How are Custom and RTW wedding dresses made
As a follow from my previous two blogs on bridal fabrics, I would like to share with you today how wedding dresses are made and why Custom dresses are more expensive than the Ready To Wear (RTW) ones.
READY TO WEAR (RTW) wedding dresses
Most of the wedding dresses that you find online and in Bridal Stores are RTW Collections. They are normally from several different Design Houses and are produced in greater numbers. The cost is generally lower than the Custom gowns as the design, pattern-making and toile expenses are distributed over many 100’s of wedding dresses of each style, with the added bonus of bulk purchasing of the fabrics.
When choosing a RTW wedding dress there is normally no option of changing the design in any way and you need to order the dress as it is, making any adjustments or alterations once the order is received (at an additional cost).
Bridal shopping is often an exciting day out with your Mum and besties unless you experience disappointment and frustration when you just can't find "The One!"
If this rings true to your experience then read on to understand what's involved with the Custom gown process and why it comes at a higher cost.
1. DESIGN PHASE
It may be different with each designer so I will be sharing my own custom process with you.
The initial phase is chatting (virtually or in the studio) with the bride and sharing all the inspo that she has either on file or in her minds eye. I then sketch the initial concept and together we tweak it until the illustrated design is perfect, not only for her wedding day theme but also for her figure and proportions.
I always say that if you start with this professional foundation there will be no disappointments at the end!
I normally like to take 10-14 days to refine the design with my clients and longer if time allows.
With a Custom wedding dress you have the privilege of choosing the best fabrics and laces that excite and resonate with your personality and preferences. When working with an illusion tulle the correct tone is chosen for you, so that it is as close to your skin tone as possible, to create the floating lace effect.
It is important to do the fabric selection under the direction of your designer or a textile professional, as fabrics have their own behaviour patterns and unique qualities. Your Designer will guide you to the most suitable ones for your design.
Read more on the different bridal fabrics on my previous 2 blogs here…
The fabric selection can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks if new samples are required.
Once the bride and I have agreed on the fabrics and designs, we move into the production phase of the wedding dress.
I work closely with a number of excellent bridal manufacturers for most of my production and meticulously monitor each step of this phase. This includes pattern-making and lace placement (as seen in the image above), to the finer details of necklines, sleeves and hemlines.
This stage can take between 75-90 days depending on the time of year.
For the Custom wedding dresses that I make in my atelier, the process might take a bit longer, as my available 'production time' is more limited. The cost is also likely to be that much higher. After pattern-making the design, I make a toile (calico mock-up) to test the pattern (see image above) and any adjustments are made at this time. This step saves making too many adjustments later in the process and limits any unnecessary damage to the expensive bridal fabrics.
This stage requires a minimum of 6 months.
4. THE FITTINGS
My most exciting stage when the bride gets to try on her dream dress for the first time!
My preference is to have the wedding dress ready for the first fitting 3-4 months prior to the wedding day, as I find that it helps to relieve any “Dress Stress” for my brides! At this point any necessary tweaks are made and further fittings are scheduled depending on predicted weight loss, etc.
I do recommend that brides have their chosen wedding shoes and underwear for this first fitting to check the hemline and the fit.
How to know if you are a Custom or RTW Bride
If you are a creative person or have a strong vision of your perfect gown, chances are you’d have more fun and excitement being involved in creating a custom wedding dress. If you are not that creative or visual, then the RTW styles may be less stressful for you. However, I have worked with many brides that thought they were the RTW bride but found after several shops visits that they were left feeling discouraged and disappointed with the dresses they had tried on. Each gown they tried on needing something altered or changed. If this sounds like you, then my advice is to find a trustworthy and reputable designer and get it all right from the beginning.
Till next month, stay safe and always look for the JOY in the little things in life!