Okay so you’ve been browsing the net to gather ideas. You  could easily look at up to three thousand gowns in one night, not to mention the main stream designer and mass retailer sites.  Suffice it to say you’ve narrowed down your search—decided you like the evening gown look but you’re not absolutely, positively, 100 percent sure an A-line is out of the question.  Next you actually get up from the computer and physically go out shopping.  You hit every salon within a twenty-mile radius, gone through racks and racks of gowns in all kinds of fabrics you never knew existed.  You’ve tried on more than a few in every shade and texture of white imaginable.  And while you feel like you’ve had a crash course in Bridal Gowns and your dreams feel like Act II of Giselle every night, still nothing out there’s grabbed you.  Then, a week later this picture of a gown finally comes together in your head—the neckline you found in Weddings; the sleeve on a dress you tried on in the salon combined with the sweep train you spotted last week in the Film Noir.  Once all this gets put together you’ll have a custom designed gown, something one of its kind and only yours like no other in the world. 
    It’s finally in your head.  Now all you need is help from a skilled designer or dressmaker and the savoir-faire to know the difference.

     A custom designer or skilled seamstress puts many hours and a high level of craftsmanship into the creation of a custom gown.  Working with fragile, white fabric and delicate white lace is indeed an art form.  Figure any custom gown crafted by a designer usually takes four to six months to complete from a listing of your measurements.  Since the design process involved with a custom gown is more of a direct collaboration between you, you’ll have more input with decisions regarding fabric, silhouette and style.
                                                                             STEP 1 
    Every first consultation begins by asking questions about the actual wedding itself.  You’ll look at and evaluate all the factors involved in optimizing gown design; the scale of the ceremony, the nature of its backdrop, your use of tradition, even right down to the surfaces on which you’ll be walking.  With respect for cleaning and preservation, sometimes even post-wedding plans are made for the gown.
    If you’ve collected any photos, magazine clippings (digital or hard copy), sketches or swatches of fabric, these are discussed, usually with the designer running a few of her own ideas back to you.  Choices and cost of materials, fabrics and a few other details are usually explored.
    If the designer has a small sample collection, this is usually when you can begin trying gowns on to see what the fabrics are going to look and feel like with you in them.  This is the time too to look over how well the samples are made.  Don’t worry about whether or not you know haute couture techniques here—just pull up a hem or look at the inside of one of the garments and you’ll know if its cleanly made and as beautiful on the inside as out.
  STEP 2
     Eventually, a gown is in the making.  After a final sketch is approved, a written estimate follows, complete with fabric swatches, and your measurements are finally taken.  For every gown order, a paper pattern is made.  Think of the paper pattern as a blueprint, a record with all your dimensions on it.  From this, most designers (some dressmakers too) work out a muslin.  The muslin is a cotton mock-up and ‘living pattern’ of the gown design, fitted exactly to your body.  Now, think of the muslin as the foundation work—laying all the necessary groundwork upon which your dress will be built.  This is where most of the fine-tuning is done to get the perfect fit before one cut or stitch goes into the true gown fabric(s). 


After your muslin fittings (there may be two of them), the muslin is unstitched and laid out on the
actual fabric and the gown is made up. Since most of the fitting is worked out on the muslin, second and third fittings usually follow up with finishing touches on the gown like, final hemline, closures, remaining design details, etc. Be prepared for more than three fittings though. A gown made from the ground up is a work in progress and each step along the way is painstakingly taken, checked and rechecked.
Keep in mind you want your gown delivered at least a month before your wedding. Yes. You need to synchronize your calendars on this one. You want to be able to relax and deal with all those other last minute details involved in your wedding, not still fussing around over hemlines.