Finding Her Dream Dress Without a Ring

Many of you may know Catherine Hall: the New York transplant photographer now living in San Francisco, but most of you don’t know what she hanging in her closet.

This self-proclaimed geek, whom I consider to have a very endearing personality and incredible eye, first came to my attention in 2007 when she submitted an engagement shoot evocative of the 1940s that was so compelling it inspired a story in the 2008 issue of Wedding Style New England. Over time she has sent me countless submissions that have resulted in miscellaneous picks of my favorite images in random nooks of the magazine, as well as  selections featured in our inspiration galleries (which we are in the process of launching new sections daily).

Most recently, after meeting Catherine in person at WPPI last year, she sent me an oversized package complete with 11×13 prints (yes, real hard copy photos) and a letter that made me want to share her story about Manhattan bride Alyssa Fanelli and her Vera Wang wedding gown.

And here is Catherine’s story:

Alyssa is a bright-eyed Italian with effortless elegance and formidable intelligence. She planned a sumptuous outdoor ceremony in Yountville, located in California’s wine country—a town so quaint there’s not even a gas sation. I attended Alyssa throughout the morning of her wedding day, capturing images in the dressing chamber of Groezinger Estate. Then, the moment arrived that the bride made her final preparations to walk down the aisle.

I was right beside her, offering encouraging words and gushing about just how breathtaking she was in her Vera Wang wedding gown. Just as Alyssa was about to process toward Brett—her handsome groom, who similarly works on Wall Street—she turned to me and smiled, “The wedding gown, it’s yours. I want you to have it after today.”

While Alyssa’s generous impulse was lovely, I knew to take it with a grain of salt—any bride on her wedding day is in a flurry of emotions. The following Monday, we spoke to one another by phone, recapping highlights from her celebration. “I still want you to have my wedding gown,” she said, going on to explain that she considers her gown fine art and has absolutely no interest in storing it in the recesses of her closet for the next 20 years.

“I’ll have to get back to you,” I said. After all, I’m not even engaged! Her generosity was almost too much, but after sleeping on the offer, I realized I would be crazy not to accept.

Thank you so much Alyssa and Catherine for sharing this story. It epitomizes what our celebration of “love month” is all about and I look forward to the moment when Catherine gets engaged and sends us pictures from her wedding in this gorgeous gown. xoxo


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