How Elizabeth Smart Found the Perfect Wedding Gown

02/22/2012 at 01:30 PM ET

Elizabeth Smart Wedding Dress
Neil Rasmus/BFAnyc/Sipa Press

With just one month to plan her secret Hawaiian wedding, Elizabeth Smart had mere days to finalize details like flowers, a guest list … and her dress.

“I tried on just about every dress in Utah,” Smart tells PEOPLE. Frustrated, she hoped a quick cross-country trip would prove fruitful. “I was going to New York with my friend for the weekend and we thought, ‘Why don’t we just see if we can get into Kleinfeld’s and look around?'”

Miraculously, she scored an open appointment slot at the famed Manhattan bridal shop (featured on TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress) — and found her dress, too. The Alita Graham gown — with lace sleeves, a sweetheart neckline and satin-covered buttons down the back — was an ideal fit for her nuptials.

“It was traditional, but still was different,” she explains. “I felt like it was just perfect.”

And while she did plan her dream wedding in record time, she also had to gloss over a few traditions. When asked if she chose “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” for her big day, the newlywed laughs. “Are you kidding?” she says. “There’s been no time!”

For more details and exclusive photos of Smart’s wedding — and to see what the groom wore, too! — pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

–Reporting by Alicia Dennis and Cathy Free

FILED UNDER: Exclusive , Wedding Dresses

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Tulan on

She’s getting the press because she is the PEOPLE. She’s now part of the American history. She was kidnapped, survived through such ordeal at a young age, and managed to get free after many years of being captured. After a few years of getting her life back on track (with many more years of therapy I have no doubt,) I think it is quite appropriate to give her a cover. It’s the PEOPLE’s magazine.

kim on

I LOVE her dress!!!!!! She looks beautiful in it!!!! I love that its not too showy and looks very elegant!!!!

Denise on

Congratulations. Best Wishes to them both!!!! All the happiness in the world!!!!

christina on

She looks radiant and beautiful! Love the dress – modest and traditional, yet unique with the sweetheart neckline underneath the lace. Congratulations!

Rich on

If her Dad can get People to pay for the wedding more power to him. One of my daughters cancelled after it was too late to get deposits back. I lost over, well never mind, let’s just say a lot. Maybe People will do a story on her and she can pay me back.

Kellie on

Obviously her wedding was very private, nobody knew about it until after she was married. If she had gotten married in Utah the press would have been EVERYWHERE. She let People get the exclusive because she knew she could choose what they put in the magazine and she could still keep some things private. She is not just an abduction survivor she is an inspiration for many people. By allowing an inside look in on her wedding she is showing the world how it is possible to get over something very horrible in life like being kidnapped from your bed at knifepoint at the age of 14. I don’t think her entire motive was for attention and money. I think she did it so the media would get what they wanted and leave her alone. And again, I think she did it to spread a message that good things can still happen after something very horrible has happened.

Melinda on

I still remember her being found. I was in my early 20’s and at work at the time. One of the best feelings I’ve ever had. That she survived is truly a miracle. I wish her all the love and happiness in the world, she deserves it. Much love to her and her family. Congratulations!

Beth on

So she miraculously score an open appointment? Miracle, my ass. People (magazine and everyone) fall all over themselves at the mention of her name. The shop knew damn well who she was and mark my word, they’ll pimp it as much as possible. Any Jane Doe would have been turned away at the door.

Now we’re going to be on baby bump watch. Then we’ll be on grandkid watch.

Elizabeth – continue living in private please. Don’t trade one set of vultures for another.

Kathleen Smith on

I can’t figure out if she wants to be left alone or if she wants to be a celebrity – I don’t think she knows what she wants either. This “quickie” wedding makes me think that there is a baby on the way though; why rush it otherwise? I suspect there will be a “honeymoon” baby in eight months (subtracting one month for the missed period).

Sabrina on

I wonder if the kick-backs and pay out for this article were as modest as this dress?

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