So….there you are….in the bridal shop…..trying on yet ANOTHER wedding gown. For some reason the masterpiece of silk, tulle, and lace that you envisioned since you were 10 years old has yet to present itself and step forward from the massive unending closet of gowns. I swear bridal shops are like the Mary Poppins carpet bag of wedding gowns! You’re sitting there in a shop about 10 feet by 15 feet…just big enough to fit you, your swirling mass of fabric, and maybe a few members of your wedding entourage…yet the consultant just keeps bringing them out in an uninterrupted stream of white!
My custom wedding gown, designed by yours truly and sewn by A Special Touch Bridal.
Anyway, the point is, you put this next dress on, and while “yeah…its nice…”, you know in your heart that it still just isn’t “it.” But after 20+ dresses at 4 or 5 stores, you’d think you would have found one by now! Right? You start wondering “What is wrong with me?” Am I destined to be dressless forever? And then you start wondering….”if only I could have the neckline of Dress 2 from Shop 1, and the train of Dress 1 from Shop 3, and the fabric of Dress 4 from Shop 2….” You get the idea. Tell me you haven’t thought it!
Well, the good news is, you can! This is the exact same scenario I ran into when I got married! (Yes, wedding photographers DO get married ladies). Lucky for me, I am attentive to details, and recalled a very nice lady at a little shop in Mufreesboro TN who had said that she was a seamstress and did all of her own alterations. So as I sat there piecing together my “frankestein dress” in my head, my thoughts came back to her, and I wondered if perhaps she might be able to make it for me?
So here is my word of advice on gown purchases…don’t be afraid to have your gown custom made. If you are like me and could not find anything that was just absolutely perfect, and/or you don’t want to have the same old dress that every other bride wears, AND (or) you know of a top designer gown for $10,000 that surely won’t fit in your budget (me!), why not design the thing yourself? It isn’t as hard as it seems, nor is it as expensive as you’d think. And no, you don’t need sewing experience or clothing design experience. For me, I knew what I wanted in my head, so I sketched it out, grabbed photos of gowns I’d tried on that incorporated elements that I liked, and – being a photographer and graphic designer capable of doing this – put them on the computer and created a composite image of the best features from each gown, until I had it looking pretty close to what I wanted. I took this dress mockup, along with the original images from which it had been produced, to the very seamstress who I’d remembered from my visit to her shop. Actually, her name is Deanie at “A Special Touch Bridal”….she is located in Murfreesboro and she’s absolutely amazing. I had originally been at her place looking at Maggie Sottero gowns. When I’d called her up to inquire into my little project, sure enough, she did make custom gowns!
I was able to choose my own fabric, which was great because I was looking for something very specific…that champagne silk taffetta, and I needed a lot of it…the cathedral we got married in is huge, so I was taking full advantage with the royal train! I loved the “bustle-y” look, but didn’t want really symmetrical “pick ups” and I think you can see I got exactly what I wanted! The finished product was a combination of five different dress designs from Maggie Sottero, Bonnie, St Pucchi (the true inspiration behind the need to go custom!) and a few others although the names escape me at moment. I even had enough money in my budget for some exquisite lace applique that just made the gown absolutely PERFECT! This lace is normally $125 a yard, and because I was paying cost for my fabrics, I got the best deal possible by ordering through Deanie. Having this lace on a commercially prepared dress would have made it a premium offering and probably out of budget. All said and done, I spent $1100 on my custom gown. I had originally budgeted about $800, and could have stayed within that had I not added the expensive lace, but it was worth it.
So not only did I end up with the gown of my dreams, it was fitted exactly to me, with several fittings to get it just right, I got to pick every little piece of it until I was absolutely happy, and I have a gown like absolutely NO ONE ELSE in the world. Needless to say, we won’t be “trashing” this dress ever! Now I know it is cliche to think that one’s daughter might someday wear one’s dress, but at least in my case, the thought is a little more concerting since it is truly a custom work of art.
Considering I spent LESS than most of the gowns I had tried on at the stores, and got more than I expected, you couldn’t ask for a better outcome.