Thinking of Hiring a Dress Designer?

By Erin Steiner who contributes regularly to and also covers a variety of topics for other websites.

Here’s the thing that we all know but very few of us want to admit. When all is said and done, what most people talk about after weddings aren’t the marriage ceremonies or the wedding vows. What people talk about the most is the dress.

Everyone wants to be this beautiful on their wedding day!

Choosing your wedding dress is an involved process. First you have to decide whether you want to have your dress designed specifically for you or if you should purchase something off the rack.

It’s important to understand that “off the rack” is something of a misnomer. Most bridal shops will keep a variety of dress designs in stock and then, once a bride has decided on a dress, the shop attendant will take the bride’s measurements and send them to the manufacturer so that the dress can be built “to spec.” Usually, even with all of the correct measurements, the dress does not come back built perfectly. Most brides have to have additional alterations made to these dresses to help them fit perfectly. From start to finish, even off the rack wedding dresses can take months to find, buy and be made to fit properly…and, honestly, aren’t that much cheaper than a custom design.

Which begs the question: If you’re going to have to wait months and will be spending lots of money anyway, why not simply hire a dress designer from the beginning?

Hiring a dress designer isn’t something that only very well-off brides do anymore. Today women of all economic and social backgrounds hire dress designers to design their wedding dresses. Even if you’re cash-strapped, there are independent designers waiting for the chance to add your dress to their portfolio (the abundance of indie designers might be because, according to “Five Great Careers for Trendsetters,” fashion design is one of the fastest growing fields of employment).

If you are considering hiring a designer to create a custom wedding dress, it is important that you not simply hire the first person you find online. Instead, use the following tips to help you find the perfect person to design your wedding dress.

Finding the perfect fit isn’t as hard as you think!

1. Start with your inner circle.

Is someone in your circle of friends or family great with a sewing machine? Does someone you know have a flair for fashion? Having a friend or family member design and make your dress is a fantastic way to both involve that friend in your big day and to get a one-of-a-kind wedding dress (often for the cost of the fabric and not much more).

2. Local is always best.

When you hire someone locally, you’ll be able to go in for fittings in person. If you can’t find a single person with whom you want to work, don’t worry; there are dress makers who will work over email and the phone. You might want to start shopping around for a local person to do alterations if they’re needed though.

3. Ask for references.

Run away from anybody who insists that they know what they’re doing and that you don’t need to see examples of their work (beyond the photos in their portfolio). You want to know what it is like to work with the person as much as you want to be able to see a finished garment with your own eyes.

4. Make sure you hire someone who knows how to make a pattern from scratch.

Just because someone is great at working with an existing pattern doesn’t mean they have the skills and knowledge to build a pattern based on your specifications. You need someone with that skill if you want a dress that is really one of a kind and not something that was found in a book or online.

5. Pay attention to the details of garments made by your potential designer.

Look at the seams and edging to see how well the garments are constructed. Anything can look great from far away. You want something that looks great close up, too.

These are just five of the things that you need to remember when you’re hiring someone to build your wedding dress from scratch. Did you have your wedding dress custom built? How did you find your designer?