Custom? Customized? Made to order?

January 01 2021 – Catherine Langlois

Catherine Langlois custom wedding dresses
Catherine Langlois custom wedding dresses

It's so confusing when browsing on wedding blogs and trying to find out about that amazing dress that makes you heart beat faster...but it says "made to order", "off the rack" or "bespoke". So what's with all those technical terms that describe how to get that dream dress into your hands? In this feature, I'll explain the differences between the descriptions and what I offer in my studio.
Most wedding dresses are purchased in a specialty bridal boutique. Generally you try on a sample and after a lot of agonizing, champagne and opinions decide it's the ONE. The boutique gives the "order" to the designer or manufacturer and there is a tense wait time for it to be delivered. Boutiques will have "sample sales" at the end of the season to let go of gowns they need off the floor and replace with new designs. The samples will be in the size the store decided to carry, are generally in need of cleaning but often a smoking deal...if it fits you. Some stores will also pre-order a selection of designs in a range of sizes that they sell "off the rack". Translation, like a regular clothing store - you try, buy and leave with the dress. A great option if you have a shorter lead time for your wedding date.

My gowns, like the elegant Jane dress are available "to order" at  Chantilly Lace Bridal Boutique in Hamilton, Canada.

Designers, whether they work in a studio or a flagship store will sell only their collections. Most designers will "customize" their own designs. Which means you can swap out a skirt on one gown for another skirt, have an option of sleeves and a choice of laces/fabrics. Customization offers you the bride a chance to have a unique dress while having a pretty good idea of what it will look like. Designers can easily offer customization in an online store with color choices, sleeve options and skirt substitutions. Some bridal boutiques will have an arrangement with the designer and offer standard customizations of their gowns.

Our beautiful bride Catherine, fell in love with the Celeste dress . We made it in one of our signature shades of soft blush, switched out the lace and added a touch of applique on the waist. Her dress was unique to her but still recognizable as our romantic design.

A "made to order" gown is a dress chosen from a designer's collection that is made for you in your street size, occasionally offered with limited standard customization's. Customization's can include the length of the skirt, split sizing (for example a top in 10 and skirt in 14), lace/fabric choices and sleeve/skirt substitutions. Made to order gowns are made for the specific customer, work is not started until an order is placed for the dress. Unlike a gown ordered from a boutique which is usually pre made and shipped from the factory with no alterations to the style or fit. "Made to order" and "customized" are essentially the same thing. "Made to measure" is similar but with a fit custom tailored to your shape.

Our lovely UK bride Natalie, fell in love with the Victoria dress online. We made it to order, tailored it to fit her size and switched out the blue sash for a white one.



"Custom made" , "One of a kind" and "Bespoke" are a very different way of buying a wedding dress. This is a great option when you want a completely unique gown based on your vision and personal taste that fits like a glove. Having a gown made for you in person is an engaging experience since we buy our clothes from a store or online. Unless you have had costumes or work related clothes made for you, most people have never had outfits created expressly for them. Custom made wedding dresses require a few more fittings and a concept of what you envision your dress to look like. For more info visit my FAQ page.

Katie and Nikki, two very different brides, loved the esthetic of my collections but had specific visions for their wedding dresses. They both pulled elements from my samples they were inspired by, but had a gown made that expressed their personality and style.



"Handmade" generally means the designer, whether they have a large studio or small, is involved in the making of the dress from start to finish. The designs are made locally and not sent out to be sewn in a large off shore factory. A designer will have a personal interest in the quality of fabrics, ethical sourcing and employment of their workers  

"Couture" is often confused with custom, and while they are very similar an haute couture gown is from a designer officially registered with the Fédération Française de la Couture in Paris. While the skills of many high end custom evening wear and wedding dress designers are equal to couture, it is a different occupation.

Many of my statement wedding gowns like the Charlotte, have an extraordinary level of detail, workmanship and quality of fabric as a couture level gown. However I'm not in Paris!


What do I offer in the studio?

A bit of everything! Mostly we design "custom"/"handmade"/"bespoke" wedding dresses. Brides will come into the studio with inspo photos or be inspired by the esthetic of a dress I have in my sample collection and we'll create something completely unique for you based on your measurements and proportions.

In my studio, we also offer "customized" "made to measure" gowns from my collections. In this situation you may may be excited by a gown seen on the website, but want to tweek the design and have it made perfectly to fit you.

 What's available from the website?

Ordering a design from my website is pretty straight can order a collection dress exactly as it is "made to order" in your street size with no changes to the style in the photo. Or you can "customize" a "made to order" dress by choosing the shade you love from the offered hues, or contact me by email and we'll switch out a skirt or change a sleeve or split a size at no extra charge.

I also offer remote "custom made" options, generally you'll choose a base shape/idea from the sample gowns but by the time we've finished making the gown- it will be a unique version of your preferred style.

If you have a shorter timeline or want to score a deal, visit the Sample Sale section. Samples are between $25% to 75% off the made to order cost, they are size 6, in great condition and cleaned. Why do I sell my sample babies? Sometimes I'm unable to order the fabric again, so I can't have it as a selection. Mostly it comes down to space! My studio is smaller, I have a big imagination and I love to create.

 Whats coming up on the website?

Coming soon the the website, an "off the rack"  "one of a kind" section. Unique ready to ship dresses in a range of sizes, perfect if you have a shorter lead time. These designs are also Eco conscious as they are made from left over fabric stock and vintage laces. Some of the designs will be new, and others similar to our collection gowns but made in out of stock fabrics. In some cases we can replicate the design in another size, but mostly the dresses will be one off's.

Thanks for reading, I hope this cleared up some questions!

Contact me if you need more info,