Why I Designed My Own Wedding Dress – and What You Need to Know

After feeling dissatisfied by the wedding dresses she tried on,  Charlotte Ricard-Quesada, founder of luxury event planners La Fête, took matters into her own hands, designing the three dresses she wore to her two weddings herself.

Here she explains the process for designing your own wedding dress, and talks us through the challenges she faced in creating her dream wedding dress.


Charlotte’s two wedding dresses

Searching for the Right Wedding Dress

When I first started looking for wedding dresses, I was completely overwhelmed.

So many different styles to choose from can feel just as stifling as having a restricted selection. My main issue was thinking that I knew what I wanted, when in actual fact, after trying those gowns on, they just didn’t work for me. The overall experience was a blend of excitement, confusion and quite a lot of stress!

Why I Designed My Own Wedding Dress

One of my best friends had her wedding gown designed and handmade and despite being dubious at first, I was blown away by the end result.

From then on, I thought that a bespoke dress would be the perfect solution when it came to combining the elements that I had liked in the dozens of discarded dresses that hadn’t been quite right. Bespoke also let me have a creative input in designing and thus allowing me to truly reflect my personal style.

Finding a Trustworthy Wedding Dress Designer

I used the same company as my friend as she couldn’t stop raving about them and I had seen their work first-hand and loved it. This greatly helped in establishing a base of trust with them, which only grew when I flew to New Delhi for a fitting and actually met them and saw them work.

Why I had Three Wedding Dresses

It was important to me to distinguish the three chapters of my wedding.

The first was the legal wedding which I wanted a demure and shorter dress for, almost with a retro twist; the second was for a black-tie wedding celebration in Seville, hence the dramatic fish tail gown inspired by flamenco dresses, and finally, my last dress was to match a secret garden theme for the romantic ceremony in France, complete with embroideries, pleating and lots of drama.

The Process of Designing a Wedding Dress

The process of designing my wedding dress was quite straightforward: plenty of measuring at home, FaceTime and calicos being sent back and forth to determine the best cuts and options for me.

I will admit that it was definitely challenging to work with a studio so far away, but they made the whole experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.

A little bit of stress

The scariest moment was hands down waiting for the final package to arrive!

My nerves were all over the place, especially as postal services and couriers can lose items occasionally. I was also concerned that everything would be packed well and most importantly, still fit after trying them on in New Delhi a few months before. Fortunately, everything was beyond perfect.

My Favourite Part of the Designing My Wedding Dress

My favourite moment was meeting the whole team in New Delhi and getting to experience something other than calicos and a phone interaction.

My sister was with me too and it was so useful to have her input for the final designs, which being entirely custom pieces, could be tweaked as much as I wanted them to be. Additionally, I am so happy that such wonderful, talented people worked on my dresses: getting along so well with them made the experience that much sweeter.

My Advice for Designing Your Own Wedding Dress

I would definitely recommend this process to other brides, but only if they have at least 18 months available for it.

There is a lot of back and forth and you need to allow the time for designing, receiving parcels, making decisions, alterations, etc. And if you can go out there for a fitting, do it!

The dresses are very different to what I thought I would ever wear. What I realised is that they each reflect different aspects of me and in them, I didn’t just look like a bride, but most importantly, I still looked and felt like myself.

Throughout the experience, I also welcomed advice and input from the team in India and my sister, who made me think of styles and details I never would have before.

Tweaking the designs

There were a few design tweaks, but mostly I was confident in my initial decisions. The biggest ones were probably additional 3D embroidery to my French gown, the length and fabric of my civil ceremony skirt and going from a removable train on my Seville gown to a full beaded fish tail.

There were also some changes in veil lengths, but it was all straightforward and never an issue to change my mind: if anything, the studio was the first to suggest the best tweaks and alterations! They always wanted me to be 100% happy and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

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