Bodice & dress: 100% silk satin
Skirt and bodice overlay: 100% nylon tulle with hand appliquéd beaded lace
Skirt lining: 100% silk habotai
Veil: 100% nylon tulle
Fuss over me people! (
Photos by The Robertsons
So I took the plunge and set up a meeting with wedding/costume designer/dressmaker Keera Denaan. Not only did I gain a beautiful wedding dress, I also gained an experience of a lifetime.
Keera is one cool, laid back chick. On the other hand I can be quite uptight (I know) with certain things like the one and only white dress (I seem to think that bolding the sentences is a good way to justify my behaviour). Our first meeting was held at her sweet little home studio. It was a simple and quick hello + expression of ideas, that was it. I remember leaving the studio not knowing how to feel because all my pre-conceived notion of Keera had been rendered invalid. There wasn’t any flamboyant display of dresses, bombastic fashion terms, and nose in the air. Instead she was chill, polite and easy going. I hadn’t yet made up my mind at that point but I knew I wanted more than picking a dress off the racks. I was at a place where I had time to spare so I decided to give it a chance… Well, I never needed to look back.
Instead of rambling till the cows come home, I wanted this post to be as meaningful for you as it is for me. Based on my own experiences (I’m by no means an expert), I’ve come up with a guide that might just veer you down the path of bespoke gowns (hopefully!)
#1. Open mindedness
I believe that every good thing starts with an open mind. Just because the designer isn’t one that you’re familiar with, it doesn’t mean that he/she’s anymore inferior to the big names out there. Once you’ve seen and approved of their portfolio, go and meet them with a sense of respect and trust.
Be transparent about your vision, ideas and finances. This will ensure that your bespoke experience is an enjoyable one. Contrary to popular belief, bridal gown customisation isn’t always more expensive than off the rack ones. Prices vary according to materials and complexity of the design. Don’t be afraid to share the details of your dream dress with your designer. If you’ve gone a little off-track, your designer would pull you back on track. Similarly, make sure that there’s a high level of transparency when it comes to costs. Ask for breakdowns and set your records straight right from the beginning. I find it so easy to work with Keera because she was transparent about her charges.
Research is king. You don’t have to have the exact dress that you want in mind at your first meeting but it would be tremendously helpful if you have some ideas to work with. That would not only save both of you time but design fees as well. The best way to start getting a feel for dresses is to do a Pinterest search. Create your own board and start pinning images that you like. I would consider my style to be somewhat eclectic but if you’re a ‘consistent’ person, you might start to see particular features/designs staring back at you, begging to be considered.
Keera and I communicated a lot via email. The icing on the cake is that she’s an extremely good communicator. She’s thorough and addresses all the issues that concerned me as a bride. I did go through some ‘I’m not so sure’ moments after confirming the design and it’s completely acceptable to voice that out to the designer. A good designer listens to their clients and offers reassurance and solutions accordingly. Bear in mind that if changes were to be made mid-way, that would likely to impact on your budget.
So you have the dress in mind, and construction may be a little tricky… Be prepared to change your design, for the best. For e.g. a corset top like mine wouldn’t be properly supported by a wide, opened back so I opted to show off less of it. At the end of the day a wedding dress is as much about the fit as the design.
I gotta admit that it takes a heap more effort and patience to have a dress made. Do expect an average of 8-10 fittings throughout the entire process. Having said that, the satisfaction of seeing my dress taking its shape is immeasurable!
Time is of the essence. Allow yourself plenty of time (I mean months) if you were to take this path to allow for any contingencies.
The world of wedding fabrics is a very foreign one to me. I’m quite clueless about the kinds of fabrics and embellishments on offer. Ask your designer for help and guidance. Keera came with me on my fabric shopping trip and making a decision could not be any quicker and easier.
One thing that deeply attracted me to the idea of a bespoke gown is more than having a unique gown itself. It’s the idea of gaining a friend along the way. I actually looked forward to my fitting sessions every couple of weeks. Not only did I get to see the development of the dress, it almost felt like I was catching up with a friend! Killing 2 birds with 1 stone I say.
#10. Complete package
The white dress is made complete by your shoes, hairstyle, veil, headpiece, and whatever that you may choose to wear with it that day. Don’t be shy to ask the designer for opinions. Ultimately it’s your wedding and you get to have the final say but if you run your ideas through someone experienced, the outcome will definitely be extra awesome!
For my dress, I wanted something that is pretty + wild. Keera and I decided on a corset top to really highlight the upper body, a feathery light tulle boat neck with ‘floating’ beaded lace appliqués and a high slit on the silk satin skirt with tulle draped over it. I love that it’s completely handmade with love and that it’s truly one of a kind.
Go on and turn your dream dress into reality!