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What is a bespoke wedding dress?

Types of wedding dresses

If you are engaged (congratulations!) and looking at wedding dresses there may be a few phrases and terms you have seen but not really understood. Well don’t worry, we are here to help. When you are browsing Instagram, searching on Pinterest or flicking through a wedding magazine you will see that there are so many different styles of wedding dress, but mainly only a couple of ways to buy them.

1- Online. As it sounds, this is when you buy an outfit from an online retailer in your usual dress size. Depending on the size of the company they may have your chosen dress in stock or it may be made to order.

2- Off the rack. This is when you go into a bridal shop and choose a dress that is hanging on their rails. You try on their sample dresses and choose your favourite. When you place your order and pay your deposit, the designer or manufacturer will make your dress in a standard size. You will then need alterations when your dress arrives so that it fits you perfectly.

3- Made to measure. Very similar to the off the rack option, except for the sizing. Made to measure dresses are created to your measurements, not a standard dress size. This usually costs more money but the dress that you receive will already fit you when you receive it and will not need as many alterations. It is a great option if you (like many of us) do not fit into a standard dress size. It is also good if you want to make small changes to the style of your dress. Made to measure allows you to personalise the sample dress you tried on to add a sleeve or lower a neckline.

4- Bespoke. This option of wedding dress allows you full creative freedom as the dress you order will be made just for you. A designer will meet with you, let you try on their sample dresses then discuss everything you want for your bridal look. You can choose the shape, features, fabric and then the dress is made to your measurements. Several fittings will be needed to ensure a perfect fit. This is a great option if you want a dress no one else has and is designed especially for you.

Why buy a bespoke wedding dress?

By choosing a bespoke dress you will be getting absolutely everything you want in a dress. You have complete control over every tiny detail and so there is no compromising to be done. Want a trumpet sleeve dress with a detachable skirt in pink lace? You got it. Want a cape with secret lyrics written on over the top of a strapless satin dress with hidden corsetry? Done.

Another wonderful element to having a one off dress made is that your designer is there to advise and support you. S/he will guide you through your likes and dislikes to help you create something that will both suit you and support your aesthetic choices. Their expertise means they will think of elements for your bridal look that you probably would never have thought of meaning the outfit you end up with will be even better than you dreamed.

As bespoke wedding dresses are made from the beginning from your personal measurements you will end up with a dress that fits you to perfection. Fit is all about proportions and having a dress that is made to your proportions rather than altering an existing design means that you will not need to worry about your dress flattering your bust or the skirt being long enough. Everything will be fit. Like a glove. After you have your measurement recorded, your designer will make a toile or mock up of your dress in cotton or calico. You will try this on and it will be fitted to you and any changes made. The designer will check every part of the outfit to ensure a perfect fit before your actual dress is made in your choice of fabric.

What if I don’t like the finished dress?

We understand your reticence but it is not actually possible to dislike your dress when it is finished. Why? Because it won’t be a surprise. You will have seen and tried it on several times before it is finished. During your toile fitting you can see the design on and make any changes before your actual dress is made. At this point you can tweak the neckline, add a split in the skirt or switch out the sleeve style. You can decide to add or remove a train or refine any elements you want. This toile is then used as a pattern to create your final dress in your chosen fabric. You will then have further fittings and refinements until both you and the designer are happy.

So you see a bespoke wedding dress is a process. A beautiful journey you and your chosen design go on to create the perfect bridal look for you. It is not a case or looking at a sketch and then four months later trying on your newly made dress. You are part of every stage of the design and making of your dress and are able to change and adapt your original design along the way. The dress you get at the very end is like an old friend that you have grown with and you will adore it. It will look and feel like you at your very best. The perfect companion on your big day.

If you are interested in booking an appointment with Caroline to start your bespoke wedding dress journey, please click the ‘contact’ button at the head of this page or email

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