I found this great dress online. It's a simple, strapless sheath that's perfect for wearing under that white organza I'm having designed. The problem is, it's a bridesmaid dress and the lightest color it comes in is tan.

Believe it or not, stumbling across that bridesmaid dress broadened this bride's options. She'd planned on designing a sheath to go under the nearly finished organza dress in the above sketch but she hadn't decided on the exact style yet. That is, till she saw the abovementioned sheath online, which, incidentally, she found out did come in a white silk dupioni and cost a fraction of what most salons or custom designers would have charged.

Wearing a bridesmaid dress when you're a bride is a mum's-the-word sort of trend going on now. Check out The Knot magazine or their site and you'll find a whole section devoted to bridesmaids. Also notice bridesmaid dresses don't look so much like those Muriel's Wedding atrocities anymore; most have morphed into simple, unadorned styles, making them the perfect backdrop for customizing into a bridal gown. The bridesmaid dress option is the way to go if:

1.) You're using it as a foundation on which to customize with other adornments.
2.) You want a more low- key or informal look, sans the train, lace and beadwork.
3.) You want color.
4.) You're price conscious. Bridesmaid dresses cost a fraction of what a bridal gown costs. For brides who don't want to be in white or ivory, bridesmaid dresses are perfect. They come in just about as many colors as Crayola crayons from the palest pastels to deepest jewel tones. Once you start looking online, keep in mind not all manufacturers use first-rate fabrics and/or construction (see my FYI designer recommendations below). Try to find styles in high-grade silk or silk blends. Especially if you plan on customizing, where you'll need as clean and pure a background as possible. And always remember, the simpler the dress, the more perfectly it should be made.

FYI: Here are my recommendations for bridesmaid designers offering the best in styles, fabric and construction: Lazaro Bridesmaids, Alvina Valenta Bridesmaids and Ann Taylor Celebrations. You'll find these on

FYI: Most bridesmaid dresses can be ordered through your salon. Allow 3-4 months delivery