“How much does a wedding dress cost?” is a question that every bride will ask herself at some point. A gown is indeed one of the highest bridal costs. Some brides dream of creating a custom wedding gown (like we do here at JoSaBi.) Some always imagined buying a gown in a store. After all, everyone has their unique style, body shape and design preferences, and those will lead to a variety of prices.
Most people assume that custom wedding dresses are outrageously priced, but that is not necessarily the case. In this article, we will discuss different categories of wedding dresses. We will also break down the elements that make up cost, to eventually answer the question: “What is the average price of a custom wedding dress?” (FYI- at JoSaBi, our price range starts at $1.350, and is detailed on our homepage.)
Before you invest in your dream wedding dress, it is essential that you understand the options available to you. Let’s discuss the difference between the four types of wedding dress services. Each is unique in the service and product you will receive, and speak to different bridal needs. The different kinds are: (ranging from most involved to lowest effort)
This ranking does not mean that bespoke dresses are always more expensive than Made to Measure dresses or off-the-rack ones, and vice versa. There are some very high end designers that provide made to order and made to measure options ranging in the tens of thousands of dollars. There are also some fully bespoke designers (like us at JoSaBi) that offer designs starting way lower than that. The cost of a custom wedding dress depends heavily on the designer, which we will cover below.
A bespoke wedding dress (our specialty) consists of creating a brand new wedding dress design based on your vision and requirements. This process begins with a consultation with a designer, where your ideas are translated into a sketch. The price of your custom wedding dress will also generally be defined early in the process. From here you will be able to hash out the details, and hone in on a final design before the dress moves into the crafting stage. At that point, your dress will be brought to life and made to fit your specific measurements.
Once complete, the gown will be sent to you for a final fitting, so that any alterations needed can be made. Details on the specifics of the JoSaBi Mariées custom wedding gown process, can be viewed here.
In general, a bespoke wedding gown service is ideal for brides who know exactly what they want. It is also the best route for those who cannot find what they want in stores. The shoppers they want a one of a kind wedding dress are also great candidates.
Additionally, this service is perfect for brides who have a unique body shape and whose needs have not been met elsewhere.
A made-to-measure wedding dress is tailored to your size, shape, and proportions, rather than your design preferences. For this service, you will select a pre-existing wedding dress from a physical store, an online store or a catalog. Your measurements will then be taken and used to re-create the dress to fit your unique body shape. This service is typically less expensive than a bespoke service, as the design has already been created. Therefore, instead of a designer’s ability to conceptualize a wedding gown, you are solely paying for materials, and to create a new pattern based on your measurements. At JoSaBi Mariées, we are also glad to perform made-to-measure services under specific circumstances.
The most common choice among brides is a made-to-order wedding gown. The made-to-order shopping experience typically starts with the bride trying on a handful of sample size gowns in a boutique. From there, the shop will order your ideal style in the standard size that you are the closest fit to. Once delivered to the shop, you will start the process of alterations. These can range in cost depending on how well you fit into the standard size and whether or not you are okay with that fit. .
Another popular choice, particularly for brides on a budget, is to purchase a wedding dress off the rack. This is often an option at franchise bridal stores, where dresses are mass produced or bought in bulk to resell at a competitive price. When you purchase an off the rack dress, there is no option to customize or alter the gown; they are sold as-is. If an alteration is necessary, you will have to go to an independent tailor.
Your options will also be limited to what is available in the store at the time that you visit it.
As we previously discussed, one of the main elements that separates a custom or bespoke dress from other wedding dress is that you are investing in the unique design. While you will collaborate with a designer and likely present them with elements that you love or looks that inspire you, you aren’t providing a final design that is ready to be crafted. To finalize a look, a designer will take all of the information you have given them and create an ideal gown. Together, you will then continue to work towards a final dress design.
At the end of the day, the designer is using their creativity and experience to advise you on materials and embellishments to use, styles or elements to pair together, silhouettes that will complement your proportions, and so much more. This unique skillset is ultimately how we guarantee each bride’s dream wedding dress. Our valued designers deserve so much credit!
