7 Tips on How To Get The Wedding Dress You Want

My name is Yurika Kotzé, owner of Hooked Designer Crochet, and I am lucky enough to have a business that meets my passion: making crocheted wedding dresses that are one-of-a-kind and set to become heirloom pieces!

After being inundated with queries when I made my best friend’s wedding dress in 2017, I set out to expand my skillset of 20 years even more… Finally, I launched my business this year and now offer my services professionally.

Remembering the struggles I had with communicating what I wanted with my own wedding dress designer back in 2010, I wanted to develop a protocol and structure to how I approach each dress – now playing the role of the designer instead of bride! I want to make sure I get as much details from the bride as possible and that I understand her personal aesthetic.

I know how equally wonderful and terrifying the whole ‘Dream Dress Search’ can be. Trying on an endless array of frocks is fun, but can also become exhausting and demotivating when you can’t find that dress, the one you had in your head when you walked in. Working with a designer can help, as you’re more likely to get something close to that ‘much pinned’ number that you pine over at night whilst staring at your phone.

However, miscommunication can be a hurdle and you are just as likely to end up with something completely different to what you wanted!

From a dress designer’s point of view and going off the types of questions I ask my clients, here is my list of ways to make the process less stressful and ensure you get the dress you want!
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Tip 1: Start Early, But Not Too Early

Yes, you are excited. Yes, you have a Pinterest board already bursting at the seams. Yes, you’ve had that dream dress image stored away for 8 years now. It’s natural that you’d want to launch right into finding that perfect dress, but I would advise that you give yourself a week or two to reflect before barging into the first boutique you see.

Your taste might have changed since you last ripped that photo from a magazine in 2013, or the style is now outdated. It would help to venture into some styles you’ve never considered before, or having friends and family weigh in with what they ‘see’ you in.

You don’t want to be halfway into having a dress made and then suddenly find something way better that you’d rather want…

So start early enough that your designer isn’t under too much pressure to finish the dress (they should be able to provide you with an expected lead time), but I wouldn’t start as early as 18 months in advance. So much can change in that time – including your venue, your wedding date and your taste!

Tip 2: Consider the Elements

The venue, time of year, your personality and the wedding’s theme all need to be considered when putting your dress together.

You might look glamourous in that floor-length number with the train, open back and bare arms, but is it really practical for a country-style outdoor wedding in the mountains in June? A shivering, blue bride doesn’t make for great photos. Especially if her dress’s train snagged in a bush on her way down the aisle.

Consider what the expected weather will be like and whether you might like to opt for a longer sleeve in winter or a lighter dress in summer. Make sure you can move comfortably on the day, throughout the day. A long train for the service is fantastic, but maybe you’d like to be able to tie it up or shorten it during the reception (guests stepping on your dress = not fun).

Let your dress be the culmination of the event – the cherry on the wedding cake, so to speak. Let everyone wonder whether you planned the entire event around the dress, rather than have it seem out of place.

Tip 3: Research More Than One Style and Designer/Boutique

I usually advise that brides have at least 3 styles that they like and that they cast the net wide when looking for someone to make your dress or to buy from. Mermaid dress, old school A-line, empire waist or ballgown? Sophisticated, minimalist, ethereal, bohemian?

The different styles will give both you and the designer/boutique owner an array of options to explore. Some styles are hard to find or might end up being way more expensive to make than you thought (ballgowns take a lot of fabric). In that case, you’ll be ready with a backup style, instead of leaving disappointed and crushed.

It also helps if you aren’t too set on one designer/boutique, in case you find that the person helping you doesn’t quite ‘click’ with you. I feel that is immensely important from my perspective – I want to be able to build a relationship with a bride and really gel well with her. That way, I’m more certain that I will understand her wants and needs and we both have a greater chance of success at the end of the day.

Angelique Smith Photography Franschhoek K&m 90

© Angelique Smith Photography

Tip 4: Flatter Your Shape

There is nothing better than a dress that hugs the right places, flares where it matters most, and shows off your best assets! Now’s your chance to show off those elegant shoulders or flash a bit of leg (you don’t run for nothing, you know!).

It’s also the time to hide or dress down anything you might want to. I have fit, but fairly short legs, something I’m a little self-conscious about. My short wedding dress and high heels both helped to sneakily show off my pins whilst also elongating them!

There’s a world of options out there!

Tip 5: Arrive Prepared

It really helps me if a bride has at least a general idea of what she likes. But it makes my day when she arrives with photos, clips, mood boars or files full of stuff!

I can help you to weigh up and narrow down all your options if you can arm me with an impression of your personality and expectations.

Please don’t arrive at the boutique or your designer’s door with a blank page. The fact is, even if you leave with an idea, you’ll only just have gotten the wheels turning and I’d put my money on it that you’ll end up calling me in a week’s time with a completely different idea than the one we agreed on.

Of course, get advice from the person who is helping you! You don’t need to drive this cart if you’re not comfortable with it! But please do furnish us with at least some general likes and dislikes.

Tip 6: Be Openminded

Taking all the previous tips into account, you might be realising that there’s a chance that the dress you have in mind might not be the one you end up with (you might now have to op for a winter dress or change the length).

That’s OK!

Also remember that tailors, boutique owners and designers are human. We differ in skill, so the pleated drape you were looking for might not turn out exactly like you wanted. Or we might have a different idea of the word ‘boho’ than you do.

Do know that it is our utmost goal to have you walking down the aisle looking like a million bucks. We want you to love your dress. We want you to feel good in it. I consider a project successful only when the bride is happy. But that’s not always possible.

Having an open mind will not only make the experience less stressful on everyone involved, but you will also be more likely to be pleased with the end result if you allow for some flexibility.

Remember: we are in this with you.

Angelique Smith Photography Franschhoek K&m 169

© Angelique Smith Photography

Tip 7: Speak Up!

Now, having said that you need to be openminded, I would also like to point out that you shouldn’t be afraid to speak up if it’s all going in a direction that you don’t want.

I greatly value transparency and even bluntness from brides, as that way we can get to what you want in a much shorter time.

Don’t be afraid to suggest different shades of colour, or making design suggestions. I love to feel like I’m working with the bride and greatly value her feedback and input. I will tell you if your suggestion is not possible, but know that I will always first take it on board wholeheartedly.

That said, if you do find that your designer is not listening or even treating your ideas with contempt, please do take your business elsewhere…

Bonus Tip: Get Swatches

I make these small square crocheted swatches for each bride, done in the exact yarn and even stitch that the final dress will be.  I greatly encourage that brides get something similar from their designers or boutique owners!

This way, you can search for slips, flowers, jewellery and even your fiancés tie or vest in colours and textures that will complement your final dress.

In Conclusion

Working with a designer greatly increases your chances of finding the perfect dress, too. There are loads of gorgeous dresses out there that are ready, right off the shelf. But in my experience, there’s always just that one tiny thing you wish you could have changed. A designer could help to get you going in the right direction from day one.

Finding that perfect dress can be a dream or a nightmare, but I sincerely believe that implementing the tips above will greatly mitigate many of the possible pitfalls and increase your chances of finding THAT dress. You know, the one that you’ll still love 50 years from now.

Business Details

Hooked Designer Crochet

FB and IG: @hookeddesignercrochet

Contact Yurika for any quotes or queries via Messenger or at hooked.designs@yahoo.com



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