Bridal_7Dear Lea,

I just got engaged! Now what? We have so many decisions to make; when will we get married, where, how many people are we going to have, and who is going to plan it? I know we want a summer wedding in church, but we are talking about going to Yosemite and having it in the chapel there. How do I decide on the dress? I don’t really know what I want, but I know what I like.

I would love to have a dress made for me, but don’t want to spend $10,000 or more. Can you help?

Lost in White.

Dear Lost in White:

Boy, there are really a number of questions to answer. There are a number of things to get resolved about your wedding that will influence your gown design and selection.

But there are a few absolutes that are important to address regardless of location, time of day, season, and formality. Let me talk about these first, and I will go through the rest in future blogs.

The first, of course, is what kind of feeling do you want to have on your wedding day while you are wearing your dress; romantic, whimsical, sophisticated, simple, or elegant, like a member of the royal family, or a child of the earth? Regardless of when or where, formal or informal, indoor or outdoor, how you want to feel is the single most important question to answer.

The second question is equally subjective—what kind of clothes do you like? I would ask you to select some clothes from your wardrobe, or select clothes off the rack that you find appealing. What you select will go a long way to understanding your personal style.

Third, with the help of an expert, try clothes on. See what you like, and see what looks good on you. This is determining the “silhouette” that flatters you most. The silhouette has more to do with overall shape of the dress, than anything else. Your style, the fabric, the feeling you want to have on your wedding day when you are wearing your dress can be achieved once the silhouette is  set.

One final point. Certainly wedding dresses can be had for almost any price. But, do not disqualify a custom-made gown as an option. You don’t have to spend $10,000 or more for custom designed, tailored dresses. In my shop, we have designed custom dresses for as little as $700, but the average will be between $1,500 and $2,500. Yes, the prices can go up.

It isn’t unusual for similar, special ordered, gowns from a department store to cost even more. Once the basic gown is delivered to the store, the alterations can often run to $300 – $400 dollars. That is in addition to the basic cost of the dress! In a local custom shop, the alterations are part on the price, because it is part of the fitting process, already included in the price.  Often department store orders can take months, then the alterations can take additional days to weeks. Waiting without knowing the progress, the potential delays, the inability todiscuss any changes or options during the construction, and the extra costs, can add signifcantly to the stress. Whereas, we can turn an idea into a finished dress in a matter of four to eight weeks (or as little as two weeks for a rush project), can discuss issues or changes during the construction and intermediate fittings, and show you the progress, thereby easing your stress over the dress.

I look forward to talking with you further, and congratulations.



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