Is having a wedding dress made expensive and how does it work?
Tina Waller is a wedding dress designer based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. Tina has been designing bridal gowns for over 25 years, and offers a truly unique experience, working with you to design your own wedding dress.
“When I see a Bride for alterations, one of the most common questions I get asked is "I never thought about having my dress made", I ask why and they usually say "I thought it would be too expensive".
Today's Brides do not even seem to consider exploring all the options. Some even say "I didn't know you could have a wedding dress made".
It’s amazing how affordable and easy it is to get your wedding dress made. In this article, Tina answers the most important questions you might have when thinking about getting your wedding dress made.
It’s all about our ideas - the 1st appointment
The first appointment is free. I talk through with the Bride all her ideas, I suggest some and we bounce all the ideas around! I sometimes do very rough sketches, to show for example, a neckline, a sleeve shape, skirt shape, etc. We go through fabric samples and discuss your budget. I explain how the costs work, e.g. why some detailing is more expensive to do and how to achieve a lower cost. The Bride can look at some of my sample dresses and also see other work that is in progress. She is not there to try on dresses as with an ordinary Bridal Shop! We will then make a second appointment.
Sketches and fabrics - the 2nd appointment
I will have prepared sketches (usually between 5 & 10) all based on the ideas we discussed at the first appointment. The Bride will look through them, discard any that she doesn't like. All the time I am there to describe and help. With the remanding sketches we mix and match until we have a 'basic' design coming through, we look at fabrics again as necessary. I can give a clearer idea of costs involved. I do not expect the Bride to commit at this stage, many do, but some need longer and that's fine.
Before the 3rd appointment I will send a detailed costing usually via email and on this will be details about deposits and how to pay.
Once I have received the deposit, which is usually a third of the cost, we can get going.
I will need to see the Bride for measurements and I usually do a final design sketch, although this is only to show where we have got to so far and we have enough detail for me to make a toile.
Toile fitting – the 3rd appointment?
The Toile. I will have made a basic version of the chosen style for the bride to try on, this is in a fabric of similar weight to the ones I will use. I can pin and cut to get the fit right, sometimes I will draw on the fabric too to show new seam lines or re-positioning of others. We check important design points, e.g. is the neckline too high or too low, is the shape/ silhouette of the skirt how the Bride imagined. Again I advise all the way. Most of the time I will have ordered in sample pieces of the fabrics we might be using to help the Bride decide.
The toile is really moving the sketch onto the body, it is very flexible and we can make drastic changes at this stage, the Bride is fully in control.
We choose the fabrics and I will then order them, this is a comfort to many Brides as at the toile fitting they can look in the mirror and see (with my help) where the fabric will be, i.e. how much of the body/dress will be covered in satin, lace, etc. We can then drape the fabric on the body, and pin different trimming’s on too.............whatever helps with choice.
Testing different fabrics – the 4th appointment
I sometimes make a second toile with all the alterations having been done so the Bride can see the changes and I can re-check everything through. It's better to try out different things in the cheaper fabric of the toile before cutting into the real deal! Brides usually like all these stages so they can see their dress progress.
All the other fittings (usually 3)
The Wedding Dress is made up in stages, there’s even a chance to change bits and pieces even at
these fittings. I can pin trimmings & decoration onto the dress so the Bride can see and explore different ideas. Every fitting is progress, and this means the Bride can usually make one big decision at a time, complete control! And great fun!!
I often get asked "supposing I don't like it when it's finished?", but if they think truly about all the stages in the making up process they can soon see that wouldn't be an issue.
When the dress is 'looking' like their dress they can start looking at accessories, i.e. veils & head pieces.
The final fitting
I advise a final fitting somewhere between 1 & 3 weeks before the wedding. One of the things I explain to a Bride if she is concerned it's so close to the big day is that 'what's the point of having a 100% finished dress hanging up at home if it doesn't fit on the big day!'. Lots of Brides prefer to actually leave collecting their dress until a day or two before 'The Big Day'. I am happy to do this and I have the storage room after all.
Some may think what a lot of fittings! but they all take place over the months leading up to the big day, you won’t be camping out at the studio! I have yet to meet a Bride that doesn't like lots of contact with her very special dress.
With having an off the peg dress you have to order that many months in advance but it won’t arrive until close to the Wedding and some Brides even forget what they have ordered!
When should I start looking for my wedding dress?
So whether you choose a wedding dress designed and made especially for you or buying readymade you still have to start and place orders months in advance. I like to start the ball rolling about 7 to 9 months before the big day. There are really busy times in the wedding season and slower at others, always explore all the options well in advance to get the best information.