55 Church Street, Mountain Brook, Alabama 35213
Even now, four months after my wedding and practically a year since I picked out my own gown, I still have a major crush on long, white, definitively wedding dresses. I can see how girls become 2 and 3 dress brides. It is so much harder to confine yourself to one dress for the rest of your life than to one man. And oddly enough, my husband still peeks in the window of Ivory & White every time we visit his parents in Crestline Village, and points out his favorites from the dresses on display.
Last week I popped over to the couture boutique, located on Church Street in Mountain Brook, Alabama to refresh my memory (and feed my everlasting desire for more satin, silk, and lace), with the pretense of a blog interview. We all know I had ulterior motives. I just might be addicted.
From the moment you walk in (or peek in from the street), the shop is the picture of luxury. White dresses, shelves, tables, and walls, dark chocolate hardwood floors, a chandelier and white cushioned furniture. In contrast to most bridal salons overrun with overstocked racks, the space is clean and open, with seven dresses on display and the rest (over 100 total) tucked away in the back (ensuring an ever-changing window for the little girls hand-in-hand with their mothers that certainly dream of their wedding day as they pass by on their way through the village).
The cake in the left image is the "Flounce" cake from local bakery Angel Cakes & Confections. The cake designer noticed how much the dress in the shop looked like her cake design and offered to bring it in. I loved the dog door stopper, I feel like it adds a little bit of whimsy to the shop.
I adore the dress on the left, and I swear I will invent a reason to wear long white dresses on non-wedding days. That, or I will become a celebrity, since they get away with it regularly.
Ivory & White was by far the best wedding dress shop experience I had as a bride and it was a natural choice for my first bridal salon vendor feature. Brooke Mason, the shop's owner, and her assistant made the whole process effortless. I pointed out some of the dresses I liked in the storefront, mentioned the style I had in mind (strapless mermaid with some lace) and waited in the gorgeous plush dressing room while eight or so dresses they thought I might like were brought in. It reminded me of the time I asked to try on an Oscar de la Renta cocktail dress in NYC that retailed $5000, completely glamourous.
Before Brooke opened the shop on October 1st of 2008 she began in advertising, opened a Bella Bridesmaid with her sister in Louisville, Kentucky (a chain that is now also in Birmingham), and took over the Sak's Bridal Salon in Birmingham; making her quite well rounded in the market. She recognized that something was really special about helping a girl find her dream dress, and I know personally that she has a knack for it (and, I'm excited to say one of my May brides found her dress there!).
Dresses are selected for the shop based on what Brooke believes Alabama girls will like, but she also throws in a few that she personally finds beautiful, even when it doesn't seem like it would fit your traditional Southern bride. Often she's been pleasantly surprised. Eleven designers are represented in the shop, Amy Kuschel, Bliss, Elizabeth Fillmore, Heidi Elnora, Jewel, Junko Yoshioka, Lela Rose, Liancarlo, Monique Lhuillier, Priscilla of Boston, and The Vineyard Collection. Heidi Elnora is a local designer, and if you are in town you should check out her runway show at Old Car Heaven on February 27th, The White Wedding, an event that benefits Camp Smile-A-Mile, for children with cancer.
The prices of the gowns in Ivory & White range from $2500 to $8000, with most in the $2500-5000 range. Even if your budget is less it is worth taking a look, the shop usually has some samples in house for sale for about 50% off regular price, and they are usually $3000 and below. Keep an eye out for Trunk Shows as well:
February 19th & 20th :: Liancarlo
March 5th & 6th :: The Vineyard Collection & Jewel
March 12th & 13th :: Priscilla of Boston
I asked Brooke about how long a dress will stay in the shop before it becomes unavailable, and the answer is largely dependent on the designer. Seasons really don't matter as much in bridal fashion (although certain trends and gowns become so popular that they will become dated), and unless a dress is discontinued by the designer it could be available for years to come. For example, one of Monique Lhuillier's 2004 gowns has stood the test of time and is still being made and sold. (So that means I can go ahead and pick out a dress for my vow renewal, right?)
As far as timing on ordering your dress, keep in mind that most designers require 4 months to make your gown, and it is recommended that you order 7-8 months in advance in consideration of bridal portraits and alterations. While your order can be rushed, it will cost you a percentage of the cost of the dress (25-30% is a common percentage). If you have the money and you have to have the gown right now, there are designers that can make your dress in 4-6 weeks.
I know I'm gushing and I promise that I haven't been paid off for featuring Ivory & White. I really do just love it that much!
Please do visit if you have the chance and tell them I say hello.