RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Seeing a bride’s reaction when she finds her wedding dress never gets old for Rutherford shop owner Angel Rivera.
“When they get that light that turns on that says, ‘This is it,’ I can feel it,” said Rivera.
He worked for Kleinfeld Bridal from "Say Yes to the Dress" before opening his Park Avenue shop, Angel Rivera Atelier, last year.
He's also worked for top fashion houses such as Kenneth Pool and Kirstie Kelly. It's a lifelong dream of the Rivera's, who was sketching gowns since he was 5 years old.
Rivera of Lyndhurst studied at Parsons School of Design and described his gowns as classic and sophisticated, with modern touches.
The dresses are not mass produced, and details are done by hand with imported laces and fabrics, he said.
Although Rivera sells his dresses to stores throughout the United States, his Rutherford boutique is the only location where brides can try on any gown he ever designed, he said.
The boutique has over 60 bridal gowns that can be customized with details like added straps or beading and extended trains, so brides can make the dresses their own, he said.
At the boutique, Rivera and his staff try to make searching for wedding dresses “a really exclusive and beautiful moment,” he said.
Brides and their families have private appointments with staff consultants, and don’t see other brides while they are trying on dresses, he said.
And when a bride finds the dress to wear on her wedding day, “we celebrate with them by popping a bottle of champagne,” Rivera said.
“I just love it when I see how happy they are, because you have fulfilled their dream of what they want to look like on their day,” he said.
Rivera views a bridal gown as something that will be treasured not just on a wedding day, but for years to come.
“Even in 50 years or 100 years, those photos are always cherished by family members,” he said.