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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Donna on

It is important to include stories like Elizabeth Smart’s wedding day in a forum like this, because it can give hope to a person who has lived through a tramatic experience, and show them that it is possible to survive and be happy again. It is a very important message that Ms. Smart is sharing with the world.

Journey on

I am so happy for Elizabeth and Matthew. They were able to pull off their dream wedding on their terms. They certainly deserve it. Elizabeth has always handled herself with grace and class. She went through a horrible nine months and it is so wonderful to see how she has risen above the adversity. May she and Matthew have a long, loving and beautiful marriage. I see nothing wrong with them having People cover their wedding. God bless them.

Thanks, People « Welcome to Ladyville on

[...] Just one month to plan her dream wedding? AND she “miraculously” scored an appointment at Kleinfeld’s? Listen, People, I think you need to figure out the definition of the word “miraculous” because this is not the part of Elizabeth Smart’s story it applies to. [...]

Mimi on

That is NOT a sweetheart neckline…

– moonstar on February 22nd, 2012

The part underneath the lace covering is. I like what we have seen of her dress so far.

CIBBEE on

I heard her say she came out of her ordeal UNSCARRED — Excuse Me, how does being alledgely repeatedly raped on a daily basis… NOT leave you Scarred?????…. I am perplexed by that statement…

Today on

ELIZABETH SMART IS NOW CELEBRITY…HOLY MACARONI

Michele on

Wow, that’s a really pretty dress. I hope their life together is long and happy.

sarah on

I’m glad she’s happy but for somebody that hurried her wedding to escape the media, she has been on a media blitz. I heard about her wedding over the weekend–thought “how sweet”–but now it is everywhere. Doesn’t look like she wants too much privacy.

Kristine on

After her news of engagement her family was inundated for details. Better tell the tale in one publication and through a simple press release than be stalked by strangers trying to get pictures for cash.

She may have got a dress and still altered it slightly to meet garment guildelines. She needs all that lace for modesty. I don’t understand why in Utah of all places she couldn’t find a temple ready dress? But she’s the bride and if it can be paid for she should have whatever dress from where she finds it.

It’s not uncommon to have multiple open houses after a LDS wedding when family lives in multiple locations.

tll on

Love her grin. So glad she’s happy! Congrats!!

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