On a mission to ditch the traditional wedding ‘uniform’, Megan Ziems founded Grace Loves Lace and created gowns that have soul, originality and authenticity. Cue brides around the world falling in love with the effortless luxury, quality and style of Grace Loves Lace designs and dresses! Below, we chat to Megan about her journey from small start-up to the company that has the most pinned wedding dress in the world!
How was Grace Loves Lace born?
Grace Loves Lace was born when I saw a huge gap in the market for wedding dresses that I would want to wear. When I was searching for my own wedding dress, I was floored by the lack of creativity and quality. There was nothing exciting about bridal back then so I wanted to bring something to the market that like-minded women would be drawn to and connect with. We are the largest direct to consumer, made in house bridal brand in the world now and what makes that so special is that we’ve scaled whilst staying true to our values and beliefs around designing and manufacturing in a sustainable and traditional fashion.
How have bridal gown trends changed since then?
I think the key word there is “trend.” Bridal gowns weren’t trendy, in fact, there was almost a strict uniform that women just assumed they wore. The strapless, corseted dress with a heavy skirt and uncomfortable structure. These days, bridal has almost become closer to fashion, being very trendy and pushing the envelope. The trick is to create wedding dresses that are exciting yet classic – you don’t want a dress that in a few years’ time you look back on and think, “Why did I wear that?”
We pay tribute to tradition by using traditional fabrics like silks, laces and embroideries. We design and create in a very traditional manner, whilst innovating the way the dresses are constructed and fit. We balance tradition with contemporary flavours so that women can feel comfortable, empowered and beautiful.
Image: Mikayla Carter
Where do new ideas for gowns come from?
We start from almost anywhere – the fabrics, the feel and emotion we have, exciting ideas we’ve had, the creative brief, feedback from our team and brides. I’m a huge day dreamer and love my quiet creative time on my own, which is when I come up with any good idea I might have. Driving in my car with my playlists blaring is also one of the most creative parts of my day – it just floods in! Music inspires me more than anything.
What’s been your favourite Grace Loves Lace collection so far?
It always seems to be the latest one – so right now, it’s Elysian. I would confidently say that I would find my dream dress in there and my teams excitement levels went to new heights when they all saw it, which says a lot!
Image: Pierre Toussaint
What about dress?
If I had to choose a dress tomorrow it would be Star, worn with the Monet veil.
Tell us about your latest collection, Elysian. What was the inspiration behind it?
I felt very grounded when working on the creative for Elysian, I wanted it to be honest, emotive, tell a story and really show people an even deeper side to us. The collection was made up of 12 gowns that each told a story, they are very poetic and magical, naturally beautiful but with really exceptional finishes and details. We wanted a high impact collection that had a lot of soul.
Images: Pierre Toussaint & Mikayla Carter
Where do you source your fabrics?
We source our fabrics and trims from many countries – the UK, US, Australia, Italy, France, China, Japan, Turkey and Spain mainly.
Where are your gowns made?
Australia. We manufacture every gown in our own studio based in Burleigh Heads, where they are also designed. For us it’s a big talking point, as over 80% of the world’s wedding dresses are produced in Chinese factories and sold at very high prices. From day one we have been very passionate and committed to our ethical manufacturing position and are determined to make the bridal industry more honest.
What’s the ordering process like? How early should a bride order her gown?
Typically, our brides order 6-12 months before their wedding, however in 2020 we have seen a lot of brides opt for our Ready To Wear offering which has a much shorter turnaround time for elopements or courthouse weddings.
You say that GLL woman is at the core of everything you do. Who is the GLL woman?
She’s a woman of style, substance and passion. She is effortlessly stylish and walks to the beat of her own drum, she cares about how and who makes her dress and recognises quality and authenticity, she wants a dress that has character and allows her to dance and move freely. Her wedding dress has to make her feel something, it’s a purchase that represents her. It’s been front of mind from day 1 that we design for the woman – who she is – and not simply “the bride”, we build out everything about her in her everyday life.
Image: Mikayla Carter
Is there a particular style of wedding you think your gowns suit best?
Our brides tend to be the freer spirited and don’t want to be constricted on their wedding day in comfort or wedding style. They so often go against the norms of tradition. We see a lot of epic outdoor weddings. Everything from beaches and islands to country weddings to mountain hiking brides, I love seeing a bride in a GLL gown matched with a pair of hiking boots. We are so fortunate that our brides really represent everything we stand for, so their wedding albums they share with us are a true representation of our brand.
Can you share any lovely stories or testimonials from your brides?
I have heard of some incredible stories and testimonials from our real brides over my time. One simple testimonial that stood out to me was this.
“I chose Grace Loves Lace because what I wore made me feel incredible and comfortable… I wanted to feel like myself, and I got exactly that.”
Comfortability and feeling like oneself is what we always come back to. We want our brides to feel authentic and to be able to dance the night away. I am so happy to hear these kinds of testimonials because I know that we are giving brides exactly what they want.
Images: Mikayla Carter
What’s your approach when it comes to designing bridesmaid, and now flower girl, attire?
Similar to our bridal gowns, comfort and style is key. We also look at how our bridesmaid styles will sit together. We never look at one single bridesmaid style on its own, for example we look at the fit and the colour palette, and how all the styles complement each other so brides can build out their bridesmaids looks to suit every body shape and still complement each other and the bride.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt working in the wedding industry?
To stay true to your values and brand. We’ve seen the industry grow so much over the years, yet the values are not often there – it’s not a very honest industry. For me it’s not good enough that most wedding dresses are mass produced – often off pre-designed look books – in China. It’s a one-off purchase that holds so much value to the woman wearing it and brides should use their power of finding out exactly where the dress is made and who designed it. Despite our growth, we have stayed true to our values and continue to design our collections and manufacture them in our Aussie studio.
Image: Emily Abay
What do you love most about your job?
I’m happy when I am creating, and I love seeing a project from start to finish. I also absolutely love my team and seeing the brand that we’ve created. I also love checking out our hashtags at the end of a weekend and seeing our beautiful brides share their images from their weddings that weekend.
And what’s the most challenging part of it?
I would say the most challenging part is balancing being a mum of two busy boys. Growing a business from a start-up to the size it is now over a relatively short amount of time – and throw in having two children along the way – has been a juggle!
What exciting things are on the horizon for Grace Loves Lace in 2021?
We’ve got plenty of new showrooms opening so that we broaden our ability to create beautiful spaces and provide exceptional experiences to brides. We have some exciting new bridesmaids and occasion pieces dropping soon, our new little girls’ range will be expanding, and of course, epic wedding dresses. We will also continue to focus on our sustainable offering, and I am enjoying learning more in this space.
Image: Georges Antoni
Thanks so much for sharing the Grace Loves Lace story with us, Megan! You have revolutionised the bridal gown space with your vision and beautiful gowns. To find out more about Grace Loves Lace, including their latest collection Elysian, head to their website.
Headshot by Libby Dodd