the different gown possibilities with her, it became even more important for her to stick close to what they had talked about all those years before. Keeping these memories alive as she planned the wedding that her mother didn’t live to see was the driving force of Jessica’s vision for a gown.

Luckily, she was not all alone in this quest. Jessica’s boss, Gayle King, knew of Jessica’s story, and made it a point to be present for the important parts of her bridal journey. A little bit mother, friend, and adviser wrapped into one, Gayle championed Jessica’s cause and helped her over the rough patches. It makes all the difference in the world to have someone on your side.

You’ve Got to be Kidding Me

Once Emily took control of the appointment, she expertly recognized, with a minimum amount of time spent in the wrong looks, what was needed to create the right look. Unfortunately, the pattern for that dress did not exist. Enter Amsale’s full custom program. For the bride who is not overly concerned with budget but supremely concerned with style, the custom program allows you to fully discuss your vision which is then translated by the design team into sketches and ultimately, into your dream dress. It’s a wonderful opportunity to turn the design of your bespoke bridal gown into a collaborative one, replete with the luxury of a full couture experience. Of course it probably doesn’t take a bridal world insider to guess that 6 weeks is a very short time frame to get such a gown. You may, however, have noticed that Emily Leu has a special working relationship with Amsale and if anyone can get this dress made, my money would be on her. Still, Jessica is so specific in her vision, I hope she can get with the (custom) program! [Did you do anything to “customize” your wedding gown? Was it difficult to figure out your bridal look? Was there a bridal “vision” that you had been carrying around with you?]

[picture of Gayle and Jessica?]

Sample Sale

With a resounding Ewww! Lauren has expressed the degree to which she wants no part of the Sample Sale. Thank goodness cooler heads prevail. Otherwise nothing would get done. Sample Sale is happening, whether the consultants like it or not. This year Samantha has decided to make it her baby, so we are all awaiting her instruction. Some of her great ideas: having the sale off site somewhere in the garment district rather than having it at the flagship salon, organizing the gowns a lot better than the usual sample sale to make shopping easier for brides thereby (hopefully) unloading more merchandise, as well as encouraging price negotiations. One not so hot idea: Having Lauren help select dresses to go to sample sale. (quote–why don’t we just throw these away?)  Luckily, event planning is Sam’s forte. She knows how to call in a favor and assemble a good team. She already has a clear vision for how she wants the event to play out, and knows how to execute it. She also knows that having the right kind of advertisement for the event is critical too. We don’t exactly need a mob scene, but wouldn’t mind a little healthy competition between brides over our dresses. Now we just need to make sure the right dresses are there…

No Guts No Glory

Lauren is not afraid of physical labor, but the task at hand has to make sense to her. Sifting through old ballgowns in a musty warehouse does not make sense to her. Still, by sorting through the gowns now, a lot of energy will be saved later–especially the night before the sale when we have to merchandise the space and optimize our outside help so that the following day goes smoothly. Prepping for a sample sale is old hat to Emily, and so it fell to her to train Lauren, the newbie. In the end, Emily’s “this is how you prepare for a sample sale” training fell on deaf ears, but the “I’m so glad I don’t have to work sample sale” results were heard loud and clear from Lauren for the rest of the week.

I kind of like sample sale myself. It’s fun to see our discontinued gowns make their last hurrah, remembering what I liked about them (and what I didn’t). My favorite part is working with runway exclusives. These are dresses that were cut from the collection after their original runway showing for one reason or another–and because they were never produced, they are true one-of-a-kinds. I love finding the brides who not only pull these looks off, but fit the tiny runway sample sizes. But, since we are not having it at the flagship salon, our contribution to Sample Sale will be preparation the night before and we will just have to trust that Sam’s good planning will pay off.

Dear Renee or Brits and the Art of Deflection

Every bride is a bit nervous about the delivery of her gown.

We have never NOT delivered a gown, but sometimes there is a harried, frenzied, slew of activity behind the scenes to get the gown ready on time. Sometimes delays occur because it is flooding in India where some of the beading is done. Other bizarre reasons that this can happen are incorrectly ordered colors or sizes, fabric shortages, mismatched dye lots, etc. That such delays inevitably happen to the bride who has been nervously calling and e-mailing to follow up on her gown from the moment she’s ordered it is a maddening fact of life for us at the salon.

Customer service requires a unique skill set. The Amsale girls all have these skills in spades…Exactly what you’d expect in a business where the client base is comprised of brides-to-be and their mothers! One particularly useful talent for which Debbye Walker, our fearless manager, might take the prize is what I like to call the art of deflection.

