September 13, 1999
Sayra Hill helps make the dreams of brides come true.
Photo by Kelly June Coleman.
by Bronwyn Wilson, special to the Weekly
Tucked behind a white picket fence sits an enchanting wedding shop with flower-filled window boxes and an arched arbor at the front door.
The boutique, Sayra's Garden of Dreams, is located on Cottage Lake Creek in a fairyland setting of blooming flowers and scented herbs. Step around the lemon balm which grows in wild abandon on the shop's front steps.
"Victorian women believed that lemon balm makes the heart glad," owner Sayra Hill explains as she greets you with a sprig of it.
Inside, you are invited to sign a guestbook placed next to an antique vase full of pink roses. Rita Hayworth smiles from a framed photo on the wall, her movie star glamour fitting for this room. Sunlight streams through lacy white curtains and tiaras glisten on a corner shelf.
Gowns--from bouffant to sheath--hang on racks in a rainbow of colors. Sayra explains that her favorite thing is to see the women who come to her shop look beautiful.
"It's like they've turned into Cinderella," she says as you imagine fluttering birds decorating her customers for the royal ball.
In 1997, Sayra noticed that there were no shops for bridal wear in Woodinville. She started sewing custom bridesmaid dresses to fill the need. Later, she began selling ready-made wear. This was the beginning of her business. Homecoming and prom dresses were added to her racks once she offered entertaining fashion shows at the local high schools.
Sayra's idea is to give her customers a nice experience compared to the hurried big-shop experience at the malls. She serves tea to the mothers of her customers, as many of them bring their moms along. She offers color tips and figure style suggestions.
One bride wanted a dark coffee-colored dress for her big day. Sayra suggested she look like "a bride" and the brown gown was scrapped for a more traditional one.
At prom time, Sayra says, "they line up at the door."
Helping young women find their dream gown is Sayra Hill's joy. "The older ones don't want the princess-bride 'foo-foo' look," she says. "But the high school girls love the pouffy-princess look. And retro-look-anything from the past is back."
Silver is the most asked-for color in homecoming and prom dresses. And Sayra adds that "swing-length '40s style with '40s heels" is popular attire for the dances. Amid her accomplishments are numerous satisfied customers who were so delighted with their experience, they sent Sayra pictures of themselves in their gowns.
One wall is adorned with photos of dazzling brides and stylish homecoming and prom couples. Pinned next to the pictures are loads of thank-you notes from appreciative "Cinderellas."
At 16, Sayra Hill was crowned Junior Miss of Baldwin Park, California. Though she believes that beauty pageants put too much emphasis on outward beauty, she likes the idea of looking and feeling beautiful. She wants her customers to feel as beautiful as a beauty pageant winner. "It's so fun to see girls look so feminine," she says.
Sayra meets regularly with a group of women who call themselves "The Wedding Women." Each started her own wedding-related business. As a group, they hold each other accountable for honesty and also pray for one another, as the majority attend the same church.
They work on ideas to reach out to the community. A few years ago, they presented a tea and fashion show for the enjoyment of senior citizens at Brittany Park. The women's current goal is to help other women outside their group to have the confidence and courage to start their own business and know they can do it.
So--the date is set and you've got the wedding gown in Italian satin. Now you need to order a cake. And call a calligrapher to design the invitations. A fancy tea party for your bridesmaids would be nice.
The wedding women are available to fix you up with all of these.