Two years ago, Auburn resident Marlye Lee was planning her wedding and was disappointed that there wasn’t a bridal shop in town.
Little did she know that, a couple of years later, she would be opening a bridal shop in the area.
“When I was going through that experience of planning my wedding with my husband, I was like ‘Gosh, you know what would be great is a bridal shop,’” she said. “It was more of like a pipe dream.”
Lee partnered with wedding dress designer Heidi Elnora and was able to open Build-A-Bride Auburn in midtown Auburn in November. The boutique provides brides the opportunity to customize the dress of their dreams.
“Every gown is completely customized to the bride and totally different,” Lee said. “You could change the fabric, you could change the lace, kind of think of it as building a house. You start with the frame, then you add the carpet, and the paint and the lamps and you make it truly yours. It provides that kind of couture dress but at a much lower cost than you might get somewhere else.”
Lee and her family are "Auburn people" and she felt opening a bridal shop was something Auburn needed.
“So many other people feel and share that same sentiment about Auburn, how much they love it here and they meet their spouses here,” she said. “They want to get married here. So, being able to open a business in a pandemic and provide that to the Auburn people and the Auburn area and the future Auburn brides, I mean it’s just a dream.”
Lee felt that opening a bridal shop was one of the last pieces to the wedding puzzle in the Auburn-Opelika area.
“Auburn and Opelika are full, and Lee County in general, are full of wonderful, wonderful bridal and wedding resources and vendors and people,” she said. “If you’re wanting to get married in Auburn, we can provide it all here and being able to provide this bridal gown experience, to me, was the last check.”
Lee never thought she would be opening a bridal shop of her own, let alone during a pandemic.
“If you would have asked me in March, I would have never thought that we would be here in November,” she said. “It’s crazy how things work out and the stars align.”
Lee met Elnora in March after a friend of hers and a colleague of Elnora's, put the two in touch. From the time they met, the pair clicked and the ball started rolling on opening a bridal shop in Auburn.
“I met Heidi in March, right before everything closed down for COVID-19 and we started the ball rolling on that, and then obviously got slowed down a little bit due to the pandemic,” Lee said. “But [we] officially sold our first Auburn bride in May and that started looking for locations in June and we found this place in September and here we are.”
Opening Build-A-Bride Auburn during the COVID-19 pandemic was nerve-wracking for Lee, but the positive feedback made things a little easier for her.
“You don’t get a lot of return customers in the bridal business, or you hope you don’t,” Lee said. “Just making sure that the market was there, and it is. People are ready to shop. People are ready to get married and love’s not canceled and neither are we.”
Build-A-Bride Auburn is open for appointment only due to COVID-19, but things may change depending on the pandemic. Lee also said hours can be flexible, if needed.
“I know I’ve got lots of people here that work in the industry or have different schedules that don’t allow for them to a normal shopping experience maybe on a Saturday or Sunday so if we need to make changes, we definitely do,” she said.
Brides who wish to book an appointment can reach out to Build-A-Bride Auburn on Instagram or by visiting its website, buildabride.com. Brides can also call for an appointment at (256) 310-9651.
Build-A-Bride Auburn is located at the Bodegas at 1188 Opelika Rd., Midtown Ct., Suite A in Auburn.