Like many women who don't seek a "Say Yes to the Dress" bridal shopping experience, Elizabeth Pape was frustrated by the options she found for her own wedding in 2013. "I ended up making my dress just out of spite," says the designer of her namesake brand, Elizabeth Suzann. "It feels like a rip off to me. I think the [bridal] styles that are designed each year, season after season, are meant to expire and they are overpriced for what they are."
You can buy a silk dress for $500, but as soon as it's labeled "bridal," the price jumps up to $2,500, she added. So when Pape decided a year ago that she wanted to design an all-white collection in her ready-to-wear line's comfortable, versatile and minimalist style, she quickly realized it made sense to enter the market that had disappointed her before. Plus, she already knew some of her customers had worn her white pieces for their weddings.
"I didn't love the idea of starting a collection that's only meant to be worn on one day," she says. "We worked really hard to make it into something that can be beautiful and feel like the right fit for your wedding day, but can also be worn afterwards or for a few different occasions during your wedding." As a result, the 14-piece collection features a range of styles, from jumpsuits to skirts and cropped pants that will appeal to women who aren't interested in such traditional, feminine or formal wedding gowns. That means no lace, no beading. "By limiting it to only two real gowns — the A-line gown and the cowl back gown — it kind of forced us to think outside the box," says Pape.
And just like the rest of the silk pieces in the ready-to-wear collection, the bridal collection is machine washable — with the exception of the A-line gown. "On your wedding day, there's probably a good chance you're going to spill something on your dress, so we didn't want to make it a big deal," says Pape. "Since silk is a machine-washable fiber as long as it's been prewashed, [and] if we are encouraging women to wear these after their wedding day... we didn't feel it was fair to keep them dry-clean only, since we don't usually do that in our normal product line."
The bridal collection is available now and "indefinitely" on the Elizabeth Suzann site and ranges in price from $350 to $1,150. The brand is only available made-to-order online and each shipment typically takes two to three weeks to produce. But for now, bridal pieces need four to six weeks lead time because, according to Pape, "we want these to be really exceptional quality." The Nashville-based company moved this fall to a larger 10,000-square-foot space where Pape and her team of 14 produce everything. "We are bringing our own unique spin on production and design philosophy into bridal," she says. "I wanted to make sure we catered to the women who feel the way I do, who feel intimidated by traditional bridal." Let's say yes to that.
See the Elizabeth Pape bridal collection below.