Having your bridesmaids' gowns custom made

Refer to our chapter on "Having Your Wedding Gown Custom Made", as many of the points made there pertain to bridesmaids' garments as well as bridal gowns.

Ensure that enough fabric is available from the same dye lot before purchase is made. Our policy concerning bridesmaid fabric is to keep extra material from that same dye-lot on hold until the day of the wedding in the event of last minute problems.

The bride should go with the bridesmaids for the first fitting to check style and fit, and make changes if necessary (be prepared for possible additional costs due to changes). After the first fitting, changes are more expensive.

Have a written agreement as to the date the dresses will be completed. Go with the bridesmaids to pick up the dresses. Insist they try them on for final fit, and have corrections made if needed. Once you and/or the bridesmaids accept the dresses, you are stating that they are as you wish, and you cannot expect to go back for alterations unless you plan to pay for them. If you think the dress is the right length when you leave the seamstress, it won’t become "too short" or "too long" just because someone else thinks so. If a bridesmaid loses or gains weight, she will have to pay for alterations. Dresses do not come with a lifetime guarantee of fit. Be sure of fit before accepting dress.

The color should complement the bride as well as the bridesmaids. The bride will be surrounded by this color on her wedding day, and it should make her look wonderful, not washed out. The bride should choose the color and style, but keep the bridesmaids in mind. If the bride loves off-the-shoulder fitted dresses, and one of the bridesmaids has a large bust, consider whether buying a strapless bra will be a financial hardship, and whether she will be comfortable, and perhaps compromise to a fitted dress just barely on the shoulder (wide enough to conceal a bra strap).

One person should make all the dresses, if feasible, to ensure they are alike, however if dresses are made from a pattern with no changes, it is not likely they will deviate much even if several people do the sewing. When copying a photo of a dress and a pattern is not available, you will be taking a chance they may be slightly different if various seamstresses are involved. If it is a matter of a bridesmaid not being able to afford the cost of a professional seamstress, and she or a relative is a good seamstress, you must decide between the importance of her financial well-being and your "perfect" wedding... (a good rule of thumb is: will it matter a year from now?)

Always consider your photographs when selecting color and style for bridesmaids. Remember what looks wonderful in one dress may look terrible in 8 dresses... for instance a large, floral print in 6-8 dresses may look like a couch or look very "busy" in photographs. Long straight dresses with a slit in the front are sophisticated, but picture your photos with 6 pairs of legs showing, and then consider moving the slit to the back. Bridesmaids should be the frame for the bride who is the picture, and as such should not overpower the bride. They should enhance the bride while not being too obvious.