With many alternative brides struggling to find a wedding dress which reflects their personal style, or simply those with a very specific style in mind, more and more brides are calling on the services of an expert wedding dressmaker. If you’re considering having your wedding dress altered or customised, this post is especially for you. Here, we drill dressmaker Lorraine McGoingle on this season’s trends and tips for having your wedding dress altered.

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*Wedding dress alterations by Elaine McCloskey

Lorraine, tell us a little about what you do.

I specialise in bridal alterations, customisation and a little dressmaking. I don’t do as much dressmaking now as I’m so busy with alterations and basically don’t have the time.

I was always interested in art and creative textiles at school. After doing a BTec National Diploma in Design with my friend ‘for the craic’, I developed a love for it and so studied a foundation course in Art and Design at Limavady College. I took a year out, then applied to the Art College in Belfast (UUB). After studying fashion I transferred onto BA Fashion and Textiles. Here, I learned pattern cutting, sewing techniques etc. Once I finished university I worked full time in the music and gift shop where I had been working since I was 14 and worked my way up to the manager position.

During my time here I got married and made my own bridesmaids’ dresses. Over the years, I gained more confidence and began making dresses for other people. I always wanted to go out on my own but was dubious about taking that step! Then, in March 2011 the shop closed suddenly due to the recession. In the meantime, I had met Karen and Joanne from Wedded Bliss in Portglenone, who had approached me to do a few jobs for them. I also completed the Go For It Programme and set myself up as self-employed.

I then met Ciara from Beautiful Day Bridal Cottage, who passed my details onto her brides. Before I knew it, I took over the unit next door to her shop. That was five years ago. I now do about 90% of Ciara’s bride’s alterations and I work closely with a few other bridal shops to bring brides’ visions for their wedding dresses to life.

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*Wedding dress alterations by Elaine McCloskey

In what way can you customise a bride’s dress?

A dress can be customised in so many ways such as adding or removing full length sleeves, cap sleeves or straps. Adding sparkle and reshaping the skirt or neckline are popular. When it comes to the back of the dress, brides have had keyhole back detailing added or removed or had the back built up if they feel it is too bare. Anything is possible depending on the style of the dress. I don’t like to be beaten so I will give anything a go. I would rather customise a dress as you already have the basis there than make one from scratch.

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Why do you think more and more brides are choosing to have changes made to their dresses?

I think more brides are choosing to have changes made because they want their dress to be unique and a one off. I think social media is to blame a little here. I often hear brides say “I saw my friend’s, friend’s cousin wearing the same dress on Facebook. So I want to make mine different! Back when I got married almost 11 years ago it wasn’t an issue and I don’t think brides were as fussy about their dress…well I wasn’t anyway!

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When do you recommend a bride-to-be gets in touch to arrange customisation of her dress?

I would recommend a bride gets in touch as soon as she buys her dress although I’ve a few that would book as soon as they choose a date. As long as their date is booked in they won’t need to come for a first fitting until approximately 8 to 10 weeks before their wedding. At the minute I’m fully booked until November with limited availability in November and December. Next year is filling up fast too. I also have two very organised brides booked for 2020 and 2021.

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What wedding dress trends are you seeing as popular this year?

Wedding dress trends that I’m seeing this year are about going back to basics. More brides and opting for plain mikado satin or crepe fabric with lace bodice or diamanté detail. I’m also seeing quite a few sleeves on dresses too.

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What do you predict Meghan Markle will wear?

I think Megan Markle will keep it simple and classy. Perhaps covered up with a little back on show but not too revealing. I’m not sure she will do the whole ballgown style. I think it will look effortless but timeless as she is naturally beautiful anyway.

You can find Lorraine on Facebook here.

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