Bell Street Bridal
something old. something new.

Custom bridal service

A truly spectacular dress made just for you

Stop stressing about the dress and enjoy the creative process

Photo: Ann Marie Yuen

Photo: Ann Marie Yuen

Choosing a wedding dress shouldn’t be a big, intimidating task. I 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 intimidating, appointment-only bridal stores. Are you turning into a bridezilla?

Of course not! This is one day where you can wear whatever you like, so why should you settle for something that wasn’t 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.  

Photo: Daisy and the Duke

Photo: Daisy and the Duke

You don’t need to have a specific, fully formed idea in your head to go down the custom made route. In fact, I’d prefer if you didn’t! I can help you with all the decision we need to make 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! I can figure that out myself 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, an alterations lady or a dry cleaner. No co-ordinating swatches, shipping times, quotes to make the outfit come together - I will take full responsibility of your dress from start to finish. Just relax and let me take care of you.

Photo: Shuaib Yeung

Photo: Shuaib Yeung

My custom bridal service includes…

An initial design consultation and minimum 3 fittings

All materials provided

All dressmaking completed by me personally, 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

Dress bag and hanger for transporting the dress to your wedding, plus

Cleaning, repairing and packing your dress for storage after the wedding*

*I offer this service as part of the bridal service after hearing of too many dresses being damaged by dry cleaning! Wedding dresses should really be hand washed and I, as the person who made the dress, am the best person for that job. I’ll be able to test cleaning methods on your leftover fabric scraps to make sure your dress doesn’t get ruined, and make any little repairs needed at the same time. Then I can pack it in a box with tissue paper to store for longevity.

Photo: Shuaib Yeung

Photo: Shuaib Yeung

The longer we have to make your dress, the more creative I can get and the more time I have to perfect every element. I make around 12 wedding dresses per year and get booked months in advance, so contact me now to put yourself in my calendar!

Photo: City Lights Studio

Photo: City Lights Studio

Are we perfect for each other?

I am the right dressmaker 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

I’m not the girl for you if:

  • You want me to copy a dress you saw in a store

  • You want to bring ten friends to every fitting

  • You “just want something simple”

  • You already have a dress and want me to do alterations on it

A little about me:

If I’m asking you to trust me with your dress, you’ll want to know who I am, right? So. Ali is short for Alexandra. I'm a 31 year old designer who grew up in country NSW and now calls Sydney home. I live in the Inner West with my husband, our two year old daughter Hermione and a very hairy rescue dog called Teddy. I love musicals, Disney, Harry Potter, big cities and anything sparkly. I am trying to learn Japanese and dream of going on work trips all around the world sourcing amazing vintage for my store.

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 ten years ago and officially started the bridal business in 2013.

Photo: Shuaib Yeung

Photo: Shuaib Yeung

A little about my 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! 

My 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?

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 me between six months to a year before their wedding and I'm pretty comfortable with that time frame. That said, I've done dresses in 6-8 weeks before, so it can never hurt to ask. 

How much is this going to cost?

In 2019 my custom dresses are just one set price - $3,000. I find that no matter how 'simple' or complicated the style is (fun fact - no such thing as a simple wedding dress!), I still end up spending the same amount of time, effort and resources with every customer - because I want you to have the best service and best quality of work! I 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. I even clean your dress and pack it for long-term storage after the wedding! I made your dress, so I know how to look after it best.

I ask for a $500 deposit up front and then we’ll work out a plan to pay off the rest throughout the time we’re working together. As long as it’s all paid by the time you pick up your dress, I don’t mind how you pay it off - whatever works for you.

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

Borrow from Bell Street might be for you! I hire out beautiful vintage clothes for weddings and special occasions, you can read more about that here.

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

I do all of that. It really is just little ol' me in the shop and your dress is designed and made from start to finish by me, right here in Marrickville. It is a time consuming process but it means I'm accountable for all my work and you don't have to worry about lost pieces, unexpected delays or children slaving away in far-off beading workshops. Your dress won't leave my studio until you come and pick it up yourself.

Do you only work with Sydney clients?

I do prefer to meet in person and do fittings these days, but I started this business in the Philippines working remotely with customers from all over Australia and the rest of the world. So if you aren't in Sydney or able to get to Sydney, I could still do a custom order for you. I'll ask for lots of measurements, details and photos so I can get a really good idea of your size, and if you're still not sure, I can post a calico toile for you to try on before I start work on your dress.

The Borrow from Bell Street service however is a personalised retail service and only available in-store.

What the hell is a toile?

It's a quick version of a dress made in cheaper fabric - like a prototype or first draft. I make these for various reasons: to test that the pattern pieces fit together properly; to work out sizing issues before I 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 me straight away and see where I'm 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. 

Do you do alterations?

I don't do alterations on new dresses, there are plenty of other places that can help you with that. Vintage dresses are a different story - one of my favourite things to do is give new life to vintage pieces. Want to wear your mum's wedding dress but don't love the style? I can turn it into something that suits you. Have a beautiful heirloom piece of lace? I'd love to carefully restore it and use it as the centrepiece of your dress.

Do you only do vintage inspired stuff?

Vintage and retro wedding dresses are my favourite thing to work on, but it's not all I do. I'm a highly skilled and experienced dressmaker with an open mind, so I'm happy to work on any project you can dream up. I've done Star Wars dresses, a wedding cape inspired by Solange Knowles, a dresses designed to show off tattoos, dresses designed to hide tattoos, convertible wedding dresses, co-ordinating same sex wedding dresses, a cotton wedding dress, and I'm currently working on some amazing things I can't wait to see finished. 

I love a challenge and I won't try to steer you towards tried and true styles. I 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!

Where can I see more of your work?

You can have a look through the full gallery here, and make sure to follow me on instagram to see new stuff that I haven't had time to upload to the site yet.

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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. I keep the fun, colourful vintage dresses for hire out the front and hide all the wedding dresses out the back, where I do all my dressmaking and fittings. It’s like a secret bridal speakeasy! I don’t have any staff. I don’t have rules about photos. It’s not “by appointment only”. I don’t care if you show up unannounced, try on every vintage dress in the shop, take photos of them all and leave without spending any money (I don’t care because I know you’ll be back!).

I’m easy to talk to and get really enthusiastic about your wedding plans. I’m smart, organised, and, apart from this website where I write thousands of words about how great I am, I’m really quite down to earth. I hear horror stories about how people get treated in bridal stores (and I’ve experienced that myself) and I really want to make the process fun and easy for you.

I do that by keeping you in the loop at all times and treating you like a colleague, rather than a customer. There are no cream couches and chandeliers in my shop, and no shop assistants serve you and your 16 bridesmaids champagne. You can see right into my workroom and you’ll watch me 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.

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You’ll get…

An initial design consultation and minimum 3 fittings

All materials provided

All dressmaking completed by me personally, 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

Dress bag and hanger for transporting the dress to your wedding, plus

Cleaning, repairing and packing your dress for storage after the wedding

None of these services are available on their own - this is only available as one complete package priced at an incredibly reasonable $3,000. 

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 I’d hate to have to turn you away if I’m too busy to fit you in! This is not a decision you need to sit on - if it feels right, get in touch now.