Tchernookova tries on wedding dresses at Jennie
Yoo Collection in Chicago, Ill.
— Surely, Boriana Tchernookova thought after her 2016
engagement, it couldn’t be that hard to find a wedding
dress. After all, she didn’t need a lavish ensemble.
Tchernookova soon became entrenched in a machine
familiar to many: wedding planning.
began years of dress searching for this would-be bride.
Tchernookova didn’t want wedding dress shopping to
take this long; she didn’t want to keep postponing
nuptials for a fashion item she wasn’t even that
particular about. But she felt stymied at every step.
didn’t realize a dress takes so long to make,"
she said. "I thought you just go to a store."
in Chicago, where at every store she said someone told
her that ordering a dress – any dress — would take
months. That eliminated a quick wedding. By the time
they began perusing venues, they learned those, too,
required booking a year in advance.
after months without finding anything she liked, she
considered simplifying to a basic sheath and City Hall.
She thought about a destination wedding in the Bahamas.
But ultimately, she and her fiancé, Bill Sianis, agreed
to get married in Chicago.
all, his relatives are all in Chicago. And the family
itself is nearly royalty here. Cheezborgers. Chips.
is the co-owner of Billy Goat Tavern, known for its role
in an alleged curse of the Cubs as well as a
"Saturday Night Live" skit spotlight. The
restaurant will likely be incorporated into the big day,
might do the after-dinner burgers or something like
that," Sianis said.
two met in 2004 when Tchernookova, a postdoctoral
research associate at the University of Illinois at
Chicago, was a bartender at the Billy Goat restaurant at
Navy Pier. She’d see him standing around with a
thought he was the laziest busboy I’d ever seen,"
she said. Eventually, she realized he was one of the
owners. "He’s very humble," she said.
"He’s very low-key."
invited her to his birthday party, and they became
friends. They remained that way until one night out at a
nightclub downtown, when she kissed him. "I
initiated that," she said. "It might have been
that kiss that started things."
later, he flew to Washington, D.C., for a restaurant
opening. When he returned, he called. They’ve been
together ever since.
moved into his River North apartment in 2013.
Cohabitating included a few tweaks. She made sure they
had a couch instead of his two loveseats. She added
loves to cook; she makes some dishes from her home
country of Bulgaria, which are similar to the Greek
dishes he grew up with. But she also loves to
experiment; usually when she cooks something, it’s a
could cook on a grill," Sianis said. "She’s
the professional cook in the kitchen."
proposed in late 2016. They were traveling to San Diego
for a neuroscience conference, and he suggested they
pass through Las Vegas along the way. In the front of
fountains at the Bellagio, he pulled out the ring. She
said yes. Shortly after began the doldrums of wedding
planning. One might say it almost seemed like the
festivities were under some type of a spell — perhaps
is not a picky person; she does not consider herself a
fashionista. She often wears pants. Even to fancier
occasions where everyone wears flirty dresses, she wears
at every stop she found roadblocks.
shop had only lace options. Lace seemed to be a trend,
she noted, but lace reminded her of the drapes in her
childhood living room. She thought about taffeta. But
then she searched and she found no taffeta, even after
marathon afternoons dedicated to multiple shops. Her
maid of honor flew in for four days to help her look.
found dresses that needed so many alterations she feared
she would lose the shape. She brought photos from
Pinterest. She went to Macy’s but tried only four or
five dresses in her hour time slot, nowhere near the
hundreds of dresses they stock. She went to Nordstrom
with dozens of printed-out dresses from the website to
find they had only one or two at the store.
mind was blown," she said. Who knew that finding a
dress would be so difficult?
emailed designers herself, asking about designs she
liked. One told her they had only a sample size, and
that although it would not fit they were happy to sell
and mail it to her.
she need an expensive dress that took months? She did
not. But she also asked herself, did wanting to find a
dress that felt good seem like too much? It did not.
"I refuse to buy a dress that I don’t want just
because it’s the trend," she said.
all, she noted, she will be standing in front of
hundreds of people, some friends or colleagues of her
husband who she might not even know well.
he supports her quest for a dress, even as he, too, is
surprised by the complications. "There’s so many
dresses," he said. "There’s a lot of
different aspects of the dress I guess I didn’t know
planning is supposed to be fun but inevitably becomes a
chore. A bride doesn’t want to spend her retirement
savings on a dress for one day but nor does she want to
settle for something ill-fitting.
now, Tchernookova’s cycle of dress buying has
transitioned from excitement to frustration to dread.
got so frustrated that I stopped going," she said.
recently she returned to the arena. This past spring,
Tchernookova found herself at stores like Glamour Closet
and Ultimate Bride and David’s Bridal. After a
breather from looping herself in strange fabrics, she
made an afternoon appointment in late June at Vwidon, a
downtown boutique. There, she even found taffeta.
really loved this one," she said. "I actually
have six or seven that I can’t make up my mind about,
that are equally gorgeous."
the couple have been calling venues, like Galleria
Marchetti and Adler Planetarium, inquiring about the
fall. Tchernookova knows she may need to have a dress by