Twenty Questions: What To Ask Your Dress Designer

by | Bridal Fashion, Bride


Following on in our Twenty Questions series (check out Twenty Questions: What To Ask Your Wedding Reception Venue here), today we’re talking all things wedding dresses! From couture to off the rack, these questions are ones I’ve come up with, that can arm you with the right knowledge when buying your wedding gown.

While we’re on the subject, here’s a basic run down of dress design terms. A lot of bridal boutiques use different terms for different things, so make sure you check!

Couture: A completely custom, one off creation made for you and with your own specific design elements.

Made To Measure: Generally this refers to a standard design which is made to your measurements. Some designers allow certain alterations like straps to be added, or colour changes. Sometimes, designers use this interchangeably with “couture”, so it’s worth checking what definition they mean!

Off The Rack/ Ready To Wear: In this situation you  are able to purchase the gown and leave the store the same day. The dress will need to be altered if it doesn’t fit you perfectly.

Before you go:

1. Do you need to make an appointment?

Some bridal boutiques or designers allow you to walk in off the street, but most require appointments, especially on weekends!

2. How many people can you bring with you?

While it may seem like an awesome idea to bring every single one of your bridesmaids, not only can it be overwhelming and confusing for you but you may not fit into the store! Some stores or designers have a limit of the number people you can bring with you.


Suzanne Harward

3. How long is the appointment?

Half an hour? An hour? Know how long you need to fit into your schedule!

4. What happens at the appointment?

Are there fees to be paid? Does the designer sit down and sketch with you or do you immediately try on gowns? Do you need to bring photos of gowns you love?


Grace Loves Lace

At the appointment:

5. What is the process of choosing a gown?

In the realms of couture is the design sketched, is there a calico fitting? If ordering made to measure, do they alter it once it has arrived?

6. How long does the dress take once ordered or purchased?

Whether you have ordered off the rack or couture, there will be at least a few weeks to a few months wait involved. For some off the rack gowns this can be six months so make sure you have enough time for the gown you’ve chosen!

7. What kind of charges and fees can you expect?

Beyond the base cost of the gown, are there extras you have to budget in? Is there a fee for alterations?  Final fittings? Changes? What about the bustle if you have a train?


Sarah Alice Andrews

8. Do they offer in house alterations?

Are changes and alterations done in store or do they recommend you go to someone offsite?

9. What kind of alterations can be made to the dress? What can you customise in the design?

With made to measure, some designers allow minor changes to be made to the gown such as tweaks to the neckline, straps, and even colour.

10. How many fittings will you need?

With couture, you might have five or more fittings including one in a toile (a fabric like calico made up exactly as your real dress would be). If it’s made to measure, there may only be one or two fittings involved.

11. What do you need to bring to your fittings?

Do you need to have your shoes by the first fitting? Your underwear and accessories?


Cathleen Jia

12. What if your weight changes?

Whether we like it or not, body weight can change vastly in the time between your measurements being taken and the final pickup. Make sure you find out if there is a cost for altering the dress if your weight changes too much after the final product is produced.

13. How far in advance do you need to book fittings?

Do you have to book them all at your first appointment?

14. How do payments work?

Are you able to pay for your gown in instalments? What kind of deposit is needed? When is the final payment due?

15. What is the cancellation policy?

If something happens, or you find a dress you love more elsewhere, what happens if you cancel the order?


Beautiful Bird Boutique

16. Are you able to receive a fabric sample?

Fabric samples are so handy to have – especially if you’re wanting to match items like shoes! Most stores allow you to have or purchase a small fabric sample to take away with you.

17. Do they design or sell accessories such as veils and jewellery?

It can be really handy to try everything on together and choose veils or other accessories, or have them designed at the same time as your dress. Some designers will even work with you to create veils or hairpieces to complete the look.

18. Will the gown be steamed/ pressed when  you come to pick it up?

Is pressing the gown something you need to do yourself or will it be done for you? If the gown crushes on transport, what does the designer or store recommend for getting the creases out? (Most gowns won’t handle a traditional iron!)


Peter De Petra

19. How should the dress be stored after pick up?

Do they recommend hanging your gown in a bed sheet (great for breathing out of plastic!) or does it need to be laid flat? Perhaps they will even store it for you up until the big day?

20. Do they recommend a specific dry cleaner for after the wedding?

Make sure you check if your designer or store has a dry-cleaner they recommend. Wedding dress dry cleaning requires careful care and attention to ensure the beading and delicate fabrics and adornments don’t get ruined. If your dress designer recommends one, you’re sure to be in good hands.



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