Custom Bridal

A truly spectacular dress made just for you

Stop stressing about the dress and enjoy the creative process

Choosing a wedding dress shouldn’t feel like intimidating task. We see two kinds of customers - those who have NO IDEA what they want to wear, and get overwhelmed by choice, and those who have a pretty good idea in their head, but can’t find it anywhere. Both customers are facing the same problem - thousands of dresses to choose from, and none that feel right for them. You start to feel like maybe you’re being too picky. You worry that you’re wasting people’s time in scary bridal stores. Are you turning into a bridezilla?

Of course not! This is one day where you can wear whatever you like, so why not have something created specially for you? Weddings have become a form of self-expression. Couples not only want their day to reflect who they are as a pair, but also celebrate what they love about each other. Getting all dressed up in a special outfit is about wanting other people to see you the way your partner sees you, and the way you see yourself.  

You don’t need to have a specific, fully formed idea in your head to go down the custom made route. In fact, we’d prefer if you didn’t! We can help you with all the decisions that need to be made along the way. You don’t need to know about fabrics, necklines, techniques, styles - you don’t even need to know what you like and don’t like! We are pretty good at working that out after a quick conversation and watching you look through the store. 

You’ll leave your fittings happy and reassured that the task is in good hands. You’ll know how much everything is going to cost up front, so you can tick that off your budget. You don’t need to find fabrics, patterns or an alterations person. No co-ordinating swatches, shipping times, quotes to make the outfit come together - we will take full responsibility of your dress from start to finish. Just relax and let us take care of you.

Our custom bridal service involves…

An initial design consultation and minimum 3 fittings

All materials are sourced by us and included in the price

All dressmaking is completed in house, including:

  • Custom patternmaking
  • Toiling (prototyping)
  • Cutting
  • Construction - machine and hand sewing
  • Personalised hand embellishment (beading, embroidery, dyeing etc)
  • Hand sewn finishing
  • Custom fitting every step of the way - you will not need alterations

We also add a personalised label with your names and wedding date inside your dress

The longer we have to make your dress, the more creative we can get and the more time we have to perfect every element. We now only make around 10 wedding dresses per year and get booked months in advance, so contact us now to put yourself on our calendar!

Are we perfect for each other?

Bell Street Bridal is right for you if:

  • You want a wedding dress that’s bursting with personality
  • You want people to gasp and say “That’s SO you!”
  • You love supporting small businesses 
  • You’ve never seen a wedding dress you truly love… yet
  • You dread the thought of going into a traditional bridal shop
  • You’re a little bit freaked out by the wedding industry in general

This isn't the place for you if:

  • You want me to copy a dress you saw in a store
  • You want to bring twenty people to every fitting
  • You “just want something simple”
  • You already have a dress and want me to do alterations on it

A little about us:

If we're asking you to trust us with your dress, you’ll want to know who we are, right?

So. I am Ali - Bell Street is my business. My mum taught me to sew, and I then pursued the interest by studying Fashion Design at UTS. I first started working with bridal clients in 2009 and officially started the bridal business in 2013. I opened my first store in 2018 and we moved a little bit up the road in 2020.

Chloe started working for me in 2019. She used to come to the social sewing nights I used to host in the old shop and I quickly noticed that she was GOOD. Like, REALLY good. I hired her to help with the shop and take care of any small alterations jobs that came in, but her skills were too valuable to waste on hemming pants - she was soon helping with wedding dresses and became a sort of apprentice, training while working with me. 

In 2022 Chloe moved into the role of head dressmaker, and will be taking care of all new bridal clients. We will still work on the dresses together as always, but Chloe is the point of contact and the 'project manager' for the dress. I get to just do the fun stuff - sharing my design expertise and working on beading and embroidery! Most of your bridal fittings will have both of us there. Which means you might have to listen to a lot of musical theatre chat and stories about my dog or Chloe's cat. You'll get used to it.

A little about our brides:

I never thought I would work with brides. When I worked at Lincraft as a teenager, the only brides I met were stressed out bridezillas rushing around the day before their wedding looking for ribbons for their wedding cars. "I’ll never make wedding dresses!" I said. But then I started getting really lovely, down to earth people asking me for wedding dresses. Hey, there are cool brides out there! 

Our brides tend to plan their own weddings with minimal input from parents and in-laws. They get married in all sorts of weird and wonderful places, and have their favourite food at the reception. They’re pretty nerdy, and they let that show in fun and creative ways. They want to be able to wear a normal bra and go to the toilet by themselves on their wedding day. They want to eat, drink and dance in a fabulous, but comfortable dress. They take out the bit in the wedding vows about obeying their partner because they make their own rules. Want to be one of them? Of course you do.

Still have questions? I have answers.

How long does it take to make a dress?

I have been asked this question 64 billion times and I still don't have a good answer. It depends on a lot of things, mostly to do with the style of the dress, my availability to work on it and your availability to come to fittings. As a very rough guide, most brides contact us between six months to a year before their wedding and I'm pretty comfortable with that time frame. That said, we've done dresses in 6-8 weeks before, so it can never hurt to ask. 

How much is this going to cost?

