Very few bridal boutiques will admit that their products are simply “just a dress,” but Gilded Bridal pridefully says just that.
Ever since opening its doors in Raleigh, owner Susan Langford has always pressed that she wants her dresses to be more of the backdrop to any ceremony; the real focus should be on the love shared between two people on their special day.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear a fabulous dress anyway. Gilded Bridal is known for exclusively showcasing indie designer gowns in their store; some brands are ones you can’t even find in the entire state of North Carolina. Each piece of couture you try on during your appointment is handpicked by Langford’s staff to directly cater to your vision, sparing no expense or effort.
Langford went further into detail about how she started Gilded Bridal, how it differs from other boutiques out there, and the independent designer gowns she features.
How did you get into the bridal industry? Was it always a passion of yours?
I have always had a love for beautiful gowns and clothing – particularly unique fabrics and special details. Even as a child I was fascinated with costumes and historical clothing – and what greater costume do we wear in modern times better than our wedding dress? Naturally, I became the wedding dress guru for my friends as they started getting married, and I even helped plan elements of their weddings. When I decided to change careers and open my own business, Gilded Bridal was a natural progression.
How did you direct your focus to Indie brands?
There are so many fabulous designers out there that don’t have the big advertising budget to plaster ads in national bridal magazines. These designers each bring their own special vibe to bridal, and I wanted North Carolina brides to have the opportunity to discover these designers. For me, a gown from a small, independent designer is more special, more intimate, more unique. More often than not our gowns are made in the same studios where they are designed under the direct eye of the designer. Our designers include Kate McDonald out of Charleston, SC; Anais Anette out of Toronto; Truvelle and Laudae out of Vancouver; Leanne Marshall, Alexandra Grecco, and Antonio Gual out of New York; Ivy & Aster out of Atlanta; Daalarna Couture out of Budapest; Claire LaFaye out of Portland, OR; Tara Lauren out of LA; Rose + Williams out of Minneapolis, and several others.
Since your dresses are coming from different places, do you see certain trends being incorporated in different regions? What are they?
Actually, designers are usually keeping their worldwide stockists in mind when they design – so even if my designer is in New York, her gowns are carried all over the country. I do see the sexy gowns with thigh slits and full bohemian styling happening more on the West Coast and in Australia right now. But fitted gowns and sheer bodices are hot all over the country, including right here in NC. Clean lines and crepe dresses have been on the rise for us as well, and beautiful lace is always going to be in fashion for bridal.
Why is it so important for brides to be exposed to many different brands and not just the brands that are well-known?
Options, options, options! There are so many different ways to be a bride these days – discovering indie designers and brands give a bride a better chance to find a special dress that truly feels like a reflection of her. Further, there are some really cool, fun, and beautiful designs happening in bridal these days, and sometimes you have to look outside of the mainstream to find them.
What is the best advice you can give to a bride looking for her dream dress?
Keep your entourage small for bridal appointments, 1-2 people who know you well and who will support you and what you like. Don’t be too focused on one style or another before you try on dresses – different styles might surprise you! Trust your bridal stylist – at a good boutique they should be highly trained and a great resource. Do a little research on the bridal shop you want to visit and their designers – for example, if you want a big princess ball gown or a bling mermaid gown, Gilded Bridal is probably not going to be your place. But finally, have fun, don’t be pressured by anyone, and remember… it’s just a dress, y’all!