Everything you need to know about having your wedding dress custom-made #Fashion Advice#Stuff we love#Wedding 101#custom dress#dress#handmade dress#wai-ching#wedding dress fantasy June 11 | Ariel Meadow Stallings offbeatbride Image courtesy of Wedding Dress Fantasy. A while back I ranted about how I think brides are best off having their wedding dresses custom made — you'll get a better fit, exactly the design you want, and won't have to suffer the attitudes and obscene prices of a bridal boutique. (And remember: custom dresses don't always cost a fortune! My wedding gown was a combination of a custom corset and skirt, with a total cost of $500.) There was some grumbling in the comments about "Ok, fine: but how do you find a custom dressmaker?" My best advice is start in your immediate circle and work your way out — do you know any seamstresses or amazing sewers? Do any of your friends or family known any? If not, search online or in the Yellow Pages for someone locally. Being able to do fittings in person is a big bonus. If there's no-one in town you like, then start looking online for seamstresses with styles you like who will work with you via email. The ladies of the Offbeat Bride Tribe came to the rescue with lots more tips on picking a custom dressmaker, as well as specific dressmaker recommendations: If any local college has a fashion program, you might be referred to someone that way, either a prof or a student. I'd definitely go in with a design and fabric swatches in hand. If they start telling you about how they don't need any references or what not, leave! When selecting a seamstress, see photos from a portfolio AND actual dresses. And talk to past clients if you can. Photos can look amazing compared to looking at them up close. Although it is very important to know what you want when it comes to style, it is just as important to make sure the seamstress has sewn other dresses in that same style. Find out if they have had to make their own patterns in the past, and see how those have turned out. A good tip for finding a seamstress is calling the costume department of your local theatre. Costume ladies are kickass stichers and love creative challenges. Also, be wary of buying really cheap fabric. Most of the time, cheap fabric makes a dress look cheap. Ask to see some samples, pay attention to quality, look at the seams, ask to see photographs, etc. Once you find a seamstress you like, bring in as many photos as possible to show garment construction, color, style, fabric, etc. Your seamstress will probably have her own opinions on what will work fabric-wise. Settle on what you need and go fabric shopping or take her with you to do so. Then turn it over to her. Be brutally honest at the fitting. Can't find 'em local? GO ONLINE! If you just can't find a seamstress near by, there are some truly phenomenal indie dressmakers who work online: KMKDesigns Wedding Dress Fantasy Wai-Ching TONS more over here! (PS: If you're a dressmaker or seamstress, get in touch with us about placement on Offbeat Bride!) There's also the option of outsourcing your dressmaking overseas, which has saved many offbeat brides huge wads of cash (although it also comes with thorny ethical questions). Here are just three of literally hundreds of options: Related Post Tips for buying eBay wedding dresses or accessories made in China Having now bought not one, but TWO of my important items from China (specifically for my wedding day, not to mention a raft of other... Read more Light in the Box (China) Kaersen (China) Gloria's Bridal (China) Be aware that going this route can also cause major hassles. And now I'll open it up to the peanut gallery: Did you have your wedding dress custom made? How did you pick your seamstress? Any tips or advice? Get your daily dose of Offbeat AWESOME Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Ariel Meadow Stallings Author of Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, Ariel acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives, loves, and dances in Seattle, WA. PREVIOUS Guest bouquet: let your guests help you build your bouquet NEXT Gothic-chick/Skater-cool Show/Hide comments [ 125 ] Another place to check: the cast and hardcore patrons of your nearby renaissance festival and/or the local SCA group. Many of the seamstresses you'll meet there are used to designing and pattern-making. 17 agree Reply I agree with Rykie. I'm from South Africa and am part of a Medieval Armoured Comat group. We needed dresses made and a friend of mine found a fabulous seamstress who made both her and another friend's dresses. Friend # 2 got married in February, and the same seamstress made her dress which was amazing! I'm using the same seamstress to make my dress now. 9 agree Reply Hi Catherine, Can you send me the details of your seamstress? I'm looking to have my wedding dress made as well. Thanks! 