In the 1930s, a petite woman named Madie Ella Leonard opened a fine dress store in a tiny Alabama town. Convinced that mixing the fashions of the Big Apple with service drenched in Southern charm would create a shopping destination people would have to revisit, Madie purchased her first few lines of inventory and stocked the shelves with finery that would make any Southern lady swoon. Though met with a lot of people who told her tiny Alabama couldn’t handle couture, Madie went on to operate one of the most influential dress shops in Alabama – dressing Southern women for over 40 years. Adopting their Great Great Aunt’s love of couture and entrepreneurial spirit, Madie’s nieces, along with their mother, opened White Dresses. White Dresses offers Southern brides a carefully curated selection of exclusive couture gowns along with a personal experience that ensures each bride has the attention needed to select the perfect white dress for her special day.
Name(s): Ella, Kara & Teresa
Where you call home: We were lucky enough to grow up on the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in a quaint little town just outside of Huntsville.
Things You’d Write Home to Your Momma About: Ella: Well, we talk to our mom about basically everything – especially everything about White Dresses since she is one of the owners. Even before opening the shop, I talked to my mom everyday. She has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders. Kara: I have always been the same way – my mom is one of my best friends and I talk to her about pretty much everything. We are so excited about our shop so anytime a new bride contacts us, places an order, or even likes our Facebook page we go straight to each other to talk about it! We love our brides and want their experience to be perfect! Teresa: And I call my mom about everything, too. Family is really important to us!
Location/coverage: We are located in the Village of Providence in Huntsville, Alabama, and love helping brides from all over the Southeast who are in search of their perfect white dress!
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? Ella: My best piece of advice to brides and grooms is to keep things in perspective. Things might go “wrong” on your wedding day, but it is the imperfections in the day that actually made mine perfect. Whether it was the fact that my maid of honor forgot the groom’s ring in the car or that my flower girl walked with her basket on her head, the memories of the imperfections are my favorite to talk about! In the end, your wedding is just a big move into the best part – the marriage. I was lucky enough to be marrying a man that I wanted a fantastic marriage with – the wedding was just icing on the cake. Kara: I know my day won’t be just perfect – I am, in fact, the maid of honor that forgot the ring in Ella’s wedding! I think the advice Ella gave is exactly what I would give brides and grooms – to make sure that their day is just a celebration of a marriage that they have really prepared for. I am not married, but I know that when I do get married I want to make sure that my marriage is Christ-centered and that I am prepared for more than just one special day. Teresa: My piece of advice would be not to make a mountain out of a molehill. Sometimes it is best to not sweat the small stuff. I have been married for 30 years, so this isn’t just advice for the wedding day, but also for a long and healthy marriage.
Favorite Southern city? Ella: There are so many Southern cities that I love – it would be much easier if I could do a favorite city in each Southern state. One of my favorites is Charlottesville, Virginia. I love the charm and character. Each time I visit, I stay in Keswick, which is right next door. There is nothing like waking up to that view! I also absolutely adore Oxford, Mississippi. When I was in middle school, my best friend’s parents had a home in Oxford and we would often go for football games in the fall. I loved the Square and getting to tailgate on the Grove. Kara: Going to college in Savannah, I fell in love with this lovely Southern city. Being the daughter of an architect, I grew up appreciating a fine antique home. Anytime I wasn’t in class, I would walk around downtown Savannah taking in the amazing architecture and gorgeous antique shops. It truly is one of my favorite places on earth. Teresa: To me, an amazing Southern city is one who houses amazing Southern women. Thus, my favorite Southern city is the little town I grew up in right outside of Huntsville. I loved my summers in my tiny Southern town – as each day was filled with endless cups of mint Sweet tea, rocking chairs on a big front porch, and advice on how to survive the heat.
Early bird or night owl? Ella: I am a little bit of both. I went to law school and learned that sleep is something you just have to fit in when you get time. Kara: Neither! I like waking up late and going to bed early! I also prefer to have times to nap during the day. Teresa: Definitely a night owl. I love working when everyone else has gone to sleep – I feel like I can get the most done at that time!
Succulents or peonies? Ella: Peonies all the way! They are so girly! Kara: Peonies – my favorite two things on earth are peonies and bows! Teresa: I have a little bit of a black thumb, so I would have to go with succulents. I love them and they are amazingly indestructible.