The back story of any wedding is woven from details and decisions, thoughtful planning and happy surprises. And the star of the show is the perfect gown that confirms the bride has never looked more beautiful.
“More and more, brides want to feel and look like themselves on their wedding day (of course the best version of themselves!). This is a trend we can certainly get behind,” says Cate Malone, owner of the Little White Dress Bridal Shop (LWD), whose salon is featured on top bridal sites such as The Knot, WeddingWire, Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, 100 Layer Cake and many more. Malone’s reputation grows year by year as a top purveyor of wedding wear. Hers was the only Colorado bridal shop included on the by-invitation-only Grace Ormonde Wedding Style 2013 Platinum List, elevating LWD to the status of one of the world’s “most prestigious and well-respected wedding vendors.”
Malone didn’t start out as a wedding expert, but she always had an innate instinct for what brides might like and a way of discovering the next fresh idea. A Fort Collins girl, Malone has lived in Colorado for most of her life. She was a twenty-something bride the first time. When the marriage ended, the “most amazing son and daughter in the whole world” were her first priority. But, as they grew older, Malone kept her love of everything wedding alive, maturing, too, into someone with a depth of knowledge of her subject. She learned all she could about dress designers, fabrics and styles and worked as the in-house wedding coordinator for the Hotel Boulderado in Boulder. As a single parent, she maintained her position in the legal/real estate world, all the time thinking some day she just might manage to work at what she was genuinely passionate about. Malone never gave up on finding love again, which she did, though it took 18 years. Planning her own wedding in 2006 was a personal triumph, as was opening the Little White Dress Bridal Shop in Castle Rock in January 2008. Her first sale was to a bride from Fort Collins the day the store opened.
Denver’s Highland neighborhood is LWD’s current home. “We searched for our Denver location for approximately ten months before moving the shop from Castle Rock to Denver in January 2011. We looked at a variety of neighborhoods and areas between south Denver and central Denver, including LoDo and Cherry Creek. I lived and worked in lower Highland years ago and knew that it was an active, up-and-coming area. Ultimately, the Highland neighborhood chose us. The space was ideal, the neighborhood was ideal, there is an underground parking garage for all my staff, and our landlord was wonderful to work with through all the lease negotiations,” reports the beach- and yoga-loving entrepreneur.
A Cut Above
What sets LWD apart is an incredible staff, who Malone describes as “well-rounded, determined, professional people who just happen to love weddings, not people who love weddings but aren’t the best people for the business.” Her 14-woman sales and management team are know-it-alls when it comes to the LWD inventory. Seven are specially trained bridal stylists.
Malone identifies perseverance and determination as the keys to writing an entrepreneurial success story. She has stayed true to herself and how she wants her business to be. “Failure is not an option,” she insists. “Since opening my shop, it’s always been my every intention to provide a very thoughtful collection of wedding gown designers (most of whom have never before been available to Colorado brides) and a shopping experience that is very kind, welcoming and special,” she adds.
Mediocrity is not an option either. That’s why Malone wouldn’t miss the opportunity to grab a front row seat at industry events like Bridal Fashion Week in New York to skillfully select a variety of appealing styles from today’s top wedding designers. “I used to wonder if a bride traveled outside the state to buy her wedding gown because she wanted the experience of going to New York or L.A. to find her dress. Now I know that a bride usually travels only if she cannot find what she is looking for here in Colorado,” confirms Malone.
An Exciting Ensemble
LWD designers include Jenny Packham, whose gowns are considered wearable works of art. (Packham confided to Malone that the Marion would be the “must-have gown” from her recent collection.) Claire Pettibone’s vintage interpretations are well-matched to mountaintop nuptials as well as traditional surroundings. Known for his craftsmanship, Liancarlo’s Carlos Ramirez is a master at fusing incredible French lace with other fabrics for a stunning effect and impeccable fit. Anne Barge focuses on classic lines with sumptuous beading on rich fabrics and metallics that add a contemporary touch. Matthew Christopher’s dazzling details and clever seaming accentuate curves. Rita Vinieris brings a sophisticated sensibility to her luxe gowns for Rivini, and Sassi Holford’s gowns are glamorous yet simple and elegant.
LWD has recently added three new designers for brides to consider. “Reem Acra’s gowns are handmade with the utmost attention to detail and perfect for brides who want a couture bridal gown without the pomp (and price) of many other high-end designers,” Malone explains. New to bridal but already having a strong impact, Enaura gowns are constructed in New York but intricately hand-beaded in India. Light and comfortable despite the embellishment, her shapes are young, feminine and flowing. British designer Charlie Brear delivers silhouettes with a dash of excitement. High or plunging necklines, low backs and add-ons like leather sashes are characteristic of her contemporary aesthetic. Additionally, select pieces from Twigs & Honey, Bloom Veils and Accessories and Jenny Packham’s accessory line are now available at LWD.
Easy, Effortless and Elegant
There seems to be a move toward gowns that are not only individually stunning but eminently easy to wear. “The unfussy, unstuffy, yet still beautiful and romantic look is truly timeless,” Malone verifies. “Metallics are all over the runways, and we like it best on laces and embroideries, as opposed to the overall fabric of the gown in gold or silver. The second color palette is the use of subtle colors in champagnes, blushes and the lightest blues. Another look that continues to be very appealing is the focus on the back of the gown, with delicate details, illusion fabrics, low backs and interesting adornments. This season we are seeing the return of cathedral-length, coordinating veils. They complement the gowns without overtaking them, and they look and feel like a cloud.”
All this and more—inspired, cutting-edge fashion paired with one-on-one attention true to who each customer is—best describes what Little White Dress offers brides planning for the day they make their vows. Malone’s promise? “It continues to be my every intention that Little White Dress Bridal Shop will be a Denver tradition and a very happy place for many future generations.”
Little White Dress Bridal Shop
3420 W. 32nd Ave., Denver