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Your engagement and the process of beginning to plan your wedding may feel surreal, but brides often find that finding their perfect wedding dress is the moment when reality sets in. However, finding the ideal gown isn't always as simple as reality television would have you believe. So, what's a bride to do if she can't find a look off-the-rack? Here, custom bridal gown designers Angelo Lambrou and Carol Hannah Whitfield fill in the blanks regarding how to design the custom wedding dress of your dreams.
First, allow yourself to daydream about wedding looks you adore and how they might contribute to your ideal gown. "Why settle for a cookie-cutter dress that you can find anywhere when you can have a dress designed specifically for you and with your own unique style in mind?" Lambrou asks his brides.
After you've figured out a vision of your dream gown, it's time to find the designer who best fits your design needs. Lambrou recommends choosing your designer based on their personality as well as their aesthetic, explaining, "The time frame from start to finish is usually six to nine months, so make sure that your designer and their team are folks you will enjoy working with."
Lambrou insists that the first design appointment you schedule should be more play than work. Whitfield recommends attending your appointment armed with aesthetic questions already answered. "My first questions when meeting with a bride about a custom gown are usually, 'What are you looking for that you aren't finding? Are there any things that you definitely want or do not want in your gown?'" Whitfield explains. Knowing the answers to these questions before you walk into your first appointment will help your designer achieve your ultimate bridal look. "It is important to have clear guidelines about what you want or it will quickly become overwhelming," Whitfield says. Designers will often provide dress samples to test in order to zero in on what stylistic elements appeal most to the bride. The first appointment will yield a sketch by the designer, and begin the process of transforming the bride's sartorial vision into a reality.
After an initial sketch has been created, Lambrou explains, the prototype phase will begin. "Your designer will first create a 'muslin' which is a mock version of your gown, made of a much less expensive fabric and usually consisting of just the top part of the garment," he elaborates. If the fit and style are to a bride's liking, work can begin on the real gown.
Once a muslin has been fabricated and approved, the bride's work is essentially done. Designers will call the bride in for dress fittings, which Lambrou stresses are essential to constructing a custom gown. "Each fitting is extremely important as this is where you gown is nipped and tucked to perfection."
After several fittings and months of painstaking attention to detail, a bride will walk down the aisle in her completely customized wedding dress to complement her perfect day.