Photo of me in my wedding gown

Hey friends!

I’m finally back with the second instalment of our “Lextle Ties the Knot” wedding blog post series! The focus of this post is on the benefits of working with a custom designer for your wedding.

In part one, I gave you guys a glimpse into the big day by sharing some of my favourite candid moments. But, as promised, and since you guys wanna know, in this post and the last of this series, I’m going to delve into all the juicy detail about what we wore and who we worked with!

I have LOTS of tips to share with you based on my experience, so brides to be, read carefully!

Why You Need to Go Custom

I’ve narrowed down to what I think are the 4 main reasons to work with a custom designer for your wedding, and I’m sharing a little profile on the 4 custom designers we worked with for ours.

“Custom” doesn’t have to mean expensive. In fact, we ended up saving money on some key items (my engagement ring, included). This statement obviously doesn’t apply to everything, but in cases where you do pay a premium for a custom designer, the quality and uniqueness of the product can outweigh that premium.

4 Reasons to Work with a Custom Designer

With all of that said, here are the 4 reasons to work with a custom designer for your wedding and the 4 custom designers in Toronto we worked with.

1. You Can Get Things Exactly the Way You Want Them

As far as I was concerned, our wedding was the most important project I’d ever manage (I had also been fantasizing about my dream wedding ever since I was a little kid, like a lot of girls)! While my husband did get quite involved in the planning, there were many things I knew I wanted according to my vision.

Custom stationery was one of those things. Some people don’t see the value, but I think it sets the tone for your wedding. I wanted our invitations to be a reflection of our story and create a long-lasting impression. I did A LOT of research on wedding invitations and Michelle Sciberras of Paper Damsels was the only person capable of bringing my vision to life.

custom wedding invitations by Paper Damsels

Our custom wedding invitation suite by Paper Damsels, complete with custom storyboard illustration and balloon insert

I’ve been known to have big, crazy ideas (like having white Panton Chairs shipped in from the U.S. and sending out vintage View-Masters with pictures of our travels as our Save the Dates), many of which I had to ditch due to the expense. But I did not want to compromise on the invites.

Our initial 2 ½ hour consult with Paper Damsels was a real creative brainstorming session. Out of everyone we met with, Michelle was the only one who understood me, my style, and how to capture all of that in a wedding invitation. We worked with her throughout the design process to make the necessary tweaks, and in the end, the invites were 100% custom and exactly what we (slash, I) wanted.

Pro Tip: don’t send your wedding invitations out 5 weeks before your wedding, like we did! Wedding invitations are typically sent out 6 to 8 weeks before the big day.

Photo of me and my bridesmaids on my wedding day

The same applied to my bridesmaid dresses. My bridesmaids probably wanted to strangle me multiple times, when each dress option they showed me didn’t match the exact periwinkle colour I wanted.

I didn’t want lilac, I didn’t want lavender, and I don’t care what your colour swatch says, but periwinkle is not the same as Pantone Serenity blue, thank you very much! Turns out, we could only get the exact periwinkle colour I wanted by working with our custom dress designer, Caitlin McGillivray of Jessica James. Apart from colour, it also meant my girls weren’t walking down the aisle in the same, cookie-cutter one shoulder maxi dress that every other bridesmaid seems to wear!

custom sketch of bridesmaid dresses

Custom sketch of our bridesmaids dresses prepared by Jessica James. You can see how true the dresses were to the renderings.

photo of me with one of my bridesmaids taking selfie

Our custom bridesmaid dresses were made to fit the individual size and shape of each of my bridesmaids

Pro Tip: When looking for a custom dress designer, you can search through the directory of recent graduates from Ryerson University’s School of Fashion or a fashion school in your city. We saved so much money going with a young Ryerson graduate whose work we trusted, rather than a more established designer.

2. You’ll Get Something that is One of a Kind and Special

The single most important thing that I wanted to be 100% custom was my engagement ring.

photo of my engagement ring

Custom engagement ring by Everlast Diamond, photo by Heidi Lau Photography

Before proposing, my husband knew certain details about the type of ring I wanted (like the cut and that I wanted an antique-looking wedding band). But we both wanted the ring to be a surprise. He worked with Anna Shao of Everlast Diamond to create the one of a kind engagement ring of my dreams!

Photo of my engagement ringPhoto of my engagement ring

Anna creates the most beautiful rings and has such attention to detail. She worked closely with Alex over the course of several months to come up with a design that not only met our specs, but was proportionate to my tiny finger (my ring size is 3.5!). She even put a tiny Tanzanite stone in my ring setting, since my favourite colour is periwinkle. Working with Everlast Diamond meant we could trust that the diamond was conflict-free, which was very important to us. Alex also got a better price for the ring, because when you work with a custom designer, you don’t get the retail mark-up included in the price tag!

We loved Anna’s work so much that we returned to her for our wedding bands.

Photo of our engagement rings

Photo of our wedding bands made by a custom designer

Wedding bands by Everlast Diamond, last two photos by Shlomi Amiga

3. You Can Get Better Quality, Craftsmanship and Fit

In my opinion, you get what you pay for; and if your groom’s/groomsmen’s budgets permit, there is no comparison to a bespoke or made-to-measure suit in terms of fit.

Even within the categories of bespoke and made-to-measure, quality can be all over the place. So, do your research and work with someone you trust. You’ll want to know about the quality of the fabric, the fit, the process, where the tailors are located (being located in China versus in Europe makes a difference).

photo of suit

Custom made-to-measure suit by Thomas Henry Made, photo by Shlomi Amiga

We worked with Tom Caldwell of Thomas Henry Made. Tom is a lawyer, like me, who turned his passion project into a successful business. He’s extremely knowledgeable, after having spent more than a decade in the professional world and years learning about menswear. Alex and our groomsmen appreciated the personalized service. Tom took the time to consult with my husband and each of the groomsmen, carefully measure and fit them, listen to their personal preferences, and make suggestions based on his knowledge and experience.

My husband and his groomsmen on our wedding day My husband in his made to measure suit by a custom designer

The end product from Thomas Henry Made was impeccable and each of the guys looked so sharp on the wedding day, especially my husband! Our guys were also happy that they would be able to wear their made-to-measure suits again and again, and not just for the wedding. The suits had individual details and touches to reflect each of their personal styles.

Photo showing inner lining of suit jacket Inner lining of suit jacket

Photo of inner lining of suit by a custom designer

Each made to measure suit by Thomas Henry Made featured a different inner lining. Last 3 photos by Sean Pollock

4. You Can Support Local, Homegrown Business

A common thread about our custom designers is that each of them owns and operates his or her own business. I’m a huge proponent of supporting local, Canadian businesses, so I’m glad we were able to do that by working with Everlast Diamond, Jessica James, Paper Damsels, and Thomas Henry Made.

Since local businesses don’t have the same operating costs as large corporations, like storefronts, mass marketing etc., it means the cost savings can be transferred to customer. This is extremely important when planning a wedding!

Although not custom, another example of supporting Canadian business was in the socks we gave our groomsmen. They were from McGregor Socks, a Canadian family-owned company that has been in operation for 85 years!

Each of our groomsmen with a different pair of McGregor Socks. Photo by Sean Pollock

Each pair of McGregor Socks we gave our groomsmen was unique. We like bright and colourful, without being over the top. So they were perfect and matched the suits well!

me in wedding dress

I hope you’ve found this post to be helpful and enjoyed reading my thoughts on going custom. In the next post, I’ll be sharing more of the big and little details that went into making our wedding a reflection of us.

In the meantime, let me know your thoughts on working with custom designers in the comments below!