3 agree Reply The local fabric shop is another one to try. If yours employs knowledgeable-type-ladies (and not passive-agressive 18-yr-olds, I'm looking at you, Polaris), try asking them if they know anyone. The store I grew up with even kept a binder of local seamstresses for such occasions. 6 agree Reply We have a wonderful local chain of fabric stores in the west Michigan area where the employees are very knowlegable and helpful, Fields Fabric Stores. They have a bullitin board, and I have received a great deal of work by simply posting my business card there. 3 agree Reply I'm using a fabulous corset and dress maker here in the Bay Area. She is well known in our faire and Dickens Xmas faire circles. You should be prepared that custom work is not necessarily cheaper than getting your dress at some crazy bridal store. I'm having a vintage inspired cocktail dress made in red silk taffeta with a custom corset and it's not cheap. But it will be exactly what I want, and include things like my wedding date embroidered in the lining of the skirt and the corset. Really the most important thing to look for in a custom seamstress is attention to detail. Often people who sew take time short cuts or think "something looks good enough." So pick a seamstress who does more than put a pattern together. They should know how to draft or drape a pattern, and be willing to make several mock ups to get the pattern and fit right BEFORE they cut into the expensive fabric. I'd only use a seamstress who sews for ren faires or the SCA if they have a portfolio of modern clothes. Clothing construction for those time periods was often more straightforward than some of the modern sillouettes and styles we are used to now. 9 agree Reply Great points! Can you share the deets on your dress maker? I'm also from the Bay Area and was hoping to find a kickass place to do a fun custom dress. 2 agree Reply Chelle you make a good point — I think custom-made dresses are about value, not cheapness. They won't always be inexpensive, but you get so much more for the money … ie, custom design, truly custom fit, etc. Plus the warm fuzzy feeling of supporting a seamstress instead of a salon. And when it comes to truly couture bridal wear (ie $6k dresses), going custom is definitely cheaper. 11 agree Reply I love your comment! I get a lot of brides who come to me and are looking to spend $100-300 on a custom tailored bridal gown. They are more concerned with the price than the quality of the gown and it simply breaks my heart. 1 agrees Reply For any offbeat brides in or near Utah, I recommend Nancy Barrus of http://www.nancybarruscouture.com, based in Provo, Utah. I worked for her for a few months and she does absolutely amazing work and works with brides on a very personal level. Check out her gallery for a small example of what she can do. She's one of two people I'd trust, besides myself, to make my wedding gown. 7 agree Reply Just 38 days and then I can show you mine. I'm hoping I'll be as happy with mine as PrincessLaserTron was with hers! 2 agree Reply I had mine custom made by a local (Seattle) corset maker (see corset/skirt here: http://picasaweb.google.com/vickerswedding/Pro1/photo#5196276622441163906). I picked out the fabric, we came up with the design together, and she was able to integrate the fabric from my grandmother's 1937 dress into my skirt (the ivory part) and the binding of the corset. She also made my hubby's red vest. I found her through a friend whose wedding attire I had admired the year before, but the people at the fabric store definitely knew her, so I agree with the above posting about asking at local fabric stores. 1 agrees Reply Awww, I'm a costume lady and this post made me feel all warm and fuzzy! It really is the way to go – I think it makes it much more fun and exciting to work with someone for exactly what they want. 😀 😀 5 agree Reply I am having my wedding dress custom made by a designer in Houston, Texas (http://azacdesigns.com/). I have ordered many things from her before, and they are all exquisite. She's been in business for years and years (don't let the pretty, young face fool ya!) so she's well established, too! 1 agrees Reply Admittedly, I didn't go the route of design school kids (because as a recent jewellery design grad, I know that students will let your project fall to the wayside, and then rush it or miss the deadline if they fall behind in school), nor did I go to a costume maker in my area (because I used to do theater, and I've seen some of those costumes up close, and between the apolstery notions, and trims, and the plastic jewels, I just couldn't bring myself to trust them). But I did suss out several "bridal" seamstresses, and if you want a wedding dress, that is probably one of the most high-profile garments you will ever wear, you need to consider that it has to fit very well. A custom made garment should look like it was made for your body, it should also have the support structures, to support, tuck, pull in, lift up, and look crisp. Even the most billowy dress has secret nips and tucks in the fabric to make it fall just so. And you need a dressmaker with enough experience to tackle these issues. And in my area at least, Toronto, there wasn't one bridal dressmaker that was under 4000$ to start. Custom-made is fabulous if you can afford it, and since I know about proper fitted garments, I couldn't settle for less. So I had to compromise, and get an off the rack, that I will ahve expertly tailored for my figure. 