Say “yes” to the dress at Liberty & Lace Bridal shop. By Caitlin Maloney Kuchemba Photography By Melissa Kelly Photography (melissakellyphotography.com)
Juliet Sabella, owner of Liberty & Lace Bridal, has always had a thing for weddings.
“I just love weddings, I just love everything about them,” she said. “The build up to the planning with your significant other, getting to have all of your closest family and friends in one spot — it’s just the biggest celebration.”
Over the seven years Juliet has also owned The Wall Cycling Studio in Manayunk, she has seen her fair share of her clients get engaged and eventually married.
“We see them from the moment they come in and they might be single or just started seeing someone, and we watch it evolve into an engagement to getting married,” Juliet said.
Year after year at the studio, Juliet kept watching her clients get engaged and her excitement only grew with each new proposal. It wasn’t until one morning while at the studio — 9:15 a.m. on a Wednesday morning to be exact — when Juliet had her “a ha” moment. One of her engaged instructors had just finished teaching a class that had four other brides-to-be in it. At the end of the class, the group of five took a picture together to celebrate and that’s when Juliet had an idea.
“As they took a picture together, I looked at them and thought, ‘I’m missing out on this,’” she said. “I knew it was a sign from above and I needed to do something in the wedding industry that I’ve always loved.”
Though weddings in general have always been a favorite of Juliet’s, it was bridal gowns specifically that she’s always been drawn to.
“I’ve always loved bridal fashion, I just love how beautiful and delicate bridal gowns are,” she said.
Once Juliet had the idea to open a bridal store, she quickly immersed herself fully into the world of bridal gown designers. She reached out to a designer she admired, Kelly Faetanini, whose mission and designs Juliet resonated with.
Though Juliet hadn’t even opened her boutique yet and was just getting her business plan together, Kelly invited Juliet and her husband, Karl, to New York City Bridal Fashion Week to see her designs in person. Juliet loved Kelly’s one-on-one personal approach and her willingness to work with a first-time boutique owner like Juliet.
While at Bridal Fashion Week, Juliet thought, “these are the most gorgeous dresses I’ve ever seen.”
“Compared to my own wedding dress, these were light, beautiful, and I had never seen details like this,” Juliet said. “There are really dreamy gowns and some really sophisticated gowns, too.”
When it came to finding a location to open her bridal salon, fate drew Juliet right back to a very familiar intersection. Just seven years prior, Juliet had opened the doors to her first business, The Wall Cycling Studio, at the intersection of Main and Levering streets.
In early 2018, a successful Manayunk retailer was closing its doors as the owner uprooted to Boston. Fortunately for Juliet, the newly available space at a familiar corner was the perfect space for her to start a new venture. “The intimacy of the space, the natural lighting, the all white floors and walls, it just screams ‘boutique,’” Juliet said. “It reminded me of the small space I started The Wall in.”
As soon as she knew the space was available, she knew she couldn’t pass it up.
“I had the lease signed before I knew it was all set in stone,” Juliet said. “I just believed in the store and was so confident in it.”
To go along with the intimate feeling of Liberty & Lace, Juliet launched the store with only gowns from designer Kelly Faetanini’s collection. As the exclusive stockist of Kelly’s gowns in Philadelphia, Liberty & Lace is the only boutique in Philadelphia that a bride can purchase a gown by this designer.
Though they only carry one designer for now, Kelly’s collection featured a wide variety of gowns with varying silhouettes, necklines, fabrics — including lace, tulle, and crepe — and even a variety of colors like ivory, blush, and even blue.
The best part about Kelly’s collection? Every single dress is customizable. You can change the top, the straps, the hemline, and more. So, when Juliet and her team do customizations for brides, they talk directly to Kelly’s team on Facetime to walk through the exact customization each bride desires.
“If you fall in love with a skirt on one gown but love the top on another, we can make it happen,” Juliet said.
Beyond the dresses themselves, what sets Liberty & Lace apart from other bridal salons is the intimate shopping experience. Sixty minutes are allocated for each bride to take their time trying on dresses during their private appointments where the shop is solely theirs, giving each bride the attention they deserve.
“I always want it to stay as an intimate shop and I want to keep it that way. It’s so important when you are making a decision like this that you aren’t rushed,” Juliet said. “During our appointments, you can stand on the platform and nobody else will be in your way and you’re welcome to come back as many times as you want.”
Liberty & Lace currently carries Kelly Faetanini sample gowns and can order any custom size. At this time, they also offer a small collection of consignment wedding gowns, some that have never even been altered, along with accessories like veils, belts, and jewelry.
If you’re a bride-to-be and looking to schedule an appointment at Liberty & Lace, you can book an appointment on their website or keep an eye out for last minute openings listed on their Instagram feed.