All your life you've fantasized about what you’ll wear on your wedding day. Perhaps you imagined a diaphanous cloud of tulle and silk … or a snappy bespoke tux that hinted at the Roaring ’20s … or an overhaul of Grandma’s charming vintage gown. Now the time has come; you’re engaged! You want that special outfit—but where is it? You’ve looked everywhere, tried on dozens of outfits, but nothing really looks or feels quite right. It isn’t you.
Maybe it’s time to consider custom-made attire. Here are some insights from three local professionals who can ensure you’ll look your best on your big day.
Custom Sewing by Heather | Seamstress Heather Baldridge
You might have found a wonderful gown, but to make it the perfect gown, it probably needs some adjustments. That’s where Heather Baldridge comes in. Baldridge has been plying her needle skills for more than 35 years and has a wealth of good advice when it comes to alterations. “It isn’t uncommon to do redesigns on existing wedding dresses,” she says. The usual alterations are in the straps, bodice and hem, and adding a bustle to the train to shorten it for the reception. Some brides want to change the sleeves or neckline, others might ask if the back can be cut down or a train shortened. A sentimental bride might wonder if Baldridge can alter her mother’s or grandmother’s gown—but that depends. “Some that I have seen are much too fragile for the bride to wear, as over time the fabric has gotten very delicate, too delicate to wear again.” In that case, she offers the alternative of having a bit of lace or fabric from the heirloom gown worked into the contemporary gown, maybe as part of the lining or in a heart shape. She also likes to hide a little “something blue” surprise in every dress she works on.
Baldridge encourages a bride to come to her as soon as she’s ordered her dress—as much as a year out—even though the first alteration appointment may be just three or four months prior to the wedding. At least two fittings will be necessary, and more are not uncommon. Dresses are usually ready to pick up about three weeks before the wedding. And what about nervous weight gains or losses? “I educate my brides on the weight loss, or gain … so they understand what they need to do with whatever style of dress they are wearing. At times, we have last-minute changes but not many, as we talk about the fit and body weight throughout the whole process.”
Working with brides on their gowns puts Baldridge in her happy place. “It is so fun and rewarding for me to see a bride’s dress transform into a dress that fits only her. It makes me so happy when a bride says she loved her dress from the beginning, but now I have made her fall in love with her dress all over again!”
Photo below courtesy of Custom Sewing By Heather.
Daniel's Custom Clothing | Clothier Daniel Stensgaard
Daniel Stensgaard has been in the custom clothing business for more than 30 years, and his bespoke suits, tuxes and accessories are known and admired throughout the Twin Cities. “We make suits for any and everyBODY,” says Alysha Haugen, Daniel’s sales and marketing manager. “We work with men, women, non-binary and more. … The main question we ask clients is, ‘How do you want to look?’ This really helps us determine how we will fit you for a suit and gauge what styles and designs we will show you.”
Good customer service, along with fabulous fabrics, attention to detail and knowing the client are key to Daniel’s success. “We recommend [the client] coming in with an idea or inspiration from photos. However … part of our job is to help turn your ideas into reality,” Haugen says. “First, we listen and learn about a client then about their venue, wedding season, and colors of the wedding party to help determine what will look best on them.”
Daniel's recommends no less than seven or eight weeks before the wedding to get started, but “the sooner, the better!” Haugen stresses. After a consult, there is an initial fitting then a second meeting to try on the suit. If necessary, a third fitting is scheduled after any further alterations. For the groom or groomsmen in a rush, Daniel’s has a package “that we can get to the client in 10 days including the alterations. We have a large variety of colors and fabrics to choose from,” Haugen says.
Photo below courtesy of Daniel's Custom Clothing.
Joynoelle | Designer Joy Teiken
Joy Teiken was a Peace Corps volunteer, a high school art teacher and, since 2003, a designer and creator of remarkable gowns that range from playful to provocative. “Most of my brides [come to me via] word of mouth and already have a sense of the work I do,” she says. “They enjoy the creative process of seeing fabric draped on their body and watching the dress take shape through the fittings.”
Teiken begins the process by meeting with a bride-to-be, discussing not only how she wants to look, but how she wants to feel. At a second in-person meeting, Teiken will work through various physical concepts, pinning and draping the fabric. The custom design process timeline depends on the client and the dress. “I have fabric in my studio but usually I order the fabric once we have an idea of the dress. After the fabric has arrived we do a draping appointment and make a plan for the dress, then schedule fittings.”
The timeline varies for every client and every gown. “I’ve done dresses in a matter of weeks to over a year,” she says. “Ideally, I prefer six months from start to finish.”
Joynoelle's alterations are pictured below in photos by Emma Freeman Photography featuring model Elle Williams.