Wedding Planning

Allegria Bridal’s Julie Centofanti Dishes on Finding the Perfect Gown

The salon manager knows the secrets to putting any bride in her dream dress.


Photo by Sasha Israel

When Julie Centofanti’s friends started getting engaged, she was the person whom everyone wanted at their dress-shopping appointment. “It actually became really easy to me,” Centofanti says. With just one look at a gown, “[I’d be] like, ‘That’s your dress right there,’” she adds. So when the stay-at-home mom wanted to reenter the workforce in 2005, she decided to give the wedding industry a go and joined Allegria Bridal in Belmont as a consultant. Fast-forward 14 years, and now, in addition to playing matchmaker for Boston-area brides and their gowns, Centofanti manages the salon and acts as a buyer. Still, her favorite part of the job is what attracted her to it in the first place. “When you make someone feel the prettiest that they’ve ever felt, that’s a really fun thing to see,” she says.

What advice do you have for a bride who doesn’t necessarily know what her style is?

Those are my favorite brides! My advice would be to go into your appointment with an open mind. Trust your consultant because we know what the dresses look like on a body versus what they look like on a hanger. Lots of times I will give a girl a dress and she will say, [for example], that she doesn’t look good in a V-neck. I’ll say, “Well, let’s just try it on.” The thing about bridal that makes it different from anything else is that it’s hard for you to know what you look good in because we don’t get to try [wedding dresses] on all the time. Maybe this isn’t something you would pick, but if your bridal consultant picks it for you, you should put it on.

How do you know when a dress is “the one”? Should you really expect tears?

Everybody has their own path of how they come to the point of “This is the dress.” Some girls come out and they cry and literally have that moment. Most girls do tell me that they’re not criers, though, and those are the girls that usually do cry. But I tell girls all the time that it’s not a lightning bolt for everybody. For some people it’s very analytical, like “This has everything that I like, and it checks all my boxes.” Other times I joke around with my brides, like, “Well, this is your dress whether you take it today or two weeks from now,” because you know when someone is in the right dress.

Is it possible to try on too many dresses?

Yeah, that’s hard especially now because we have social media, the Internet, and Pinterest. You can be over-shopped before you’ve even shopped. When you start going to multiple salons, you’re taking the emotional piece out of it. You’re not allowing yourself to have that moment of “Oh my gosh, this is it” because in the back of your mind you’re thinking “Should I go check one more place?” [But] sometimes [brides] will come back and say, “Julie, you were so right, I went to six other salons but that one dress I tried on here, that’s my dress.”

What are some of your favorite bridal trends right now?

The [runway] trends right now are clean, tailored, beautiful fabrics, and straps and deep V [necklines and backlines]. But as far as trends for actual brides, there almost aren’t any. What I mean by that is that some girls come in and want that classic look. If you want to be Kate Middleton, that’s great, let’s do it. Other girls come in and they want a really glamorous, beaded, curvy dress, and we’ll accessorize it. So it kind of runs the gamut. There is an element of trend in bridal, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be a “trendy bride” because it’s all in style, whether it’s beaded or clean or strapless or V-neck or off-the-shoulder.

What’s one thing you wish brides knew about shopping for a dress?

There isn’t a right and a wrong way to go through your process. This should be fun, and it should be exciting. It’s not like you should do A, B, C and then you’re doing it right. Trust yourself. Trust that emotion and that feeling that you have. And if you have people with you, trust your people.

285 Belmont St., Belmont, 617-489-1449, allegriabridal.com.


Tips

Your partner is perfect for you. Make sure your gown is, too, with Julie Centofanti’s fool-proof shopping guidelines.

THE LIGHTING TEST

Dresses actually look different in different light, so if your event is crossing over into evening, that’s something to think about. For example, if you’re in a beaded dress, I’ll shut off the bright overhead lights in the salon because then you can see the dress twinkle and sparkle a little bit more.

THE COLOR TEST

The best way to see the true color of your gown is to walk over to the windows. The color is going to change in natural light, and you can see the difference between white, ivory, and champagne.

THE SIT TEST

Always sit down [in your dress]. If you’re looking for something that’s tight along the hip line, there is a point where it can’t be tighter because you won’t be able to sit or get out of a car.

THE DANCE TEST

My brides always laugh at this, but I have them take the dress for a test drive by getting off the pedestal and walking around. See how it moves and twirls. That’s how people usually decide between a flowy A-line skirt and a slim lace gown.

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