Renee is a bride who purchased at the very end of October. It was a bit of a rush order to begin with, and because Renee lives overseas, she was extra vigilant about tracking the progress of her gown. All was well until we were informed that the factory which supplied the fabric for Renee’s gown was behind in production and could not deliver what we needed in the time frame we had promised. Of course, we needed to shield the bride from this potential stress while we worked to correct the situation, and as Debbye’s bride, it was up to Debbye….

email 10/30/10:

Hi Renee,

How are you? Hope you are still glowing as you were when you left the salon.

I just wanted to tell you what a pleasure it was for me to help you find your dress.

It was as fun and as great an experience for me as it was for you.

Best Wishes and see you in January!


Phone conversation 12/09/10

Renee: Hi Debbye, I just wanted to check on the status of my dress. After the new year I wanted to book a flight to come to NY for my first fitting.

Debbye: Renee! How are you? I was thinking about you the other day. I saw a gorgeous pair of shoes at Barney’s that would be perfect for your dress!

Renee: That’s so sweet! I’m still not sure what I want in the way of shoes. But I can’t wait to try my dress on!
When do you think it will be in? Shall I come in January?

Debbye: Speaking of January, do you have any special plans for New Year’s? I was thinking about going to Vegas or somewhere I’ve never been. I may just stay in the city though. I’m sure your gown will be perfect when it comes in! Don’t forget to look for shoes! Talk to you soon, Renee!

E-mail 1/05/11

Hi Debbye,

I just wanted to check in on the status of my dress. I’m very much looking forward to the first fitting.

I’m still searching for shoes, and I would like to see some veils when I come in for my first fitting, unless you think that’s too late to get a veil. When do you expect the gown to come in?


E-mail 1/05/11

Hi Renee,

I called production and they say your gown is still on schedule. You might want to do some veil research ahead of time, so that we can be sure to be able to get it delivered in time…By the way, what color did you decide for your bridesmaids gowns?

E-mail 1/19/11

Hi Debbye,

I hope this email finds you well! Just checking in with you. As January is coming to a close, I wondered if you had any news, and if it would be possible to send a small swatch of the fabric to my address? I am going out of town next weekend, but I am hoping to hear some news soon!

Thanks much,


E-mail 1/19/11

Hi Renee,

So happy to hear from you. I will pick up a swatch of the fabric tomorrow from production and send it to you. I absolutely love the color of the fabric! So perfect on you! Where are you going next weekend? Hope it proves to be a lovely holiday for you! Samantha will contact you in the near future to schedule your fittings.



Email 1/26/11


Flying out on the 21st of March. No status on the dress? It has not arrived yet I guess…I was wondering of it has been completed?

I am going away for the weekend this Friday…which leads us into Feb.
I want to have time to schedule all necessary fittings, and I think we will be fine—I just hadn’t heard word yet.

Aside from this—will wait for the swatch. I am finalizing shoes to bring to my fit. Thanks, Debbye.


Email 1/26/11

Hi Renee,

I’ve just spoken to production again. Your dress is completed, but is in Quality Control. No worries – you will have plenty of time for your fittings! Samantha will arrange them with you when you return from weekend’s holiday.

Thanks again,


Phone Conversation 2/5/11

Debbye: Hi Renee, I have some wonderful news! Your gown has passed quality control and is ready to fit!

Renee: That’s wonderful news! I had a flight booked for next weekend to do all of my fittings. Will that be enough time?

Debbye: Absolutely!

Footnote: This is my cheeky rendering of the events that occurred. For almost 3 weeks in January, Debbye followed up every day with Production to track the status of this gown. That she was able to do it with charm and minimal stress to the bride seems miraculous to us. Renee’s fittings were executed perfectly and she was very happy to take the gown with her at last. The lasting legacy of this episode is that a creative deflection is now known as a Dear Renee.

Baby Puke

Everyone’s got a backstory, but some brides have stories that are really moving and make us just a bit more grateful for what we have. Amy and her fiance found themselves unexpectedly pregnant, which made them decide to delay their wedding plans. Life throws a curve ball sometimes, but that wasn’t even the curve ball part. The pregnancy turned out to be twins who were born 4 months premature.

Amy and her fiancé went from planning their dream wedding to living at the Intensive Care Unit in the blink of an eye, and it wasn’t until now, with the twins just about a year old (minus that extra 4 months) that Amy finally got to take a deep breath and relax enough to let herself think about being a bride. I think Amy received a gift of rare perspective…I doubt she will get flustered by the minutiae of the wedding as she looks forward to marrying the father of her children and joining together her miraculous little family.

Seeing Amy pampered and feeling beautiful in her fitting, made possible through Roula’s expert attention and Debbye’s babysitting, was a joy to behold. Having rambunctious babies take over a bridal fitting is not the kind of thing that happens every day at the Amsale salon, but it was kinda fun, especially since we didn’t have to babysit! Debbye valiantly took over childcare while Roula attended to the more delicate aspects of Amy’s gown fitting. And yes, she even had to clean up some baby spit-up! Made me wonder what Debbye was like as a young mother… Now that me, Emily, and Kori are somewhat newly wedded– a little over 2 years for me, one and a half for Kori, and 6 months for Emmy-Leu, the next question on everyone’s mind is when we’re all going to have babies…Don’t worry, we’ll keep you posted. In some weird way it might be fun if we were all expecting at the same time, but most likely a nightmare for Debbye trying to run a bridal salon!

