Finding THE Dress in a Sea of Hopelessness

Amongst the sea of wedding dresses, sometimes it seems hard to believe you will find the right catch. Even though, there is a sea of endless wedding gowns out there; sometimes, the fact is, your dress isn’t out there.


Yes, you heard me correctly. Sometimes your PERFECT dress is not out there. But, no worries at all, that’s why you have us! Sometimes what stands between you and THE dress, are a few customizations to make it just right!


This was the case for our sweet bride Jill. Jill found what she felt was her dress, but it wasn’t quit yet, THE dress. In her mind she had always envisioned a beautiful lace sleeved gown for her Fall Wedding. Well, the designer, Maggie Sottero, agreed to sell some of the beautiful lace off of Jill’s gown and POOF! We were able to structure a custom lace sleeve to Jill’s gown and all of the sudden it went from a dress Jill had bought to, THE dress Jill was going to begin her Happily Ever After in!


The original gown purchased.

(Picture from Maggie Sottero website. Gown: Maggie Sottero Style: Melanie)

Now presenting, Jill, and her custom sleeved version!











Happily Ever After!

Photo Credit: Michaels Photography

Gown Designer: Maggie Sottero Style: Melanie

Gown Purchased at: Lulu’s Bridal Boutique

So, while you may not always find exactly what you are looking for when shopping, there may still be other options. The key is to keep a creative mind, leave all options open and ALWAYS ask lots of questions to your stylist.


So this Valentine’s Day when you are desperately searching to find the perfect dress in a sea of hopelessness, remember sometimes in order to fall in love with the perfect one, you may need to make a few creative adjustments!


***DISCLAIMER: This practice is specifically designed for Wedding Gowns, Please do NOT go home and attempt this on your boyfriend/ significant other.***


Nina Esclava

What does it mean to be Thankful?

A Blog Dedicated to Gabby Annunziato 

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

-William Arthur Ward

#Thankful. #Blessed. #Giving. #Thanksgiving. In a society that has become dominated by social media, sometimes its hard to not get stuck in the “Hallmark” of it all. You know what I mean… perfectly staged family photos. Spending hours trying to get just the right angle on your baked goodies. Deliberating humorous, punny, intelligent hashtags, for weeks in advance. Preparing to have the maximum likes on EVERY social media platform like, ever. We spend so much time perfecting these visions that the picture becomes empty. Sure you see people in them, or food, or cats, or babies, or babies eating cupcakes while petting a cat and wearing a Santa hat… But, most of the time, we spend so much time on that picture we lose the actual time. We lose the memories.

So this got me thinking. Social media aside, what does it actually mean to be thankful?

To me, it means appreciation even when things are bad. It means being able to see past the, “this only happens to me” or “#firstworldproblems.” It means looking at life and understanding that you are not promised ANYTHING, which the results in you appreciating EVERYTHING. So what am I thankful for? I am thankful that I woke up today. I am thankful that I have a job of my choosing. I am thankful for a family and boyfriend who never tell me, “You can’t do that” and always push me to be more than I was yesterday, even on the days when I don’t want to hear it. I’m thankful for my 100lb Labrador “lapdog” (YES, this is a thing.) I’m thankful that I have a strong friend base. I’m thankful that, in a moment of crisis and despair, this friend base (really more of a community) banded around one person when they needed it the most. I’m thankful for these selfless, dependable, passionate friends, who over the last 20 years have grown into a HUGE family community of constant love and support.

In the last few weeks, with word that a dear friends little sister got sick, I think about my brother. My brother is the exact same age, ONLY 19 years old. It’s hard not to think “what if this was me.” I still remember the day I was leaving for college. At the time, my little brother, Reece, was only 12. I still remember at the very last minute before I walked out the door, he came running to me holding his favorite stuffed animal from his childhood — a fluffy, tan, little dog. At that time it was one of his most prized possessions, and he knowingly went and found what was MOST important to him, and gave it to me. He then proceeded to latch onto me and cry incessantly. I remember feeling like I was leaving home empty. Even amongst all of the excitement for college, I felt like I was leaving a piece of me behind. And, you know what? I did leave a piece of me behind. This is what it’s like to have a sibling; someone who has been there with you, through the good and the bad. They’re the only other people on this planet that fully understand how absolutely weird your parents can be. And to be an older sibling, is to have a constant attachment, responsibility, and connection to another person. I have a deep since of pride for both of my babies brothers. I feel like if they hurt, I hurt. If someone picks on them, you best believe I am coming for them… (this has actually been proven on multiple occasions, resulting in trips to the principals office… NOT sorry). So when I learned my dear friend Geno’s little sister Gabby was diagnosed with cancer, my heart broke into a million pieces.

Gabby is a 19 your old college student. She is the youngest and only daughter, having two older brothers. Gabby is shy at first, but anyone who knows her will tell you she is absolutely the sweetest person. Having two older brothers, she has developed a love for basketball and, more importantly, the New York Knicks. And a couple weeks ago, Gabby was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkins Lymphoma Cancer, but she has been nothing but optimistic and positive. Gabby has a tough fight ahead of her, but I KNOW she will make it through this! She has been nothing but optimistic and positive.

Gabby, I know this is going to be a testing time in your life. I know there will good days and bad, but I also know you are not alone.

You can follow along with Gabby in her journey on her Caring Bridge account Here is a recent excerpt from her account.

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In Gabby’s Words:

“Not every 19-year-old expects to hear the words “You have cancer”, but then again, I’ve never been like most other 19-year-olds. I have stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and this will be the fight of my life, no doubt. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my life will forever be shaped by this journey. It will be hard, but I know that I will come out on top. Everyone always says how strong I am and I think what you need more than strength sometimes is resilience, and an awesome support system. I deeply appreciate every single person who has sent positive thoughts and words my way; you are all a part of this fight as well, and I can’t thank you enough for that. This is our journey, and I aim to keep you all informed of the process, through the good and the bad. Now let’s do this.” -Gabby

So this thanksgiving, I am asking you to help this sweet girl. I am thankful for a friend group that has banded around her already, without hesitation. But, this is going to be a very expensive fight. This is something we can HELP with. With everything that Gabby and her family will go through in the next few months, we can make sure that the financial aspect is not one of them. I want Gabby and her family to spend time appreciated one another and fighting this battle, not fighting to make ends meet. This girl deserves YOUR help. So this year, instead of indulging in Black Friday, I am challenging you instead to donate to Gabby’s Fight and spend Black Friday APPRECIATING the ones around you. I will be forgoing any shopping on Black Friday and I truly hope you will too! So friends, lets all band together and #FightforGabby!

This Thanksgiving, I feel extremely #Blessed and #Thankful for the ones around me. Today when you sit down at the table and go to take a food selfie, put down your phone. Look across the table. You weren’t promised tomorrow, but you still have today. Appreciate today, and spend time building memories, not likes.


For more information on how to help this sweet girl and her family please contact me at!

Thank you ALL in advance for your support and love! All we have is each other and with each other we have all we need.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Nina Esclava

Today, I quit my job.

Today, I quit my job.

“When things aren’t adding up in your life, start subtracting.” -Anon


Dear Mom, I QUIT!

“I hope you live a life your proud of. If you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald


So I’m guessing quitting via my blog is not the best idea I have ever had. But, this fall has been really, really, REALLY hard. With the loss of a family member and the illness of others, some days I just really don’t even want to get up. And, while I want so badly to continue on with my daily routine and helping my mom build this fabulous business, I simply can’t. I’m done.


So today, I quit.


Life is short. Sometimes, you don’t get what you thought you deserved. But guess what? We don’t “deserve” anything, and we most certainly are NOT promised ANYTHING. Simply waking up each and every morning, healthy, is a luxury. It is a luxury that I refuse to waste any longer. So, today, I quit my job. There is only one person in this entire world that can change your life, YOU!


Today I choose, LIFE .


I am choosing to do what I love. I love to be creative, to make works of art. I love doing this through various different mediums, whether it be paint, calligraphy,…or sewing. Yes, you heard me- sewing. But, you thought I was quitting?! I am. I am quitting waking up every day and feeling forced to go to work. I am quitting thinking that just because my routine has been set one way it means that I have to continue on that way. I am quitting my job, and living my dream.