4 agree Reply True, not all costumers are equal. However, if you find seamstresses working at a professional theatre–not summer stock, either–you will be in luck. I made more intricate, finer made garments in a theatre shop than anyone ever has required of me in fashion. All professional costumes are made to fit like custom. Ask for a draper or first hand, rather than a stitcher, to get a more experienced professional. Custom varies widely, be careful, but ask around. I think you can get a great dress for less than some off-the-racks, if the materials are reasonable. Especially when considering some salons charge $350 in alterations on top of the cost of the dress. 5 agree Reply I'm having my dress made by a woman named Haehie in DC. She is a former opera singer (they have to make their own costumes)and has had her own dressmaking business for years. She came highly recommended from a patient of mine (her wedding dress was beautiful). While it isn't cheap, I think it will be totally worth it and I NEVER have to step foot in a bridal shop. I brought in a picture of a 1950s cocktail dress and she is making it from scratch. Just remember that you should be having at least 1 if not 2 muslin fittings before they ever cut the fabric the dress will be made of. Especially if they are not going from a pattern. Once your fabric is cut that is it, so speak your mind and be very honest. They really do want you to look your best and be happy. 1 agrees Reply Hi Suzzanne, I have made a deposit with Haehie Chang in Georgetown for my wedding dress. She seems like a really nice lady. I'll be honest with you though, I'm a bit nervous about whether she is healthy enough to finish my dress. She doesn't come cheap for sure and my wedding date is approaching fast and I have not had 1 muslin fitting yet. What was your experience with her like? Please keep this confidential. I don't want to hurt Haehie's feelings, but I am really concerned. 1 agrees Reply Diane, just as a heads up: your comment here appears publicly and will potentially show up in Google searches. If you have concerns about confidentiality, a public blog comment isn't the way to go. 16 agree Reply ShiloM – I had the same issues here. NOLA dressmakers were completely out of my budget. Maybe my size might have had something to do with it (I'm plus sized – 22/24). I'm not saying that what they do isn't worth every penny – I simply can't afford to pay that much. So it was off to the bridal boutique to order a dress. When it comes in I'll take it to a good tailor to see what they can do. 1 agrees Reply as a plus size bride i understand what u are talking about karen. there is one local dress maker but her rates to start are 70 an hour. I am trying to keep my wedding very low budget, so i am going to buy a dress off the rack and have it custom fitted and altered to add my own flair to it. 1 agrees Reply I agree with ShiloM the seamstress is the best place to start. I'm lucky enough to have a seamstress friend who is helping me with my dress. No matter what you do, bring photos, and lots. no one is a mind reader 1 agrees Reply Patsy Bessolo in Roanoke. 1 agrees Reply After a few visits to bridal salons that left me thinking that maybe I had taken a women's movement time machine back to 1850, I decided to get my dress custom made. I am going to a wonderfully creative seamstress and really enjoying the whole process-much less cookie cutter and often less expensive. If you live in Northern Vermont or the vicinity, check out Ava Bishop at http://www.damnfinepants.com 2 agree Reply I'm in Iowa and looking for someone to work with. Anyone out there have any hints? Also, I ran across this website a while back that seems to have some great feedback on it. I would love to know if anyone had tried them yet… http://www.lilywedding.com/index.php 1 agrees Reply Where are you in Iowa? Have you tried looking at Dornik in the East Village in Des Moines? 1 agrees Reply thanks for the link to CurvedNDarted! Sasha is an AMAZING seamstress, and a good friend! 1 agrees Reply Hey ladies: I don't think this comment thread is the best place to ask about seamstresses in your region. (There are thousands of you reading from all over the world — way too many cities for this blog post to answer them all!) Instead, let's focus on folks who've found seamstresses and want to share their recommendations. If there's not a recommendation for your area, try searching Google or following the tips in these comments about asking around at your local theater, fabric store, ren faire, college, etc. 3 agree Reply I totally agree – custom made is much better if you have the budget – I am going the next step and knitting my wedding dress – I will have to get a slip made for under, and the current debate is either to find one or make one myself. 