Hilary Janes Designs Wedding Dress Title

Commissioning a Handmade Gown

When deciding to commission a handmade gown from a designer dressmaker every client has first considered many aspects of the process. The basic bespoke couture dressmaking process is described on my Made to Measure page. This section covers some of the more detailed questions potential clients may have regarding pricing, booking, timescales, weight loss, maternity wedding dresses etc.

How much does a bespoke gown cost?

A bespoke handmade gown whether wedding dress, evening gown or Mother of the Bride outfit need not be as expensive as you may envisage. The cost of all bespoke made to measure wear depends on the design, the embellishment and on the fabrics chosen. As a guideline, bridal wear starts from around £800, although typical prices are £1200 and above; heavily embellished or lace covered wedding dresses are £2000 and above. Bridesmaids, prom & evening wear from £300, typically £400-800, and Mother of the Bride from £800. All these prices include all fabrics, linings and specialist haberdashery as well as all fittings, toiles, pattern cutting, dress bag & luxury hanger and may include a dress the bride service.

How far in advance do I need to book?

Most Brides will plan their wedding dress at least 6 to 12 months in advance of their wedding day. As all gowns are personally designed, made and fitted by Hilary Jane, bookings are limited to a maximum of 25 per year. In the high season months of July and August booking slots are frequently taken 1-2 years in advance. At other times of year and for evening & occasion dresses and bridal alterations, booking at least 6 months ahead is advised, although please do telephone as late bookings are sometimes possible.

Cotton wedding dress with full train bustled for evening wear
Bespoke bridal veil with appliqued silk organza leaves

How long does a handmade gown take to made?

The length of time depends on the complexity of the dress and the fabrics. A wedding dress takes from 50-300 man hours or more, Mother of the Bride typically 70-120 hours.

Gowns and outfits are usually started 2-4 or more months before the occasion date, with delivery 1-2weeks before the event date. Every effort is made to accommodate your personal diary, for instance holidays, work schedule, travel (full weekend fitting dates can be pre-booked eg bridesmaids at distant locations) as well as the implications of weight loss. Timescales are first discussed at the initial consultation, and a detailed provisional fittings schedule is sent out post-booking.

How many fittings will I need?

The number of fittings varies with the style & complexity of the outfit and from person to person so it is impossible to give an exact number. As a guideline, expect a minimum of 6 fittings for dress. Wedding dresses and outfits with several pieces, such as a couture corset, skirt and jacket, will take more.

For Brides, bridesmaids and clients who live some distance from Manchester, fittings can be tailored to your weekend visits to the area. Bridesmaids usually require 2 weekend visits; brides should expect from 2-4 weekends.

What happens if I lose weight?

Many Brides embark on a weight loss and toning programme in preparation for The Big Day. If you advise of your intentions, your designer dressmaker will devise a fittings schedule with this in mind, and the final stages of a size reduction can be accommodated into this programme.

Can you accommodate pregnant Brides and Bridesmaids?

Yes, provided existing bookings and the proposed design permit. Maternity Brides and bridesmaids are scheduled on a short timescale, usually the 4 weeks leading up to the date of the wedding. Hence the complexity of the dress must be such that completion is possible within 4 weeks and the Bride must be available for fittings on more than one day per week.

Can I purchase my own fabrics?

Hilary Jane will help you select the perfect fabric for your wedding dress from an extensive range of sumptuous silk fabrics. However fabric may be sourced separately, for instance some clients purchase a silk fabric abroad - please consult with your designer dressmaker regarding the suitability of your choice. To ensure master craftsman quality, haberdashery is always supplied by Hilary Jane.

What are your payment terms?

A one third deposit secures your booking, with a stage payment before the main fabric is cut and balance just before delivery. Full terms and conditions are included with your quotation. Payments may be made by BACS or cash.

Satin and lace bouquet wrap with crystal embellishment

Do you make veils and accessories?

Many Brides opt for a bespoke veil to complement their handmade wedding dress, perhaps echoing a colour from the gown or highlighting a lace motif or decorative element. Matching accessories such as a waistcoat for the groom or father of the bride, cravats and ties in the Bride`s or bridesmaids` fabric, fascinators, ring cushions can all be designed and handmade to create a co-ordinated look.

Do you do alterations?

Hilary Jane is happy to provide a comprehensive alterations service for Brides including refreshing Vintage wedding dresses, pregnant Brides, Bridesmaids, flower girls, Mother of the Bride & Groom outfits, plus wedding guests - hems, size alteration, re-style, embellishment and repairs.

Do you provide a mail order service?

As all garments are individually designed with and fitted to each client in person, we are unable to supply any outfits or accessories by mail order.