Last week, we featured the beautiful wedding of my friends Karen and Boris. What I didn't explain was that Karen had a custom-made wedding gown... as in, from scratch! Since she is the only bride I've ever worked with who went the custom route, I knew I had to ask her to share a bit about her experience with Dame Couture!
Q: What made you decide on a custom-made wedding gown?
A: My main reason for going the custom route initially was because I couldn't really find anything I liked. There were a lot of beautiful dresses out there which I probably could have chosen, but none of them seemed like "me". I'm a pretty simple person, and I like simple/understated styles, so I felt like a lot of dresses had too much (i.e. lace, beading, etc.). I saw a lot of dresses with elements that I liked, but none with all of them in the same dress.
Q: What did you think when you first met with Dame Couture?
A: The ladies at Dame Couture were amazing. I first met with Gretchen, then Holly. Right away, they made me feel like I would be able to drive the process but also have their guidance. They quickly got a good sense of what I really wanted (even when I didn't really know what I wanted sometimes!), so that helped me develop a lot of trust in them. I met with them, then shopped a little more at traditional stores, and finally decided to go ahead.
Q: If you don't mind sharing, what was the price point?
A: They quote $1950 - $4500 on their website.... I think it is based on materials and complexity. My dress cost $2600. I actually thought this was quite reasonable compared to a lot of other dresses that I was looking at in stores.
Q: Can you explain how the design process went?
A: Initially, I went into their shop to try on some of the samples they already had, mainly to get an idea of elements that I liked. There was one sample that I particularly liked, which basically served as the prototype of my dress. It had the slight sweetheart, strapless neckline , and a shape that I liked (not sure if my dress was completely mermaid/trumpet shape... maybe sort of an in-between of that and a-line?). I also brought in a collection of pictures of dresses that had some of the elements that I liked (like the light beading, some cascading/flowy effect, etc).
We went through 2 rounds of sketches. During the first round, she provided me with 2 sketches, even before I formally decided to move forward. Then when I finally decided to commit, we took one of the designs and revised it based on more elements that I had seen when I was shopping around. We had a final sketch, but the designing really continued throughout the whole process based on how things looked on me, and what worked best with the fabrics, etc.
Q: Did you have a choice in fabric?
A: Yes, I did have a choice. The dress was shantung silk with a chiffon overlay.
Q: How many fittings did you have?
A: I think I had at least 4 - 5 fittings. The first fitting was with a mock-up dress in muslin. The toughest part was figuring out how the chiffon overlay would work, so we went through a few versions of that, and I brought in more pictures during one of those fittings to help with that element. The next fittings were figuring out the back chiffon and how the bustle would work. The ladies were really helpful and patient... I felt really comfortable because I got the sense that they knew what I wanted and were open to suggestions/changes.
Q: If you had to do it again, would you still go the custom route?
Yes, definitely! It was a fun process, and I'm really happy with the way it turned out. To be honest, if I had seen my dress in the store, I'm not sure that I would have immediately thought it was "the one", but because it was something I helped design from beginning to end, it truly became MY dress. I really love that no one else has the same dress. :)
Thanks, Karen!! I so appreciate you sharing your experience with us!!
Dame Couture 1804 Central Street Evanston, IL 60201 847 866 7599