The "benefit" of buying a wedding dress versus having one custom made is the fact that you can go to the store, try on the dress, pay, and walk out with it. Or at least try on one in your size and order it.
After talking to one of my recent brides who, prior to seeing me, visited a number of high-end design stores in Manhattan, I was surprised to learn that the experience, in reality, may be very different.
Her experience proved that most places only have “sample-size” dresses to show to customers. If the future bride is interested, the “right size” is ordered to be made based on some basic measurements taken by the sales assistant. When ready, the dress is shipped to the store and the bride comes in to try on for the first time the dress that she had actually already purchased.
As described by my bride, during consultation the client is often literally stuffed into a size zero or at best, a 2 or 4. For most people the back is left completely open, as they are not a model sizes. The sales attendant then pins some white fabric in the back or ties a sash around the waist to keep the dress together so that the customer can supposedly see what it would look like in the correct size.
One of many problems in such a situation is that when the back is completely open the entire proportion of the design is off. For instance, if the dress has a big princess skirt the whole fullness of the skirt will sit in the front, instead of being equally distributed around your waist. That can be very misleading. In addition, the skirt for the size zero is a lot smaller than, let’s say for 8 or 12; therefore, you might end up getting a much bigger skirt than what you had imagined. And even if you are very slender and you can zip up a model-size dress, if you are not very tall the torso of the dress will prove to be too long and/or the hem will be much longer than needed. These are just a few examples.
After ordering the dress, bride then has to wait a few months before her actual dress is ready.
Afterwards, most likely, she would then need an appointment with a tailor to have necessary alterations made. This will require additional budget and time and, in many instances, the dress has to be taken apart and put back together in the alteration process. Not to mention that the professional alteration process imposes some limitations -- not everything can be altered without compromising the design and the composition of the garment.
For someone that doesn’t design/make clothes often would be very hard to imagine how a certain garment would actually look in a different size and body type.
Last, but not least, I think it’s safe to say that most of us have a part of our bodies that we are not completely happy with. We work very hard to be in shape for our big day. I personally would have found the experience described above intimidating, unpleasant, and discouraging, especially in the months prior to my wedding when I need support and motivation.
Thankfully, I offer my brides an experience, which I believe is different in a positive way. I know that when they come for an appointment at my studio for a first time, the dress of their dreams is not there physically, but they bring the idea of it or, as happens so often, the idea is born during this first consultation. The dress then is created following this idea and the dream becomes a reality.