Storybook Beginnings: The Journey of Storybook Ending Bridals

Happy Friday, friends!! We have been working super hard on this new blog series, and we are so excited to share it with you! Over the next few weeks, we are going to take a trip down memory lane as we share the story of how the dream for A Storybook Ending turned into 34 amazing years of serving brides near and far. So sit down, grab your favorite drink, and come along with us as we look back on our “storybook beginnings!” 


Part I: The Vision 

It was 1986, and life was full of exciting changes for Crystal Gray (Anderson). Within the span of a few months, she had graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in business management and got engaged to her college sweetheart, Neil Gray. In the throes of wedding planning, the time came for Crystal to look for a wedding dress. She traveled by herself from her hometown in central Iowa to shop for a dress in eastern Iowa, where Neil was from. As she went from store to store, disappointment slowly crept in. She was unimpressed and underwhelmed by the customer service, quality of products, and selection offered by the bridal stores in the area. Being an aspiring businesswoman herself, she couldn’t help but think, “I could do better than this.” Crystal eventually found her dress, and she and Neil got married in June of 1987 in Andover, Iowa.





(Neil & Crystal’s wedding, June 1987) 


Her first job after getting married and moving to eastern Iowa was as a customer service supervisor at Nielsen’s Clearing House—a coupon clearing house in Clinton. Although she was successful at her job, in the back of her mind she began to form a dream of opening her own bridal shop in the area. Though she was well-equipped with a degree in business management from Central College (Go Dutch!), she lacked direct experience and feared the unknowns of the bridal industry. In addition, there were already several bridal stores in the area, so there would be a large amount of competition. Despite her fears, Crystal couldn’t shake the thought of opening her own store. After working all day at the clearing house, she often came home eager to share with her husband the visions that were slowly forming in her mind. One night, Neil finally told her, “I wish you would stop talking about it and just do it!” This was just the motivation and encouragement she needed. With her husband on-board, she finally decided to take the leap of faith and step into the unknown world of bridal.


Her vision was always simple—Crystal wanted to become the best store in the area. Unlike her own disappointing experience, she wanted brides to feel overwhelmed with joy while at her store. Crystal desired that brides would feel welcomed, heard, and valued while searching for a gown, and she longed to be a destination that brides from all over the state would seek out. Though the vision may have seemed straightforward, Crystal knew that transforming it into a proven reality would take years of hard work, perseverance, and dedication. The journey ahead was uncharted, but Crystal was ready for the challenge. 


Stay tuned for Part II, coming soon!