Why choose a custom gown?
This post is part one of a series on the ins-and-outs of ordering a custom wedding dress.
For most of our clients, their wedding is a huge milestone in their life and comes with a unique vision. Every couple has a different dream wedding. Some couples want beautiful cathedral weddings with 500 guests, and others want an intimate, cozy backyard wedding with only friends and family. No matter the style, each wedding holds a great emotional significance in the memory of the couples and guests.
Some brides buy off the rack out of convenience, as it can be easier and less stressful to drive over to the nearest wedding boutique and find a dress there. Other brides get the whole nine yards, complete with five-figure designer dress, royal train, and veil. The brides in between search for their dream dress without sacrificing other components of their wedding, and often get custom-made dresses.
Wearing a custom wedding dress means that your gown is unique; no other bride in the world will have a dress quite like yours. It also means that even through the rush of wedding stress and compromising on event venues, catering, and guest list, you have the power to ensure that your dress is exactly to your specifications, down to fabric color, embellishments, and body measurements.
A bride’s wedding dress is often the biggest part of her wedding. A great dress will flatter her, put the spotlight on her, and give her the confidence to get through a stressful day without worrying about how she looks. An amazing dress will jumpstart that “wow” moment when she enters the room and make her groom’s eyes light up. And after the wedding is over, the dress continues to hold significance in wedding photos as a memory of a beautiful day.
We’ll be helping demystify the process of buying a custom wedding dress, from choosing a designer, deciding on a wedding dress design, and understanding the overall cost of a custom wedding gown in the next few blog posts, so stay tuned!
How do I choose the right designer?
Most brides who choose to search for a dress online instead of in person are worried about purchasing such an important part of their wedding sight unseen. They’re not sure if the designer is legitimate, if they have the budget for a custom dress, if the dress will make it in time for the wedding, or if the dress will look good in real life and pictures.
Every bride has heard the horror story of ordering a beautiful dress based off some pictures and receiving a cheap knockoff of the dress or a completely different dress than she expected. The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is by doing a little online sleuthing. Look for clear pictures of the designer’s work on their website, in magazines, and Instagram to see if their product photos match the action shots.
Another important part of finding a trustworthy designer is to read customer reviews. It’s a good idea to stay away from designers with many negative reviews, but it’s not always good to trust a designer who only has overly positive, vague reviews. If you feel comfortable reaching out, talk to a customer who shared pictures of her wedding day and ask her for her honest review of the designer as well as tips for ordering your own custom wedding dress. Most people are happy to share their experience and help other brides create a perfect wedding day.
The question of cost and timeline is easy to answer. Some designers have their costs and turnaround times up on their websites and others you will have to ask. No good designer will ever evade your question — they might ask you for a little more detail in order to price your order accurately, but once they get all the necessary information, they will provide you with a quote and time frame so you know what to expect. It’s okay to shop around; designers would rather have you be happy with a different seller than have a stressed-out, anxious customer on their hands.
Just like buying anything online, you could end up with something that looks good on the model but doesn’t look good on your body. In order to minimize the chances of this happening, we recommend going into a bridal boutique and trying on some gowns to understand what shapes, styles, and colors look good on your body, then think about what design you want. This also helps you get inspiration for your perfect bridal look.
Finally, if you haven’t already gotten in touch with the designer with your ideas, now is the time to do so and see how they respond. A wedding dress designer’s job is to help you achieve your perfect dress, and communication plays a big role in making your dress a reality. Are they excited to work with you? Do they ask you for more details? Do they understand your expectations, budget, and timeline, and are they clear about theirs? A good designer will be up front about their costs and timeline and be clear about understanding your needs and managing expectations. If you are confident in their abilities and communication, you’re already halfway to the wedding dress of your dreams.
How should I design my dream wedding dress?
There are many factors that play a role in the design of a wedding dress: the neckline, sleeve type, train length, dress style, color, embellishment, and more. We’ll talk about some of the most common style choices in this post, so you’ll be equipped with the right terminology to create your dream dress.
