Once the ring is on your finger and you’ve started planning your French destination wedding, thoughts inevitably turn to one of the biggest (and most fun!) wedding decisions: the dress. If your heart is set on having a bespoke, one-of-a-kind gown fits you perfectly, then couture is for you! Haute couture dresses are designed and made to a client’s specific requirements and measurements, often featuring unique details and intricate embellishments. And while there are many bridal houses around the world who will make a bespoke creation for you, there’s something very special about shopping for a couture gown here in Paris.
Of course, one of the best things about choosing to have a couture gown is that your options are limitless. From fabric to style to decoration, the world is your oyster! However, it can also be a little overwhelming. Here are my top tips for choosing a couture wedding dress.
The most in-demand wedding dress designers are booked up several months in advance, so be sure to make a booking as soon as you get engaged. Another reason to move quickly is that it takes at least 6-12 months to create a couture gown. This can include many hours of hand sewing and embroidery. Designers and seamstresses are master craftsmen, and art takes time! Start the process early, and you’ll be able to take your time making important decisions along the way, without feeling under pressure.
Do your research
Before your appointment, spend some time paging through bridal magazines, looking at catwalk shows or scrolling through social media. Familiarize yourself with key terms, fabrics and designers. The creation of a couture dress is a unique opportunity. It’s a partnership between bride and designer, and brides are often heavily involved in the creative process. Good preparation will allow you to better enjoy every step of the journey.
Find the right designer
It’s extremely important that you find a designer you connect with. You’re putting a huge amount of trust in them, and you’ll need to have complete faith in their ability to realize your shared vision. By the end of the process they will feel like an old friend!
It’s so important that you communicate your ideas and needs to your designer. Don’t assume that they understand what you want! Be specific, and talk to them about how you want to feel as well as look. Let them in on details about the wedding that may affect the design. Share which parts of your body you are confident in, and which you would like to conceal. Then trust them to work their magic!
Expect to have several fittings
For a couture piece, you will have several fittings after the initial consultation. One of the hallmarks of a couture wedding dress is its perfect fit, and that takes time to achieve. Consider attending your first consultation alone so that you’re not conflicted by many opinions. There will be many opportunities for you to take close friends and relatives to later fittings.
Keep an open mind
Most brides have an idea of what they want, but are surprised to find the dress they ultimately choose is quite different. Try on a number of gowns in different patterns, and listen to your designer’s advice. Don’t dismiss anything until you have tried it!
Keep it simple
It’s true that couture wedding gowns require a larger investment. However, just because you’re prepared to spend more doesn’t mean you have to opt for the dress with the biggest price tag. If ornate embroidery and beading isn’t your style, then focus instead on outstanding fabrics and beautiful cuts.
Remember your accessories
When you determine your overall budget, remember to factor in more than the dress itself. Shoes, accessories and lingerie are all part of the ‘package’.
My favorite couture houses in Paris
Spending money on a couture gown can feel a little indulgent, but when you put on a gown that fits your style and body in every way, it will be worth it!