Fashion Friday: Custom or Not? That is the question…
Posted by Kate. Filed under Wedding Dress

Remember our gorgeous bride, Jennifer, from yesterday?  She’s a style blogger {over here} and she wrote us a little post about her adventures having a custom gown made!  She looked totally fab, so of course we wanted to know how she got the look!

When You Can’t Find the Perfect Wedding Dress…

By: Jennifer King

For me, finding the perfect wedding dress was like putting a bunch of puzzle pieces together. Imagine a Pinterest inspiration board full of dozens of gowns, each one completely different and perfect for a variety of unique reasons. But while each dress was perfect in its own way, it only represented a piece of what I wanted for my own gown. I was essentially building an imaginary dress out of beautiful gowns that weren’t quite the perfect fit for me.

I finally got the idea to go custom after looking around for more handmade wedding inspiration on Etsy. I found a handful of designers and small business owners looking to connect with DIY brides to make their perfect wedding gowns. While the options, price points, and policies varied, I ultimately decided that I needed to find a designer to work with locally. I needed more one-on-one time with the designer and preferred to have a meet and greet with someone before making the financial (and emotional) investment. Luckily, Austin, Texas, is full of creatives, including fashion designers, so I only had to inquire with a of couple local boutique owners before I found the perfect young lady to turn my dream wedding dress into a reality.

But what about you? Maybe you’re a bride going through the same thing–you have a style and theme you’re going for on the big day. You have a picture in your head of what you should look like as a bride. You’ve scoured the Internet and tried on gowns, but you just aren’t seeing it. Oh, and you’re on a budget.

You may already be thinking about going the custom route. If so, that’s great! Creating a custom wedding gown can be wonderful, creatively fulfilling, and somewhat stressful, so keep some of the following tips in mind. I hope sharing parts of my experience will help prepare you for the process.


Advice no. 1: Go Shopping.  Whether it’s vintage-inspired, princess, empire, or mermaid, you may already see yourself in a certain style of gown for your wedding day. But you can’t be sure until you try it on for yourself. Make an appointment with a bridal salon to try on the gowns you think are perfect for you. This will open your mind to other options or help reaffirm the style you have your heart set on. Either way, it’s important to have a solid vision and style down before meeting with your designer.


Advice no. 2: Do Your Research, and Talk to People.  I did lots of investigating before committing to one designer. Etsy is a beautiful community full of artists and wedding gown designers, and several will stand out to you. Study the designs, read the reviews, and contact the designers. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to reach out to local designers or boutique owners for recommendations. Also, sometimes it’s refreshing to see examples of a designer’s work in person. Visit boutiques that carry work by local designers to get a sense of their craftsmanship and style. Once you have one or two designers in mind, request a phone call or in-person meeting to start the process of getting to know each other.


Advice no. 3: Talk Specifics. Be sure to discuss a few things during your initial conversation:

Budget. Be honest about the budget you’re working with. Your designer will be responsible for giving you a quote once you’ve decided on a final design and fabric choices. But this is the time to be open and blunt about what you’re working with budget-wise.

Vision. Do whatever you can to share your vision of the big day with your designer.  Share your inspiration board, dress designs that you love, or other details that you already have planned for your wedding day. The more details you can share the better.

Process. Ask you designer about his or her process, from sketches to selecting fabric swatches to fittings to the final product, so expectations can be set accordingly.

Communication. Every designer and bride is different as far as communication preferences go. Be sure to discuss this with your designer so you’re both on the same page. For example, how often do you, as the bride, want updates on the status of the dress? Talk about this stuff before the process begins to avoid surprises down the road.


Advice no. 4: Be Patient. The length of time between the initial meeting with your designer to the final fitting can be long, up to several months even. So it’s important to be patient and have a clear understanding of the designer’s timeline for your gown.


I wish you the best of luck as you search for the perfect wedding gown or designer! If you have additional questions about my experience, you can find me over on If I Must Say So.


Editor’s Note:  Jennifer’s gown was designed by Rachelle Briton

All Photos by  Katherine O’Brien Photography

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