Norde Bridal
By Sue Nador

Frustrated bride to creative entrepreneur

When Meaghan Brunetti, owner of Norde Bridal, was preparing for her own wedding she grew more and more frustrated with the limited choice of dresses. “I had a rough time as a fashion forward person, she recalls. “Everything was very traditional. There were no options for brides who were more laid back and not princesses.”

Meaghan saw a gap in the marketplace. She opened her own bridal shop, Norde Bridal (formerly The Handmade Bride), in 2013. “I’m born to be an entrepreneur and have an extremely creative mind,” she says.

Her studies in environmental science at the University of Ottawa did little to prepare her for this business, but her demanding work as an executive assistant in the federal government taught her valuable skills. “You are constantly putting out fires and making things look easy to your boss,” she says. Now she makes the wedding dress-buying experience easy and stress-free for brides-to-be.

We call our brides 'bridechillas.' They are not divas. - Meaghan Brunetti, owner
Owner of The Handmade Bride, Meaghan Brunetti makes dress-buying stress-free.
Owner Meaghan Brunetti makes dress-buying stress-free. Photo courtesy of Laura Kelly Photography

National pride and sustainable fashion

Almost all of the designers in Norde Bridal’s collection are Canadian. They are independents with the creative license to customize a dress to fit a client’s needs. The dresses are unique, well-made flattering pieces that fit the hip aesthetic of the store.

Meaghan does not buy any products that are mass-produced in factories, where she says people work in what are often unsafe environments and are not paid a living wage. “If you care about sustainability and ethics, this is one of the only stores you can shop at,” she says.

Norde Bridal’s ByWard market location is important to Meaghan. She grew up close by on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. “Ottawa is part of who I am. I am proud to be from here," she shares.

As a board member of the local Business Improvement Association, she works to keep the area vibrant for both locals and tourists. “This is the first commercial area of our country. This is the heart of our city,” Meaghan says.

At The Handmade Bride, the dresses are unique, well-made flattering pieces that fit the hip aesthetic of the store.
Photo courtesy of Charlie Barnett Photography

Bridezilla-free zone

Norde Bridal offers a very inclusive environment where everyone is welcome. “We are inclusive and progressive-minded,” says Meaghan. “We make it clear that we cater to all individuals searching for a wedding dress, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or other life choices.”

Clients often come to Norde Bridal when they haven't found anything that fits the bill elsewhere. “She wants an heirloom dress to keep and hand down,” Meaghan says.

Meaghan and her team of bridal stylists work with clients to either select a dress straight off their designer rack or to customize one. They also alter dresses that clients bring in. Whatever a client decides, Norde Bridal creates a complete look with their collection of accessories and jewellery.  There are items for grooms, too, such as bow ties and suspenders to coordinate styles. “We can literally do anything,” Meaghan insists.

The Norde Bridal provides a relaxed shopping experience. A former art gallery, the studio features original exposed brick, old weathered floors and a mix of midcentury modern and antique furnishings. “It’s pretty but a little bit hip and badass,” says Meaghan. In keeping with the vibe, Meaghan hires bridal stylists for their sense of humour and friendliness. “We spend a lot of time with clients so our staff need to be likeable humans.”

Norde Bridal has carved out a niche for brides-to-be who care about Canadian-made sustainable products that are unique, understated and elegant. “We call our brides, 'bridechillas,'” says Meaghan. “They are not divas.”

[Header image courtesy of Ali Batoul Photography]

Photo courtesy of Charlie Barnett Photography
Close menu
Subscribe to YP Newsletter