While there will always be a market for custom formal wear, tailors and dressmakers across Australia will attest: the industry is dominated by brides seeking the perfect dress for their big day. That's perfectly understandable. Shopping for bridal gowns is often touted as a fun part of the process, but many brides find it frustrating and stressful, particularly if they are of a size or shape that is not served particularly well by the market of premade designer gowns. Everybody deserves to feel beautiful and confident on their wedding day, and it's a joy to be able to help somebody achieve that goal. Still, it isn't always an easy task. Here are some tips and tricks to help make that process run smoother.

Be Realistic & Manage Expectations

Clients are unlikely to understand exactly how much time, work, resources and effort go into making just one garment. As such, they may not understand how long it will take for them to have a wearable dress, or why that dress will need to be adjusted if you took so many measurements the first time. You can avoid these frustrations by explaining exactly what you're doing every step of the way and outlining how long it will take. You may wish to type up a short guide to the process which can be handed to every client as they leave, ensuring that they know what to expect. Be polite but firm with deadlines—and of course, make sure you meet them.

Use Plenty of Visual Aids

Many technical terms seem ubiquitous these days. Almost every magazine on the shelf seems to refer to dresses accurately depending on the cut. Still, don't assume that your client knows this parlance. What they picture when they think 'A-line' or 'empire line' may not actually be correct. As such, having simple examples of each will really help you to communicate, and they will serve as inspiration for a bride that isn't entirely sure what she wants. The same can be said for colours and fabrics. Being absolutely crystal-clear from the beginning about what you're discussing will mean that nobody's confused or disappointed once the dress is finished.

Get to Know the Client

Especially if the client isn't sure exactly what she's looking for, you'll need a little gentle interrogation to assist. It may be helpful to have a standard list of questions that you have every client answer. Which parts of her body is she proud of, and would like to show off? Is there any area she feels self-conscious about and would prefer to hide? Does she consider her style more 'classic', more 'modern', or a blend of both? With these answers in mind, you can make helpful suggestions that will streamline the design process and create an end result she can be really excited about.

Creating a special dress for somebody's special day is an awful lot of responsibility, and this is a badge that most dressmakers wear proudly. Going through these steps to serve your client as best you can will demonstrate exactly how seriously you're taking their business, and that's a great way start the process off on a collaborative and friendly foot. Good luck!