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Hannelore’s Former Owner is Coming Out of Retirement—to Open Another Bridal Boutique

Monique Lhuillier is one of the designers sold at Say Yes For Less. Photo by Don Ashby, courtesy Monique Lhuillier.

After announcing her retirement at the beginning of the year, Hannelore’s of Old Town Alexandria’s owner is getting back in the bridal boutique game with a new store concept, Say Yes For Less, opening today at Hannelore’s old address.

In January, Pamela Vito, Hannelore’s owner, told Washingtonian that she was retiring after over 30 years in the bridal boutique business. She explained that she and her mother, Hannelore Karpinski, the store’s co-owner, had been approached by someone looking to buy the building where they ran their store. Though they hadn’t planned on retiring, she said the man provided an offer they could not refuse, and they accepted.

“We figured, we’ve been in business over 30 years, we’ve had a successful and vibrant career, and rather than downsize, we just decided to call it a day and to go out in style,” Vito told Washingtonian in January.

However, Vito says the deal didn’t go off as planned, and she still owns the building—and its mortgage. In order to afford the building, she’s opening a new bridal store in the space. Vito says she has spent time driving around to different bridal salons and purchasing their sample gowns—the gowns that brides can try on before ordering their own gown in their size—to stock Say Yes For Less, her discounted, samples-only bridal boutique.

She has now collected 300 sample dresses, but Vito says she was very particular about the condition of the dresses she selected, and “the ones that weren’t perfect, I will get up to par.” Some of the gowns date back to 2014 collections, but Vito says, “I just picked the things that are classics.” Featured designers include Monique L’huillier, Romona Keveza, Watters, and Amsale, among others. Though all the gowns are sample sizes 8 to 10, Vito also has a selection of plus-size samples, which range in size from 18 to 28, that she picked up from boutiques for curvier brides.

The store is now open at 106 N. Lee St., Alexandria. To visit, schedule an appointment on the Say Yes For Less website.

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Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.