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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