How do I Design My Wedding Dress?

How to design your own wedding dress

Shopping for your dress is a joy, but designing your own custom wedding dress can be a dream come true.

Is a custom gown the right option for you, and if it is – how do you even design your custom wedding dress? Read on to figure it out!

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Is Designing a custom Wedding dress the right choice for YOU?

Why would a bride choose to design a custom wedding dress over purchasing a gown in a store? Indeed, for many, a few trips to bridal boutiques are all that is needed to say “YES” to the dress. We therefore always recommend this to be the first step for any bride to be. Many brick and mortar bridal stores indeed carry amazing gowns.

For a growing percentage of brides however, the traditional route no longer works. The reasons can be as simple as not wanting to compromise on the dress of their dreams, or just wanting a one-of-a-kind creation. More fundamental issues like not being able to find their size in specific styles, being faced with astronomical alteration bills to get specific details added, or, as of March 2020, being confined because of a catastrophic global pandemic  can also be a factor. (Please stay safe out there, practice social distancing and and wash your hands.)

Our founder Dafra went the custom route (and eventually created JoSaBi) because she could not find anything long enough for her 5″11 frame without a special order. She was also unable to fit her bust AND hips at the same time without major alterations. Finally,  the styles she tried on kept falling short of her vision for beaded details. She ended up unable to locate a dress that combined all of the elements she was yearning for. The solution was to create her own dress. That eventually led her to start doing the same for others. 

If any of the reasons above apply to you, designing your own custom wedding dress may be answer. Let’s dive into some tips and tricks for you to do so effectively.

For a growing percentage of brides, the traditional bridal boutique route no longer works.

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How do I actually start designing my wedding dress?

How do you even start designing your wedding dress?

At JoSaBi Mariées, we recommend for you to start with a general idea of what you want, at least 5-6 months before the big day (yes, we can accommodate shorter delays if needed). Your bridal consultant will then help you refine the idea, and go into as much detail as needed.

A few questions you may want to think about (and that your consultant will help you answer):  

  • How do you want to feel in your dress?
  • What general silhouette are you considering?
  • Airy or structured?
  • Thoughts on bling and lace?
  • Any special details you want to have? 

We advise you to think BIG – the sky’s the limit here– and truly share your vision (or childhood dreams!) Have fun with the process, while designing the wedding dress that truly meets your needs and charms your heart. This is not the time to be shy!

Use your words, and just express yourself. We will always be here to later translate “a flowy dress with sparkles” into an actual fabric recommendation. 🥰


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How do I make my custom wedding dress unique?

In addition to combining all the elements you love on one gown, designing your own wedding dress also gives you the opportunity to make your dress stand out. For example, unique retro sleeves, colored lining, a detailed lace or a custom embroidery can be incorporated into your design. Bonus point: the dress is a custom creation from the get-go, so adding unique touches is expected and actually encouraged.

Some fun examples: a bride asked for a small embroidery of her wedding hashtag under a pleat, and her couple’s initials inside the bodice by her heart. Another bride wanted to sparkle all the way to the aisle; she therefore opted for a shimmery ball gown and a matching veil with silver sequins. A recent bride created a Cinderella-like dress, complete with a cape adorned with 3D flowers. 

Our answers to all 3 of those requests was: “ Yes.”

We understand that creating your wedding gown can seem incredibly daunting, but it is actually fun. If at any point you feel overwhelmed, remember: our job (or your designer’s job) is literally to help you through each and every step. In addition, we also have a number of design resources available, from color inspiration, to a breakdown of silhouettes and popular necklines, to a fabric guide (with a few more coming).

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What is the deal with sketches?

how to design a custom wedding dress

Once you have thoroughly expressed your vision and expectations to our design team, we kick off the sketching process. We then deliver a number of sketches featuring the front and the back of your dream dress.

You will have the opportunity to review each sketch, and make adjustments as needed. Once we finalize the details and you approve the final sketches, the gown will we move on to the next stage.

