With her powerful gymnast body and petite stature, gold medal Olympian Shawn Johnson was not looking forward to shopping for a dress for her April 16 wedding to beau Andrew East.
“I was kind of terrified,” Johnson tells PEOPLE. “I’ve been a hard fit my entire life — I’m so short and curvy and muscular and big busted, it’s always been awkward to find something that’s flattering.”
Lindsey Grace Whiddon/Wild Native Co
So when the gymnast met Nashville designer Olia Zavozina, she came with a list of “don’ts” in hand: “I was a thousand percent against strapless, I didn’t picture myself having a huge train or veil and I didn’t want lace,” says Johnson, 24.
But to her surprise, “I ended up going with a skin-tight mermaid gown!” she says. “I loved it so much. I felt comfortable and girlie in it. Olia is a magician!”
The gown, made of silk duchess satin with a trumpet silhouette, features a geometrical lace bodice with matching lace trim along the hem. Johnson opted to keep the look simple, eschewing beading or jewels, except for a line of pearls down the back. “I didn’t want the flash,” says Johnson, who, as a former Dancing with the Stars champ, knows a little something about glitz. “I feel like every wedding dress I ever saw was so over the top, and having done Dancing and worn rhinestones head to toe, I didn’t know you could get anything that looks simple that wasn’t just a plain gown. To me this dress is classy but different.” (See it in motion in a video shared by White in Revery!)
RELATED VIDEO: Shawn Johnson’s romantic wedding highlights!
Johnson was so in love with the custom design, which features a silk satin organza cathedral train and which she paired with a custom headpiece and jewelry by Elena Zavozina, that she choose to wear the gown all night rather than switching to a separate reception dress for the party (which featured a seven-tier cake and a surprise serenade!).
“There was a little change because the train comes off, but I always felt like if you find that dream dress you should wear it the whole night,” she says.
Walking down the aisle to meet NFL player East “felt amazing,” Johnson says. “It was the greatest feeling ever.”
East, a long snapper for the Oakland Raiders, agreed.
“Seeing her there in that beautiful white dress with a big smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye, it couldn’t have been any more perfect,” he says. “She looked immaculate.”
Do you love the dress?