This will by far be the most honest piece I have ever written. I know that it’s unconventional (and my mom is totally going to have a heart attack when she sees the title) but, I am not going to hide this. I have tried so hard to make it seem like everything is perfect all the time. Here’s the honest truth… owning and managing a business is HARD WORK. Day in and day out. There have been so many days when I have thought “maybe I just can’t do this anymore… maybe this isn’t what I was supposed to do.”


Here’s the thing, with every ounce of my being, I KNOW this is what I was supposed to do. I love my clients, I love making art. So when I wake up, I tell myself, “I am off to great new adventures and works of art. I’m not going to a J.O.B. “– No one said I “had” to do anything today. I am choosing to do it. — Perception is EVERYTHING in this world. How you perceive your life and your day can greatly impact your soul.


So today I quit my job. And choose to continue doing what I love. I am choosing to wake up each morning excited about new possibilities and new projects. In the last two weeks, I have felt rejuvenated and my soul filled. Because you know what? My life is a luxury… One that I fully intend on living — CREATIVELY, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!


The DAY I decided to quit my job

“Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle.” – Anonymous


I had spent quite a while, dragging around, unsure of myself. No matter how much I tried to present it as perfect. (Thanks, Instagram society). I wasn’t truly happy with what I was doing. I had created a very administrative position for myself. While that’s great, (p.s. staff, I promise I will still do payroll!!) it’s not what I wanted to be doing. It’s not who I am. I found myself in this mediocre job, that funny enough, I BUILT FOR MYSELF. We can be our own worst enemy sometimes.


AND then it hit me like a ton of bricks.


I still remember the first meeting I had with our bride, Crystal. I had never seen someone so positive, yet clearly so disappointed. She had a beautiful gown. But, it wasn’t her gown. She stood there at that first fitting, looking at herself, the way I had realized I had been looking at myself. Everything looked so great, all the key components were there, but that sparkle was missing. You know the one. The one where that one little tear rolls glistening from your eye, because you can’t imagine a dress being anymore PERFECT. I begged and pleaded with Crystal to just trust me. To my surprise, she did. I very honestly told her, I wasn’t sure what I was going to create, but there was NO way I was going to let her walk down the aisle and feel that way.


That was it. That was the day I quit being mediocre and started being creative again. I put my big girl panties on and I QUIT MY JOB!


I was able to find some spare materials from past projects that had been manufactured in the same design warehouse as Crystal’s gown. I began playing with ideas and concepts to turn this gown into CRYSTAL’S gown.


Then after multiple fittings, Crystal came in one last time, the week of her wedding. As I laced her up, I prayed that when she saw HER dress she would have THAT sparkle. Crystal stood on the box, opened her eyes, took a deep gasp, and sparkle began forming in her eyes.


I have had many projects in the past, BUT this one, well, I am the proudest of this one. Because, this project taught me the most important lesson of my life: Whether it be your wedding gown or your job, if you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see… Well honey, YOU have the POWER to CHANGE IT!


Crystal, one day when I look back and I reminisce on where it all started, I will remember the last things you said to me that day, “I NEVER thought I would LOVE my dress this much.” Thank you, Thank you for believing and trusting in me.


I may have added **actual** sparkle to your gown, but you added sparkle to my life. And for that, I will always be grateful.


So today, I am announcing my NEW DAILY ADVENTURE (the word, job, is now outside of my vocabulary), BRIDAL DESIGN AND RECREATION. While this is something we have ALWAYS done, we are now taking a larger load of custom work. I am now taking clients in to have a design/style consultation. These appointments will be double time (1 FULL hour) and are currently offered on Thursdays in Plano, TX. If you sign on as a design client your package will include a free painted sketch, champagne fitting, and double appointments. (Minimum Design Client Package is $750 TOTAL, including basic alteration fees).


I hope to see some of you soon!


….OH! And Honey, remember: don’t you ever lose that SPARKLE!



Niña Esclava





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The original gown was strapless. We designed and built the custom beaded straps, along with other general alteration to ensure the PERFECT fit!



Crystal’s Gown was purchased at A Curvy Bride. For this dress and others check out their website:

She’s Like Texas and She Likes Me

AKA: My Love Letter to West Texas

Dear West Texas,

“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion… Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. … Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.” John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Before I go into some stories and pictures of some of my ROOTIN’ TOOTIN’ West Texas girls, I need to first explain one thing.

