The Story Behind Olivia Culpo’s Traditional Dolce & Gabbana Ballgown for Her Rhode Island Wedding

Olivia Culpo holds the following belief about marriage: “It’s a covenant. It’s the beginning of the rest of your life—and it’s the union and bond of two people forever,” the model and former Miss Universe tells Vogue. So when it came to designing her wedding dress with Dolce & Gabbana, there was one note she stressed to the atelier above all. “I wanted something that felt as serious as that commitment,” she says.

For months, she and the Italian house worked together to translate that emotional ideal into a physical dress. And on Saturday, June 29, Culpo walked down the chapel aisle in Watch Hill, Rhode Island to marry San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey in a long-sleeve crepe crew neck ball gown with a voluminous skirt and button-lined back. “I didn’t want it to exude sex in any way, shape, or form,” she says of the dress, which she wore with a 16-foot lace veil. “I wanted it to feel effortless and as if it’s complimenting me, not overpowering me. There’s so much beauty and simplicity.” (This ethos also extended to her beauty: Culpo tells Vogue she wore little makeup, forgoing mascara and eyebrow gel in favor of a pared-back look.)

“When I think about Christian and what he loves and the moments that he thinks that I’m most beautiful, it’s absolutely in something like this: timeless, covered, and elegant,” she adds.

Photo: Jose Villa

Culpo says the design process was a relatively simple one, as she and Christian always wanted to get married in a church. “That was our number one priority,” she says. Along with the desire for a religious ceremony came a more formal vision of dress: long sleeves, a crew neck, and a dropped waist to create the illusion of an elongated torso. What finally sold this idea to her? When she scoured the internet for inspiration photos, she couldn’t find anything like it.

“That’s what made me even more excited about this vision,” she adds.

The Dolce & Gabbana atelier, meanwhile, took on board her initial ideas and presented her with a sketch. Culpo had no notes on their drawing. “It was exactly the same as the original sketch,” she says of the gown she wore down the aisle. “This is the first, last, and only wedding dress I tried on.”

Below, go inside Olivia Culpo’s final dress fitting with Dolce & Gabbana—as well as see a sneak peak at her reception dress.

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