You may think finding a custom-made wedding gown on a very limited budget is impossible. Surprisingly, this is not so. There are actually many dress makers who will make the dress of your dreams and mail it to you for very little. I went on the hunt for, and found, several sources with both a track record and good reputation.
So what’s the catch? From one perspective, there is none. These people and manufacturers have figured out how to make and deliver what you want inexpensively. Generally, you send them a photo, explain the features you want, or choose an existing design. Then indicate the color(s) you’d like and take several careful measurements (they will let you know what they need). Then order and allow anywhere from 1 1/2-6 weeks for the gown to be made.
Here are five that offer for less than $500. All the numbers and prices, of course, are as of this writing.
Many of the custom dress sellers on Etsy have made few sales, so I couldn’t tell much about their reliability or quality of their products. For that reason I’ve narrowed it down to two with solid reputations.
1) Ieie’s Dress Shop (79 sales, 100% feedback from 33 customers, plus a top WeddingWire reputation). Jersey City, NJ
Most of these gowns are in the $300-$500 range. You can choose from their designs or request a custom made gown. Delivery is in around 13 weeks. Returns are accepted, with a 20% restocking fee.
They are a group which began as a mother-daughter team and also sell from the Ieie’s Dress Boutique website, which has won a Wedding Wire Bride’s Choice award the last two years.
2) larimeloom (4,571 sales, 100% feedback from 2,713 customers). Alba, Italy
Maria Lucia Squillari’s gowns start at around $350, with most a little over $500. Her dresses tend to be one-of-a-kind; she will customize for you based on one of her current designs. If you order an already-made dress she can adjust it and ship to arrive in 2-3 weeks (I’m not sure of the timeline if it’s made from start). She does accept exchanges and returns.
This young lady is a prolific designer and sewer! I was intrigued by the pictures on Facebook (Larimeloom) of her using purple cabbage to dye silk for a gown.
eBay Store Owners
There are numerous dress makers on eBay who will make a gown to order. Most have a low number of sales and/or relatively high number of complaints. I found three, however, that have 99.8% or better positive feedback from over 1,000 customers.
3) LuckShops (100% positive, 1,169 reviews). Shanghai, China
They make both bridesmaid dresses and elaborate bridal gowns in the $110-$400 price range (most on the low end). Shipping is within 20 business days (or less) after your payment clears. Counting time for shipping, you will get the dress about six weeks after placing the order. If you are not happy with it they will take returns within the first seven days or remake it.
4) xinyuan51882010 (99.8% positive, 1,040 reviews). Suzhou, China
This is very similar to LuckShops. Prices are mostly around $150, give or take a few dollars. They also accept returns or exchanges and your dress will arrive in six weeks or less.
A lot of the reviews mentioned how easy this seller is to work with; I saw no negative customer service feedback. The very few neutral and one negative comments revolve around the dresses not being exactly like the photo or materials of lesser than designer quality.
Which is a great lead in to a couple points I’d like to make:
a) Designer gowns that cost thousands of dollars are made from expensive fabrics, crystals, beading, and lace. You simply cannot expect the identical materials when ordering a gown in this price range. Count on the materials being much lower quality.
b) Designer styles belong to the designer. Advertising “knock offs” based on the designers’ photos is a questionable practice, but I won’t go there. What I will say is do not expect your dress to be identical, to-the-stitch styling. What you should expect is similar features, but not the exact design.
5) This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Camo (100% positive, 1,991 reviews). Coeur d Alene, Idaho
This store sells wedding gowns, dresses, and accessories made from or detailed with camouflage fabric (your choice of 11). The bridal gowns run from under $300 to $500-something. She has photos of actual dresses she’s made so you can see exactly what you will be getting. Delivery is in 4-6 weeks. No returns are allowed, but they will work with you to adjust if you are not happy with it.
She also owns the Affordable Elegance bridal store.