By Mary Ann Lopez, Glen Ellyn Patch
When she was a little girl Antonietta Ciaccia Cervantes liked to take her mother’s frilly lace curtains and wear them on her head, just like a wedding veil.
She had no idea her play time would one day lead her to a career creating and designing wedding veils and selling wedding gowns.
The owner of Veiled By ChaCha is still playing dress up—helping soon-to-be brides find dresses, veils and accessories to make their weddings a dream come true.
Cervantes, whose maiden name Ciaccia was the inspiration for her business name, comes from a family of creative designers. Her mother was a designer and a tailor, and her aunt in Italy was a dressmaker and designer, she said. She fell right into the career.
“It was always in my heart to be in design and retail,” she said.
Cervantes went on to get her degree in design and business and has been selling wedding veils for 25 years, 13 of those with her veil business in Glen Ellyn. She’s been at her downtown location a little more than a year, she said. She also worked for many years with Priscilla of Boston.
At one point in her career, she briefly stepped away and tried working as a recruiter, but it didn’t last long.
“It’s just a passion,” she said of her work. “I just love doing it and I never feel like I’m working. Most of my clients, I’ve become very close friends with.”
As business goes, people are always getting married, regardless of the economy, and her weekends get booked up with brides coming in to the shop searching for the perfect gown and accessories. Every Saturday she has a wait list.
When brides come in to look for gowns, they get personal service and Cervantes will only see one bride at a time. Bookings are two hours long, which is longer than some locations offer, she said.
The gowns sold in the store are sold on demand, she said. All of the dresses are never worn. They may be sold new or on consignment from designers. In addition, some of the dresses Cervantes designs herself. Veiled By ChaCha is not a resale shop, as some people mistakenly assume, she said. Prices of the dresses range from $800 to $6,500. Veils range in price from $150 to $2,200.
In January, business really gets bustling, she said. With all the engagements that take place over the course of the holidays, January through April is the busiest time of the year.
Clients come from all over the area and, in some cases, from around the Midwest to shop at the store, Cervantes said. Her location near the Metra train depot is helpful for clients who come to the store from the city. She also has customers travel from Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio.
Veiled By ChaCha was voted No. 1 in its market by The Knot Best of Weddings 2013 and also won the Bride’s Choice Awards for 2013 from WeddingWire.
Word of mouth has helped the store gain its clientele. Cervantes also attends high-end wedding shows and luxury bridal expos, which are another way she markets her business.
“I like to be different from the rest of the bridal industry and make it about the bride,” she said.
Over the years, she has learned to have patience when working with brides.
“When you are in this industry you just have to love people,” she said. “I also want to make it special for people. I want it to be one bride at a time.”
With her design experience Cervantes is also able to help brides create one-of-a-kind veils and designs. As an example, Cervantes said she had a bride getting married in a beach ceremony. She wanted a starfish on her veil’s headpiece.
“If they have a vision, I can make it,” she said.
Cervantes has also taken elements from vintage pieces, such as portions of a bride’s mother’s dress, and incorporated them into a gown.
When it comes to choosing a gown, brides may choose a gown that friends or family don’t agree with.
“What I see and her mom sees is one thing, but it’s how she feels,” Cervantes said. “If she feels beautiful, if this is the way she wants to look, we have to honor that.”
Veiled By ChaCha is located at 524 Duane St. Hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and Monday, private fittings upon request.