It’s been a long hard road for Amy, but we’re very excited about her big day!

Perfection Perfection

Here’s a random factoid: Amsale is very big in Korea. Maybe not as big as David Hasselhoff in Germany, but for reasons not entirely clear to us, she’s a rock star in the Korean bridal world. Amsale has been touted the epitome of chic and regularly gets mentioned in the Korean press, having outfitted celebrity after celebrity for their weddings.
So there’s already a lot going on this week at the salon, but topping it off is the arrival of a Korean film crew that needs to be accommodated. The crew is here specifically to cover Amsale and her flagship salon, so it needs to be immaculate and we need to be on our best behavior. Unfortunately, things got off to a rough start– beginning with Amsale’s arrival at the salon. It was a Tuesday, and that means van day–the day when dresses pinned during fittings go back to the design studio to be worked on, dresses that have been requested for bridal appointments, new samples, and dresses that are newly ready for fittings come back from the design studio.

A necessary, but unglamorous aspect of the job, dresses that are bagged up in plastic and hanging on industrial racks await transport in the gallery of the salon… in other words, a perfect time for Amsale to stop by. (Yikes!)

We try not to let brides see the metaphorical “seams” of our operation, as we want to keep things posh and dreamy for our brides, but no one demands that we keep the dream alive more than Amsale. It’s what she’s worked to create and it’s how she lives. There is a mandate for pristine beauty in all of her surroundings, and getting caught with “our pants down” can be… traumatic. Even though Amsale understands what needs to happen to keep her company and her salon functioning, she doesn’t really want to see the “seams” either. She was decidedly not amused by the rack of plastic bagged dresses staring back at her when she entered the salon. We had about 20 seconds to make everything right but failing to impress Amsale left a dark cloud over the morning… But, the show must go on, and so it did. The Korean crew got the footage they wanted, and we managed to get the dreaded plastic garment bags off the floor….


Meanwhile, the marathon is getting ever closer. Emily is training with great focus, and enjoying the side effects of a leaner figure, but not so much the bum knee. Like a special delivery from a higher power, Emily’s next bride is a seasoned marathoner with a lot of pointers and inspiration.

Gianine began running as a way to deal with the passing of her father. Although Emily is not running for the same type of cathartic reasons, she is trying to prove some things to herself, and is seeking out some interesting challenges. Never complacent, and never showy, Emily keeps up a strong, energetic front at work in spite of the rigorous training schedule. It’s almost inspiring enough to make me and Lauren want to do it too…. Almost.

But seriously–it was a good thing that marathon bride happened to be working with Emily because although we Amsale girls can offer advice on just about anything, marathoners we ain’t. All we can do is gawk from the sidelines and cheer her on. And even without a community of runners to give her support, Emily keeps up the faith. In most things, her steadfast, well-mannered Midwest upbringing doesn’t allow her fears or concerns to bubble up to the surface too much, and with this challenge it is no different. Still, my guess is that encountering a marathon veteran who was enthusiastic about sharing her experiences with a novice was a nice power boost.

Yes, Emily finished the marathon. Did anyone doubt she would? But the emotional road to the finish line wasn’t easy.

Can I Back it up in THIS?

Kiesha Jackson may have been the Tasmanian Devil of brides. Lovable, but a tsunami of emotion, diva posturing, real sweetness and flat out craziness. Her story itself is moving–a military girl with a twenty-year career in the armed forces who was left a single mother after her husband died. Her son now grown, serendipitous forces brought her back together with someone she dated 23 years ago! With that kind of history, it wasn’t long before things were rekindled and a proposal was not far behind. Keisha, now engaged to her childhood sweetheart is giddy with this second chance for love, and is pulling out all the stops for wedding number 2. In the show I mentioned that brides sometimes show up in professional makeup and hair for an appointment, What I didn’t mention is that 95% of the time, this is for their first fitting, when they are 2 months away from their wedding and are testing out some looks for the big day.  What we really don’t see is a diva walk in with her stylist Bingo in tow, to spend the first half of her appointment getting her hair and makeup done before a single dress is even tried on! Have I mentioned that appointments are an hour long?  Not sure if things like that happen at other salons, but it was a first for me. [Did you do anything special to prepare for your bridal shopping appointment? Anything diva-like?]

