Jill Duggar of TLC’s ’19 Kids & Counting’ bought her wedding dress in Fredericksburg
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY / THE FREE LANCE–STAR
When Jill Duggar Dillard found her wedding dress two months ago, she got the same experience any bride who shops at Ava Laurénne Bride in downtown Fredericksburg can get: the Princess Treatment.
Jill, who appears with her family on TLC’s “19 Kids & Counting” reality show, is the first daughter of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar to tie the knot. The Duggars have 19 children whose names all start with J.
Jill wed Derick Dillard last weekend after a six-month courtship.
Two months ago, Jill and her family were in Fredericksburg to shop for a wedding dress.
Jill’s older brother, Josh, and his family live in Maryland, and they somehow heard about Ava Laurénne’s special treatment of brides.
Co-owner Wendy Rivera said Jill had a dress style in mind.
“She wanted something modest, but not frumpy,” Rivera said in an interview.
TLC likely will include footage from Jill’s dress shopping trip in an episode this fall, and the shop will appear in the wedding episode as well, but air dates have not been released by TLC.
Rivera said she can’t divulge too many details before the shows air.
Jill and other family members stayed at Josh’s house in Maryland and came down to Fredericksburg for the evening to shop.
The family spent about eight hours in town because of the alterations. Before they arrived at the store, they made a stop at Carl’s.
Jill, who is studying to be a midwife, has a midwife friend who lives in the Fredericksburg area. The friend told them they had to go to Carl’s—but forgot to mention the frozen custard stand’s cash-only policy.
They got cash and they all bought milkshakes, which they brought to the shop with them.
The TLC crew showed up about two hours before them to set up and when they came in, had two comments, Rivera said. The crew told her it was a beautiful shop, but small.
Ava Laurénne, which is in the Galleria on Caroline Street, opened in June 2012.
The shop’s Princess Treatment is a special service offered to brides about twice a month.
For a $500 fee, the bride and up to 15 guests have the shop to themselves after hours and get a spread of food, music and surprises throughout the appointment.
Rivera stressed that any bride can get the same treatment that Jill received.
“We do this for every princess bride and every princess treatment is different,” she said.
She said it wasn’t just done for Jill because TV cameras were there.
She also worked with local vendors—she was not allowed to say which ones, just yet—but emphasized that they are the same vendors she uses for anyone who wants the princess treatment.
“Every bride wants to have the experience of a lifetime,” she said. “That’s what we want.”
She added that she wanted Jill to feel special, as a bride.
“Because she’s on TV and cameras are with her a lot, I really wanted to kind of zone in and let her feel like a bride. Let her not be a reality TV star, but just be Jill,” Rivera said.
“If we are about anything at Ava Laurénne Bride, it’s about each individual bride. It’s really about the person, the bride herself, her life moment. We will do anything and everything to help our brides and make it feel perfect,” she said.
Because they had just a few months before the wedding to actually pick a dress, they had to choose something the store had in stock.
Rivera said Jill wanted something that was vintage, but not lacy, and she wanted a tailored fit.
Rivera knew of the time constraints that they would be under with the dress, so she arranged for her personal seamstress from South Carolina to be there to assist.
The Allure Romance dress Jill chose is an A-line gown that originally had a sweetheart neckline and lace appliqués. It has Swarovski crystals and pearls and satin ruching at the waist, with a chapel-length train.
The seamstress added cap sleeves and added fabric to the neckline to make it less revealing.
Rivera said that originally, Jill didn’t want lace, but she encouraged her to try on several different style dresses in different fabrics.
She couldn’t reveal which family members came with Jill, but she said they were very supportive and gave her lots of positive input.
“They could give lessons to a lot of families. They had opinions, but they waited until she shared,” Rivera said. “I appreciated that—I’m the cheerleader for the bride’s opinion.”
Getting a dress ready in two months is a quick turnaround in the bridal gown business because of all the alterations usually required.
Most brides begin dress shopping about nine months in advance to allow time for alterations.
Rivera attended the wedding in Arkansas last weekend and described it as intimate despite the more than 1,000 people in attendance.
“Jill and Derick are very genuine. They’re not flashy or showy,” Rivera said. “They’re not put-on. They truly love God and each other and are full of gratitude for everything they have for each other.”
Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413