Whether she began daydreaming about her wedding gown as a 6-year-old, or after the diamond was reflecting the delight in her eyes, the search for ‘the dress’ is, for many brides, the kick-off to planning the Big Day. And for the discerning bride seeking service as exclusive as the couture gown of her dreams, one local bridal store offers almost 2,000 designer wedding dresses, as well as the personal attention of the owner. “Since we opened our first small store in 2006, our brides have told us how much they loved our customer service,” says Wedding Gallery owner Nagwa Abdelghfour. “They truly appreciate that warm relationship, and I believe that’s what made our business grow so tremendously in the first two years—because they told all of their friends.” Abdelghfour says she genuinely enjoys helping her brides. “I treat them like guests in my home. I am originally from Egypt, and if you know anyone from Egypt, you know they are very good hosts,” she says with a smile.
Abdelghfour’s career path to the bridal industry wasn’t typical. “I’ve worked all my life as a computer scientist, and this was supposed to be my retirement! But I’ve always loved fashion, and I knew I wasn’t ready to retire.”
The popularity and reputation of Wedding Gallery has attracted the notice of top international designers, including Ines DiSanto and Simone Carvalli, who have offered their lines to the salon. “These designers don’t give exclusives to a new store unless they are confident we can carry the name,” Abdelghfour notes. “We are the only bridal salon in Missouri to carry Simone Carvalli, and also the only one to offer Japanese designer Yumi Katsura.” Katsura just launched her U.S. line, and Wedding Gallery is hosting a Katsura trunk show in March, she adds.
Gowns from these designers are fashioned from 100 percent silk, Abdelghfour says, and often incorporate Swarovski crystals, as well. “Sometimes, couture dress designers are very avant-garde, but these are classic, elegant gowns favored by traditional brides. The attention to detail is phenomenal.”
As her business grew, Abdelghfour acquired more space. “We now have three buildings, totaling about 16,000 square feet. That’s how we are able to have such a large inventory of gowns in a range of sizes,” she says. Brides can try on couture gowns in the new couture salon on the second floor of the Wedding Gallery’s newest building, she adds. “The dressing rooms are very private, and almost 400 square feet each. We’ve brought the New York couture salon experience to historic St. Charles.”
Couture gowns at Wedding Gallery range from $2,000 to $15,000. “So now, if you want the $10,000 gown, you don’t have to leave town to try it on,” Abdelghfour says. “And we try to get different looks from different designers, so a bride can come in and try lots of dresses in lots of styles.” While the salon offers exclusive designer gowns, it also carries wedding dresses for diverse budgets. “Many brides call and ask about our prices, and we always ask them, What is your comfort zone? We have gowns in all price ranges,” Abdelghfour notes.
The Wedding Gallery also carries bridesmaid dresses, including a private collection of exclusive couture designs, as well as dresses for the mother of the bride, or prom. And above all, Abdelghfour promises personal attention and service.
“We really do care about our brides!”