How Much Does It Cost to Have a Wedding Dress Made?

Fun fact: When I’m not making custom wedding dresses, I do alterations. It’s not something I do a lot of these days but I mention it here because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been tailoring a wedding dress and thought, “It would have been cheaper if they’d just bought a custom dress.”

Yes, you read that correctly: I used one of my dreaded fashion “c” words — “cheaper” — because it’s true! Often, a dress off the rack or ordered online takes so much labor to tailor that it would have been less money, less time, and, most importantly, less heartache for the person if they’d started out custom from the get-go.

Lens: Amanda DeBusk

“Um, you’re a fashion designer — why should I believe you?”

Fair question. It’s good news for me if you want to buy a custom wedding dress but you know what’s also good news for me? More people wearing what they want on their wedding day. It’s why I got into this business in the first place and, the more I work with people getting married, the more I realize what a difference having one less item on the to-do list can mean for their brainpower. 

When you work with a designer, you have an experienced guide to take you through each step of the process rather than the oh-so-popular alternative: You buy a dress and then scramble to find where to get it altered only to spend nearly as much money on tailoring as you did on the actual dress. 

Of course, we haven’t even talked about the wide range of options there are when we use the word “tailoring.” For my work, I do such involved and detailed tailoring because I actually want things to fit the unique person who will be wearing the clothes. This is different than just taking in the seams or moving up a hem but the results are, in my experience, always worth it.

There’s one other reason that I claim it would have been cheaper if they’d just bought a custom dress: I hate waste. Speaking as a designer, it is much more efficient to build from the ground up rather than to go back and try and make something out of what’s available. 

Of course, a lot is possible even with a pre-made dress but even more is possible when we work from a blank slate. By creating a dress that’s made for your unique body, we make your dress work for you — not the other way around!

Lens: Heather Sherrill

“Interesting but how much is this going to cost me?”

Again, very fair question. The custom wedding dresses I design start at $1,500, which can feel like a lot of money. In this article, I explain why, nationally speaking, that’s actually below the average cost. More importantly, though, I want to offer context on what you’re paying for when you buy a custom dress.

You’re buying my brain. I’m the type of person who looks at fabric swatches on her break. I’ve been wearing nothing but my own handmade clothes since 2014 — that includes my underwear! I started making clothes for other people because I wanted to make big dresses and awesome suits and other glorious clothes but I didn’t want to have a lot in my closet. 

Long story short: I live and breathe making fashion that works for all people. That — more than the fabric, more than the labor, more than the time — is what you’re buying and that can save you hours of heartache. Rather than order an outfit only to have it arrive and not be quite what you hoped, we can start from the beginning to make sure you get what you want without all the (expensive) back-and-forth.

“What about made-to-measure or fast fashion ? Those prices are so low!”

Hiring a custom designer is a lot like hiring an architect. You are picking someone to be in charge of making decisions. We’re not talking about hiring some random person, either; you’re hiring a qualified, experienced, proven expert for the very important job of taking what’s in your head and bringing it to life. 

That’s part of the reason why an architect is paid more than those who build the building: The architect is being compensated for her decision-making expertise and all of the education and experience that makes her qualified to make those decisions in the first place.

The same principle applies to my work, too. While ordering a dress made-to-measure or picking a fast fashion dress costs less upfront, it actually costs much more in aggregate. It costs more in terms of money (alterations in addition to the original cost of the dress!), time (it’s on you to do the legwork), satisfaction (settling for something that isn’t made for your body), and, of course, brainpower (no resident expert to help).

So, how much does it cost to have a wedding dress made?

Less than you’d think, particularly when you factor in what you’re actually buying. 

When you hire a designer, you’re picking someone to ask the right questions and offer meaningful solutions. You’re also hiring their talent and time to draft the design, select the fabric, cut the pattern (six hours at least!), and then, finally, create. 

Sound good? Let’s talk more. Email me!

Lens: Megan Renee Thompson