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A truly unique wedding day includes custom attire!

miodrag ignjatovic

For some brides- and grooms to- be, it’s not enough to have a unique wedding venue; that personal touch needs to be woven throughout, including wedding attire. The word “custom” gets thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean in terms of wedding attire? We spoke to experts to shed light on the true meaning of custom and how it can add some serious sparkle to your big day.

Jacobs made a custom gown for Audra Mari, who wed Josh Duhamel in 2022. It turned out so well they put it on the line.
Jacobs made a custom gown for Audra Mari, who wed Josh Duhamel in 2022. It turned out so well they put it on the line.

Customized vs. custom

According to Shawne Jacobs, creative director and president of Atlanta-based wedding dress atelier Anne Barge, there’s often confusion around what custom apparel really means. “A bride can customize a wedding dress,” she says, referring to the typical process seen in a bridal salon. A bride will try on a sample available in a showroom and can personalize the dress as she sees fit, changing necklines, buttons, sleeves and more, for an additional cost. “In this sense, a bride has had a dress customized to her aesthetic or personality,” says Jacobs. The process for custom is different. ‘If a bride comes to us and says she has been shopping and can’t find anything she loves and has something in her head, then she can build one from scratch,” Jacobs says.

Get inspired

It’s prudent for brides to seek out other options before commissioning a fully custom garment. “I recommend going shopping for dresses because many times brides think they know what they want, and they end up in a dress that looks better than what they originally thought,” says Suite Bridal owner Melissa Barraza, who has done custom bridal gowns, party dresses and mother-of-the-bride dresses. “So many will come in and say they want a ball gown, but they realize a fitted gown looks better. If you go custom right away [without trying dresses on], you might end up with a dress you don’t like.” Jacobs says that this step is crucial and is part of good communication with a designer, stylist or tailor when considering custom. “Most people don’t understand that it’s different from dress shopping in general. We put so much emphasis on the wedding day on this dress, and we pay more attention to the specifics, such as what silhouettes are best for our body type,” she says. By coming prepared, you’ll only make the appointments and communication easier.

A custom dress designed by Melissa Barraza of Suite Bridal. photo: Eliza Morrill
A custom dress designed by Melissa Barraza of Suite Bridal. photo: Eliza Morrill

Considerations for custom

For a truly custom gown or dress, the process can take about eight to 10 months, much longer than ordering a ready-made item, depending on the intricacies of the dress, with at least five or six fitting appointments. It starts with a sketch then moves to a muslin mock-up to get the shape right. “Muslin is a cheap cotton fabric that we can make changes to before we actually cut the dress,” says Jacobs. This allows a designer to convey changes before cutting the fabric.

While not all custom gowns need to be tens of thousands of dollars, Jacobs says it’s important brides be realistic about how much fabrics, embellishments and other special features can cost, especially in the age of social media where it can seem like every other person is throwing an extravagant wedding with a custom-designed dress.

“The price can vary depending on the fabrics used. At Anne Barge, we only use fabrics that are 100% silk or a silk blend, and the lace we use comes from French mills,” she says. French lace and beading are the most expensive embellishments to consider. For example, “a custom dress with beading most likely has it hand-done, not done by a machine. We have our pattern makers make a pattern for the dress and send it directly to India, where they put it on a loom and hand-bead the fabric.”

Simple reigns supreme

What’s trending in custom often follows the current bridal trends. “Timeless, clean and classic are really what’s in,” says Jacobs, who says there are differences in trends based on the region of the bride and the wedding. “Southern brides love to change up their look,” she says, noting that they often prefer to convert their dresses with lace and bead toppers rather than create entire second looks for their receptions. Also trending are bows and sleeves.




Custom clothiers for your big day

Bridal Couture by Ruby V

This bridal tailor outfit on East Andrews Drive has been run by expert seamstress Ruby Velasquez since 1995 and offers custom-made wedding, mother-of-the bride, party and cocktail dresses, as well as debutante gowns. Additional services include reworking vintage gowns and veils, creating headpieces and traditional alterations.


Commonwealth Proper

Commonwealth Proper’s Atlanta showroom is tucked away on Bennett Street and provides custom suiting and wedding suits for those looking to turn up the fashion volume. The brand has endless options for luxury fabrics with each custom suit tailored to perfection.

HKT Custom Clothiers

Gentlemen looking to splash out on wedding attire should head to Neil Balani’s HKT Custom Clothiers. The tailor provides custom suits and bespoke clothing using textiles from storied brands such as Dormeuil and Holland & Sherry.

TK Bridal & Alterations

The staff at TK Bridal & Alterations has decades of experience in creating and perfectly tailoring wedding attire and has been serving Sandy Springs since 2000. For a customized option, the shop has dresses from brands such as Eddy K, Enzoani and more.

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