Excerpt from Bella Fortuna

The pink sign of Sposa Rosa soon came into view as I rounded the corner of Ditmars and 38th Street. I could still feel that thorn pricking my side whenever I looked at the shop's name. Leave it to my mother to choose "pink bride" as the name of the bridal boutique that she opened ten years ago. I still remember the battle I had with my mother as if it were yesterday.

"But Ma, hardly any bride wears pink unless you've been married five times, and even then some people still prefer to wear white!"

"Basta, Valentina! The name is going to be Sposa Rosa, and that's that. It's memorable. It rhymes. And it's different. When I die, you can call it "Always White" or some other unoriginal, boring name. But right now this is Olivia DeLuca's shop so the name stays. Finito!"

Sposa Rosa was famous for copying couture designer dresses but offering the dresses at a significantly reduced rate. As I was telling Paulie Parlatone, Brides magazine recently did a story on our - I mean, Ma's boutique. Although the shop was in Ma's name, we all thought of it as ours, and we knew it would be my mother's legacy to us after she died. Anyway, the article in Brides mentioned the store's custom of featuring a different couture designer dress every month. Brides had also paid us the highest compliment by stating, "Attention to detail is flawless, and the dresses are made so well that even the designer might not be able to tell which is the original and which is the knockoff."

Ever since the article was published, more customers were swinging through Sposa Rosa's doors. We were all thrilled even though we were exhausted by the time Sunday rolled around.

With less than six months to go until my wedding, I'd been fretting over completing my dress. I decided to model my wedding gown after one of our featured dresses of the month from last spring. It was an Amy Michelson design that sported a lace bodice and halter neckline. One of my favorite features of the dress was its plunging back. A champagne-colored sash wrapped around the waist and tied into a loose bow just above my derriere. But I put my own mark on the gown by adding pearl beads to the lace-covered bodice. Another twist was the detachable organza skirt that gave the appearance of a full, ball gown skirt, but once removed, the dress was transformed into a body-hugging, sexy sheath with a daring shorter hem that fell just below the knee. The shorter front hem of the dress was visible even when the detachable organza skirt was attached to the gown. But no one would be able to detect there were two separate pieces. The skirt of the dress was bare and did not feature any of the lace or beading that was on the bodice.

The suspense of showing the dress to my mother and sisters was giving me heart palpitations. I just couldn't wait to see their faces.