Kira West wore an Alonuko wedding gown.
Stefano Santucci
  • Kira West and James Fiddmont got married in Italy on September 2, 2023.
  • West wore a custom Alonuko wedding dress with an illusion bodice and floral detailing.
  • The gown’s skirt was also removable, giving West two looks in one.

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The dress plays a huge part in your wedding day, whether you wear a designer gown or a thrifted outfit.

Kira West wanted to find a dress that felt worth investing in, which led her to Alonuko, a Black-owned brand that specializes in illusion gowns.

Business Insider spoke to West about why the dress made all the difference on her wedding day.

Kira West and James Fiddmont met through mutual friends.

Kira West and James Fiddmont on their wedding day.
Stefano Santucci

West, 30, and Fiddmont, 34, attended the same college at different times, but they ended up connecting on Instagram thanks to some mutual friends.

Fiddmont was immediately interested in West, and they started seeing each other in 2017 when they were both single, as she told Business Insider.

They were soon inseparable. By May 2021, they were engaged.

Today, West and Fiddmont live in Chicago.

They planned a destination wedding in Italy.

They got married in Italy.
Stefano Santucci

West and Fiddmont got married at Borgo i Vicelli, a resort just outside of Florence, Italy, on September 2, 2023.

They invited just 64 of their loved ones to celebrate with them, letting the Italian landscape set the tone for their “elevated farm to table” nuptials, as West said.

“It was really important that we leverage the land and the beauty of where we were,” she went on to say. “We tried to do that as much as possible and then minimalist and sustainable where possible.”

They worked with planner Olivia Sodi to make their dream wedding happen, and Stefano Santucci photographed the event.

West didn’t initially plan to wear a designer wedding gown.

She wasn’t sure what she wanted out of her wedding dress.
Stefano Santucci

“I was like, ‘I’m wearing my wedding dress for a few hours. I’m just gonna get something that’s relatively inexpensive,'” West said of her initial approach to her wedding dress.

But a conversation with her dad and stepmom after she booked the venue changed her mind.

“They were like, ‘You’ve just signed for this beautiful venue. You can’t wear a $100 dress,'” West told BI.

There was only one brand West wanted to invest in if she was going to get a designer dress: Alonuko. Headed by London-based designer Gbemi Okunlola, the brand specializes in illusion wedding gowns for Black women, using a sheer tulle that matches brides’ skin tones.

“I’m someone who loves customized, meaningful pieces, and I think that’s what Gbemi does really well,” West said.

As Okunlola previously told BI, she created her one-of-a-kind, skin-matching tulle fabric after seeing a lack of diversity in the bridal market.

“It’s not just about having a brown option; it’s about having a brown option, a beige option, a dark-brown option,” she said. “No matter what color skin you are, you should feel like the dress is for you.”

West fell in love with an A-line gown from Alonuko that had an illusion top.

Alonuko designed the wedding dress.
Stefano Santucci

The form-fitting, long-sleeved bodice was made of Okunlola’s illusion fabric.

The sheer fabric formed a V-neckline that dipped low, and the entire bodice was covered in floral appliqué.

The tulle skirt sat on West’s hip, and it was also covered in delicate, floral embroidery.

The bodice looked like it was part of West’s skin.

The illusion bodice stood out.
Stefano Santucci

The bodice was one of the aspects of the gown West was most excited about, both because of its stunning design and because it felt right for her wedding.

“I really felt like the dress that I chose went with the venue really well,” she said, as the floral detailing looked perfect against the Italian backdrop.

Plus, the fabric wasn’t just beautiful — it was also practical because it had a natural stretch to it.

“I felt very secure in the dress,” West said. “I feel like a lot of people are really pressed to lose or gain or keep the same weight. And because of the way Gbemi designs the dresses, you have a little bit more flexibility.”

The skirt was removable, giving West multiple looks in one.

She could detach part of the skirt.
Stefano Santucci

The base of West’s dress was form-fitting, but she added a second, removable skirt for a more romantic look.

The overskirt originally had a layer of crinoline underneath it, but she decided to remove it to create a more see-through look.

“We customized the dress a bit and I ended up removing the crinoline from the overskirt, so it was a little bit more sheer,” West said.

Alonuko hadn’t made that customization before West’s gown, and West said she loved that the dress was one-of-a-kind.

The skirt also allowed West to wear her favorite Doc Martens throughout the wedding, making the look even more personal.

West removed her overskirt before her reception for a more streamlined look.

The gown had two skirts.
Stefano Santucci

The slightly sheer skirt built into the dress was form-fitting, hugging West until it flowed out slightly at the bottom.

The lace pattern on the bodice continued onto the slightly sheer skirt, so the gown had a cohesive feel no matter which skirt she wore.

“I loved being able to have the tighter style,” West said of her second look.

The bride said she felt as good in her dress as she looked.

The bride and her bridesmaids.
Stefano Santucci

“I felt really confident in it,” West said of her wedding dress. “It felt like me. It was unique.”

She paired her dress with makeup and an updo styled by Shaniqua, a friend West has known since she was a teenager.

She also chose to keep her accessories for the wedding simple so her dress would be the focus of her look.

West wore a simple veil, silver hoop earrings from Amazon, and a bracelet with blue detailing from Tiffany & Co. that was a gift from her bridesmaids.

West said her experience with Okunlola made all the difference when it came to her wedding dress.

She loved working with Gbemi Okunlola.
Stefano Santucci

“She’s the only person I’ve seen that does skin-tone mesh the way she does,” West said of why she loved working with Okunlola. “People are like, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen that on someone that looks like me.’ I was really interested in doing that with her.”

“She just had such attention to detail and care,” West went on to say of Okunlola. “She was there to be a really big part of the experience, and I feel like that speaks volumes for the brand. And I just liked her as a person.”

“And I wanted to invest money in brands that were Black-owned,” West added. “There are a lot of places you can find a wedding dress, but I loved being able to know who was behind the brand and have a real reason for wanting to support them.”

West’s bridesmaids also wore dresses from a Black designer.

The gowns were champagne-colored.
Stefano Santucci

“I was looking for a champagne-colored dress that would travel well,” West said of her vision for her bridesmaid dresses. She ended up selecting dresses from Amsale Aberra’s brand Amsale. They were all the same color but were made in varying styles.

“They were really high quality, and it was nice that they got to have slightly different variations and different styles,” West said of the designs.

“I was really proud of the fact that we were all in Black designers,” she added.

Fiddmont and West didn’t see each other until their ceremony.

They didn’t do a first look.
Stefano Santucci

West said Fiddmont was emotional when he saw her in her wedding gown.

“I think a lot of people have expectations that your partner is going to have this overwhelming emotional response, and he is not typically super outwardly emotional in that way, especially not in a public setting,” West said of her husband.

“But seeing me walk down the aisle, seeing me with my dad, he definitely was emotional,” she added of Fiddmont.

The ceremony was one of West’s favorite parts of the entire wedding.

The ceremony was emotional.
Stefano Santucci

Fiddmont’s cousin officiated the nuptials, and he made the ceremony both fun and meaningful.

“We wanted him to be himself, and he did,” West said.

West also said she was emotional as she got married because she was able to honor a loved one she lost during the ceremony.

“It was really special,” she added.

West also changed into a shorter dress for the dancing portion of her reception.

The bride had a third look.
Hannah Schweiss Photography for The Studio Chicago

The bride said she changed out of her Alonuko dress in part to protect it.

“The dress was beautiful, but I wasn’t able to move my arms as much because the mesh is pretty delicate,” she said.

Her reception dress had a halter neckline and shorter hem that was perfect for dancing, and she paired it with sneakers.

The shorter dress was also perfect for the elaborate first dance she and her dad did at the reception.

The bride and her dad did a special dance.
Stefano Santucci

“He’s from Trinidad and Tobago, so we did a traditional slow dance,” West said of her father-daughter dance.

“We did a little bit of a transitional moment, and then we pulled out flags and led everyone to the dance floor, which was really fun,” she went on to say.

“We practiced it for many weeks, and my stepmom was invested in making sure that we were the best that we could possibly be,” West added.

Her stepmom also helped her get ready for the day, which was meaningful to West.

“I feel like stepmoms don’t really get the recognition that they deserve, so I wanted to make sure that we had a moment for her to get something back for all the years that she’s put into me,” West said.

But the best part of the wedding for West and Fiddmont was being with all of their loved ones.

They were happy to be with their loved ones.
Stefano Santucci

The wedding festivities spanned an entire weekend, and West loved that she got to spend more than just a few hours with their guests.

“That was definitely a highlight, looking out and seeing all of our loved ones there,” West said.

“We live in Chicago and a lot of our friends and family don’t live here,” she added. “So to be able to spend time with those people was priceless.”

West said she loves the way she and Fiddmont balance each other out.

Kira West and James Fiddmont are a team.
Stefano Santucci

“We are really like the epitome of yin and yang,” she said of her marriage.

“I’m ambitious. There are a lot of things that I love to do, and for a lot of people, I think that’s really intimidating,” she went on to say. “For James, he’s been super supportive, and he’s helped me find flexibility and ease.”

“He is just my favorite person to be around, and I think it’s really nice when you can be at home and be your full self and feel fully comfortable,” she said of her husband. “It really is a partnership. We want to evolve together.”

If you wore an eye-catching wedding dress and want to talk to Business Insider for a story, get in touch at sgrindell@businessinsider.com.

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