In September of 2016, I married the love of my life, my highschool sweetheart. (See our wedding photos here!) One of the most amazing parts of my wedding planning process was getting to help design and dream up my custom wedding dress! One of my past brides has a sister, Melek, who is a very talented fashion designer in LA. I got in contact with Melek about the possibility of creating a one-of-a-kind couture gown for me. Next thing you know, we had a sketch of my dream dress and we were shopping for fabric! It was such a wonderful experience and she let me be a part of every step in creating my gown. (Side note: Melek ended up getting married the year after me. I photographed her wedding and she designed her own wedding gown as well! Check it out here!)
During this process, I realized that the topic of custom wedding gowns is rarely discussed. There was so much that I didn’t understand prior to experiencing it myself. For all of my brides wanting to have their own one-of-a-kind bridal gown, I’m here to shed some light on the subject. These are 5 things you should know before getting a custom wedding dress made. Also, I highly recommend contacting Melek of Dikici Bridal to make your wedding dress dreams into a reality!
1.) You still need to go dress shopping
Having photographed weddings for 6 years prior to my own, I thought I had it all figured out. I had seen so many wedding gowns and I knew EXACTLY what I wanted… Ha! Boy, was I wrong.
Soon after I got engaged, my friend Shannon and I walked into a designer bridal shop and tried on some dresses. Imagine my surprise when the gown style I had envisioned, turned out to be underwhelming. Meanwhile, the random dress that I tried on “just because”, turned out to be the jaw-dropping one. It was so far from the original style I had envisioned, but there was no denying that it was the perfect silhouette and fit for me.
This was so eye-opening and I am grateful that I had this experience to learn what looked best on me! If I had hired Melek without having this dress shopping experience, we would have gone a totally different direction. Even if you feel sure about what you want, I highly recommend going to a dress appointment and trying on a variety of styles. Have an open mind and see what looks and feels best on you.
2.) It’s not going to be an exact replica of another gown
If you’ve already found your DREAM DRESS and you love every single thing about it… then buy that dress.
It is much simpler to buy a gown that already exists than it is to hire a designer to make one. Not only that, it is insulting to both parties to ask one designer to copy another’s work. So before you commit to going custom, ask yourself if this is the right choice for you. Are you truly desiring something that is one-of-a-kind and completely unique? Are you willing to invest in that? Which leads me to my next tip…
3.) Prepare for it to cost MORE than the other gown you loved
One thing you need to know about getting a custom wedding dress… it is not cheap.
There is a misconception I hear quite often that you can “have someone make a dress” for cheaper than the original. While I really discourage trying to copy another designer dress (as mentioned in tip #2), this still isn’t true in most cases. On the contrary, a custom wedding gown is a luxury that you will pay extra for. Over 400 hours of labor went into my dress. The final price tag ended up being about double the initial “inspiration” dress that I tried on. It is important to be very clear on your budget and expectation before committing to this.
4.) Be open-minded and flexible
Going with the flow was a must. There were several times when we had to make changes as the design evolved. I knew that I was in good hands with Melek and I gave her my full trust. At the end of the day, the designer is the expert. When they tell you that something isn’t working or advise you to change something, make sure you are listening. My best advice is just to let go of control and give your designer freedom to create!
5). Be patient, it’s a long process
My dress took over a year to be made. There were a lot of appointments, calls, and decisions… on top of all of the other wedding planning tasks! The timeline is different for every designer but prepare yourself for a long wait. It was so hard to wait for the day when I could finally step into my completed dress… but it was worth the wait!
400+ hours later, here is my stunning custom gown from Dikici Bridal. I will forever cherish this dress. It perfectly represents my own style and how I wanted to look on my wedding day. I am so happy that I decided to go with a custom gown and was able to wear something one-of-a-kind.
(Photos by Iris + Light)