Quite often, the Terms & Conditions of your Custom Wedding Gown may state that you can have up to 3 changes included in the quoted price of your gown. Some Bridal Makers don't offer changes at all, depending on the establishment. The main reason to limit changes, is more about the cost of labour, than the actual change. Even what may be considered a 'small' change to a non-dressmaker, still means undoing particular sections of the gown, which may be sealed, and re-doing differently, but then putting it back together better than it was before. Therefore, it may take four-times the time expected, to make the change. Sometimes changes may be impossible, for example, if the particular fabric is unpicked, it may leave holes/damage to the delicate fabric, and it will start to look a bit damaged.
The reason more high-end designers may not offer any changes, is because they have a certain design/look they want to achieve, and would feel any change to any part, would alter the whole look, an bit like those old Christmas lights, where one faulty bulb caused the whole lot to fail...
We originally offered custom gowns (in 2010) as brides were wanting something they had seen online, but not in stores. And as time has passed, and demand grows, more brides are looking at the possibility of having something made, but a lot are unsure of their ideas, and feel it is quite risky, as they don't know how it will turn out. Totally understandable, and therefore Custom Made is not for everyone.
I personally believe that the design process is collaborative, and brides should pick their maker based on communication, openess and at times, certain honesty. It's great to get along with your maker, like a friend, but you also need a maker who can show you what does suit you & what doesn't, when adding something is 'too much' and will help build healthy boundaries. I guess, just like a marriage!
The best way to look at it is that you can have your dream dress made, but it may take more time if you are a bit unsure, as your maker should walk you through it at a pace you find comfortable, not pushing you, to get the dress finished. If you have time, then take it wisely, there's no rush. However, there is usually consequence for this, where the maker will need to charge you more, if you want to change something on the dress, especially if it's different from the original design. I've only had a few brides change as we go, and it has never been a problem, and usually they are super gratful, and are happy to pay extra to have the options. Sometimes things work, and sometimes another design is better. But it is never a problem, or bad thing to change your mind, especially if it's the first time having something made.
Some changes (usually lengthening) may cost quite a lot, where the maker will have to purchase more fabric and re-cut certain panels, however shortening, or taking things out should not cost as much. We always offer to make a toile - practice gown from cheaper fabric, to make sure you know how the design will look, before the real fabric is cut.
Whatever the change, you must be comfortable and confident in your dress. I've heard from other bridal makers, and experienced myself, where a bride usually has 'doubt fortnight' where a couple of weeks before the wedding, stress levels are ultimate, and they doubt whether they like the dress or not. If possible, I often arrange for dresses to completed before this time, as so far it's other pressures compounding on your confidence, and making you feel insecure about your design choices, I've also seen this many times working for other fashion labels. But every time, people love their dress on the day, and wouldn't have changed a thing :) xx