Brooke Barit in Vera Wang.
Luvi Wheelock is scheduled to open Casa de Novia in April.
Wedding gowns on display at Casa de Novia
Casa de Novia bridal gowns
Michelle Klovans in Monique Lhuillier.
For the past 15 years, Luvi Wheelock has helped more than 2,500 brides say yes to the dresses of their dreams. Now, the next chapter of happily ever afters will be from her new Casa de Novia boutique on West Alabama. The Park Avenue apartment meets chic Parisian space is a dream realized for the leading lady of the Houston bridal boutique scene.
When Wheelock opened the first incarnation of Casa de Novia in 2005, Facebook was a year old and Instagram didn’t exist. Brides relied on magazines and trunk shows for first looks at gowns and accessories. Fast forward 15 years, and brides are clamoring for gowns as they glide down the runway.
“Information is available 24/7 to anyone wanting it,” Wheelock tells PaperCity. “This has been a blessing and a curse because brides want to see and try things on that are just coming out on the bridal runways and it’s impossible to get these gowns unless we have a trunk show.”
The tradeoff means pricey rushes for brides who have their heart set on a certain dress, but the upside for Wheelock is discovering new bridal designers before going to market, which she loves.
She’s pouring that same affection into her new 1,750-square-foot boutique in Hollywood Square. Her stores have always been enchanting, but Wheelock wanted something more relaxed and intimate for the location. Still luxurious, but also cozy.
“I want a bride and her family to feel so good in the new space that they can’t imagine wanting to experience this special moment somewhere else,” Wheelock says. “I want brides to feel so comfortable when they try on our gowns, almost as if they were at home, but a little glammed up.”
For that glamorous look and feel, Wheelock turned to interior designer Sissi Kasel. Not only did Kasel have the aesthetic vision Wheelock was looking for, but she knows what it’s like to be a bride, searching for the perfect gown. Ten years ago, Kasel found her wedding dress at Casa de Novia, and blended her vision with Wheelock’s. The result is a warm, romantic space that is meant for sipping champagne and trying on gowns in a comfortable space.
Wheelock said she and Kasel have paid attention to every little detail, right down to the grasscloth wallpaper in each of the three private dressing rooms. Wooden floors, a lacquered white ceiling, bright chandeliers and hues of light blues and blushes set the dreamy tone. Wheelock is mum on additional design details, but she’s sure of one thing.
“Makes me want to remodel my home! I think it will be perfect,” she gushes.
Casa de Novia’s bridal collection is a who’s who of designers, many of whom are exclusive to the store including Monique Lhuillier, Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera. Wheelock estimates that 85 percent of the gowns her customers order are customized, for a dress that represents each bride.
“Everyone wants something special to add to their gown that has their own touch,” she says. “I really enjoy that part though and our seamstress is incredible. She and I work side by side and really make magic happen for our brides.
“We are so invested in making them feel their best on their big day.”
Casa de Novia’s big opening day is scheduled for April 1 at this time.