Tell Me About An Indie Wedding Gown

I can hear it....Tell me about an indie wedding gown does it work? Lots of brides want something a little out of the ordinary....something you can't find at the local bridal shop or chain bridal stores. But independent designers are intimidating to many brides.

Most brides are afraid of the cost...but often indie designers are very reasonable. Many are in the $300 - $700 range. Many are afraid to be turned down or to have to share their measurements with a stranger. But really wedding shopping itself is a bit humbling, and what really matters is finding the dress that will make you radiant and that 'says you'. Sometimes that can only come through a custom or indie designer gown.

So here's how it goes:

---Each designer has a website or shop where they have policies and designs for you to look through. Most shops have a line - a set of designs that they reproduce for different brides - sometimes with customizations like color changes to details, sizing, length etc. These shops usually have a turn around time - say 3-6 months for busy shops. That is the time from when you and the shop or designer finalize or agree to your design to the completed design. Sometimes it is to the time you actually get the design - in the mail if it is an online only shop. Some of these shops are not local, so you don't have a local fitting, but need to have a bit of wiggle time before the wedding in case the dress needs to be altered or for shipping delays etc. Some have a team of assistants and workers who help create the dresses or help with the other processes needed to run the business part - like shipping and photography or emailing sizes and details with buyers. Most indie designers fall into this category.

---Some designers are solo teams. They are a single person designing and emailing and taking photos and creating etc. Many of the wedding designers on etsy, for instance, fit into this category. Often they are a home business - a single seamstress working from a set of designs or a line they've created. They may have a high school student or family member that comes in to help with shipping or taking pictures and uploading them to the shop. Many of these designers are open to a more free ended custom process and will either work from a photo of a gown you saw somewhere or help you to envision and will create what you want. Because they have a smaller volume of business, they are often willing to do a custom gown for a bit less or to be a bit more experimental with colors, designs, etc. Lots of these shops will also create your bridesmaids or wedding party gowns also. This is a smaller category, but still a great alternative to traditional wedding venues.

Warning!!!! It's important with this type to be careful to verify your designer's location - to be sure it is not a sweatshop manufacturer in a third world country. Many etsy sales recently have sent brides to the etsy forums to lament that the shop has disappeared with their money. One way to avoid this is to be sure the shop is in your country. That way if the shop disappears, the shipping time plus turnaround time is not so long that you can't get your funds back in a Paypal or credit card dispute. So avoid scams by expecting to pay a reasonable rate for a dress for your wedding. Be very careful with any gown under $200 USD. Bridesmaids or wedding party gowns should reasonably be at least $100 USD. Think about this - a custom gown will always cost more than a gown you could find at the local wedding and bridal shop.

---Some designers are creators of bespoke or one of a kind designs. Bespoke technically means completely custom - especially in size, but for a lot of Americans, bespoke has come to mean one of a kind. Some designers will create a one of a kind gown for a buyer after getting a set of measurements and a general idea of what the brides wants. Others, an even smaller group, will create designs in varied sizes that are one of a kind. Usually the gowns will have a bit of sizing room built into the design by means of fabric choices, etc. These designers are the most rare and are often doing much fewer gowns in production. They are often artists and their work falls more in that category - art to wear - rather than simple wedding dresses. My designs fit this last group, although I have a few designs that I reproduce and are not one of a kind.

I can hear the question - What if I fall in love with a gown and it doesn't fit me ? Well...sometimes the gown can be altered or made to fit. Sometimes a custom gown can be created that echoes the first gown closely enough that you get the general flavor of the gown without exact details. Occasionally, the gown can't be altered or reproduced due to vintage fabrics or other factors. Those are the most special gowns....cause there's only ever one :)