Choosing a gown is one of the biggest planning decisions a bride will have to make, so here’s your guide to finding the perfect wedding gown. If you’re just starting out on your search for the gown of your dreams, the task might seem pretty daunting. You’re sure to have dozens of questions: Where do I begin? How much can I expect to pay? How much time should I allow? How do I know what suits me?
To take some of the donkey work out of your dress quest, we’ve researched the range of options available and come up with everything you need to know about employing a designer to create a handmade gown for you: choosing and working with a good dressmaker; buying ready-to-wear and off-the-rack; sewing your own gown; buying a pre-worn gown, or hiring one for the day.
But before you hit the streets, do some prep of your own. Look through magazines, search the internet and establish a clearer idea of what you like and dislike, and what’s more inclined to suit your body type. If you know what you want, you’re already halfway there.
Find your style – narrowing down the options
Make a list of words that describe how you want to feel on your wedding day. Eg.Regal, sophisticated, comfortable, elegant, demure. Look through magazines and familiarise yourself with the various gown-style terms. Learn the difference between an empire-line and a sheath gown, a sweetheart neckline, and a boat neck.
List all the things you absolutely don’t want your gown to have.
Start collecting pictures of gowns you like. Is there a theme? What do they all have in common?
Take a long, hard look at your body. What areas do you want to minimize and what are your assets?
Consider the month and time of day of your wedding. How formal is the occasion? Your dress style will need to be appropriate.
How does it work?
The process of getting a gown created by a designer/couturier varies from designer to designer, but the first step is always an initial consultation, which will take around an hour and usually costs about $100. You’ll discuss the details of your wedding; the month and time of day, degree of formality, location, number of guests, theme, and even the height of the groom. Personality is an important aspect when choosing a gown, so the designer should ask about your likes, dislikes, lifestyle and hobbies to build up a picture of who you are.
After talking about your own ideas and preferences, you’ll usually try on some gowns to establish which styles suit you. You may also look at jewelry and accessories. Expect to leave with your head buzzing with ideas and a broad outline of the cost, or maybe even a formal quote.
If you feel you have a good rapport with the designer and you’re happy with the price, book an appointment for a calico fitting. In total, a couture gown will usually require five to six fittings. These, along with the cutting, pattern-making and any finishing details such as beading, are all included in the final cost.