Most brides visit multiple bridal salons in their search for their dream wedding dress. But even after trying on dozens of designs, some brides still have trouble finding "the one." They might know exactly what they want but can’t seem to find it off the rack. Or, they might have no idea what kind of dress they’re looking for and need some help defining their style and conceptualizing their dream dress from start to finish.
For brides struggling to find the perfect wedding dress, a custom gown might be the right solution. Brides can work hand-in-hand with a designer to personalize the style, cut, fabric, and all the additional details. Inspired by your own vision and handmade made just for you, a custom wedding dress is a beautiful, bespoke process that results in a truly one-of-a-kind bridal gown.
We consulted with wedding dress designer Linda Asaf to get the lowdown on everything you need to know about creating a custom bridal masterpiece.
Meet the Expert
Linda Asaf is a custom wedding dress designer based in Austin, Texas. She began her professional career running a national fashion company in New York City before launching her own line in 2007. She honed her fashion design skills by learning from the best in the industry, including Vera Wang, Bill Blass, and Badgley Mischka, and studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
The Process of Creating a Custom Wedding Dress
The first step in creating a custom wedding dress is a consultation with your designer. You can find a custom wedding dress designer by asking your wedding planner or any of your vendors for their recommendations, or by doing your own research online. Take a look at the custom gowns they’ve created and make sure their style compliments yours.
At the initial consultation, the designer will gather some initial information about your wedding, like the theme, color palette, venue, and time of year. “We also discuss elements a bride definitely wants in a dress and, just as important, things she definitely doesn’t want,” says Linda. “A Pinterest inspiration board is a good idea too, as a picture is worth a thousand words, and sometimes the bride may not know how to technically explain the elements she wants in a dress.”
An in-person consultation is also an opportunity to assess the bride’s body type, which is helpful in making recommendations for silhouettes that work best for different body types.
After this initial meeting, Linda creates a fashion illustration of design options for the bride to choose from. “We work to modify the designs, if necessary, so the final look delivers on the bride’s vision for her wedding,” says Linda. Once a final design is pinned down, Linda takes over 50 body measurements to develop patterns with the right fit. “After that, we create a mockup, which is used to fine-tune the fit and allow the bride to see how the dress is going to look on her,” says Linda. “It’s a great opportunity to make any changes before producing the gown.”
Finally, Linda takes her design, measurements, fabric selections, and embroidery to create a one-of-a-kind wedding gown. The dress will typically require 2-3 fittings to perfect the shape before the bride walks down the aisle in her original creation.
Custom Wedding Dress Cost
As with any bridal gown, the cost depends on the complexity of the design and the cost of the raw materials. When creating a custom wedding dress, the sky is the limit, but that doesn’t mean every bride has to shoot for the moon. If you have a specific budget in mind, the designer can also make recommendations based on your budget. “A lot of times, brides think dollar signs when they think of having a custom dress made but a good designer can help you target a design and fabrics based on your budget,” says Linda.
One very important factor to consider is that the cost of a custom gown typically already includes costs for alterations. A gown in a traditional salon may be within your budget off the rack, but alterations can be a significant added expense to get it to fit just right. It’s something to consider, as a custom dress can be more price-competitive than you think vs. a ready-made gown including alterations.
“One priceless advantage of a custom wedding gown is that, for my clients, their designs are unique and only for them never to be reproduced for anyone else,” says Linda. “It’s a beautiful expression of their own personal style and another unparalleled keepsake memory.”
Custom Wedding Dress Timeline
The timeline for a custom wedding dress is completely dependent on the designer’s pipeline of work. The busier the designer, the longer the turnaround. The average is 3-6 months, but many designers will tell you the sooner, the better.
Custom fabrics and embroidery can extend this timeline, so make sure to talk with your designer ahead of time to ensure all materials can be made and shipped with plenty of time to spare.
All that being said, some designers do have the flexibility to create a custom wedding dress at a moment’s notice. Linda has created a wedding dress from start to finish in as little as three weeks! If you’re in a pinch, working directly with a designer can save the day and give you the dress of your dreams.
Custom Wedding Dress Tips
- The options are truly endless. Many designers who have been making custom gowns for years have existing relationships with couture lace houses and fabric mills around the world, so work with your designer to determine the fit and feel of the gown of your dreams. Now is the time to dream big, so do your research, ask questions, and experiment with different cuts, colors, and fabrics.
- Be adventurous. Anything and everything is possible when creating a custom wedding gown, so don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. You might fall in love with a silhouette or style you never thought to consider!
- Have faith. A good designer will manage the bride’s expectations. The process should be a fun, joy-filled, and memorable part of the wedding. Trust your designer to execute your vision and make your dream wedding dress a reality.