Brides devote a lot of time, energy and money into selecting the perfect gown for their big day and the choice of a ready to wear or custom gown is an important decision. Each can offer that perfect look a bride has always dreamed about.
Here are some tips for navigating the gown selection process with success based on some commonly asked questions:
What is the difference between ready to wear and custom?
RTW garments are purchased off the rack or ordered based on sample garments even if the brand includes the word custom. The garments are mass produced and you select a size based on the manufacturer’s sizing chart. Custom gowns are made to your exact measurements and involve repeated fittings as the gown is made, cut and sewn from a single design.
Which should I choose?
RTW gowns are perfect for brides who want to choose a gown in a simple step or try on lots of dresses. They work well for brides who don’t have time to devote to custom fittings. Custom dresses are the perfect option for brides who have a unique idea that they can’t purchase in a RTW, for those who maybe have a unique fitting issue, or for those that want to blend parts of different dresses into a custom design.
What size do I order?
A size is just a label given to a set of measurements for a particular style of dress. There are no standards in the industry. Some brands fit loose, and some are cut to fit snug. It is imperative you order your gown according to the manufacturer’s size chart and your actual measurements. A custom gown is created to your exact body measurements.
What if I lose weight?
Brides do aspire to lose weight. Always order to your current measurements and communicate your intensions with the salon or seamstress so they can monitor any body changes.
They took my bust, waist and hips measurements – will my dress fit perfectly?
A majority of brides purchase RTW gowns and there are lots of brands, styles, and quality of fit and construction. Unless you have a custom gown, you most likely will need alterations which will customize the fit to your body.
Who should alter my dress?
Many salons have an alteration specialist on site or can refer you to one. Sometimes a family friend will offer to sew or alter your gown, and that can be a tempting offer, but make sure whomever sews on your dress knows what they are doing. Today’s gowns require much more experience and knowledge of modern fabrics and design details than gowns of the past. Ask for references no matter who helps you tailor the fit.
Why does a hem cost so much?
It is true, the cost of alterations does add up quickly and some gowns require hours of time and special skill to do correctly. Therefore, part of your gown budget should be reserved for alterations. It’s important to note that the cost of the alterations has nothing to do with the price of the gown and each adjustment will be itemized separately.
Do I have to wear white? Or is color in a gown acceptable?
Gowns come in all shapes, fabrics and colors. In the past, wedding gowns were not white. That is actually a newer tradition tied with purity. However, the great thing with weddings today is that many are theme related and the gowns are even more fun with lavish details and beautiful colors.
What else should a bride know?
Plan early! It may take 3-6 months for your gown to arrive and custom designs take just as long if not longer. In popular wedding months you may be the 100th bride in line for alterations so it can require patience. Follow up, but be a pleasant bride to work with. Rush work almost always costs extra.
Yes, you may actually need to purchase some of the special undergarments. Consult with your alteration specialist or designer to determine what works best with your dress. You’ll want to purchase the correct item, especially since these items are usually non-returnable.
Gown selection and fitting is not a sport. Choose one or two trusted friends and family members that will give you honest feedback with your best interest in mind. Stadium fittings that include the whole family become less about the bride and more about a competition of ideas. It’s your big day so the focus needs to stay on you. Also, listen to your bridal consultation and fitting expert, but if they are telling you something you are not sure about then ask questions or go with your gut feeling.
Lastly, buy local! It’s tempting to save a dollar by ordering online, but your local salon will be there to help you once the gown arrives. They can act on your behalf with the manufacturer if you do have a problem and you avoid receiving lesser quality merchandise, illegal knock offs, and other hidden costs. Plus, you are supporting your local community.
Wedding gown shopping and selection is such a fun and special time. With a little knowledge of the process, you are sure to have success and many memories of this special time in your life.
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