West Texas is not merely a place. It’s a feeling.

It’s a feeling like, no matter if you go to the grocery store, gas station, or the annual German Food Festival in Ballinger, TX, you are LOVED by someone – if not by everyone – you see. When people ask, “How are you doing?”, or, “Is your grandma feeling better?” they are not asking to be polite. They are GENUINLY interested in you and your family’s well-being. You feel IMPORTANT.

It’s a feeling like, you are lost in world of people you don’t know, but when you encounter someone from West Texas, you feel like you’ve found your soul. For example: you could be in the middle of the Caribbean, on a cruise boat, with over 5,000 people, and a random person swims over to you in the pool. Quickly y’all discover that not only are you both from surrounding West Texas towns, but also that he has been working with your best friend’s dad for over 20 years! (This one is an actual REAL event that just happened, seriously.) You feel like you are FOUND.

It’s that feeling when your phone rings while you’re in your office and you see it’s an area code 325. Immediately you know that it’s going to take you only ten seconds to realize the six degrees of separation and come to find out they are your best friend’s, cousin’s, sister’s twice-removed daughter. You feel CONNECTED.

It’s that feeling you get, when you walk into a room full of your boyfriend’s ENTIRE FAMILY – NONE of which you have ever met and before – and before you can even say, “Hi, My name is…” his grandmother is hugging you like a long lost relative! (And lemme tell you- just because she looks delicate and petite – that woman can throw a bale of hay, straight over her shoulder and load it into the trailer, while simultaneously driving the John Deer down the wheat field. So, you better hold on and hug TIGHT!) You feel LOVED.

It doesn’t matter if you’re from Lubbock, Midland, San Angelo, Snyder, Ballinger, Winters, or IF you just went to school at Texas Tech for less than 3 years. Doesn’t matter, you are West Texas through and through. And, honey, once you go West Texas, well you ain’t ever comin’ back!


Wall, TX

“It takes a village to raise a child.” – African Proverb

So it should come as NO surprise to you that when I met this next bride, I successfully completed my six degrees of separation tasks – and then some!

Well, first things first. Our bride Little Miss Sally, is now officially a DOCTOR!! Miss Smarty Pants has added TWO new titles to her name this spring!! Beyond being a doctor and embodying all of her other enduring qualities, what I found most impressive about Sally was the PRIDE her grandmother had when speaking about her. It’s true, you learn the quality of a person not by how they described themselves, but how others do. Five minutes and you better bet she was going to brag your ear off about little Miss Sally and her whole family. (And RIGHTFULLY SO! She was a certified triple threat!) But, her grandmother didn’t stop there. She spent the next 20 minutes exuding SOOO much PRIDE about her town and the masterful weddings they produce, as a VILLAGE, she could have made the Pope, himself, blush.

Sally got married in the German community of Wall, TX. Remember that little old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” – Wall is the modern day village through and through. In preparation for a wedding the bride will enlist her guests and friends to fulfill “duties” for the big day’s festivities. For example: Preparing food, serving food, decorating, and setting up, and so on. The bigger the job – the bigger the honor! DISBELIEF– After hearing this I proceeded to find my jaw; it was lying somewhere on the ground about ten feet away. In a world that has become so selfish and judgmental, I was both refreshed and RELIEVED to find that if you went west, you were going to find some loving, caring, humble cowboys AND cowgirls! (DISCLAIMER: My boyfriend has requested that I explain two things. 1. “NO, everyone in West Texas does not ride a horse to town”…**just a few**. 2. “Not everyone dresses like a cowboy”… he said while standing there in fully starched Cinch Jeans, starched Cinch button down and his George Straight cowboy hat…)

Sally’s wedding went off without a hitch! But, NOT without the WHOLE village, to support a wedding that traditionally accommodates anywhere from 500 to over 700 people!! A. VILLAGE. If y’all think I’m kidding, check out these fabulous pictures!!!

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Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Lulu’s Bridal Boutique

Designer: Allure Bridals Style: ALB9152

Veil: Toni Federici Style: Pageant

Heandband: Erica Koesler

Photo Credit:

Ok, I could write a novel – NO, a series of novels – about ALL of the FABULOUS west Texas brides but instead I’ll just let you see all of the FABULOUS pictures!!




Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Stardust Celebrations

Designer: Hayley Paige

Veil: Toni Federici Style: Marigold

Photo Credit:


Miss Amy Henderson and her Handsome Hubby. Amy also reigns from the great town of Wall, TX. Amy is a firecracker—lots of sass, style and charm! I had a great time getting to meet Amy and discover we had at least 20 mutual FB Friends. (Hey now – that’s impressive for my not-so West Texas upbringing. I felt #FAMOUS!)

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Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Stardust Celebrations

Designer: Augusta Jones Style: Ali

Belt: James Clifford

Photo Credit:

Kristen has become a very dear friend of mine and it all started with the preparation for her wedding, which was last November. Her good old-fashioned farmer boy, Cody, happens to be my boyfriend’s best friend. (Boyfriend promised I could discuss him throughout this blog as long as I didn’t use his real name. So we will call him Brett. THANKS JUSTIN!—OOPS!) Kristen is from here in the DFW area and the wedding was in Grapevine. However, the two now live out in Winters, TX and are both alumni of Texas Tech. So Kristen, if I get to play the West Texas card then you, my dear, MOST certainly do too!

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Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Lulu’s Bridal Boutique

Designer: Allure Bridals Style: 8634

Veil: Edward E. Berger

Photo Credit:

Alexandra was a fellow Pi Phi at Texas Tech with me and resides in Lubbock, TX. Not only is Alexandra and AMAZING photographer, she did my senior pics for graduation, she is also one of the sweetest, God-fearing, most humble woman you will EVER have the honor of meeting. She takes pride in her craft, and also time and care to get to know who is on the other side of her camera. We had a pleasure helping Alex fit her PERFECT gown for HER big day and we are always THRILLED when she gets an opportunity to photograph our clients! If you are in the Lubbock area in need of photography, whether it be for a wedding, engagement, bridal portrait, senior photos, or family photos, I HIGHLY – HIGHLY – recommend calling Alexandra. I promise you two things with this: 1. You will have AMAZING photos and 2. You will leave with a new friend for a lifetime.

ALSO, huge shout out to this BEAUTIFUL bride, it is her THREE YEARS Anniversary today!! CONGRATS!!


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Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Lulu’s Bridal Boutique

Designer: Maggie Sottero Style: Vienna

Photo Credit: Allee J. Photography


Melissa was ALSO a fellow Pi Phi at Texas Tech with me! Not only have we had the pleasure of altering Melissa’s gown, but Ruth was also able to help her sister years ago as well! Melissa was one of Alexandra’s FIRST weddings to shoot back when she was still in school! –I told you, once you go West Texas… well y’all know the rest by now! Anyways, I have stayed friends with Melissa and I absolutely love her unwavering positive outlook on life. Melissa now resides in Lubbock, TX with her hubby and is a personal trainer!  Brides-to-Be in the LBK, I highly recommend calling Melissa if you are wanting to look extra good for your wedding day!! Melissa is an AMAZING trainer but more importantly, very much like Alexandra, she takes the MOST pride in the relationship she has with her clients!! She uses every workout to uplift and motivate through Scripture! For more details check out Steadfast Fitness!

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Gown & Accessories Purchased From: Lulu’s Bridal Boutique

Designer: Allure Bridal Style: C207

Veil: Bel Aire

PHOTO CREDIT: Allee J. Photography… too many AMAZING pictures!– Not just because I happen to Love Alexandra dearly as a friend, but I am AMAZED at the beautiful work she creates!!

Isn’t this little gem is just the cutest little friend you ever did meet! Paige is a contagious the seconds she walks in the door, she explodes with love and laughter! I mean just look at her in these pictures?!—You’re smiling already, I can see it! Paige was just as sweet to work with, as she is ABSOLUTLY ADORABLE in these photos.

These beauties have captured the heart of some pretty awesome men. And what can I say? West Texas has definitely stolen my heart. These girls make me feel, CONNECTED, FOUND, IMPORTANT and abundantly LOVED.

I could go on for a lifetime. The serene feeling I get when pulling up to a wheat field overlooking the West Texas sunset, that feeling is PRICELESS.




Niña Esclava


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