Paper to Lace

Should I Go Bespoke?


We're obviously biased, so yes! It's great fun so if you want to do it, we are already on board. In all seriousness, there are some factors involved when choosing to go bespoke which influence whether or not it is the right choice for you.


+If you are struggling to find your dream dress it may be because the look you want is quite specific and might not be catered for in the more mainstream shops. In which case break the mould; if you get a bespoke dress made you can have whatever you want. Real bride, Maisie, wanted a yellow wedding dress with beads and feathers so going bespoke was the perfect choice for her to get the look she wanted.

+ Similarly to the above, you might have too many ideas about all the elements your perfect dress will possess. Obviously a bespoke dress isn't going to be able to combine everything. But if you are struggling to decide between numerous different styles getting a dress designer involved is a good idea. They act as an extra filter and identify which elements can work together and which to leave behind. Or can look at evolving your outfit over the day with different pieces to layer and change, that give you more opportunities to showcase a variety of bridal looks.

+ If you have some heritage item you want to include in your dress a bespoke piece is the perfect way to do this. A number of our previous bespoke brides have chosen to do this and it's always lovely. Helen (top photo) wanted to use the fabric from her Grandmother's wedding dress in her own outfit. We used it to create the bodice and belt of her dress and applique sections into the hem. Ruth's Grandma's silk blouse was used to create the embroidered panels on the front of her dress, her pockets and cuffs. Nadia asked us to adapt her mother's 1960's christening gown into a dress for her own daughter to wear as a flower girl at her wedding.

+ Having a dress made bespoke also allows you to add little personal touches. We've embroidered and beaded initials, dates, names and words onto various of our bespoke dresses.

+If you appreciate design then the process is part of the fun. There are mood boards to create, hand drawn sketches to muse over, fabric sampling and shopping trips, and choosing details like styles of lace, beads and motifs. If these things are interesting to you then the process of bringing them all together and being involved in that is a really nice lead up to the wedding day itself.

+ It's totally individual. There won't ever be anything totally the same as a full bespoke dress. It's based on individual measurements so fits just you perfectly and nobody else will have one exactly the same.


+ Lots of decisions! Because we are starting entirely from scratch there are a lot of different ways the dress could go. Whilst we guide you through the process, if you hate having to make lots of decisions you might find it a bit stressful.

+ It's a slower process than shopping for a wedding dress. If you like the immediate gratification of being able to cross something of your To Do list, bespoke might not be the best choice. We need to get the design right in sketch form, look at fabrics we think will be involved, make a practice (toile) version of the dress in basic fabrics to get the fit right, decide on the actual fabrics and then a couple more fittings in the actual dress to make sure all the details are right and everyone is happy. So it is a longer process.

+ You will need to use your imagination. We suggest everyone start the process by trying on some dresses (which definitely don't have to be 'Wedding dresses') to get a good idea of shape and style. The first actual 'dress' you will try in the bespoke process is the toile one and it is a bit disappointing. It's a tool for us and you to work out what's working and what isn't. Bridal fabrics are often expensive so it's prudent to have a practice run before cutting into something that might then be wrong but it is a bit underwhelming compared to trying on a finished dress in a boutique.

+ It can be a more expensive option. Because the process is longer a more complicated the cost is higher. There are more meetings, and time to sketch and discuss the design. We start from scratch making the dress, using the specific bride's measurements to make what is known as a block that the paper pattern for the dress is then cut from, no two blocks are the same. The pattern is then used to create the practice toile dress. There is then time required to fit this, make necessary amendments, finalise fabric choices and then the time to create the finished dress.

With this in mind, we decided to make our ready to wear collection customisable. We think of this as semi-bespoke. For example you might contact us about a Finsbury Tee but with long sleeves, or our Amalfi dress but in crepe fabric, or an 'I Feel Love' skirt made of Cloudbusting lace.

This allows you to have a unique piece that suits you but with fewer decisions. We work from our size guide and existing patterns, so depending on the exact level of customisation, this is usually a more affordable option that going fully bespoke.

Real bride Melissa got married in a customised version of our Stevie Dress. We adapted the skirt so the layers would be more flattering for her, and took the essence of the cape front and created a sleeved top that suited her style better. Read more about it here

At the end of the day, bespoke, ready to wear or semi-bespoke – the most important thing is to get married in something that makes you happy!

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