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How Lisa Found Her Dream Dress—and a Lifelong Friend in Noel Chu

The beautiful bride had been to dozens of shops before being introduced to the international designer by a friend

"Finding the perfect dress," then-bride Lisa Wang says gravely, running her hands over the swathes of silk that hang in Noel Chu's studio, "is as hard as finding the perfect guy."

But it seems like she finally has both. Lisa married her fiancé Paul a few months ago in a gorgeous ceremony complimented by her equally stunning gown.

The lovebirds had met on the modern matchmaker platform Tinder. After cautiously swiping right and setting up a date for after-work drinks, what both of them thought would be another disastrous Tinder match turned into a 6-hour dinner under the moonlight. Him being from leafy Nottingham and her being from concrete New York, their meal was spiced with silly, flirty banter that could only be exchanged between two people who speak very different dialects of the otherwise common English language.

Once Paul proposed, Lisa set out to find the perfect wedding dress.

"It was frustrating," she sighs, finishing a text to her husband as Noel sketches a simple yet elegant design that will, five months later, become Lisa's beautiful beaded-bodice dress. "The bridal houses I visited usually rush you around and let you try on three dresses before asking for your credit card. They don't take the time to tailor the dress to you."

All that changed when a friend of hers, going through the same journey, introduced her to Noel Chu Atelier. While the local designer resides in Hong Kong, her creations have appeared on international catwalks and magazines. Brides from all over the world fly in to have their dress.

And it was armed with this knowledge that Lisa tentatively booked an appointment with Noel. Their journey began not in a fabric shop or outside a dressing room, but over a simple cup of tea.

 "She made a real effort to get to know me. How I saw the world, how my style reflects me, what kind of future I hoped for. From there, we began crafting a custom dress that represented all of these elements."

Over the course of seven visits, Noel patiently planned, developed and altered their joint creation (based off of a photo found online) over and over to the shifting tides of bridal anxiety. Her expert eye for detail complemented her ability to listen to Lisa's concerns, and when insecurity got the best of the then bride-to-be, she was there to pull her back from the edge.

The end result was everything she asked for and more. "It's completely different than what I originally asked for," Lisa laughs. The pure white dress pools slightly at her feet and boasts a layered bodice with complex hand-beaded patterns. A veil covers her upper back, which is made of nude material and sewn with the same swirling patterns. Mermaid-like is how I'd describe her gown.

As our photographer takes pictures, she does a little twirl, sending her veil fluttering. "It's better."

Now, months after her wedding, she's still in touch with Noel. They ruminate over life and love and everything in between.

"When I walked into Noel's studio, I got more than a dress." Lisa smiles at me. "I got photos to die for—and a lifelong friend."

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