How Long Does It Take to Make a Custom Wedding Dress?

Angela sketching a custom wedding dress.

Creating a custom wedding dress typically takes 9-12 months. This timeline allows us to create a gown that matches your bridal vision and achieves a perfect fit. During this time, designing your dress becomes a partnership to make every aspect of the dress reflect your bridal vision and personal style.

Having a year gives us time to adjust and refine your dress, making sure it’s everything you’ve dreamed of. It’s not just about the creation process — it’s about making precious memories to begin your wedding journey. Remember, good things take time, and your wedding dress is no exception.

Back view of Kyra getting into her custom wedding dress
Kyra posing in her custom bridal gown

The Wedding Dress Shopping Timeline

Most wedding experts agree that you should start shopping for your wedding dress at least nine months before the wedding date. Even if you plan to buy a dress off-the-rack, you’ll need sufficient time for the order to arrive, which can often take four to six months . And likely you’ll also need alterations done, which can take another couple of months as well.

So it’s a good idea to start shopping sooner rather than later.

How to Begin Wedding Dress Shopping

Embarking on your dress shopping journey starts with reflection. Consider the trends, fabrics, and silhouettes that make you feel the most beautiful. Dedicate some time to research, flip through bridal magazines, and explore Pinterest to inspire your personal bridal style.

Visiting bridal salons and trying on different dresses (even styles you don’t think would look good on you) will help you to refine your vision. 

Selecting Your Venue and Its Impact on Dress Choice

The venue sets the tone for your wedding and directly influences your dress selection. For example, a beach ceremony obviously calls for a different style than a ballroom wedding. Understanding this connection early in your wedding planning ensures your dress perfectly matches the venue’s atmosphere, and creates a harmonious wedding theme.

Kyra and will cutting their wedding cake
Kyra and Will posing for wedding photos

Custom Designing Your Dream Wedding Dress

A lot of brides find the bridal boutique shopping experience to be stressful and can’t find their dream dresses off-the-rack. In fact, about 20% of today’s brides are choosing to go custom.

The custom bridal adventure begins with our initial consultation. Our first meeting is all about getting to know you, your style and how we can collaborate to bring your vision to life. As your creative director, I leverage my many years of design experience and knowledge of couture techniques to guide you to the best result. 

Through our collaboration, we’ll blend your personal style with professional insight to create something truly unique. 

Preparing for the Big Purchase: 9-12 Months Before the Wedding

Starting your custom dress journey as early as possible (ideally 9-12 months before your wedding) gives you a comfortable timeline to finalize every detail, from the hem length to the delivery date. This time allows for the  creativity and precision to make your dress perfect for your wedding theme and bridal photos.

It’s a process that can’t be rushed—remember, this isn’t an episode of Project Runway! If you’re looking for a last-minute wedding dress, going custom is definitely not the right choice!

Researching Styles and Setting a Budget

Exploring various dress styles and establishing a budget are the first steps in realizing your vision. Consider how different designs complement your figure and wedding theme. Even if you’ve already decided to get a custom dress made for you, it’s important to try on dresses to get a sense of what styles look good on you, as well as those that don’t.

Remember to budget for a significant deposit to begin the creation of your dress.

Dress Details That May Extend Your Timeline

Customizing your dress with intricate details can extend the timeline. Embellishments like hand-beading or lace appliqués require meticulous craftsmanship and precise placement. Considering how these details photograph and complement your overall dress style is the key to achieving a cohesive look that will be cherished in memories and photos forever.

The Mock-up Phase

In the haute couture tradition, creating a mock-up of your dress using sample materials allows for precise adjustments. This step is crucial for testing the fit and design details, ensuring everything from the neckline to the hem is perfect.

First Fitting Session and Adjustments

The first fitting is a significant milestone. It’s where we see your vision start to come to life. Adjustments are made to the fit and length, with comfort and ease of movement as the guiding factors.  

Finalizing Your Look: 3-4 Months Before the Big Day

As your wedding date approaches, additional fittings ensure your gown fits absolutely perfectly. This period allows for last-minute adjustments and accessorizing, completing the vision you’ve dreamed of for your Big Day.

Choosing Accessories and Scheduling Hair and Makeup Trials

Once the dress is nearly complete, it’s time to think about the finishing touches that make a bridal look truly come to life. Choosing the right accessories can elevate the overall aesthetic, whether it’s a vintage veil, a sparkling tiara, or elegant jewelry that complements the gown’s design.

This period is also ideal for scheduling hair and makeup trials to make sure that the bride’s vision for her wedding day look is achievable and harmonizes well with the dress.

Back view of Kyra's custom wedding dress
Kyra posing in her custom wedding gown

Final Fitting and Alterations: 6-8 Weeks Before Your Wedding

The final fitting is a pivotal moment in the wedding dress journey. It’s when you see your dream transformed into reality, fitting your body perfectly. Any necessary alterations are identified during this session, so that the dress looks flawless from every angle. This is the time for minor tweaks to achieve the ultimate fit and comfort, marking the near completion of a beautiful, custom-made gown.

The Final Touches: Making Everything Perfect

As your wedding day approaches, making every detail perfect becomes the focus. It’s also a time for a final review of all accessories, from headpieces to shoes, ensuring they complement the gown beautifully. These final touches are what make your bridal look truly unforgettable.

Celebrating the Completion of Your Dress and Looking Forward

Celebrating the completion of your wedding dress is a joyful milestone. It’s a moment filled with emotion, as you see the culmination of months of planning, designing, and fitting. Looking forward, it’s also a time to envision the magical moment of walking down the aisle, feeling confident and radiant in a gown that perfectly reflects your personal style and love story.

Kyra and will posing at their wedding reception table

Your Wedding Dress Checklist

The final week is the time to go over your wedding dress checklist. This includes verifying the dress is steamed and wrinkle-free, all accessories are accounted for, and the dress is stored safely in its garment bag, ready for the Big Day.

Protecting Your Dress and Handling Emergencies

Having a plan for protecting the dress and handling any emergencies is essential. This involves ensuring the garment bag is secure and having a small kit for unexpected issues, like a loose thread or a minor stain, to make sure the dress remains pristine.

If you need help with the train of your dress or a bustle, make sure you have a designated dress handler to assist you.

Packing Essentials and Travel Tips for Your Dress

If you’re traveling to the wedding venue, packing the dress carefully is paramount. Use a sturdy garment bag and follow tips for folding or rolling the dress to avoid wrinkles. Consider carrying the dress as a carry-on when flying, or if driving, lay it flat in the vehicle. Upon arrival, hang the dress in a safe, dry place to ensure it looks its best for the ceremony.

Your Big Day: The Culmination of Months of Preparation

Your wedding day is when all the months of preparation come together. It’s a day to celebrate love, happiness, and the beautiful journey of creating a wedding dress that tells your unique story.

Will walking with Kyra in her custom bridal gown
Will kissing Kyra in her custom bridal gown

Wrapping Up Your Dress Journey: Insights and Reflections

Choosing or creating a wedding dress is an emotional journey filled with dreams, decisions, and moments of self-discovery. It’s a process that not only results in a beautiful gown but also in cherished memories and a deeper appreciation for the art of dressmaking.

As a designer, it’s truly an honor to be a part of your journey and to create a dress that reflects your personal style, dreams for the future, and the love story you are celebrating.