‘Made-to-Measure’ vs ‘Made-to-Order’?

What are the differences between ‘bespoke’, ‘made-to-measure’, ‘made-to-order’ and ‘off the rack’ wedding dresses?

We frequently hear different terms for wedding dresses, such as bespoke, made-to-measure, made-to-order and off-the-rack, but often brides are not sure what they mean. Let me explain how each type of wedding dress service works and how much you should expect to pay for them.  

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Bespoke wedding dresses involve the process of creating a completely new design based on your unique requirements. As they design a dress specifically for you, this tends to be very expensive. It normally starts with a consultation process, the designer will gather what you are looking for and make a dress sketch based on your description. The bespoke dressmaking process normally involves multiple fitting sessions and can be quite time-consuming. Brides who go for bespoke often know exactly what they want and can’t find anything they like in the existing market or tend to have a large budget so that they can enjoy the luxury of having a personally designed dress. The lead time varies massively depends on the schedule of the designer or seamstress, a bespoke dress can be made within 2 months but can take as long as 8 months. Prices for bespoke dress are often $4000+, however, if you have a design already and just want a seamstress to make the dress, you might be able to save a little on the designing fees.  

Made-to-measure wedding dresses are custom made, but it is the size that is tailored rather than the whole design. First, you choose a style from the designers’ collections, then they will take your measurements and make a dress to fit your unique body shape. Made-to-measure wedding dresses are generally cheaper than bespoke dresses, as the designer does not have to create a new design from scratch, they can use existing designs and just adjust the sizes to make it a perfect fit. Most made-to-measure wedding dresses are priced at $2500+ and usually take 3-6 months to make depending on the designer.  Your Dream Bridal works only with designers that offer custom changes and Made to Measure to ensure every bride finds her perfect dress!

Made-to-order is the most common type of wedding dress among the bridal shops. The process is normally you try a few sample dresses, and the shop will order a standard size for you from the designer’s size chart. Many brides will face the problem of not fitting into a standard size gown, as a result, they have to pay a large amount extra to get the dress altered to their actual size. Price for made-to-order dresses are often between $1200 to $3000, however, high-end brands may cost more. Basic alterations, such as taking in the hem or taking in the sides, could start around $500 and up. Made to order dresses usually take 4-6 months to make depending on the designer. 

Off the rack wedding dresses are often available at discount outlets, department stores or at sample sales. These dresses can be bridal samples bought from other boutiques to resell, new products directly from discontinued inventory of a designer or ready to wear dresses, meaning they are the street size. The shops buy in bulk either from a designer or manufacturers, so they can negotiate a more competitive price than most independent bridal shops. The downside is that they are not able to order one dress at a time, hence if they have sold out of one style in your size, you may have to wait until their next bulk order to get your desired dress or that one dress is the only one available.  Prices for outlet wedding dresses are generally between $200 – $2000 depending on the designer.  You also need to consider the alteration costs.