If you’re going for a glamorous look for your wedding, we recommend an illusion neckline with embroidery or appliqué. For a classy, romantic and timeless look, we love the V-neck, off-the-shoulder, and sweetheart necklines. We recommend trying on some different dresses to see which necklines flatter your figure — for example, an off-the-shoulder dress will look divine on a bride with narrow shoulders, but may draw a harsh line across another bride’s broad shoulders and flatten her overall silhouette.
Sleeves and straps:
Here at Dream Dresses by P.M.N, we love using straps to accessorize dresses. Straps offer another avenue for customization — many brides choose to add lace or beads to their straps for a personal touch, or make the back of the dress extra strappy for a laced-up look. If you opt for straps, be mindful when considering their width and texture; straps that are too narrow or wide may end up unbalancing the look.
Many modern dress styles are either sleeveless or entirely strapless, but we find that some brides like to wear sleeves for a unique look. Short sleeves can add a touch of carefree fun to the overall look, and full lace sleeves add an air of elegance to an ensemble. If you opt for an illusion neckline, you can ask the designer to add illusion sleeves for a pop of lace, embroidery, or sparkle along your arms.
The train of a dress is an integral part of the wedding look. No matter the length of the train, make sure you add the height of your heels to your overall body measurements, or you might end up with a dress that doesn’t sweep past your feet as much as you’d like it to. A long, sweeping train with lace embellishments will add a royal and elegant feel to the dress, but can be heavy to walk or dance in — and might turn a trip to the ladies' room into a four-woman expedition. But the beauty of designing your custom wedding gown is that you don’t have to compromise. One thing we like to do when we design wedding gowns for our brides is to add a detachable train. With a detachable train, our brides have the flexibility to choose between two different looks; like a decadent frothy lace and tulle train for the ceremony and a lighter, swishier gown for drawing the eye and dancing the rest of the night away.
In our 6 years in the industry, we’ve noticed that most brides trend towards mermaid dresses or ball gowns for their romantic vibe and ability to flatter almost every body type. However, if you don’t like either of those dress types or you want to wear a more unique look on your wedding day, other styles are equally as beautiful. If you’re throwing a relaxed, intimate party and just want to dance the night away with your loved ones, we recommend a shorter, tea length dress. If you’re going for simple, timeless glamor, we recommend column dresses for simple, timeless glamor. And remember to think about the back of the dress! There are tons of elegant back styles that you can choose to highlight or flatter your back — cowl and deep V backs can add a little sex appeal to your wedding look. We also love the quiet beauty of a portrait back if you’re a little insecure — these styles often incorporate layers of lace or tulle to obscure your back while creating a romantic silhouette.
It’s important to remember that no couture clothing made without multiple in-person fittings is going to fit perfectly out of the box. At Dream Dresses by PMN, we recommend that customers talk to a well-respected local tailor to discuss their plans, take their measurements, and help with the final fitting and alterations once they receive their custom gown. Having a local tailor help with the last fitting also means that there will be someone to teach you how to put a wedding dress on — some dress styles are extremely form-fitting with very little wiggle room, and they can be difficult to put on without the right technique.
Many prospective clients plan to lose weight before their wedding and give their designer their ideal, post-weight loss measurements, but we strongly suggest ordering a dress based off your current tailor-taken measurements. Planning a wedding is stressful enough without obsessing over the scale, and you can’t guarantee that you’ll lose the exact weight you want in the exact place you want it. If you end up losing more weight in one area than another, you might end up with a dress you can’t sit down in, eat in, or worse. Instead, we suggest talking to your friends and your designer about the areas you want to enhance or hide to figure out which styles flatter your figure. That way, you can let the dress do the work of looking good on your big day, and you can enjoy the wedding with one less thing to worry about.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment down below, or contact us HERE! *Stay tuned for part 2 of Custom Wedding Dresses 101!*