When my now husband proposed and the floodgates of wedding ideas opened wide, I knew right away that my dress was going to be different. I wanted something that would reflect my personality and make me feel special. I also knew I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a dress I would only wear once.
After scouring Pinterest, I came across a lot of beautiful dresses, but nothing that had quite what I was looking for. I tried on a number of dresses, and don’t get me wrong – those designer gowns are spectacular – but I decided traveling around Europe after our wedding was more worthy of my cash. So I decided to look into having a dress made.
I called a few alteration shops and got a few quotes. I wanted to stay around $500 total, and after talking with some different seamstresses it sounded doable!
I was inspired by a beautiful embroidered dress I saw online, I loved the detail work but the cut of the dress wasn’t fitting for my body type, and I didn’t want to wear long sleeves at my late June outdoor wedding.
Then it hit me – have that dress remade! So I got to sketching – keep the skirt of the embroidered dress, and create a new neckline using a different dress. Soon enough, I had found a second dress online that had the perfect neckline.
I bought both dresses online and when they arrived I brought them into the Laila Bridal in Walla Walla, Washington, where I was living at the time. Laurie and her team started right away deconstructing the two dresses and piecing them together. They were very open to my ideas and so respectful of my budget!
It took a few adjustments to get to the perfect fit and to decide where the leftover embroidery would be placed on the bodice (that was the hardest part!). In the end, I stood in front of those triple mirrors and felt so excited to get married in such a fun dress!
If you are thinking about an alternative dress, here are a few things consider.
1. Find a seamstress near you that you are confident in.
It is important to find someone who can coach you on what is possible to do in your timeline. The construction of some dresses will make it harder and/or more expensive to alter so keep that in mind. One of the reasons my dress was so affordable was because they were fairly simple dresses for the seamstress to work with. If you want a dress with bones, lots of intricate lace details, or many different layers, it’s probably best that you try and find a dress that doesn’t need much work.
2. Think about how much time you have to work with.
If you are a year out from your wedding, you will have more flexibility than if you are getting married in a few months. This can help you determine if you can design a dress that is more intricate, or if you are better off keeping it simple.
3. Get creative and don’t limit yourself to what you see on the rack.
So many stores have beautiful dresses that with a few changes can be turned into your perfect wedding dress. Especially if you are operating within a budget, reworking a dress that is not technically a wedding dress is such a fun option! Even just the act of considering dresses that are not technically for weddings is a great way to find something unique, and you may not need to make any changes if you find the right one!
I would start by checking ASOS and Lulu’s.
Did you get married in a less-than-traditional wedding dress? I would love to see pictures and hear about your dress shopping or making experience! Love these wedding images? Check out photographer Emily Star Poole, who is based out of Spokane, WA.