Behind the Scenes with Wedding Gown Guru, Salwa Khoory of L’élite

The bride shopping Newbury Street in Boston can find 40 different designers, including such timeless names as Oscar, Carolina, Vera, and Monique, and can thank another equally important name for bringing them to her fingertips: Salwa Khooryof L'elite Bridal.

Salwa is a straight shooter who told me "you've found your dress but you're welcome to try on others." Like the stubborn shopper that I am, I tried on more, many more, and like the wise gown guru that she is, she was right.

Instantly loveable, petite and powerful, Salwa is also a self-starter who immigrated to Boston from Iraq and Lebanon for her children's education, and opened her first bridal shop, Shawmut Place, in 1984 on Shawmut Ave, well before the street became home to places like Flock, Table & Tulip, The Buttery and Coppa. Salwa moved to Newbury Street in 1990 under the name L’élite Bridal, and in the past 25 years, the brand's portfolio has blossomed to include L’élite Bridesmaids and Occasions, as well as Musette Bridal and Vera Wang Boston Bridal. 

Q: Where do you get your sense of style?

A: I grew up in a society with emphasis on haute couture and custom made clothes. I spent time practicing sewing, and working in custom-made wear. 

Q: How do you choose which dresses you want to bring into the store?

A: I need to provide a variety of cuts and styles that flatter all kinds of shapes. I pick new ideas from designers, even if it looks risqué, respecting his/her design intent. I choose the classic styles with couture and richness in fabric. We always consider the bride’s budget and that plays a part too.

Q: How do you guide brides through the process of finding THE ONE? 

A: We listen to the bride and her close family if they are with her. If her favored dress doesn’t compliment her figure, we use the same ideas of material or beads but with a different cut to find the best option. The truth of the dress on her, paired with our knowledge, will help her feel 100% sure it is the right choice.

Q: What Should Brides think about before coming in for their first appointment?

A: A bride should come with memories of weddings she attended that she liked or disliked it helps her avoid the mistakes of the others. She shouldn't waste her appointment to just look at and try on a number of dresses. Rather, she should take advantage of the visit, comparing dresses, understanding the market prices, listening to the consultant, and trying designs she didn’t expect to try. It is unlike everyday shopping... Sometimes, she buys the first dress she tried on - that does happen often!

Q: What mistakes do you think brides easily make?

A: Trying on too many dresses - it's easy to end up confused, to lose excitement, and to become afraid of making a decision. 

Q: Do you follow trends closely?What do you think of the non-white wedding dress trend (pink, blue)?

A: Trends are secondary to how the bride looks in her dress. But, when we hear about famous designer trends, we understand the reason behind it – it is due to the design, the finishing and wide selection of fabric and beading. Colors surface from time to time, but still ivory is number 1, white is number 2, and color is number 3

Q: Best compliment?

A: “You made our day”…