If you think finding the perfect wedding dress is tough, just wait until you're a mother of the bride or groom someday. By the time you decide what color and style dress you want to wear, you might be discouraged to find that there really aren't a whole lot of options to choose from. That's why more and more moms are going down the custom route. Getting a bespoke dress might be a little pricier than purchasing an off-the-rack look, but it's well worth it for a variety of reasons. First, there's no chance that another wedding guest will show up wearing the same thing. Second, your gown will be perfectly fitted to your body, making you feel more confident than ever before. Third, you'll be able to get exactly what you want—no compromises necessary.
The only downside to a custom gown is that they take more time and effort to make than a trip to the mall would, so sticking to a specific schedule is important. "Custom dresses are an amazing way to get exactly what you need, but with that said, there has to be a really specific process in place so you feel comfortable with what you get," says Julie Sabatino, stylist behind The Stylish Bride and The Stylish Dresser. If you (or your mom!) is thinking about having a custom dress made for the wedding, ready these tips first.
Find the right person to make it—and someone that you trust.
The person who makes the dress makes all the difference, so choose wisely. Get suggestions from family, friends—anyone and everyone who has experience getting a custom look made. Also, scour Google and Instagram to find a designer in your area that fits in with your style. You'll want to see examples of their work and if they dress they make are along the lines of what you're hoping for.
Start at least four months ahead of time.
This is important. No one wants to rush through having a dress made unless they absolutely have to, so give yourself plenty of time to ensure the process goes as it should. Experts like Sabatino have gotten the finished product made in a week, but, unless you have a stylist on hand, that probably won't be the case. By starting early, you'll be able to enjoy the fun of having a dress created just for you.
Get a dress that fits you now.
You have to work so far in advance when going custom, Sabatino says, that it's best to get your dress made to your current size. "A lot of the time, a person's body changes before the wedding, but I always recommend getting the dress for the body you have now. If you end up losing weight as you work to look and feel your best, that's just a bonus," Sabatino says. "Don't put that pressure on yourself—you have enough going on." To give yourself some wiggle room, let your seamstress know that your size may change before the big day. If you do end up needing some adjustments made, that's generally no big deal. But having to do anything more complicated than just a few tweaks will take more time.
Go with what looks good on your body type.
When you talk to the designer about what you want, let them help you figure out what kind of dress will look best on your body. Although you can rely on their expertise, you should also have some ideas in mind about what you think you want. "Try on other dresses and take pictures so you can show the designer what you like," Sabatino says. "It might be a dress you'd never wear, but the shape of the skirt looks good on you. Take that picture and tell them you love the skirt, but want the top of something else. You just need to have a firm direction."
Make sure the fabrics you choose are photo-ready.
Since you'll be in a lot of pictures at the wedding, make sure you choose a fabric that photographs well. Even though something looks pretty on a rack, it might not look so great on camera. "When you're choosing fabrics, you have to consider what's going to look good in pictures. I recommend holding it up, taking some photos on your iPhone, and seeing how it photographs and looks on your body," Sabatino says.