Q. After an extensive search for my dream gown, I think I'd be better off going down the bespoke route, but I don't know where to start. Any advice?
A. Rachel Burgess says: First, trust your instinct and don't worry if you can't find the one straightaway – it's out there, I promise! The positive thing is that you've tried on lots of gowns already and know what you do and don't like. Taking this on board, I'd recommend a visit to a boutique that specialises in handmade dresses. There you can try on a range of gowns and see if there's one that feels like 'you'. If so, you'll be able to meet your own designer and be part of the creative process by adding, changing or even taking away certain elements so your design matches your personality perfectly. Having a bespoke gown made is an incredibly personal service; a great way to find your perfect dress.
Q. I'm looking at wedding stationery and I like the idea of designing something to fi t our theme and colour scheme. How can I work with my stationer to create something individual to us
A. Kate Lee says: A wedding invitation is often the first exciting insight into your special day so it has to set the tone, look beautiful and represent who you both are as a couple. Often your stationer will have a collection of existing themes, so start with one you love the look of and change the wording and colours to suit. Think about paper stocks – your designer should have a lovely selection of textured cards and envelopes to choose from. If, however, you have a more specific theme in mind, make sure the company offers a bespoke service and find out the costs for doing so. Why not collate a moodboard of images and colours first, then there's a perfect excuse to meet for coffee and cake and discuss your ideas further? For me, there's nothing more exciting than creating a design that's completely original. Think carefully about your choice of wording, the sentimental thoughts are a lovely touch but don't forget the all-important dates, times, directions and accommodation info, you may have guests travelling lengthy distances. Most importantly take your time and enjoy the experience. Congratulations and happy planning!
Ring a ding ding
Q. I've just proposed to my girlfriend and she said 'yes'! I'd like to get an engagement ring made for her, but how do we go about commissioning a piece?
A. Matthew Mullody says: Make an appointment with a bespoke jeweller and bring any pieces that are significant, sentimental, meaningful or practical along, or a picture of something that inspires you. If you've seen something you like, whether it be another ring or a particular gemstone, bring some images.
During the appointment, your jeweller will discuss all the various options with you and you'll be able to try on a number of different designs too. If you like part of one design and part of another, let your jeweller know – anything is possible!
A specialist jeweller will then use a computer aided design programme to create a render image. This will be sent to you for approval and a wax model made. This is your opportunity to see your design come to life and get a feel for the size and how it will look and sit on your fiancée's finger. Once the ring is cast into the metal you've chosen, it will then be finished by hand.
Suits you sir
Q. I'd like to take the opportunity to commission a made-to-measure suit for our big day, ideally something that I can wear again. What do I need to think about?
A. Danielle Harvey says: You're in luck, we've quizzed Charlotte Robertson, creative director of online bespoke tailor Mr-Robertson.co.uk for her top tips this issue – flick to page 112 to find out more. We love the idea of matching your suit lining to your colour scheme – not to mention jazzing up a more sober style with a colourful pocket square and waistcoat.
Check out Brecon-based bespoke tailor Aidan Sweeney (www.aidansweeney.co.uk) or Ken Williams in Abergavenny (kenwilliamsbespoketailor.co.uk)
Have our cake and eat it
Q. I'd like our wedding cake to reflect our big-day theme and also our interests – what do I need to tell the cake maker so they can design our creation from scratch?
A. Tracy Newton says: Your cake maker will need to know how many people the cake has to feed and whether it'll include any dummy tiers. The assembly is also important – will it have hidden spacers, pillars or be stacked, one tier directly on top of another?
Your colour scheme will be the first big design factor, closely followed by the flowers you've chosen. To help give a feel for the overall style, come prepared with an invitation, a picture of your dress, bridemaids' dresses and even the groom's waistcoat, if relevant. Even the venue will influence the design; a modern cake can look bizarre in an ornate room and vice versa.
The lace on the dress or veil, brooches and patterns from invites and something as tiny as the bride's earrings or necklace can all been used as inspiration for the final design.