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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

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Showing 90 comments

sdl on

I wish this sweet young woman all the luck in the world. I hope she finds as much peace, joy, hope and security as I have found in mine these past 31 years.

asmith on

Good for her for doing it in secret. Now let’s leave her alone…

moonstar on

That is NOT a sweetheart neckline…

moonstar on

and asmith… she obviously does not want to be left alone… she posed for the cover of People magazine for christ’s sake!

Meetra on

Good for her. She looks beautiful, and I hope their life together is wonderful. She deserves it : )

Lola on

Leave her alone? She posed for the cover and got paid to do the article. If she wanted privacy, should wouldn’t participate.

Rebecca on

Elizabeth – you look BEAUTIFUL! Just as a bride should. I wish you and your new husband all the happiness in the world as you begin your married life together. May you have all that you hoped and prayed for during those tortuous days and months you were held captive by those monsters. You are now living your dream!!!

Mae on

Why is she getting so much press for her wedding? Obviously it’s not about her abduction anymore.

jones on

I’m glad she has happiness after what she has been through. That being said, I laughed when I read about the Kleinfeld’s appointment miraculously opening up for her. She got an appointment at Kleinfeld’s based upon who she is (someone in the public eye).

Theresa on

Not only is she on the cover of People, it is exclusive, and therefore PAID. The dad has always been genius on the profit side of her trauma.

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