By Julie Davidson
More and more brides-to-be are turning to wedding dress makers to ensure they look gorgeous on their special day, for many different reasons. Enlisting the help of a higher-end salon for a custom-designed gown will ensure their dress is perfect in style and fit.
Perhaps you've seen a gown that is almost perfect, but you want a different neckline, or a shorter train, or a different fabric. Perhaps you're pregnant, and would like to have a gown that will be able to accommodate your changing body. You'll pay a bit more for these options, but having the perfect wedding dress and feeling beautiful on your special day is worth the expense.
Most wedding dresses aren't custom per se. A wedding dress maker, or designer, will have a line of dress styles from which to choose. After an hour or so long consultation where you decide on a gown style and get measurements taken, a prototype of your gown is made up out of muslin.
The wedding dress maker will use this sample dress to fit the gown to your exact measurements by marking the dress and pinning the fabric in the right spot.
The marked up version then goes back to the shop where they begin to create your wedding dress. When the final version is done, you'll need to have it fitted once again. If there are still alterations to be made, another fitting may need to be arranged.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and your wedding dress won't be completed in a day, either. Expect a time frame of five to twelve months to create your gown, depending on how many changes you make to the original design. Your fittings will be scheduled within this time frame, with the last fitting taking place about two weeks before your wedding date.
If you're planning on losing weight before your wedding, make sure you tell your wedding dress maker at your consultation so she can take that into consideration. Once the dress is sized and fitted to you, changes can add time to the completion of the dress and take money away from your budget.
If you're in a rush to get married and need a gorgeous gown sooner, most wedding dress makers will accommodate you. Expect to pay 15-25% more for the rush order. You could also consider buying a sample gown that the wedding dress maker has in stock and having them tailor it to your needs. It won't be customized to your tastes, but it's a step above an off-the-rack gown in a department store.
Knowing how much you'll be paying and when will help you settle your budget, if you have one. Schedules of payment may differ between different wedding dress makers, but in all cases expect to pay a deposit at your consultation and the balance when picking up your wedding dress.
Most designers work in thirds of the price of the completed gown - a deposit can be about a 1/3 of the total price. The next instalment of 1/3 will be paid at the first fitting, while the balance will be paid at the second fitting.
There are lots of little girls who imagine exactly what their dress will look like when they get married. Unfortunately, these girlish dreams often fail to take a short stature or wide hips into consideration.
Different body shapes don't suit every style of dress. Your wedding dress maker will be able to help you choose the style of gown that will help to disguise faults and play up your strongest features so you are a vision of loveliness on your wedding day.
Some thoughts to consider:
Do you want to look taller?
A high waistline, such as an empire waist, helps to give the illusion of height as well as makes you look thinner.
More looking tall tips:
Detail around the hemline and neckline, such as embroidery or beadwork, draw the eye up and down the dress, making you look taller.
Do you want more curves?
Heavier fabrics such as satin or velvet help to add curves in all the right places. You can also opt for a wedding dress with a gathered waist, a wider bodice and narrow sleeves.
Do you want to look thinner?
Besides an empire waist you can try a Princess style gown or an A-line wedding dress.
Do you want to hide wide hips?
Try a flared or A-line skirt. You'll also want to go for a gown with bodice detail such as embroidery or beading to draw the viewer's eye up and away from your trouble zone.
Sheath, ball gown style, and mermaid style are great choices for a very slender bride.
In order to make sure your wedding dress will fit you properly, you need to have your accessories ready. At your consultation you'll want to ask about lingerie and shoes, as your wedding dress maker will be able to suggest styles to choose from. They may also have these items for sale in their shop.
You will need to have already bought your shoes so that the wedding dress maker has an idea of the hemline length. If you need to change your shoes for some reason you'll want to inform the wedding dress maker so they can make the appropriate changes to your wedding dress.
Most wedding dress makers will give you instructions on the care of your wedding gown so it remains pristine and perfect until you walk down the aisle.
Make sure you take your Matron Of Honour or Wedding Consultant with you to your last fitting so they can learn how to fasten your wedding dress to avoid needless fabric accidents like stepping on your train, or a lost button.
You'll also want to follow the directions to preserve it afterwards, so you can hand it down to your daughter for her wedding.
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