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Frock Finder

Our guide to local purveyors of all things bridal

By Michelle Camerlingo

Approximately 30 percent of all engagements take place between Christmas and Valentine's Day, according to Which probably helps explain why, as the holidays finally recede, bridal season flounces into full swing. And with the season of the brides comes the hunt for The Dress.

Queen Victoria got the Western world wearing white after donning the color when she wed Prince Albert in 1840. Before then, a bride simply wore her best dress. Victoria and Albert's union was the quintessential unconventional arrangement--she ran the country while he ran the household, a refreshing change of pace.

But with new eras come new options, and this local guide to dress shops in Santa Cruz serves every bride, from the modern to the traditional.

Bridal Veil Fashions
2121 41st Ave. #106, Capitola. 831.476.6777
Joanne Cecchettini recalls when the lot where her shop resides was a cow pasture. A bridal boutique for the last 46 years, Cecchettini now runs the family business with her daughter Lisa. As proprietress of one of the few bridal shops in the area, Cecchettini takes pride in Bridal Veil's wide selection of styles, sizes and price ranges. And with more than 1,000 wedding gowns in stock carefully tucked in clear plastic wrap, come ready to commit.

Jewel's on Pacific
1535 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 831.420.1441
Jewel's bridal parlor, in the back of the shop, is the stuff little girls dream about-- selectively gorgeous stock with accessories to match. The gowns on display take a break from the traditional yet still are romantic and whimsical; Jewel's is known to carry quality over quantity. But perhaps the shop's true claim to fame is making for a no-muss, no-fuss bridal gown shopping experience--a rarity in its own right. Plus, when you find a gown, they break out the bubbly.

Katia's Bridal Shop
251 E. Lake Ave. #1, Watsonville. 831.722.4833
Before Cirila Lopez opened up shop 10 years ago, she worked out of her home constructing custom dresses for a clientele built by word of mouth. While the seamstress carries a variety of gowns from various designers, Lopez gets the most satisfaction from her own creations. Attire for the entire wedding party as well a dresses for all formal occasions are available.

Perfect Details
303 Portrero, Bldg. 45, Santa Cruz.
Appointment required. 650.576.4927 or 877.733.8249

Lisa Levine first launched Perfect Details as a website on Valentine's Day of 2000. Due to popular demand she created a showroom in May 2008 so local brides could try on the products firsthand. While still very under the radar locally, Perfect Details has gained a following online, and customers have traveled from San Francisco to see Levine's high-end goods.

A Touch of Elegance
2 Brennan, Watsonville. 831.722.0178
Specializing in gowns as well as bridal handbags and bridal clips, A Touch of Elegance has been the source of bridal couture in Watsonville since 1978. It's wise to book a browsing appointment, since it can get busy, especially during high weddin' season. Popular designers sold include Maggie Sottero, Casablanca and Alfred Angelo.

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