2 agree Reply hi! I'm the polka-dot bride pictured in the OP. I want to agree with Ariel. My dress cost less than many of my friends who bought theirs in bridal salons (can you get them cheaper? yes of course, but it was a comparably lower price). I found my dressmaker from a blind google search, searching for designers in my area. I think that I lucked out…she did a fantastic job. 1 agrees Reply I met with Patsy Bessolo in Roanoke this weekend. I took in several pictures for inspiration, as well as these awesome shoes I bought to wear (no problem I didn't know what my dress would be when I bought them – I figured I could find a dress to match the shoes!) She asked a bunch of questions about what I wanted, what I didn't want, what sort of fabric I was envisioning…I left feeling awesome, and wondering why I hadn't met with her sooner. Could have saved myself oodles of stress. I'm looking forward to seeing the designs she comes up with, and am feeling pretty confident about it. 1 agrees Reply I happen to be close by in Roanoke, dying trying to find someone that can do a pretty complicated design.. but I'm also a graduate student, and slightly price conscious. How expensive did your dress end up being? 1 agrees Reply I found Gloria, my wonderful seamstress, through a fabric shop. Being a plus sized bride, I was concerned about finding a seamstress who knew how to draft patterns and create a dress with lines that flattered. The helpful assistant at the fabric shop recommended Gloria highly, and it was only after meeting her that she said that she only ever dressed petite or plus sized brides! She is a master pattern drafter as well, and it was fortuitous that I connected with her when I did because she divulged that my wedding was the last wedding she'd take on before semi-retirement! My dress was on par with other couture bridal quotes. For plus sized haute couture, it was pretty damn well priced though! 1 agrees Reply I went to 1 bridal dress shop and just about ran screaming out the door. The woman tought I was crazy because I didnt' like a single of the blow-up creampuff monstrocities in her silly books (I wasn't even allowed in until I picked a picture!). So I went to a local designer (I live in Montreal–not really too hard) and bought the first dress I tried on. A little too expensive, but so beautiful and simple. And unique. And ME! A few adjustments are needed, but I feel good. Designers do one-of-a-kind lines–try it out! 2 agree Reply Hi, I am the designer of the polka Dot Dress above. I would like to participate in this discussion on finding dressmakers, true designers and what to look for in a wedding gown professional. My background is well rounded in that my degree and background is in the fashion industry, I write for a trade publication, I have a garment patent, and I also do my couture custom designs. I have been designing for 16 years and have operated my studio for 10. I state all that because I have found my experiences in the industriy areas have really given me insight on what works well with custom brides and how sewing professionals should also in turn work with brides. It is a partnership. Some seamstresses are not meant to deal with brides, and some brides are not Custom criteria. I have quite a bit to say, but I will break this off at my introduction and touch on one topic tomorrow that may be helpful in your selection. I do have to add a comment on pricing for custom. I will expand on that tomorrow, but I recently heard on one discuss list and it is true that no one goes down the isle saying "I chose this gown because it was the cheapest". When buying RTW or custom you just have to be an educated consumer, know what to expect and what you get and do not get with either option as well as being totally comfortable with whoever you are dealing with. Nice to meet you and I will share some more tips later. Designer Joi 2 agree Reply Lara – I am also a AZAC bride. Tracy is great to work with and gives many good suggestions. Don't let the pictures on her site fool you – the samples aren't always as nice as her real clothing. (example – her Scottish bride dress really needs a lining and some heavier fabric to make it truly wearable) Make sure you understand parts of clothing and ask lots of questions. Tracy and I designed my dress in about an hour in person and about a dozen emails, but I know costume/clothing lingo from my theatre days. If you don't, do yourself a favor and read up a bit and check your definition against your designers. I can't wait to share my dress with Offbeatbride! I don't think it will