On a bitter, rainy Oregon day, the warmth of Anna’s Bridal spreads across an entire Lake Oswego street corner. Intricate, white dresses fill the shop, and Anna Totonchy’s contagious laugh rings through the space. On the other side of a wall of dreamlike gowns, Totonchy’s daughter, Nora Sheils, presents color swatches to an eager bride. Together, Sheils’ wedding planning company, Bridal Bliss, and Anna’s Bridal exude an unparalleled energy of love and passion—two essential elements of any dream wedding.
At its inception, Anna’s Bridal was no more than a humble home alteration shop. Almost twenty-five years later, Totonchy and Sheils run their separate businesses out of one stunning storefront in Lake Oswego. “It started from a little bit and it got bigger and bigger,” Totonchy said. “Lots of patience and lots of love.”
When Anna came to the United States from Iraq in 1976, she never expected to work with wedding dresses. But decades of hard work brewed an unexpected passion and highly sought-after alteration skills. “She is so good at what she does,” Sheils said. “She is an alterations expert. … She is truly an angel (crossed) with an energizer bunny. She has so much energy she cannot sit.”
“I see the bride happy. And if she is not happy, we make her happy,” Totonchy said. “I have been in the business for over twenty-four years and I know.” Indeed, beyond alterations, Totonchy offers a smile and an inexplicable ability to find the perfect dress for her clients.
Sheils grew up surrounded by dresses and brides. “I got the bug for weddings and ever since, I have always been enamored with them,” she explained. At 22, she started her own wedding planning company and has since led her Bridal Bliss team to unprecedented success. This year, she was named Portland’s Best Wedding Planner for the eighth year in a row.