Each journey begins with one step, and knowing what you want in your wedding dress, will make yours all the more joyful! Do you have your gown made, or buy one off the rack? There are different styles to try on, a range of fabrics to choose from and a huge variety of stores to visit, whether on the street or online. Plus, at the end of the day, not only does your gown have to fit you, it has to fit the not so fun-filled aspect of your wedding - the budget. With all this to consider, a little research before you get started will set you in good stead.
Rack it up
Buying off the rack can seem like a great idea if you're running out of time, you're short on cash, and you're a standard 'fit size'. It seems straightforward enough - if you like the garment and it fits, your work is done.
But despite how easy it sounds, off-the-rack purchases require a lot of thought. You'll need to bear in mind that if the fit isn't seamless to begin with there won't be much room for alteration. In addition, not all off-the-rack dresses are created equal. The low price of bulk-manufactured gowns is usually indicative of synthetic fabric and lower-quality finishings, so if the price seems too good to be true its seams are intact, the beadwork's not loose and it's not shop soiled. On the other hand, designer off-the-rack dresses are of much higher calibre, also reflected in the price.
If you're unsure what style you're after, walking into a store stocked with hundreds of long white gowns can be intimidating. Pros advise phoning ahead to book some one-on-one time with a bridal consultant, and being open to donning a variety of styles.
Trying a range of gowns gives you a better feel for design and proportion than a sketch can; you get a feel for what looks good on you. Some brides say they don't like the look of a dress on the hanger then fall in love with it as soon as they try it on.
Meet your maker
Employing a dressmaker may be the best option if you know exactly what you want, or you've been inspired by a celebrity style. That's how it happened for Aucklander Jackie Robinson. 'While looking at frocks worn on the red carpet, I spotted the one. Since I didn't require any design input, I looked for a dressmaker who was also a talented pattern maker' she explains.
Jackie's dressmaker, Anita de la Cruz, says that the cost involved varies according to the work required.
A good dressmaker will be adept at bringing even the most ambitious ideas to life. 'In over 40 years of dressmaking I've never made the same dress twice,' says Anita. 'Each and every dress is made to measure. Initially I make the dress in calico, to allow the bride to make changes to the shape. The gown must fit like a glove, so getting it right might take five or six fittings, with the final fitting scheduled two to three weeks before the wedding.'