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“Creating Your Custom Gown”

Selection from “Creating Your Custom Gown” originally featured on
Spring/Summer 2004

0497If buying a car for a man is an emotional, exciting and sometimes expensive purchase for him, then the correlating purchase for a woman must be the purchase of her wedding gown. To help take some of the mystery out of the the search for the perfect gown, following are some suggestions…


Look at magazines. Current magazines will indicate the latest available styles. Determine your likes/dislikes in terms of silhouettes; keep your eyes open for special details. Consider that the gowns you see in magazines may be the catalyst for designing something even more creative and beautiful!


Pay attention to fabric, cut, fit – learn why one is a $700 dress vs. a $7000 gown. Be open minded, do try on a variety of gowns. Do NOT get talked into buying a dress (by the salesperson, your mother or best friend) if it’s not absolutely perfect. After all, you can have EXACTLY what you want, if you have it designed for you.


If you HAVE to have the $7000 gown that your budget forbids, maybe you can rearrange your budget, i.e., get less expensive flowers, music, food…often with a custom gown, you can have the perfect gown while you control the cost.

Remember, of everything from the wedding, your gown, ring and photos are generally the only items you take home (along, of course, with your groom!) So keep in mind that whether your gown is $500 or $15000, it should be one you are excited about.

Frey-001One way to be truly excited about your gown is to have it custom designed – a couture gown will fit and flatter your figure and personality in the way an off-the-rack gown can only dream about! If you are going to consider couture, again, do your research.

Go to the internet, ask for referrals, visit studios/shops. Inspect the quality of the work and fabrics presented. Find out if you must provide your own fabrics or whether you may purchase it under the auspices of the shop. Is the work done on site or off premises? Ask questions. Determine if you are comfortable with the person you will be working with… do you prefer a designer/collaborator or designer/dictator? Do ask for an estimate. Does it include fittings? Fabric? Trims? Pressing? Taxes? Shipping?

Discuss costs. Be honest/realistic about your budget. Most designers require a deposit with final payment due prior to delivery. If your budget is generous allow the designer some creativity; if stringent, be honest and let him or her know so that they will present you with realistic ideas for your gown. There are many ways to increase or decrease the cost of a gown depending upon the fabrics, trims and styles chosen, so don’t assume that the estimate you receive is unalterable. Remember that the gown being designed for you is one-ofa-kind and so may not be less expensive than that found off-therack (although it could be)… but it will certainly be more perfect for you!


Designing is a very logical process which produces the most magical of gowns… during the consultation you will choose fabric, discuss silhouettes, ideas, details (your figure, personality, the location and date of the event will all influence the design of your gown). Measurements are taken and a muslin (fabric pattern) is made from which necklines are cut and waistlines determined. The muslin fabric dress allows you to draw in design lines so that you know exactly where each dart, tuck and pleat will go. You become part of the process as you see/try on/alter and change the muslin before it gets cut in silk… you influence the design of it even as it evolves from sketch to muslin to finished perfection!


1. They hate to shop or don’t want to waste their time shopping.
2. They want better design and quality than that found off-the-rack
3. Their time is too limited – they need the dress in three months or three days. OR
4. They have already been to 32 stores in three states, tried on 75 dresses and none of them were “quite right.”

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