Before you start the custom process, it's important to have a good idea of what you want to wear. Grab some friends whose fashion sense you trust and go shopping! You do not need to go to a bridal shop if you don't want to - the major department stores have evening wear in many styles, and that's what you are looking for: silhouettes that flatter your body and suit your personal tastes. (And hey - maybe you aren't looking for evening wear at all, right?)
2. Be Prepared for Your Consultation.
Now that you have an idea of what shapes make you feel gorgeous, start gathering images that inspire you. Pull them from magazines, browse Pinterest, and don't forget to check out galleries from designers you are considering. Bring these photos to give your designer a visual reference; she or he will want to know what you like (and dislike!) in order to come up with an original design that's perfect for you. You don't have to be settled on every little detail at your consultation, but do come with at least a general idea of style and color as a starting point. Your designer wants to get to know your personal style and create something unique to you; if you don't know what you want yet, hold off on a consultation until you do.
Figure out what your budget is, if you haven't already, and contact your top choices to find out if that meshes with their general price range for similar styles. (Since you're going for something custom, don't expect a firm price until you've settled on the design.) All the design talk is fun, but don't forget to find out the logistical details of payment deadlines, fitting schedules, and when you can expect each phase to be completed before you leave.
3. If You Don't Know, Ask.
You wouldn't be having a garment made if you knew everything about sewing and fabrics already, so don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you have! Your designer will be happy to explain all the details to you, from design choices to inner support structures to fabric selections and more.
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4. Speak Up, Early and Often.
Remember - this is YOUR custom design - and everyone involved wants you to be over-the-moon happy with the results! If at any time, you don't like the way something is looking or fitting, or you just change your mind, let your designer know right away. Changes can almost always be accommodated, though they may increase the cost of your garment, especially in the later stages of the process.
5. Save the Party for the Wedding.
Trusted friends and family members can be great assets in the design phase, but it's best to leave them behind once construction on your garment begins. Your designer has specific goals to accomplish in each of your fittings, and it's difficult to do that efficiently with your posse around. The hardest thing you'll need to do is stand still while things are pinned - and it's nearly impossible to do so if you are involved in animated conversation about how fabulous you're going to look! Keep them updated with photos throughout the process (most designers will be happy to snap some for you) or keep them in suspense until the big day. If there is a specific reason you want someone with you at a fitting, check with the designer before bringing them along.
6. A Note on Undergarments and Shoes.
The bra and shoes you wear can make a drastic difference to how your garment will fit and hang. Discuss your choices with your designer before any fittings happen, and then bring them to every fitting. If at any point you are considering a change to either of these items, let your designer know right away - it may be necessary to stop work and re-fit things with your new selections.
Thanks so much to our friends at Crafty Broads for giving us these amazing tips! Drawing from over 30 years of experience, the Craft Broads team brings a collaborative perspective to creating an event or a garment that is perfectly tailored to each couple. From custom garments, restyles, and alterations to its full range of wedding planning services, Crafty Broads takes care of it all. Call Crafty Broads at 773-274-9775 or visit craftybroads.com for more information.
Would you rock a custom gown? Let us know in the comments!