i do bridal couture

I Do Bridal Couture owner Ramsey Sims hosted a Haute Opening party for the boutique yesterday afternoon in conjunction with a personal visit from wedding gown designer Heidi Elnora. The media was invited to arrive early to meet Heidi and check out her collection. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to finally check out this charming store in the Southdowns Shopping Centre.

The boutique and its owner were just that—charming! Ramsey’s choice selection of gowns were breathtaking and it was easy to see that a bride’s shopping experience there would be totally personal.

After checking out the digs, I sat down with Project Runway, season 2, designer Heidi Elnora to discuss her blossoming career as a wedding gown designer. Heidi lives and works in her hometown, Birmingham, Alabama. Her laid-back style and southern charm were incredibly endearing. She was extremely down-to-earth and easy to talk to, which was really refreshing. Check out our Q&A below…

Heidi Elnora rocking her baby bump (she’s due in January!)

I Do Bridal owner Ramsey Sims and Heidi Elnora

Danielle de Mond models one of Elnora’s designs (isn’t she beautiful?!)

Shoulder detail shot

Rebecca: How has your career taken off since Project Runway?

Heidi: Project Runway gave me the confidence to know that I can do this. Being from Alabama, sometimes you have these big dreams and aspirations, but because you’re from a small town, people kind of crush them. Being on the show validated that I am a good designer and there’s more to this than a dream…so I called up a magazine one day and said, “Hi, my name is Heidi Elinora and I’m a wedding gown designer.” I had made one dress in my whole life at that point and they said, “We want to do a four-page spread.” So my husband Jeff and I bought a house in Birmingham that we remodeled. I opened my business in September 2006 and I sold my first gown in November…

In the past two years, it’s really taken off. I was just going to keep my shop small and do things around Birmingham, but I’ve seen a need for a certain style of dresses. My dresses are real simple and clean, but I like that. Your dress shouldn’t speak more than you do as a bride. It’s just a compliment of who you are. You get to do your own customizations to the gown, which is really neat because not every girl has the same dress. They may have the same concept, but it’s always custom to you. The line has just really grown. I’m in 22 stores now. I got picked up by Nordstrom last April and now I’m in 14 of them. I’m also getting ready for bridal fashion week in October.

Rebecca: What drew you to wedding gowns as a fashion designer? What do you love about them?

Heidi: As an artist—I went to art school at SCAD—I love creating something that someone is going to cherish. I did children’s clothes, but babies spit up on those. I have one of my own and I’m about to have another one. I love women’s wear, but you’re going to throw that in the laundry with dirty socks. For some reason, that bothers me [she says with a laugh]. So with a wedding gown, it’s something that’s truly unique to you and you’re going to love it as much as I love it. I mean, I walk every single gown to the car and it’s like giving away my baby. I say, “Take care of this.” And they do. They love it, they cherish it, it’s special. I love it. I’m obsessed. It’s make me happy every day that I get to do this.

Rebecca: What do you see for the upcoming season? Can you tell me a little bit about your collection?

Heidi: So in October, we’ll show for the following fall, fall 2013. The collection that I’m showing is called Heavenly Days. It’s very airy. There’s a lot of golds. I don’t know why when I think of heaven, I think it’s going to be gold and silver and shiny. It’s very soft and ethereal in a sense. A lot of different textures and movement is what I’m aiming for. My April collection was very plain silhouettes…You can wear it [the new collection] in a pasture, you can wear it down an aisle, you can wear it wherever you want to.

Rebecca: How did you feel when you got picked up by Nordstrom?

Heidi: For Nordstrom to walk into my showroom and say, “We love you, we want you.” Oh my gosh, I cried! You know, I’m from Alabama. I live in the woods. This was such a beautiful blessing. Every day, something new and amazing happens and I’m very humble and very grateful.

Rebecca: What advice would you give to aspiring designers?

Heidi: Don’t give up. It’s not easy. Nothing worth having to me is easy. I wasn’t raised to think you’re handed things. I’ve never been handed anything. You have to be very passionate about it and have a lot of faith—you’ve got to pray a lot. But you just can’t give up. I have cried for six years and I have smiled for six years. Once you get to a certain plateau, people like to say, “Oh, it’s so fabulous!” And I want to say, “Oh, there was such a long, hard road to get here.” Just don’t stop. Keep going. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.

*To learn more about I Do Bridal Couture, visit http://idobridalcouture.com/.

Quote of the day:

“Your dress shouldn’t speak more than you do as a bride. It’s just a compliment of who you are.” –Heidi Elnora