Victoria Valvano Gallagher dreamed of finding the perfect wedding dress — but not always for herself.
A bridal consultant and owner of the Blushing Bridal Boutique in downtown Scranton with years of experience in fashion, retail and jewelry, she helps brides prepare for their wedding days from choosing the perfect dress to ensuring everything runs as smoothly as possible that day.
“This is my dream come true,” the East Mountain resident said during a recent afternoon inside her shop on the second floor at 515 Center St., which opened in early 2019. “You’re helping people make some of the biggest decisions of their lives for some of the best times of their lives. I’m in a very happy industry.”
Though her days are filled with joy and excitement, the tragedy of losing her and her husband, Patrick’s, twin infant daughters led Valvano Gallagher to the path she’s on today. It changed her as a person, she said, and as she took time to rebuild herself, she came into a place where there was no more time to wait.
“Things happen, and you come out on the other side and you have to make that decision that today you’re going to see that hope is there,” she said. “I had to get back up again.”
For Valvano Gallagher, the wedding industry was in her blood. Her father, the late Rocco Valvano, was a caterer and owned and operated wedding venues in the region while her mother, Janet, worked as a hairstylist, often prepping brides and their friends and families for weddings.
“I grew up surrounded by it. All I knew was brides,” Valvano Gallagher said. “All of the (brides’) photos were hanging up in my dad’s office, and I was constantly reading bridal magazines.”
Growing up, she and her sisters, Lori and Michelle, would talk about one day owning the now-closed Sullum’s, a formal and wedding gown shop and Midvalley staple. Valvano Gallagher also grew up with a love of all things fashion and, after graduating from Bishop Hannan High School, she attended Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She lived in the city for years working in the industry and on shops on Manhattan’s Upper East Side before she decided to make the move back to lend her talents to the region she grew up in.
“Why not bring New York City to us?” she said. “I wanted to make (those styles) more accessible to this area.”
Valvano Gallagher operated a retail business selling accessories and handbags before moving on to an opportunity at Valentine’s Fine Jewelry in Dallas. Valvano Gallagher served as vice president under the direction of owner Elva Valentine. She learned the art of jewelry and gemstones and even became Gemological Institute of America certified as she helped hundreds of couples in the region start their wedding journey with the perfect ring.
“It’s an exciting time, and I really get to see it right from the beginning,” she said.
Soon after she and her husband married, she started a journey of her own. Valvano Gallagher was ecstatic to find out that she was pregnant and naturally expecting twins in 2018. She had an easy pregnancy until she went into premature labor at 24 weeks. After four days of labor, her twin daughters, Goldie and Gwen, died at 3 days old. Valvano Gallagher was devastated, she said, and decided to keep to herself to process and heal.
“If you knew me, you knew that my world was destroyed. It crushed me,” she said. “And I needed the time to just get myself together and put it back together again.”
A few months later, her sister urged Valvano Gallagher toward a chance at a long-lost dream: a bridal shop of her own, one located inside a second-floor loft space flooded with plenty of airy, natural light and overlooking downtown Scranton and beyond. As soon as she saw the space, she knew she needed to make it a reality.
“It was just the right time,” she said. “I wanted to be around that kind of light and just be happy and make people happy. I was doing this for (my daughters).”
With the Blushing Bridal Boutique, Valvano Gallagher made it her mission to bring a big-city experience to her home. She curates her selections with sought-after designers such as Blush by Hayley Paige and Twigs & Honey with a 30-mile exclusivity radius so every bride is guaranteed a one-of-a-kind experience. After growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, Valvano Gallagher frequently collaborates with other local businesses, including Ale Mary’s at the Bittenbender, Eagle Cleaners, Nearme Yoga and NEPA Candle Co.
“We all have to be there to support each other and help each other out,” she said. “If one of us fails, we all fail.”
She also sought to fill needs she saw, such as day-of services to help make the wedding day go more smoothly. Her favorite part, though, is helping brides choose their dresses. Thanks to her background in fashion and retail, Valvano Gallagher has a knack for envisioning the perfect cut and style for each body type, budget and taste.
“You just know when the zipper goes up, there’s a certain sound and you know you found the dress,” she said, adding the brides become her friends. “They’re so happy, and some of these women, they just look like angels. It’s so special to be a part of.”
Though she’s living her dreams, Valvano Gallagher points to lessons of compassion and a strong work ethic passed on to her by her parents as her driving force. Family is No. 1, she said, and they’ve supported her every step of the way.
“I’m 100% Italian; that’s how we do things. We’re very, very close,” she said, adding her husband fits right in and lifts her up every step of the way. “(Patrick) is incredible. I’m extremely lucky. He’s supportive of everything and along for the ride for sure.”
She said her mom is right by her side, and though her father died in June, he was able to see his daughter’s dream realized.
“I know he’s proud,” she said.
Symbolized by two butterflies, Goldie’s and Gwen’s influences can be found throughout the shop and even in the store’s logo, as they serve as their mom’s greatest inspiration.
While they’re part of her story, Valvano Gallagher doesn’t want anyone to focus on the hardships she’s faced in her life. Her most important mission is to motivate others to follow their own paths to happiness and not waste any time doing it.
“I’m strong; you don’t have to worry about me. I’ll always figure it out, but I want to inspire people,” she said. “I want to inspire people to go after their dreams, be who they want to be and live today. It’s all we’ve got and if not now, when? Life won’t wait for you.”
Meet Victoria Valvano Gallagher
At home: Valvano Gallagher lives in the East Mountain section of Scranton with her husband, Patrick. Her daughters are the late Goldie and Gwen Gallagher. She is the daughter of Janet Valvano and the late Rocco Valvano and has two sisters, Lori and Michelle Valvano.
At work: Bridal consultant; owner of the Blushing Bridal Boutique, Scranton; Gemological Institute of America-certified jeweler at Valentine’s Fine Jewelry, Dallas
Inspirations: Her daughters, her family, people who follow their dreams, making those who come into her store happy and watching their faces light up
Aspirations: To be successful, to travel and to have the best possible life and business she can
Diversions: Exercise and spending time with family and friends
Aversions: Violence, abuse and hate
Quote: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” — “The Shawshank Redemption”
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT