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Downtown Lisle is your bridal shopping headquarters
By Joan Broz | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 8/10/2009 12:04 AM

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Bridal couples will find it an easy two-step to plan their wedding in downtown Lisle.

Begin at P. Martin Jewelers, 4745 Main St. A downtown business owner for 16 years, Paul Martin offers engagement rings and wedding bands.

"When I first opened the store, a guy would come in by himself and do the whole selection process," Martin said. "Today, although the guy will ultimately pick out the ring, he brings in his girlfriend or fiancee for her ideas so he selects what she wants."

The traditional round diamond with white gold and platinum settings are popular choices. The jeweler has had couples come in, purchase and walk out with a ring as well as couples who use his personal design service to create a one-of-a-kind keepsake.

"Most couples will buy the same gold in wedding bands but not matched sets," Martin said. "I think guys want their own individuality."

With the numerous choices in flowers, weddings take on an individuality of their own under the expertise of Flowers of Lisle owner Bob Kendall. In business 37 years, the shop at 4728 Main St. does 100 to 120 weddings a year.

"Our busy season for weddings used to be June, but now September has turned into our No. 1 month," Kendall said.

The hand-gathered bouquet with natural stems is a popular choice for brides. More vibrant colors have replaced the soft pastels for bridesmaids, and brides are selecting more color in their own bouquet with a white accent.

"This year, we are seeing a trend to scaling down the amount of flowers with smaller pieces on the tables and less bridesmaids," Kendall said. "We also are setting up a lot of outdoor natural settings."

A heavy dose of individual style is essential in selecting a bridal gown.

The Bridal Mansion of Lisle and owner-manager Jane Skarosi have been dressing brides since 1974. Originally located a block north of Ogden Avenue, the store now is at 1111 Burlington Ave., Suite 103.

Skarosi will service 350 to 400 weddings a year, and stocks more than 200 sample gowns as well as a collection of one-of-a-kind sample gowns for brides on a budget. The popular off-white color comes in various hues.

The 21st-century bride continues to like the strapless dress with A-line or trumpet skirts.

"Veils seem to be a tradition most brides want to stick with, although headpieces are asked for less often," Skarosi said. "Many girls will remove the veil at the reception and put in a fascinator, which is a small comb of rhinestones or feathers."

Veils can be designed to any bride's vision and French netting is making a comeback.

Skarosi said that sensitive brides are conscious of the cost to their wedding party and select a color and let bridesmaids choose the style that works best for their bodies and budget in tea-length or street-length dresses.

The full-service bridal salon also offers bridesmaid and flower-girl dresses and invitations, and has recently added mother-of-the-bride and mother-of-the-groom dresses.

Mothers of the bridal couple will find Lisle a good destination for shopping. Tina's Closet, 4745 Main St., which opened in 1987, added a collection of mothers-of-the-bride and -groom dresses with its third expansion five years ago.

Every month, owner Tina Karakourtis helps about 25 brides - and even more mothers - find the perfect undergarments.

"We customize the undergarments and swimwear to provide a perfect fit to give our customers the best results and comfort," Karakourtis said.

Brides will want to check out Golden Time Gift Shop, 4734 Main St., which sells skin-care items and facial massages. Every other month, store owner George Sheu offers customers a fun evening of sampling the store's products. The new store also carries a collection of handcrafted jewelry for bridesmaid gifts.

Down the street at 4750 Main St., Past Presence Ltd. is a custom frame store in the business of preserving memories.

"All events worth remembering are worth framing," said store owner Christine Kaufman. "I preserve bridal flowers and frame them in a shadow box, oftentimes with other wedding memorabilia."

Kaufman said a popular choice is preserving a wedding invitation with flowers carefully placed around it. She also frames items to display at the wedding reception or at showers, such as both families' generations of wedding photos.

Nothing preserves memories better than photos.

Robert Kelly Studio, which recently moved to 4726 Main St., has been in business 30 years and averages 50 weddings a year.

The newest wedding trend is still photography in a slide-show DVD with background music. Today's bridal couples want a few traditional formal photos along with a lot of casual and candid photos.

These downtown businesses with wedding connections are only a start. Lisle has a lot to offer the bridal couple.

For families daunted by the thought of putting together an entire wedding, the Lisle Convention and Visitors Bureau, 4746 Main St., offers a one-stop shop. From the wedding reception to overnight guest accommodations, the bureau knows Lisle.

The free service can help with wedding attire, flowers, music, invitations, limousines, photographers and more, said executive director Priscilla Tomei. They even put together welcome packets with information on local dining, maps and a visitors guide for your guests.

Later as anniversaries roll around, expressions of love still will be available in downtown Lisle. Fresh flowers arrive daily at Flowers of Lisle, and P. Martin Jewelers sells many anniversary rings. He recently designed one for a 50th wedding anniversary.

• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. E-mail her at jgbroz@yahoo.com.