By Leah Binkovitz Working as a fashion publicist in New York gets you access to celebrities. Being a celebrity gets you access to great fashion on loan. But somewhere in that loop, regular brides drooling over couture gowns get left out. "I was working in PR," explains Jacqueline Courtney, "so I was really used to seeing the access and the ease that was afforded to celebrities and editors . . . Women who were in the know would borrow gowns from us for events and galas." Since Courtney considered herself one of these in the know women, she figured when it came to get her dream wedding dress, she'd have a similar experience. Nothing could've been further from the truth, she says, "It was quite difficult." From struggle comes success, though, as Courtney managed to combine her fashion savvy and insight into wedding shopping to found her new online boutique business, Nearly Newlywed. [caption id="attachment_1928" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Photograph, Lisa Beggs"]
[/caption] Launched in April, the business has already received plenty of press attention. The motto; Buy It, Wear It, Send it Back, is to brides what Eat, Pray, Love was to humanity in its absolutely freeing simplicity. Brides can choose from a highly curated selection of luxury brand gowns (and bridesmaid dresses) and once they've had their fairytale moment, can sell the dress back for 30 percent the original price or 70 percent the price on consignment pieces. No longer do brides have to wade through eBay and craigslist wondering if a gown is worth potential identity theft, something Courtney completely understands. During her own gown search, her mother flew down to Atlanta to verify that one dress she found online really existed and wasn't part of some scam. "We hold the dresses and appraise them, photograph them in a high fashion way on model, and then have all the customer service," says Courtney on what makes her site so unique. [caption id="attachment_1929" align="aligncenter" width="632" caption="Photograph, Lisa Beggs"]
[/caption] Being from Iowa, Courtney felt it was important to provide a full boutique experience for brides all over the country, not just in New York. This includes what is perhaps the coolest feature of her business, a Pinterest consultation. Courtney uses clients' inspiration boards to get a better feel for their style and taste. "I get to go through, which is really fun for me as well, and see not just, 'Oh, I want a sweetheart neckline princess dress.' I can see kind of who they are and who they want to be on their wedding day," Courtney says. Anyone who has watched any sort of Say Yes to the Dress reality show knows that saying you like a "sweetheart neckline princess dress" won't get you very far. With the use of Pinterest, brides can avoid all the fruitless fittings and frowny face sessions. On Courtney's big day, she looked like royalty. Having finally found her dream dress, a Vera Wang design with a full, layered skirt of tulle and a fitted top with a slight sweetheart neckline, she looked stunningly elegant at her Mill City Museum wedding. Three weeks later, she sold the dress. "I wanted to wear a huge gorgeous down," says Courtney, "but for me, it wasn't important to keep it afterward." [caption id="attachment_1930" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Photograph, La de Da Photography"]
[/caption] She still wishes she had had something like Nearly Newlywed when she was looking for her dress, but it's hard to complain about the end result of her hunt. With a dramatic long veil and perfect weather conditions, Courtney returned to her original "big city" to marry husband, Patrick surrounded by friends and family.