be like anything you have ever seen! 1 agrees Reply I got my dress from Whirling Turban. I was really nervous about the whole overseas aspect at first, but their communication is so good (it's an American designer who fell out of love with costume designing in Los Angeles and in love with Bali) that my fears were for the most part calmed during the process. The hardest part was trying to decide on fabrics based on what was there or what I could send her and how that would work – she ended up having really great stuff for the style we went for there and she did send fabric samples, but it just made me a little nervous b/c I'd never dealt with fabric. End of story: I love my dress. It's perfect. I am getting it hemmed by a local seamstress as recommended by my dress designer and she's great too – it all fits in with my wedding planning philosophy of only working with people I actually like. It makes planning much less stressful. 1 agrees Reply I'm having my dress custom-made but not by a seamstress per se. I was trying on gowns at a local bridal shop and the attendant was really wonderful. She actually made her own dresses with a Chinese bridal manufacturer and then sold them in the shop. But when I mentioned that I had a dress in mind and I couldn't find anything at a salon like it, she offered to make it on the side for me with her manufacturer. She took my measurements, drew up a sketch, picked out fabrics with me from her manufacturer's sample book, and it should be coming in within the next week or two. I'm not saving a whole lot, since it's not exactly hand-made, but I'm pretty much getting my dress at cost + personal profit instead of going through the middle man of the evil bridal salon. My designer friend even quit the salon after starting to work with me so she could be free to do projects like this without having to go behind the salon's back (so to speak.) It's not traditional, or even typical, but that's one way to find someone to make a custom wedding dress for you… 1 agrees Reply I got a custom dress from Kaersen and was very very disappointed. The stitching was poor, the color was off, and the fabric was incorrect. Also, they were recently affected by the earthquake and I would not suggest purchasing from them at this point. 1 agrees Reply Here's a hint about fittings. My aunt (who does costumes for film, TV etc) made my dress – pretty much ON me. The first fitting was quite disappointing – the rough model she had made up didn't fit me in any dimension and was too long and just all wrong. BUT it all shapes up pretty quickly from there so I was delighted by the 3rd fitting. Don't freak out if the first fitting is bad… 2 agree Reply I am back, Lucy has a good point about the initial fitting. In custom you are just that customizing and shaping something to fit your body. Here are some other tips that brides often overlook, and things I preach on. 1. Wear your exact shoes and foundations at every fitting. This affects your posture and the fit. 2. Changing briefs, panties, thongs etc. can throw off the hip curve of a fitted gown. Again, fit to what you will wear. 3. A gown is created from a 2-D fabric around a 3-Dbody. It takes tweaking and fitting to perfect. 4. You have to have a little visual skills to go the custom route and understand that it is a process to the finished product. 5. Be open and honest when you are unsure, but also be realistic. If you have a truly skilled professional and if they say something is a good or bad idea listen to them. MOST importantly. The body is a moving object. People are used to stretchy undergarments that move with us as we expand and contract. Most gowns are fitted and do feel different then jeans and a t-shirt. You have to be aware of that. Also, medication, eating, etc.. all affect the body. If you have any unusual circumstances that will affect your fit tell your professional. They need to know. All these will help your creative process go smoothly. 4 agree Reply I really enjoyed having my dress custom made. I live in Birmingham, AL and I wanted a silver dress with navy accents (My engagement ring is a sapphire). Going to bridal boutiques did not turn out to be such a great experience, you would have thought I was speaking in another language when I asked if they had a silver dress. I did try on dresses at the boutiques to see what did look good on my figure. I did not think a strapless dress would look good on me, but it did. If you are interested in having a dress made I would definitely suggest this. Trying on the dresses really helped me pinpoint what I liked and did not like. The dress I tried on in the boutique would have been $8000. This did not include veil or alterations. The dress I had made was considerably cheaper and she made me a veil and gloves. My sis was my bridesmaid and she made her dress also. With all that still cheaper than the one dress. We were in a magazine — here are the photos. Hope this helps!! 