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Most brides visit multiple bridal salons in their search for a dream wedding dress, but even after trying on dozens of designs, many often have trouble finding "the one." Though some brides know exactly what they want, others often have trouble finding a physical representation of the vision they have in their heads. Or, they might have no idea of what kind of dress they’re looking for and need a bit of help defining their style and conceptualizing their dream gown from start to finish.
No matter the situation, for brides struggling to find the perfect look, a custom gown might be the right solution to consider. That's because when creating a bespoke ensemble, brides have the ability to work hand-in-hand with a designer in order to personalize the style, cut, fabric, and all additional details. And inspired by your vision and handmade made just for you, a custom wedding dress is a beautiful and personal process, resulting in a truly one-of-a-kind bridal gown.
Ahead, we consulted with wedding dress designer Linda Asaf to get the lowdown on everything you need to know about creating a custom wedding day masterpiece. Read on to learn more.
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 finding a designer you like and scheduling a consultation. You can either find a designer by asking your wedding planner or friends for recommendations, or by searching the web to find someone that resonates with your personal style.
Once at the initial consultation stage, the designer will then gather some 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 Asaf. “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 shapes and sizes.
Following the consultation, your designer will then create a fashion illustration of design options for you to choose from. “We work to modify the designs, if necessary, so the final look delivers on the bride’s vision for her wedding,” Asaf shares. And once a final look is pinned down, Asaf will take over 50 body measurements to develop patterns with the right fit, and will "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,” she notes. “It’s a great opportunity to make any changes before producing the gown.” Finally, after all the details have been collected (the design, measurements, fabric selections, and embroidery), your designer will get to work.
The Cost of Creating a Custom Wedding Dress
As with any bridal gown, the cost depends on the complexity of the design and the price of raw materials, so there isn't one set price allocated for this process. Therefore, brides should be mindful and aware of their budget when considering a bespoke look. And if you do have a specific budget in mind, be sure to let your designer know as they can make recommendations based on what you're able to spend. “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,” shares Asaf.
Additionally, custom gowns typically include the cost of alterations, which can sometimes result in bespoke dresses being more cost-effective than off-the-rack gowns that require significant changes. “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,” Asaf adds. “It’s a beautiful expression of their own personal style and another unparalleled keepsake memory.”
The Timeline for Creating a Custom Wedding Dress
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. However, on average, it'll likely take three to six months to create your look, but many designers will tell you the exact timing after a few meetings.
That being said, some designers do have the flexibility to create a custom wedding dress at a moment’s notice. Asaf has created a gown 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 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.
- 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, thus, be sure to work closely with your designer to create a look you love. 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, and 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.