After Kiesha’s beautification by Bingo, the entourage was eager to get the show on the road, and I was eager to see if our gowns would be enough for what she had in mind. Kiesha was an occasionally self-conscious diva, worrying about various parts of her figure as we picked out dresses. I had some ideas of my own about what would work for her, and I was hoping she would be open-minded enough to let me try them on her. In my opinion Kiesha actually pulled off some of the more fitted looks, but I could tell from her reactions that what she truly wanted was a dress that made her feel like a queen. When I cinched her into Caterina, Kiesha felt like she had the perfect shape, and the full skirt gave her the grandeur that she had been craving.

Breathless with excitement, the bride turned this way and that in the mirror, as her stylist, her family and her consultant (that’s me), admired what we were seeing. It was a perfect fusion of gown and personality.  Some moments later, a very serious Kiesha turns to me:

Kiesha:  “Linda, can I ask you a question?”
Me:  “Of course”

<long pause>

Kiesha:  “Can I back it up in this?” With bawdy, booty bumping motion and thunderous laughter from the entourage.

I really can’t wait to see how this wedding turns out, because this appointment was a par-tay!

The Most Fun Job in the World

Some people ask–the same people that think our job must be the most fun in the entire world–whether all we do is try dresses on in our spare time. What do YOU think? Of course we try dresses on! Not that often though. Like, not every day. Kori is the newest to the world of bridal and therefore still the most excited about trying things on. Oh, and she generally fits the sample sizes really well. Kind of hate her for that. But it’s funny how each one of us will gravitate towards a specific dress, and rush to try it on when it finally comes in.

Emily and I have a tradition of doing the “Robot” when we get into dresses. Trying to make it a trend among the newer girls, but Lauren’s not quite game. Shock!

The new Kenneth Pool collection is pretty damn gorgeous! Anastasia had been declared Lauren’s dream dress when we first saw the runway show, and being the over- the- top sparkle fest/flower explosion that it was…it was perfect on her. Emily rocked the sexy Rochelle while Samantha looked regal in Naya. The highly anticipated Estelle did not disappoint…even I tried it on and had a tearless, silent cry.

I’m Eileen. I’m 64 years young, retired and a budding entrepreneur. We were looking for a home and community we could retire in. Part of our criteria was a community with a social life, golf available and access to a gym and other activities. After looking at several developments we decided this was the place. We made the decision to purchase this house in a short period of time… It was a wonderful choice – to live in Surprise, AZ.

I don’t think about demarcations in life such as age. I am a believer in “seize the day” I think living has taught me how precious time with loved ones and friends is and how important learning, laughing and doing are. I am married to the love of my life, Gary.

We live in a planned community in Surprise. It has so many wonderful amenities; gyms, pools, golf, a learning center, too many clubs to name and best of all so many wonderful talented people. It’s like living on a campus/resort. I feel very blessed. Our community is a wonderful place to enjoy and express your life. 

I have retired since moving here and have made wonderful friends .It has given me the opportunity to do so many things. I think the environment has been conducive to try new things. I’m not sure I would have designed jewelry and started my little venture, “Wow Where’d You Get That” or acted in plays had I not lived here. It is fun to exercise the child in us. I’m having a great time. Surprise is like college since our community is like a campus.

Since moving here I’ve joined the drama comedy club and have done sound tech for shows and have acted. I’ve tried my hand at pickle ball, basic sky diving. My husband and I love to dance and do it more than ever before. I now make jewelry and I am in the process of launching a business, with a lot of encouragement from my friends. I’ve entered the Ms. Senior Arizona contest so I am learning a bit of jazz dance, which I probably will continue. I’m starting golf lessons. I am going to try to take Italian next September.

Our children and relatives think it’s great for us to be living here. They laugh about how busy we are. Sometimes we all would like to live closer. They come when they can; you have limited time when you work. My sister visits often and we love having her here. I love when family and friends come to visit. I love to entertain and cook.

Right now I’m in the Drama and Comedy club. I have volunteered and also use my jewelry to raise money for various charities. You don’t retire from life here; it’s a chance to do all those things you never had time to do, including relaxing, because you had other responsibilities and obligations. I don’t know anyone who is sitting in a rocker waiting for the final sunset.

I try and live in the moment, so I don’t think about what it was like to be younger much. But probably I miss the physicality the most – I used to work 12-16 hours and go play and there was no sagging…Gravity!

What I like most about being older is being really comfortable in my own skin, having time to explore and learn and reflect… Life is about choices and attitude. Time is finite, and as you get older I think you appreciate the grains of sand in the glass and you want them to count.

I try not to sweat the small stuff. I try to choose to be in a good mood and spend my time with positive people. I want to learn from experiences, be more forgiving of myself and others. It’s important to “Dance while you can.”

Being part of the Sunset Daze project has been an exciting adventure and a learning experience. I hope it continues. It has been an impetus to do some things sooner than later. I’ve met some really talented and nice people. One of the perks has been to involve some friends and neighbors, so they could share the experience and tell their stories.

More about Eileen
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