Your dream wedding-dress: Custom-made or Ready-to wear?

Your dream wedding-dress: Custom-made or Ready-to wear?
What is really the difference between a custom-made designers dress and a ready-to-wear bridal gown. It may be a simple question, but mothers en brides are still in the dark about what it means when it comes to choosing your dream dress and which option to choose.


  • If you are a nervous bride and can’t see a designer’s vision to make a dress from scratch, then it is best to choose a ready-to-wear wedding gown. You can fit the dress before the time to get an idea how the final product will look like.
  • Many bridal houses import wedding dresses from overseas designers, but South Africa has many designers with selections from the shelf – like my own Diaan Daniels Devoted collection.
  • Usually you have only a choice of colour and if you want to change something, you will have to wait until your imported dress arrives in South Africa before alterations can be made. The alterations on a ready-to-wear dress are limited, because you may only change so much. Designer houses overseas certainly won’t change your dress to an open back. You will receive the dress as pictured in their catalogue.
  • Good news – South African ready-to-wear designers like myself who have their own range, can make changes and change much more to suit your style, because we and not an international bridal house who only imports dresses designed the collection.
  • When you choose your dream dress and it is a ready-to-wear gown, it is obvious that the dress is available to the public and was not designed for you exclusively. Therefore your mother should not phone after the wedding and say her child’s wedding gown was on the front page of You Magazine and how dare we give her child’s dress to a celebrity. That is why it is important that you know the difference between custom-made and ready-to-wear.
  • With ready-to-wear a bride may have much less stress than with a designer’s sketch that must be made from scratch. Each one has its own pros and cons, but be assured not every bride looks the same in a wedding gown. You cannot possibly meet thousands of brides in the same wedding-dress should you decide on a ready-to -wear.
  • Sometimes a ready-to-wear gown is more affordable as a custum-made dress, but it depends on the designer and the quality and designs of bridal houses.
  • Price: A ready-to-wear dress is sometimes more affordable than a custom-made wedding-dress. For a dress of good quality the price may start around R15 000.


  • This is like the old days when you as bride went to a designer; bridal houses had no imported dresses.
  • The designer consulted with you and ascertained your style, looked at your figure and designed a wedding-dress on paper that was unique.
  • You could choose the material, cut and all the detail you liked and also make some changes during the process in creating your dream dress.
  • This could be either a good or bad experience. Make sure you choose the right designer to make your sketch come true so that you may be happy with the end results. That is why some brides rather choose a ready-to-wear and add some changes.
  • It is best that you say what you like and then give the designer a free hand to make the dress something special. Too many guidelines from you or your mom could limit the designer’s creativity – that is when things start to go wrong. Make sure you and the designer is on the same page and, again, make sure you choose the designer well.
  • Price: Custom-made dresses are more exclusive than ready-to-wear. A budget of R5000 will not be enough for a one of a kind dress, because the material alone will cost more  than that amount.

HINT: If you have a tight budget but would like to have a designers dress or want a dress made by a certain designer, wait until they have a sale. Many bridal houses and designers have sales twice a year to make room for new collection.

As a designer, I, Diaan Daniels, have both worlds for my brides to choose from, custom-made     and ready-to-wear, to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. There is only one answer to the question: custom-made or ready-to-wear?  Choose the one that will give you a sparkle in the eye, whether it’s from the off-the-shelf or not. You must feel like a princess on your day. In your heart you will know which is the right choice when you slip on the dress or as the designer is drawing it.

With love,

Diaan Daniels