12 Tips for Ordering a Custom Wedding Dress Online
Hello brides! Today on the blog, we’re sharing 12 tips for ordering a custom wedding dress online. As a custom wedding dress maker who’s worked with hundreds of brides around the world, I have a TON of knowledge and tips I’d like to share.
This blog post is all about tips for ordering a custom wedding dress online.
12 Tips for Ordering a Custom Wedding Dress Online
Before we get started on my list of tips for ordering a custom wedding dress, I’d like to introduce myself! The internet can be a bit of a “wild wild west” experience, and I think it’s helpful to know who *I* am, to see how my experience may (or may not!) apply to yours.
My name is Hannah Nodskov, and I married my wonderful husband in 2017. He has been so supportive of my wedding dress business, from when I started it in high school to now having my custom made gowns on the red carpet and taking over a floor of our home as my design studio!
In over 10 years of making custom gowns, I’ve learned a lot about the ins and outs of ordering custom wedding dresses online, and, as a fashion designer and dress maker, I’ve had to fix a number of issues that *other* brands have caused.
So without further ado, let’s get into the tips!
#1 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Get Inspiration Images Ready
I love it when my clients come to their initial appointment (or fill out their online inquiry) with a BUNCH of inspiration images – these are so helpful! I definitely recommend checking out Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok for ideas.
In addition to having the images, be ready to express what you like or dislike about each inspiration image, and what you may or may not want to see in your own custom wedding gown.
Also, don’t worry about having multiple kinds of dresses you love! As a designer, it’s my job to find the commonalities in all of the images you bring, to co-design the wedding dress of your dreams!
#2 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Check Reviews
Find REVIEWS! Like buying any product, you want to read customer reviews when looking at different custom wedding gown brand. A good custom wedding gown brand will feature (and tag!!) brides on their social media. It’s a bit of a red flag, in my opinion, to research a brand that doesn’t have any real wedding photos showing their pieces on their rad brides.
#3 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Know Your Timeline
One of the first questions EVERY vendor will ask you is, “What’s your wedding date?” Knowing your wedding date is CRUCIAL for us professionals in the wedding world, as your date will determine our timelines and availability.
If you plan on working with a custom dressmaker who has dresses produced overseas, then you should give yourself PLENTY of buffer (I’m talking MONTHS) to make sure your dress can be here in time. Things get stuck in customs! It happens regularly, so be sure plan for it.
At Hannah Caroline Couture, all of our custom wedding dresses are made in the USA – in Nebraska, in fact! (Spoiler alert, me and my team live in Nebraska!) I know that people from all over the world make beautiful custom wedding dresses, but we keep everything here in the Midwest.
When it comes to finding your dream dress, give yourself as much time as possible. Creating your dream dress takes time; from the initial design process to sourcing fabrics, ordering and approving fabric samples, creating your dress, scheduling fittings, and allowing for shipping, the custom wedding gown design process is not something you should rush.
With that being said, Hannah Caroline Couture builds our production calendar in a way that allows for some flexibility if your wedding is coming up soon. Most standard bridal shops need 6-18 months to get your dress in plus 3-4 months for alterations, but our process can work for brides with as little as 3 months before their wedding, depending on the design and where in the world you are located. So if you’ve been searching for what feels like a year and you’re running out of time, some custom dress makers like Hannah Caroline Couture may be the perfect option for you!
#4 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Know Your Budget
Believe me, I know that a wedding can get expensive – fast! For this reason, I recommend that you have a clear idea of the amount of money you plan on spending on your custom wedding gown – or multiple looks, if you plan on having multiple looks!
It’s also important to ask the custom wedding gown brand about:
- How alterations work (timelines, cost of alterations, are there fees for appointments, etc)
- If they offer payment plans
- If there are any extra fees involved for things like shipping, materials, design changes, or alterations.
I’ve found that my process differs from many other custom dress makers when it comes to alterations, and shipping (even international!) is always complimentary when you order from Hannah Caroline Couture.
From my experience, I also know that many times family members (shoutout to the grandmas out there!) often want to help purchase your dress. Having a conversation about exactly how much they plan on giving can be awkward, so below I’ve shared an example script to help you!
"Hey grandma (or person name), I’m really excited to be meeting with a custom dressmaker for my wedding dress. I’m getting all of my ducks in a row – did you still want to contribute to the budget?"
As a custom wedding gown designer, I make it a point to honor my client’s budgets. Sometimes, a client will give me a general budget and a hard ceiling, for example, “I’d like to have a $2,700 budget for the dress, ideally, but I can go up to $3,400.” Then, I can share different options in that price range.
Also, keep in mind that at HCC – we include alterations in our pricing (for brides who come to us for an in-person fitting). Some other custom wedding gown makers (online or IRL!) sometimes price that separately, or have you use a bridal alterations seamstress local to you. Be sure you have a clear idea of what everything will cost, in the end!
#5 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Know What Silhouettes Complement Your Body
Before ordering a custom wedding gown online, it can be helpful to try on different dress silhouettes and other design elements such as necklines, sleeve styles, and back styles.
For brides in the Midwest (or willing to travel), we offer a bridal shop experience in our design studio with over 50 sample gowns made specifically to offer a wide range of necklines, backs, sleeves, skirt shapes, train lengths, fabric options, and more.
If you can’t make it to our studio, we recommend visiting a bridal shop local to you to explore your options and know which design elements you prefer on your body!