Seperate from design, handwork refers to the amount of man hours needed to create or bring a custom wedding dress to life. This is the amount of time it takes for an artisan to shape all of the raw materials together and piece them into a wedding dress. Every detail of a design will impact the amount of handwork required. To put it simply, more intricate details mean more time and a higher cost.
For example, dresses with very detailed ruffles can be crafted using materials like organza, but the team needs time to assemble the skirts, piece by piece and layer by layer. A ruffled train can have hundreds of delicate organza pieces added on top of each other. You simply can’t rush these things! As a result, the price of your custom wedding dress will take the man hours in account.
A dress starts with fabric, and boy are there a lot to choose from. The fabric you select for your custom wedding dress will have a direct impact on into cost, based on quantity as well as quality. As far as quantity is concerned, a ballgown with a two meter train will require heaps of fabric, compared to one with a shorter train. A dress with a lot of pleats will be need a lot more fabric than a sheath.
The quality of the fabric is not often on brides’ minds, and many brides may not even know that they vary a lot. This choice ultimately lies with the designer and will be determined based on the final dress design and the bride’s budget. Every dress style will have a few fabrics that would suit it best, and each style of fabric has grades of fabric within it that can range in cost. For example, polyesters are generally cheaper than natural fibers, and a plain lace is often cheaper than an embroidered one.
However, these prices can sway depending on businesses and designers’ connections. When we save money, we in turn pass those savings on to you!
The beading and embellishments you select will also come into play. Whether or not you opt for a dress with embellishments, you have likely been wowed by intricate details before. Beading and embellishments are an incredibly popular addition to a wedding dress, as they are incredibly versatile. Pearls make for a subtle and classic choice, while rhinestones add an eye catching sparkle. More recently, embroidery has been a popular choice. The choice to feature beading and embellishments has a direct impact on cost.
Beading and embellishments add cost to a dress for two main reasons. For one, they can be relatively expensive depending on the materials from which they are made. There are glass beads, colored beads, sequins, crystals, flowers and all kinds of other attachments. Secondly, the cost will depend on how long it takes to attach these details to the dress. Patterns that create a 3D effect require incredibly meticulous hand beading. Even placing sequins on top of plain lace, which you might assume would be easy, is a tedious process. Some fabrics may also slip or tear easier than others, and can be more time consuming.
Accessories are becoming increasingly popular in the bridal fashion industry. From capes, to detachable sleeves, to detachable skirts, overskirts and more. Some brides will even order two entirely separate skirts to switch up their wedding look between the ceremony and reception. While still considered a more traditional accessory, wedding veils also remain popular. They can match or stand out from a dress as they vary in the length.
All those elements will matter in the final price of a bridal gown. Any additional time, design, and materials required to create wedding accessories will also be factored into the cost of a custom wedding dress.
This being said, let’s look at custom wedding dress prices. As a general rule:
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Indeed, the designer you choose for your gown will be a huge factor in the cost.
Take for example Meghan Markle. Although her wedding gown was quite simple, it was designed by the British designer Clare Waight Keller, the artistic director of French fashion house Givenchy. The minimalist white, boat-neck gown featured three-quarter length sleeves and an underskirt in triple silk organza. It was rumored to cost around $135,000, according to CNBC.
At JoSaBi, our custom wedding gowns start at $1.350. In comparison, a classy and modern sheath (like the one we created for our bride JoSaBi Joanne) would be under $2,000.
The term “custom wedding gown” generally makes people assume very high costs. However, custom creations range significantly in price, and are a great way to be able to get the dress of your dreams, no matter whether it exists in stores or not. Design elements, fabrics and embellishments are the largest building blocks of final costs, and vary from thousands to tens of thousands.
At JoSaBi Mariées, we understand the importance on crafting the wedding gown of your dreams. We are biased, sure, but our whole company rests on building blocks like individuality, inclusivity, and refusing to settle. We encourage each bride to think big, dream and have fun. Visit our FAQ page, leave us a comment or contact us for more information, and until then, stay safe.
Have a stellar day, and see you soon for more dress adventures.