When you watch one of these wedding dress shows like “Say Yes To The Dress” I am always in awe with how many girls just seem to find their dresses on the third or fourth try. I was definitely not like that. I had been looking for my dress since I was a teenager and had never found it. Once in a while I would find a small aspect of a dress that I loved, but never more than that. Because of this, I KNEW I would have to get my dress custom made. Many of you are probably thinking that a custom dress is way outside your budget. Honestly though I always see girls go to the high end designers like Monique Lhullier and Vera Wang and pay upwards of $12,000 for their dresses. It’s a bit much. At the same time, when I thought of dress makers, I was concerned because usually dress makers are not also designers and I was skeptical that they would be able to design something that would become my dream dress.
That’s when I found Kim Ironmonger of Valencienne. She not only produced my dream dress for a fraction of what a Vera Wang would cost, she also became one of my best friends. We clicked instantly. Mainly because it turned out that she had been married the previous year in the same town I was getting married in, and when she looked at my Wedding Inspiration Scrapbook she laughed because hers was identical.
If you decide to get your dress custom made, be aware that it can be a lengthy process and requires time and effort from you. I must have gone up to Valencienne more than a dozen times over the course of 11 months for fittings, fabric selection, design sessions, bridesmaid dress fittings etc.
You will also have to purchase the lingerie you are wearing on the day at the start of this process because the muslin template must be the size you are when you are wearing your bustier or bra. This means you don’t have a lot of time to choose your lingerie so get to it as soon as possible.
The great thing about Valencienne was that it turned into a one stop shop for most of what I was wearing on my wedding day. Kim holds trunk shows throughout the year for jewellery, veils, head pieces etc. with colleagues that she has in the industry.
I ended up getting my veil and head piece in one evening through one of these trunk shows and it is such a relief when you can finally start checking things off your massive and continuously growing list.
I wanted something simple yet glamourous in the front and dramatically intricate in the back. Kim created this incredible concoction of ruffles to make up my train. They were woven together with organza, silk dupion and taffeta. She mirrored these ruffles in a miniature version for the trim of my sweetheart neckline and added soft, organza ruffles for my adorable straps. I knew I wanted a tulip gown because I wanted to show off my figure but be able to walk at the same time. A tulip gown is in between a princess cut and a mermaid cut. The gown hugs to your hips and your upper thighs and then flares out. Because we wanted to create drama we added tulle, tulle and more tule to my crinoline to create a ball gown feel. It was incredible!! I really felt like a princess walking down the aisle.
One last bit of advice I would give you if you decide to get a custom made dress is this: You should still go to a number of different bridal salons to try on dresses. Not because you’re looking for a specific dress but because you need to try on a number of different shapes of dresses. You’d be surprised how often brides end up with a dress they never thought they would have wanted. Sometimes you just don’t know what a certain type of dress will look like until you try it on. So go through the shapes, Mermaid, Tulip, A-line, Princess cut, Empire, Ballgown etc. and make sure that you are very very confident before you take your chosen shape to your designer.
Take your time and make the right decision for you. Enjoy!