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What Are the Pros and Cons of a Bespoke Wedding Dress?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated May 21, 2024
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A bespoke wedding dress generally describes a gown that is one of a kind, designed especially for the bride, with the guarantee that a duplicate will never be made. Choosing tailor-made as opposed to off-the-rack goes a long way toward making the day more special, and allows the bride to have a great deal of input in terms of design and fabric. In addition, a custom-made wedding dress is typically an excellent fit, and is a particularly good choice for women who have body shapes that do not conform well to retail sizing. Some of the disadvantages of a custom-made gown are the time they take to make and the necessity of making up-front payment for a gown that has not yet been made.

Even though many tailors present sketches of the gown in advance of production, a sketch is a often a poor substitute for actually seeing the gown and being able to try it on before purchasing. Sometimes a design that looks good on paper can turn out to be a nightmare when it is actually made. There is also the risk that even though the dress is beautiful, it does not actually complement the bride when she tries it on. In most cases, unless the tailor has made an error in design or construction, the bride will not have the option of refusing the dress, even though she may not be completely happy with the finished product.

The time it takes to produce a bespoke wedding dress may vary greatly, depending on the tailor or designer, but in most cases, the finished product will not be available for several weeks. In addition, because the job is usually in the hands of only a few people, any hitch along the way can result in lengthy delays. Brides who are thinking of purchasing a bespoke wedding dress should be sure they have a written contract that outlines a time frame for completion, and what will be done if the time frame is not met.

Women who choose a bespoke wedding dress have the advantage of not being limited by the designs offered in retail. These brides can have virtually any type of dress they can imagine and have it fitted to their exact body measurements. Instead of being limited by fabric choices offered in retail, women who have their gowns custom made have the advantage of being able to hand pick their own fabric and embellishments. In most cases, a bespoke wedding gown requires several fittings, and the end result is often a much better fit than can be obtained when purchasing off-the–rack.

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Discussion Comments

By anon968693 — On Sep 04, 2014

I think the key is to pick a wedding dress designer who is also an experienced patternmaker – like me!

The issues you've outlined are definitely realistic, but the joy of having a dress designed specifically for you, for your special day, is an experience I'd highly recommend. I just love seeing my brides wearing the dress they've only ever seen in their imaginations.

The reason why technical patternmaking skills are important is because patternmakers are trained to foresee how certain fabrics are going to react with certain designs, on and around a woman's curves, and they make a toile before any expensive fabrics are cut.

I'm based in Sydney, so I can only service those brides within a certain distance. If you don't live near a major city, I'd recommend that you search for a designer with whom you can at least develop a rapport and trust – such that they understand exactly where you're coming from and see the dress in your mind.

By Lostnfound — On Mar 25, 2014

I'd say the main "con" for a bespoke wedding dress is that it will probably cost a *lot* more than a retail gown, and they're not cheap to start with.

The bit about the dress taking several weeks is not even on the radar. Most brides expect to wait several months for their gowns.

However, once a bride considers the cost of a retail gown, plus alterations, she may be paying about as much as she would for a bespoke gown. With a bespoke gown, she would be going for fittings all along, so the maker could adjust as necessary, before the whole dress was put together, and alterations would be included in the cost of the dress.

Most brides don't have access to a bespoke dressmaker, unless they have a relative or good friend who is an excellent tailor. These people are few and far between. Still, if a bespoke wedding dress maker is available, it's an option I might consider if I were a bride.

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