Our custom dress service runs at a set price that changes every couple of years - $4,000 in 2023. I find that no matter how 'simple' or complicated the style is (fun fact - no such thing as a simple wedding dress!), we still end up spending the same amount of time, effort and resources with every customer - because we want you to have the best service and best quality of work! We also don't want you having any surprises so it's easier to just give you one number up front and you know you won't have to pay any more than that - no extra fees for alterations, fabrics, embellishments, rush fees or anything like that.

We ask for a $500 deposit after the first consultation and then you can pay the rest in instalments throughout the time we are working together. As long as it’s all paid by the time you pick up your dress, we don’t mind how frequently you pay it off - whatever works for you. We recommend setting up scheduled payments through your online banking so you only have to do the maths once!

I have a tiny budget. Is there anything you can do for me?

Borrow from Bell Street might be for you! We hire out beautiful vintage clothes for weddings and special occasions and we have a huge collection of vintage wedding dresses.

Who does the pattern making/cutting/sewing/beading/ embroidery work?

All of the work is done here in our studio at the back of the shop in Marrickville. We both do a bit of everything but generally Chloe makes the actual dress and Ali does any beading/embroidery/decorative work. It is a time consuming process but it means we're accountable for all the work and you don't have to worry about lost pieces, unexpected shipping or customs delays or underpaid garment workers in far-off factories. Your dress won't leave the studio until you come and pick it up yourself. 

What the hell is a twaaaahl?

A toile? It's a quick version of a dress made in cheaper fabric - like a prototype or first draft. We make these for various reasons: to test that the pattern pieces fit together properly; to work out sizing issues before we start on the main dress; and to give you an idea of how the style will look on you. This is all included in the final price of your dress. 

What if I freak out and change my mind after ordering a wedding dress?

Email Chloe straight away and see where we're up to with it. If it's not too late to make changes, we can have another fitting and talk about what is possible. This may add to the original cost of your dress. 

Who should I bring to fittings?

Our preference is that you bring as few people as possible - it's not like Say Yes to the Dress in here! By that I mean that you're not trying on a series of dresses and choosing one, your fittings are a time where we are actively working on the dress and need to concentrate and think clearly. We find the best scenario is when a client brings one person who is genuinely supportive and there mostly to keep you company - it can be a bit boring standing there for an hour while we pin, cut and sew! We understand there will be people who really want to come to your fittings, and we are happy to accommodate whoever you choose to bring - just know that the only opinion we care about is yours.

If you're after a fun social experience with some of your family or friends, we recommend booking one of our dress up nights - you can all try on lots of vintage dresses from our rental range, have some drinks and take lots of photos. They're always a good time!

Do you do alterations?

Not anymore - we're just too busy with custom bridal! We do however often work with vintage dresses when a client wants to get married in their mother's dress (or grandmother's or aunt's etc). In our experience these jobs are never a minor alteration but require completely deconstructing and remaking the dress - and often a lot of cleaning too! We love a good vintage restoration project but they are a labour of love that many other professionals are unwilling to take on, and are therefore priced the same as our custom wedding dresses. I'm also always happy to use any vintage fabrics or lace you might have as part of your custom dress.

What kind of stuff do you make?

We make a lot of coloured wedding dresses, pink and gold are most popular! We really like anything vintage inspired or anything that's a little bit nuts (in a good way). I'm really good at embroidery, beading and working with lace so you see a lot of those skills in my work, used in either a traditional or unconventional way. 

We love a challenge and won't try to steer you towards tried and true styles. We really want to come up with a unique design just for you - so no one else in the world will have a dress like yours!

A bridal experience you won’t get anywhere else

My store is not like the other bridal stores. In fact, most people don’t even know it’s a bridal store. We keep the fun, colourful vintage dresses for hire out the front and hide all the wedding dresses out the back, where we do all the dressmaking and fittings. It’s like a secret bridal speakeasy! 

Chloe and I are great dressmakers but mediocre salespeople, so you definitely won’t find any pushy staff here. There are no rules about photos. You are most welcome to just come in and chat to us if you're curious but not ready to commit (although making an appointment first is the best way to ensure we're both here and available to chat!)

We're easy to talk to and get really enthusiastic about your wedding plans. We hear horror stories about how people get treated in bridal stores (and I’ve experienced that myself) and we really want to make the process fun and easy for you.

We do that by keeping you in the loop at all times and treating you like a colleague, rather than a customer. You’ll watch us literally design and construct your dress on your body, in your fittings. We will work together on all design decisions and by the time this is over, you’ll feel like part of the business. I’ve had customers say “but I don’t want this to be over!” when they pick up their dresses.

You’ll get…

An initial design consultation and minimum 3 fittings

All materials sourced by us and included in the price

All dressmaking completed in house, including:

  • Custom patternmaking
  • Toiling (prototyping)
  • Cutting
  • Construction - machine and hand sewing
  • Personalised hand embellishment (beading, embroidery, dyeing etc)
  • Hand sewn finishing
  • Custom fitting every step of the way - you will not need alterations

A personalised label with your names and wedding date inside your dress

All for the incredibly reasonable price of $4,000!

Even if you’re in the early stages of planning, or haven’t started planning at all, there’s no harm in getting the process started now - and we'd hate to have to turn you away if we're too busy to fit you in! Email [email protected] to find out more, or click here to make an appointment.