1 agrees Reply Hi Nicole! Where did you go in birmingham? Reply Best. Post. Ever. Thanks Ariel!! And I'd really like to find out who you used Chelle. I grew up in those circles and live in the Bay Area and am looking for someone good. 1 agrees Reply For any midwestern OBBs Dornink's (www.dornink.com) is a great place to work with! It is a mother daughter team, the daughter designs the dresses for their line and the mother Faythe does the custom work. I told her my budget and my timeline and she has been great to work with. She has been open to and embellished all of my ideas plus she has been completely respectful of the budget I told her I was working with. My dress is going to be a red silk, I'll post picks on the OBB flickr page in later August. 🙂 1 agrees Reply I love love love working with my custom dress maker. I'm lucky enough to have a friend of a freind who is fantastic at sewing. I saw a full-on Elizabethan dress she made for a mututal aquantance of ours a few years ago, and was impressed. Also, while she has the skill to do this proffesionaly, she only does it as a hobby. For the pure joy. I cant describe the giddy look on her face when we ordered 30 yards of duponi silk (2 brides= lots of fabric). she dosnt get to play with that too often. We actually had to haggle UP with her- she didnt want us to pay her beond cost of materials! I am glad, however, that its a friend of a freind, not a close friend of mine working on the dress. We've been friendly aquantances for years, but thats it. I feel like that gives me room to treat her as a proffesional, without having it be a weird shift from casual interaction. Oh, but I should mention the plan we had before finding April- good for all you nerdy geeky brides- theres a big scifi/fantasy/horrer/anime/whathaveyou con near us every year. They put on a hell of a costume competition. We were going to track down some of the entries we really loved in the masters segment, and ask them about a commision. Great way to get a lot of creative, nerdy people together for immediate comparison. 2 agree Reply I just started working with Whirling Turban for my wedding dress, and it's been amazing so far. I was really worried that the difference in time zone and language would cause issues, but their customer service rep who you communicate with the most has a good grasp on English and there have been no problems at all. I knew what I wanted the end result of my dress to be, but I wasn't sure which of their available styles would work the best. They've been very helpful in explaining dress construction to me. The best part is how nice they are. I sent them an iquiry about making my dress, and I received a message back filled with congratulations, well wishes, and all around goodness. Most bridal boutiques I've been in were filled with stuffy women who wanted to put me in a dress I hated for commission. The people at Whirling Turban made sure to say they'd be honoroed and thrilled to help me create my dress. If that doesn't make a bride squeal for joy, I don't know what will. 1 agrees Reply I have heard excellent things about Kari Perkins in Austin – she's a costume designer who also makes beautiful custom wedding gowns (she was also recently profiled in Southern Living magazine). Her wedding gown site is http://www.estrellabridal.com; her professional site is kariperkins.com. 1 agrees Reply A friend of a friend is making my corset, and for the skirt, I bought a bridesmaid skirt from David's Bridal. This ensemble will still cost me upwards of $600 all told, based on what I want, but it's something I can wear again and again, and that is important for me. Info on the corset-maker I found through a friend: Although I am in the Bay Area, the corsetiere is in L.A., and she has experience doing mail-order corsets. All you have to do is ask if she can ship to your location. What makes a good corset-maker: They must triple-check all your measurements. If you submit your measurements and they have no questions, beware. The corset should feel very comfortable against your skin. If there are rough edges or rough seams, it's shoddy work – send it back. The corset-maker should give you training on how to get your corset laced! The corset-maker should send you a mockup corset to draw on, while you have it on – so you can articulate what parts of the corset you like and don't like. Then you send it back for further revision. The corset-maker I contracted: http://www.myspace.com/sue_nice -Sue doesn't have her own personal site up yet, but a lot of her work can be seen over at http://www.romantasyweb.com/cyboutique/corset/SueNice.shtml (scroll down on that page and click on 'photo gallery' to see her work. For example, this image is what sold me on going through Sue: http://www.romantasyweb.com/all-galleries/gallery-html/sue-DSC02991.htm) The skirt: David's Bridal Mix & Match Skirts (only $109 +tax!): http://www.davidsbridal.com/iframe_mam_separates_tt.jsp (I'm getting the #81227 skirt) Best of luck to you in the search for your perfect dress! 