See an example of this process below, featuring images of a gown in the making. With each image, take note of the changes, large and small, as the bride refines her vision. The sketch stage is especially important, as the bride gets to truly visualise the final design before it goes to production. The design of a wedding dress can hence be made much easier by a good sketch with rich detailing.


How to design your own wedding dress with JoSaBi

An exemple of the design process for our France bride Sylviane. She went from an opaque bodice and a chiffon skirt, to an opaque bodice with a chiffon skirt with lace, to a sheer bodice with a chiffon skirt with lace, to a sheer bodice with a light tulle skirt.  See her final dress below.

Custom A line lace wedding dress by JoSaBi
Custom A line lace wedding dress by JoSaBi
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How do I take measurements?

After the sketches are approved (but before production starts ), you will receive a detailed form with the measurements needed to construct your gown. We also provide a video with tips and tricks. One of the best perks of creating a wedding dress is fit. Indeed, women come in all shapes and sizes. That is not always something off the rack choices are able to cater to. A custom dress, however, is designed with your specific body in mind, and according to your exact measurements. That does not mean that alterations will not happen, but they are generally pretty light.

Some tips for everything to go smoothly:

  • Going to a seamstress you have worked with before, or to someone well rated for measurements and alterations (most of our brides use Yelp or Google to find the best local ones).
  • Watching the measurement videos a few times by yourself, and at least twice with your seamstress or friend.
  • Making sure the seamstress takes the measurements as shown in the video
  • Taking every single measurement twice.

Providing us (or any designer you work with) with the most accurate measurements will ensure that your custom gown fits well. It will hug your body in all the right places!

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How will the creation of my custom wedding dress go?

How to design my wedding dress

With your approval, our team will analyze all of the information  provided and start creating your dream wedding dress. We will bring the sketch of your dress to life in the tiniest details, from beading to lace and more.

At some point during the production process, you will receive images and videos. Those will help you visualize the work in progress. This stage is a chance to share your thoughts, so that any desired changes can be made. If necessary, we are glad to send additional photos so that you feel 100% confident in your decisions.

As the bride, you should always feel comfortable expressing your opinions and concerns. Remember- it is YOUR dress; any designer you work with should be obsessed with bringing your dream to life. Be open and honest about everything you like (or not) as the dress progresses. After all, the main goal of designing a custom wedding dress is to end up with a gown you absolutely, completely and unequivocally LOVE. 

See below one of the videos Sylviane received during the production of her gown. She could hence see what the lace looked like on the bodice.

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Final approval of your custom wedding dress

For many brides, the most anticipated stage of the design process is the final reveal. After your dress has been completed, our team will send a final set of images and videos. You will be able to look over the final product in great detail and, share visuals with your family and friends! We are fully transparent when it comes to the creation of your dress, and are always eager to hear your feedback – particularly when you see the finished product! The excitement and joy that we deliver to our brides is by far the best reward of being in this industry.

Once you have approved the final images of your dress, it is carefully packed up and shipped out. We use shipping carriers like DHL and ship our dresses by express mail. It usually only takes about 7 to 15 business days for your dress to get to you. We also take pride in providing free shipping, no matter where you are in the world!

In an attempt to make any possible alterations that much easier even once your dress has left our hands, JoSaBi Mariées is in the process of compiling a list of seamstresses throughout major areas in various countries. These professionals will be the go-to contact for brides in need of last minute alterations or repairs. We will communicate those contacts to brides as applicable.

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It's your wedding day!

… And you have one job: Get married, have fun and look gorgeous entering this new phase in your life!


Quick Parting Thoughts:
Although it sounds daunting, creating your dream wedding dress doesn’t have to be a bother. It can instead be a very unique, fun and empowering experience.  At JoSaBi Mariées, we are proud to get to walk by your side during this journey. Whether you need a sounding board, advice or some inspiration, us (or any other team you choose) will be there to deliver. 

Any additional questions about our custom wedding gown design process? Visit our FAQ page , leave us a comment or contact us. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Thanks for hanging out with us today, and see you soon for another JoSaBi post!