The Joy of Heidi Elnora // Guest Post by Maria Montgomery

Hi Ladies! We have such a treat for you all today! Maria Montgomery, former Miss Kentucky, is guest blogging for us about her experience with Heidi Elnora. Maria was not only a Heidi bride herself but she's also the face of Heidi Elnora Build-a-Bride. We are so excited to have her share with you all the joy of working with Heidi and being friends with the amazing woman as well. Enjoy!! XOXO, The Twirl Girls

Photo by Angela Karen

Photo by Angela Karen

As soon as I got engaged, my best friend Ashley Booth immediately suggested that she would take me to meet Heidi Elnora to get my wedding gown designed. I was SO excited! Heidi had designed some amazing pieces for Ashley to wear when she competed at Miss USA as Miss TN.  They had become close over the years, so I was honored to meet this little southern bell Ashley had spoken so highly about. I had watched Heidi on Project Runway, so I was thinking I was also going to be a bit star struck!

I never dreamed I would be able to wear a custom gown for my wedding, so I was just blown away at even thinking about the process! I had worn several different gowns through my year as Miss KY and while modeling, and so I had learned a lot about what I wanted. However I was unsure of what to do to make it look right without it going over the top. That’s where Heidi came in. I love SO many different aspects of several very different gowns, that it came to the point that I literally said…”Heidi… how can I keep from making this look like a gown that’s just way over the top, with too much going?” It was a bit overwhelming to have an endless amount of options and I was so relieved she was such an expert to help through the process. She wanted to know all the details of my wedding and to really get to know me so she can make a dress that was 100% Maria. Taking the time to do that really showed that she cared about each and every bride’s big day, even though she does this day after day.

Instantly when I walked into Heidi’s Atelier in Birmingham, I could feel the southern hospitality. Heidi’s warm heart just completely filled the room! I felt at home even though I just met her! After lots of laughter and immediately feeling like I had known Heidi for my whole life, I tried on several different body styles from her Build a Bride collection. I instantly knew I wanted a trumpet skirt. I wanted something fitted, but not tight all the way to my knees like a mermaid style - but something that was still body shaping with a flowy bottom. So we had decided on the bodice, called The Mary Margaret dress (all of Heidi’s dresses have doubles names to stay true to her Southern brand). We then moved onto lace. Here is when I began getting amazed at just how much Heidi listens and truly reads bride’s minds. She knew the exact lace I would want for my whimsical outdoor wedding. I LOVED the lace she showed me, The Mary Lace. I have never seen lace look so soft and not-over the top formal, just as I wanted. Even after looking through the other lace options I realized she was right! That was the perfect choice!

Lastly, I wanted to add a little bit of natural, organic looking texture to the bottom of the dress because I LOVE texture on gowns. Once again – she knew EXACTLY what I meant. She had a skirt named the Sophie skirt which had bits and pieces of lace and organza organically hand sewn on it. This gives the skirt natural movement and beautiful texture. However, it was made to sit on a transparent, flowy A-line skirt. I instead was picturing these pieces attached to the form-fitting bodice. When I brought this up to her, she responded “Oh absolutely!” She was thrilled at my idea of changing one of her pieces from the Build a Bride line! I loved her enthusiasm! Even though it was going to require more hard work, she wanted to do it because it was ultimately my dream gown. The whole ‘designing’ process literally took about 5 minutes. I’ll never forget Heidi saying “I really wish I could make it more of a process for you, but I think we are done!” Haha! And she was right! That’s the benefit of the Build a Bride Collection. I had the pieces to choose from right in front of me, which took out the guess work of designing my gown because I could see them! That’s why I fell in love with the Build a Bride line! And plus, when a designer just knows how to design so well and listens to the bride as she does, it makes designing your gown so much easier!

When it came time to do my fitting I was blown away by how much of ‘the most important dress of my life’ was made before my eyes. I watched two of the sweetest ladies ever, Karen and Elizabeth, hand sew each tiny piece from the Sophia skirt onto my dress. I even got to help a little! (which is not mandatory for all brides of course! But I had grown close with the Heidi Elnora family and was excited to jump in for sewing one tiny triangle…which I’m sure Karen had to re-stitch after I left). It was coming together beautifully. I really loved the fact that yes, although the Sophie Skirt was hand made in Paris, the bodice was made in Alabama, and they were sewn together before my eyes. That is just an example of how pure hearted Heidi is. She wants to take care of Birmingham, her hometown, by keeping as much instate as possible while adding exquisite quality from Paris. She also never left Birmingham, even after being on Project Runway & having her own TV show, Bride by Design, on TLC.

I’m usually a pretty introverted person, but when I finally got to put on the dress of my dreams…. I was brought to tears! So unlike me! As I stared at myself in the mirror, Heidi put a dreamy, cathedral length, simple veil in my hair and then she literally hoped to sit on the floor to continue fidgeting with the pieces that hung off the skirt herself. She wanted each one placed non symmetrical on both sides, so that it had the outdoorsy, whimsical look I wanted. She really contemplated the placement of each one and started repining a few of them. I just loved how much she poured her heart and soul into making it just right, even after it was ‘done’!

The strapless, sweetheart cut dress fit like a glove! But yet the fabric was so light weight, and ultimately proved to stay light weight in the 85 degree weather we had at our Danville, KY outdoor wedding! The gown even completely stood in place, although it was strapless. Again, I have probably worn thousands of strapless gowns through my years of modeling and many of them eventually fall down and need pulled up on top. Not mine! I danced the night away with it secure as can be thanks to the boning Heidi places in each gown for ultimate shaping and security.

Photos by Mango Photography

I got to know Heidi better as time went on as I joined her and my friend Ashely modeling in photo shoots. They are without a doubt some of my favorite pictures of my whole career! Brittany Massey is amazing with hair and makeup, and Angela Karen just takes the prettiest pictures! Not to mention the gowns are of course…to die for! The Heidi Elnora family is truly one of my favorite blessings of my life. But at the end of the day, I’m still just amazed that Heidi stays as humble as can be despite the fact that when we walk around in AL, New York, or anywhere else that people never stop requesting photos with Heidi and being star struck themselves. She is without a doubt one of the most down to Earth girls I know, and will make you feel like she is your big sister. I couldn’t have received a more beautiful, comfortable, custom-gown, at a great price, for the biggest day of my life. Thank you Heidi & all your team!

Photos by Angela Karen