At Hannah Caroline Couture, we don’t use outdated “fashion rules” to tell you what dress complements your body best. We know that the dress that complements your silhouette is the one YOU feel good in! So try on a bunch of gowns and be willing to experiment.
#6 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Accurate Measurements are Everything
The key to a well-fitting custom wedding dress is accurate measurements.
When searching for a custom wedding dress maker, be sure to ask them how the measurements process works, as many brands do things differently. Some brands will offer you a diagram of measurements and send you to a tailor in your area to have them taken, some will have you come into their studio in person to take them.
Here at HCC, we do a video call with you to walk you through each one, making sure you have things positioned correctly.
No matter how your measurements are taken, remember the #1 rule: Do. Not. Lie. About. Your. Measurements!!
Make sure you share EXACTLY what the measuring tape said!
As a designer, I also know that bodies can change leading up to the ceremony, and I plan for this. We create a plan and timeline that works best for you!
As a bonus, check out our
#7 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Undergarments!
Something I want EVERY bride and person wearing a custom wedding gown is this:
Your bra matters!!
I definitely recommend getting professionally fit (ideally before taking your measurements for your dress), so you have a great and supportive bra that works with your unique gown style. If you don’t feel STELLAR in your bra, you won’t feel nearly as stellar as you could in your dress!
If you feel strongly about what kind of bra you want to wear (or DON’T want to wear), let the designer know as early as possible in the design process so that we can design around your preferences. Some brides feel strongly about wanting to go braless on their wedding day, some prefer to stay away from strapless bras, some want some magical *push-up* action - whatever your preferences, just let us know!
Foundational garments (shapewear) are another important factor. Knowing whether you want to wear any shapewear and what kind of shapewear can influence the design, so be sure to inform your designer of your preferences early in the process. That way, we can make sure the shapewear won’t interfere with design elements such as the neckline, back, skirt slits, or straps.
#8 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Remember, It’s YOUR Wedding Dress!
Oftentimes, brides come to us at HCC because they have a vision in their mind of what they want – and they just can’t find it out there! They’re pretty stoked when they learn they can order a custom wedding gown online – that’s made in the USA!
No matter the silhouette you choose, or whether you go with a traditional or alternative style, remember that your dress is about YOU! I encourage you to go for the dress of YOUR dreams – not what someone else wants you to wear!
#9 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Consider Two-In-One Dresses!
I have been LOVING the trend of two-in-one dresses! If you want a jumpsuit, romper, or slim-fitting dress for your reception but a ballgown or long, dramatic train for your ceremony, two-in-one dresses are a great option to consider!
I’ve had brides request removable skirts (for a fun wedding romper or jumpsuit to dance in), as well as other design specifications, such as removable sleeves, capes, or other accessories, to get more wear out of your dress.
The 2-in-1 wedding dress concept is still pretty new in the bridal world, so it is much easier to get this custom made than to scour bridal shops (and the internet!) trying to piece together a cohesive look.
#10 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Wearable After the Wedding
Another thing that brides LOVE to do in 2023 is to get the wedding gown of their dreams – that can be worn for other events.
There are a multitude of ways we can make this work, such as designing a dress that can be hemmed shorter after the wedding, having a removable train, making accessories like sleeves, overskirts, bridal belts, capes, and other elements detachable from the dress, or otherwise designing the dress with future events in mind.
If your goal is to get more wear out of your wedding dress, it’s helpful to let the designer know early in the design process so we can design it to accommodate those future changes.
#11 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Show Off Your Ink
As a custom wedding gown designer, I’ve been blessed enough to work with the most rad alternative and non-traditional brides, as well as brides who love traditional styles!
If you have gorgeous ink on your body, know that you can frame and show off that artwork! From a keyhole back to strategically placed lace – there’s no need to try to hide your ink on your special day! It’s a part of you!
Here’s another of our posts with tips on how to highlight your tattoos on your wedding day!
#12 Tip for Custom Wedding Gowns: Find the Right Custom Dressmaker for You
This one may seem obvious, but it’s crucial to find the right custom dress maker for you!
The process of ordering a custom wedding gown is a hands-on process filled with lots of communication, and you’ll be working with this professional for several months to a year. The process goes so much more smoothly when your personalities work well together and you can fully trust them to bring your vision to life.
Plus, each custom wedding gown designer does things a little differently, so it’s important to learn about their process and make sure it’s the right fit for you before entering into a contract or paying a deposit.
We’ve put together a free resource to help you ask the right questions. Learn about the 18 essential questions you should ask when interviewing custom dress makers, bespoke gown designers, wedding gown design companies below.
This blog post was all about tips for ordering a custom wedding dress online.
What to Read Next
Alright, brides! I hope that my tips on how to order the custom wedding dress of your dreams were helpful! Here are a few other helpful posts to check out:
- 5 Ways to Highlight Your Tattoos on Your Wedding Day
- What to Expect at Your Wedding Dress Fittings
- How to Break with Wedding Traditions: Tips & Encouragement for Non-traditional Brides
- How to Find the Right Custom Dressmaker: 18 Questions to Ask to Find the Right Fit
About Hannah Caroline Couture
I am proud to specialize in creating custom wedding gowns for brides of all sizes, with a passion for providing an amazing customer experience whether I get the chance to work with you in person or at a distance. While I love making garments in any size and for any personal style, I get a little extra excited about working with plus-size brides and brides that want to get married in something really unique and non-traditional.