1 agrees Reply I never, ever thought of going any route but custom for my dress. I have always wanted to have custom clothing made for me! I'm sad that tailoring is no longer custom; I feel like I'm in the wrong time period. My fiancee is also getting a custom 1920s style Irish felted wool suit for the occasion (which we're both excited about). My wedding isn't until July of 2009, but I got started as early as possible emailing tailors and dressmakers around town (I live in Portland, Oregon). I found someone whose bridal and everyday designs I love, and she starts at an affordable price ($800). We are going to start working on my dress this fall (a light dusty rose pink silk taffeta knee-length cocktail dress). In the end, I'll be spending about $1300, which is really not bad! And I'll be able to wear the dress later because it won't look bridal. Anyway, make sure you find someone who is willing to do a lot of fittings. I think I get 12 over the course of the process, and a mock-up as well, and we'll probably do the last fitting right before the wedding. I also suggest getting a custom corset done first, before you get started on the dress (unless the corset is part of the dress). I also recommend finding a bridal boutique in town that carries dresses with different design elements you love (even if you hate the dresses themselves), and then going to try them on. I did this, and discovered the empire waist I was envisioning was nothing on me compared to the drop waist I'm going for now. 2 agree Reply For Asheville, NC: R. Brooke Priddy at Ship to Shore Shop(www.shiptoshoreshop.com). Beautiful, beautiful beautiful work. xo jodi 2 agree Reply I'm a professional actor; I know many costume designers. One of them is making my gown for under a grand. So if you know any actors (and we are EVERYWHERE), chances are good that they'll know one or several costume designers who'd love the creative challenge and extra cash if they're between gigs! Reply I'm using the above-mentioned Amanda Archer via Etsy to make my wedding dress out of vintage champagne eyelet lace. I'm super excited! She's amazing! Reply I adore all of you off beat brides! I stumbled across this community in my search for hope of a beautiful budget wedding and you guys never fail. Thanks for all the budget help!!!! Reply hopefully this OBT thread is helpful! Reply http://offbeatbride.ning.com/forum/topic/show?id=1190964%3ATopic%3A285391 Reply I got my Wedding dress from an on line store "Dress of a lifetime" it was all custom made from 2 pictures of 2 very different dresses that they combined in to one dress and made to my exact measurements. Their customer service was out of this world i know exactly what was going on through the whole process. it was a bit pricey (mine was $1100) but the quality is well worth the extra cash. I am a plus size girl and finding a plus size dress that fits you perfectly is almost impossible for that price. 1 agrees Reply HELP I AM DESPERATE i am looking for a wedding dress cheaper then the 800$ i like the some what cliassic style. but want a twist. i want a blue dress light blue a line but not poofy tie dye is acceptable. i have a very specific look and also a very specific budget… laughable maybe. same deal for the suits. its a jersey shore beach wedding. i am a size 14. please look at our website it might give u an idea of how to better advise us. were young havent done this before and are going on very little guidence. all i know about the wedding is what ive told u and that its a white n blue wedding and the groom is wearing customized chucks along with our ring bearer who is our 2 yr old son quinn westley im andi and my other half is merlwynn (ya like the wizard kool huh?) please feel free to contact me thanks mucho andi 1 agrees Reply Hi andi, I run a small home bridal studio in Bergen County, NJ. I work with brides looking to go the custom route. Your budget is very fair. I invite you to take a look at my website and let me know if I can be of any assistance. All the best…Aida http://www.rosisbridalstudio.com Reply To the girl in commen #32 , where in birmingham, al did you go to get your dress made? Im looking and need some help Reply Andi this comment is for you, If you haven't found your "dream dress" that is not white they try this website, plussizebridal.com they have alot of bridesmaid gowns that could easily be wedding gowns. Some of them even have sweep trains and have many colors to chose from and most of them are from 100 to 500.(They also have a few colored wedding gowns) They also sell many gowns from alfred angelo and other designers as well for much less than bridal stores.Hope this helps many out there!! Reply Thanks so much!I got my wedding dress from Kaersen, it is more beautiful than what I have dreamed.I recommend them. 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