Photo by Stacey Richardson

Photo by Stacey Richardson

Something Borrowed.

By Heidi Elnora


One of my favorite things about being a wedding gown designer is watching the interaction between the family and the bride, whether it be a sassy sister who has watched entirely too many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress or a precious mom who would absolutely love to see a part of her wedding gown be used on her daughter’s big day. In fact, having a gown redesigned is a request that I get quite often.

Recently, I had the privilege of working with many wonderful brides and their families, but one of my favorite families to interact with has been Lisa Medley and her daughter, Lisa, now Lisa Medley Cates. Here is Cates’s account of her experience:

“My mother has always been my best friend. Not only do we share a very special relationship, but we even share the same name. Shortly after I got engaged, I was so excited to try on her wedding gown. I called to schedule appointments at different bridal shops in Birmingham. My heidi elnora Atelier appointment was first. After the warmest welcome, Heidi pulled up her grandmother’s rocking chair and began to talk to me about my fiancé, Bailey, the vision for our wedding, and my gown.” 

For starters, we asked Cates what her favorite components were from her mom’s original wedding gown, and then we asked her what she wanted to see in her own wedding gown. She loved the lace and high neck, but wanted a more modern look. The original gown was an empire waist, A-line with long sleeves and a full covered back with buttons. This gown completely swallowed Cates. You couldn’t even find her cute little figure underneath all of the fabric.

We had her try on our famous Coco Marie basic silhouette, which is a simple fit-to-flare gown with low back, sweetheart neckline, and chapel-length train. She loved it!  From there, we took parts and pieces of her mom’s gown to create a custom “Something Borrowed” wedding gown. We dropped the back of the Coco Marie even lower for Lisa, and created a custom open back detail using pieces from her mom’s gown.

“After I tried on many different gowns, all different silhouettes, Heidi and my mom pulled out her wedding gown from the box. Heidi immediately had a vision that was perfectly matched with the detailed look I told her I loved. After separating my mom’s gown into pieces, Heidi draped and clamped me with fabric and pieces of my mom’s gown to give us a visual. Then, she sketched the whole design (which is now framed in my home). At that point, I looked at my mom and told her we could cancel every other appointment because I knew no one else could make the gown of my dreams, using my mom’s gown, or make us feel as special as Heidi and the entire heidi elnora team did.” 

Our experienced seamstress completely recreated the look and feel of the original bodice by sewing each and every applique back to its original layout onto Cates’s new bodice. To add just a little something extra to the back of the gown, we removed the net and lace overlay skirt (that had originally swallowed Cates) and gave her a detachable train that could be worn down the aisle and then removed for the reception.

“Working with Heidi and my seamstress each month was the most fun, special process for my mom and me. The finished product was beyond anything we could have expected.” 

It is always fun and challenging to see if I can figure out a way to create something new from something borrowed. A wedding gown should have a beautiful story behind it, especially when it is borrowed from someone who loves the bride so much.

Lisa's mother on her wedding day.

Lisa’s mother on her wedding day.

Photo by Rob Ingram

Cates’ redesigned gown. Photo by Rob Ingram

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