Sarah Willard Couture

A Couture Wedding Dress Designed For You?

Sarah ShorttComment

Are you thinking of having a beautiful bridal gown, designed and handmade just for you? 

You may have fragments of ideas about your dream dress – images from childhood, dreams, a time period in history or style icons; pages ripped out of glossy magazines, or doodles on a page?

Our skill is the ability to capture these ideas and use them to create an elegant and stylish gown that reflects your personality and ensures that you will see your dream dress become a reality.

Or you might be struggling to find your dream dress?

You like the top of one and the skirt of another, in the fabric of a different dress, and instead of that feeling that you’re supposed to get when you’ve found “the one”, you just feel a little anxious, bewildered and confused! You might just be “a bespoke bride”!

Don’t panic. Having a dress made for you is like going on a journey – you may not quite know your destination, but you will discover things about yourself on the way and when it is over, take with you a fabulous array of memories and experiences. It’s exciting and a lot of fun! 

Sarah is amazing, she has that rare creativity and I walked down the aisle wearing a very special dress. The whole process was an amazing experience from the first appointment through to the finished dress. I knew my dress would be just perfect.

Having my dress made by Sarah was an amazing experience – she knew what I wanted even before I did and the end result was perfect.
— Couture Brides 2016

“Sarah is amazing, she has that rare creativity and I walked down the aisle wearing a very special dress. The whole process was an amazing experience from the first appointment through to the finished dress. I knew my dress would be just perfect.”

So how does it work?

We begin to develop your design by listening – we want to know what ideas you might already have, what the dress will be expected to do and what the wedding venue will be like. It does help if you bring some ideas too, whether that's pictures in magazines, images on an iPad or Pinterest.  Do you have anything in your wardrobe that makes you feel great? And if that all sounds a bit daunting thinking about what you think you definitely don't want is often a great starting point! 

There are plenty of dresses to try on, books and designs to look at, Vintage dresses for inspiration and rolls of fabric to choose from, beads, laces, trimmings. And we usually end up doodling our ideas on paper. Above all it's fun! You will be able be to talk through your ideas and thoughts, before having the opportunity to try on dresses and separates from the Collection. This allows you to play with different ideas and find out what style of dress will suit you – you may be surprised at how your original thoughts change in the first stages of the couture experience! 

Design Sketches

Sketches are then drawn and your measurements taken. It’s also the time to choose from an extensive range of luxurious fabrics including silks, lace and velvets; browse through boxes of trimmings; tip out jars of pearls, beads and crystals and let your imagination run wild.

I went to Sarah with a vague idea of a look I liked, and she worked so quickly and with so much vision that it wasn’t long before we came to something truly beautiful. On our big day and still now, I have comments about how beautiful my dress was, many saying it was the loveliest one they had ever seen.

Once you have chosen the style and design of your dress, the next step is a block pattern fitting, an important first stage in the couture dress making process. This isn’t very exciting, but vital as the block is the first draft of the basic pattern specific to your measurements. It’s often a simple shift dress, and nothing like your wedding dress, but it’s really important to get the fit of the block right, as all the patterns for your dress come from this master template. 


For your next fitting, a ‘toile’ (a mock-up of the dress design in cotton calico) will be created. The toile fitting ensures that we are on the correct wavelength and you will begin to see the ideas that we had on paper spring into life as the is tweaked so that it is the perfect fit for you. The design can then evolve, as we keep working on this stage until we are all happy, the toile looks amazing on you, we’ve finished pinning, and usually you are so excited you want to wear the toile home! 

Beads and Sequins

Only then do we begin the dress in it’s actual fabric. The first silk fitting is exciting, as you begin to see how you’ll dress will look, how the fabric feel and falls. The dress will not be finished at this stage, but we begin to make alterations to ensure that your dress fits perfectly. There may be a couple more fittings depending on the complexity of the design, as details are added, any necessary alterations are made and the hem is finished. 

Wedding Dress Work In Progress

You will be made to feel extremely special at each fitting and be able to have an input at every stage of your dress’s development. Once all the work on your dress is complete and your anticipation and excitement levels have reached their peak, you will be able to collect your finished dress. Not only will you be thrilled with the result, you will also never want to buy another dress off the peg again! 

I expected a nice dress for my wedding... What I received was a one-off, special, intricate masterpiece! I’ve never seen another dress like it which is exactly what I wanted! I feel very honoured to wear such a beautiful piece of fashion led wedding style!

Unsure whether you’ll like your dress and unsure that all this may be a bit of a risk? Well we have plenty of happy customers who say that they loved the experience and that it was one of the best things about planning a wedding. And our advice, start early. If the toile stage is completed several months before your wedding date, then when people start asking about your dress you already have the answers… you’ve seen the prototype, and already know that having a dress made for you is a dream come true! 

Sarah x