Published August 23rd, 2011

If you’ve heard of Sandi McKeen, you probably got word from a friend, loved one or acquaintance who appreciates couture fashion. If you haven’t, you’re about to be let in on one of the best-kept secrets in Maine’s wedding world.

Sandi has built a reputation over 20+ years as a skilled couturier with sophisticated yet uncomplicated designs, from gowns and suits to mother-of-the-bride fashions and one-of-a-kind accessories. “Simple elegance,” is how she describes her style. “I don’t get into a lot of beading and ruffling.”

Sandi, who lives just around the corner in Stockton Springs, outfitted our very own Jessika Brooks for her winter wedding in 2008. Jessika wore a long ivory cape over a strapless dress, augmented by a chocolate brown alpaca bolero jacket, while her bridesmaids donned cashmere capes and the men sported matching scarves. Sandi’s become known for her boleros, in no small part thanks to the striking marigold-yellow one she crafted for the high-profile wedding of Gita Pullapilly and Aron Gaudet, locally famous documentary film producers.

Sandi got her start at a downtown Bangor alterations shop, where she sewed and stitched designer clothing for custom fittings. “By taking things apart, I saw how they were put together,” she says. Sandi later started her own business, and to this day she remains in demand despite doing no advertising and lacking a website. “I never ever have,” Sandi says. “It’s all word of mouth that clients come to me.” Still, just recently a bride from San Francisco managed to track her down, and a short time ago Sandi finished a distinctive wool coat gown for a New York bride. “I’ve never been caught up. I guess that’s a sign that my work is good,” she says, chuckling. Just ask Karen Baldacci, the wife of former Maine Governor John Baldacci, who wore Sandi’s designs to both her husband’s inauguration and President Obama’s 2009 swearing-in.

Right now, Sandi’s outfitting a local mother-of-the-bride who came home from shopping trips to Boston and New York empty-handed. Sandi, lamenting today’s often dowdy and overly adorned MOB fashions, is making the proud mother a dark grey silk shantung dress trimmed with velvet.

You might think such a skilled seamstress would wear nothing but her own creations, but all the work for clients keeps Sandi too busy. She does have one off-the-rack favorite, however. “I have a love affair with Ralph Lauren,” she says.

Sandi also travels to French’s Point to steam wedding gowns for our brides onsite. She totes along her own equipment and expertly presses wrinkles out of delicate fabrics so brides are picture-perfect on the big day.

If you want Sandi to be part of your special day, here’s her much sought-after contact information. To get in touch with Sandi, call her at 207-567-3477 or email her at couture@fairpoint.net.

The gorgeous yellow bolero was made by Sandi McKeen Couture.