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If you’ve had the chance to flip through Southern Weddings V8 (which we so hope you have! If not, find it here), you’ve most likely seen the gorgeous Astrid & Mercedes ad, right next to our Sweet Tea Society manifesto! We know wedding dress shopping can be daunting, so we love sharing our favorite designers, especially when we just know their styles and hearts will resonate with y’all. That’s why we’re tremendously grateful to have had Astrid & Mercedes (who believes in “petal-strewn kisses, ceremonies under the trees, and dancing barefoot under twinkling lights”) as part of the SW family for the past few years. We were tickled pink to have the opportunity to ask founder and designer, Lea-Ann Belter, a few questions for today’s Designer Spotlight!

Tell us about the beginnings of Astrid & Mercedes–why did you want to start a bridal line, and how did you get started? I spend a lot of time with my two nieces, Astrid and Mercedes, and after our adventures, all I want to do is sketch wedding dress designs. Rather than fitting in with my Lea-Ann Belter collection, though, the drawings that filled my notebook had a totally different sensibility. So, I followed my two muses and created a line of gowns just like my nieces–plucky, unconventional, and up for anything!

Tell us about what y’all offer to brides and gals. We create bridal gowns and accessories with a whole lot of care and love! Each wedding dress is made with 100 percent silk and is hand-cut, draped, and sewn by my wonderful team at our Toronto atelier.

What sets Astrid & Mercedes apart from other bridal gown brands? My niece-muses, Astrid and Mercedes! Their carefree, vibrant spirits weave their way into every gown and accessory. We also produce everything in the same studio as the Lea-Ann Belter collection. Something so special and dear to my heart needs to be made with the same attention to detail as my couture collection.

What is your single best tip for a bride about to start shopping for her wedding gown? Leave your expectations at the door. So often, women have preconceived ideas of what they’ll like, what they should wear, or how they should feel when they find the right gown. Approach the experience with an open mind and listen to your heart. When it flutters just in the slightest, you’ve got a winner!

What is your current favorite wedding dress in your collection? If you were to get married tomorrow, which dress would you wear? My favorite changes from day to day, but lately, whenever I see Glamour, she makes me smile–probably because she was inspired by a trip we took out to the Niagara escarpment. It’s such a beautiful place, so fresh and full of natural beauty! If I were getting married tomorrow…oh my goodness! I guess I’d be up all night sewing to create something that felt just right.

Do you have a favorite Astrid & Mercedes memory? I had been dreaming of creating the collection for so long that seeing it come to life in the studio was really moving. I’ll never forget how it felt to see all the new gowns hanging together in my Toronto boutique.

What is the single greatest lesson you’ve learned in business? Be fearless and believe in yourself.

Name three items every gal should have in her closet. A vintage piece that makes you feel beautiful, glamorous, and strong, a pencil skirt (so versatile!), and, of course, heels that won’t quit!

Thank you so much, Lea-Ann! Follow along with Astrid & Mercedes here:

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This post is brought to you by Astrid & Mercedes – thanks for your support of the brands that make Southern Weddings possible!

lisa Written with love by Lisa

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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Talented, professional, compassionate vendors are the backbone of most every smoothly-running wedding day. When you hire people who are great at what they do AND good people to boot, your only job on your wedding day will be to act as a gracious hostess, love your family and friends well, and say “I do.” What a blessing! That’s why we’re passionate about our Blue Ribbon Vendors – because we want y’all to be worrying about those three things, and nothing else. Here are a few we’d love to introduce you to!

Name: Alea Moore Photography
Where you call home: Atlanta, GA
How I got into weddings: I have had a camera in my hands for what feels like forever. In college, I went to school to be a vet, but photographed weddings for my sweet friends to make a little extra pocket money and because I loved it so much. It took a little heart and soul searching to come to the conclusion that I needed something happy every day and though it scared me, I picked up my camera again and never looked back. God was SO good, and I’m beyond thankful to get to do what I love every day!

Name: Astrid and Mercedes
Where you call home: Toronto
Favorite part of a wedding day? The vows… truly, there is no more sacred ground than that you walk upon in marriage and I think the vows set the tone for the life you want to build.

Name: Cherish Creations
Where you call home: Deep in the heart of Texas
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? Tradition is always the staple and I love how they are always a family affair.

Name: Cynthia Rose Photography
Where you call home: Havelock, NC
Things you’d write home to your Momma about: I’d write home to my momma, but I happen to reside in the same neighborhood where I grew up, just a few houses down from my parents, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! We’ve been published in local wedding magazines in Eastern North Carolina and a handful of wedding blogs, but we feel our greatest and most important accomplishment is making our clients happy.

Name: Distressed | Rentals & Revival
Where you call home: South Mississippi
How I got into weddings: I ditched the rat race and went for something I loved – design and working with women! This warm style from a much simpler time came so naturally to me and I quickly went from styling homes to weddings. While working on my first few weddings, it drove me crazy that I could not find authentic pieces to use! So I started building and hunting them one by one. From there, my collection grew into something really special – it may now be the largest vintage rental collection in the Southeast!

Name: Early Mountain Vineyards
Where you call home: Madison, VA
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? We love seeing couples incorporate family traditions and heirlooms into their wedding days. Having four defined seasons lends to wonderful colors and creative decor, making each wedding unique.

Name: Everything But the Ring
Location/Coverage: Texas and worldwide
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? When you sit down to dinner, take each other’s hand and stop for a moment. Look around the room and take it all in – this is the only moment in time that all of those people will be in the same room together and it’s all for you. Feel THAT love!

Name: Jaclyn Journey, Jaclyn Journey
Where you call home: Louisville, KY
Favorite part of a wedding day? Quiet mornings before the storm – taking time to rest and be present with your family or bridesmaids is to be cherished. You’ll never forget having coffee and breakfast with them while dreaming about the day that is to come!

Name: Jordan Weiland, Jordan Weiland Photography
Where you call home: Lakeland, Florida
How I got into weddings: I’ve always loved photography. I graduated with a Studio Art degree and a passion for photography. I knew I wanted to be my own boss so I did portrait photography for some time until a friend asked me to shoot a wedding with her. I was hooked.

Name: Emily Kennedy, Kennedy Occasions
Where you call home: Murfreesboro, TN… it’s just a tad south of Nashville!
Favorite thing about weddings in the South? The traditions! I love pearls and grandmother’s lace. I love Southern charm and family influence. I love the rolling hills, beautiful blooms, and high school/college sweethearts.

Check out all of our favorite vendors in the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory! I also wanted to mention that we’re working particularly hard to expand some of our areas of slim pickings – namely, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. If you would like to recommend someone (or nominate yourself!) for any of these states, please email emily at!

emily Written with love by Emily

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

Reply to: