Ideas & Inspiration 

Sydney Watters Dunbar Spills on Her Recent Engagement—Plus! The Ins and Outs of Choosing a Custom Bridal Gown

What started as a work trip for Sydney Watters Dunbar—the brand director for Dallas-based bridal outfitter Watters Designs—turned into a weekend she’ll never forget. Having accompanied her on a business excursion to Paris, Sydney’s boyfriend of a year and a half, climate tech entrepreneur Nicholaus Rohleder, popped the question in front of the Eiffel Tower with a pear-shaped solitaire.

Sydney says she had a feeling on their first date that Nick was the one. He had asked her to dinner, and they were coincidentally seated next to one of Sydney’s closest friends, who eavesdropped and then gave her stamp of approval. “It was her enthusiasm that really gave me the confidence to ask him out on our second date,” says the bride-to-be.

The couple celebrated their engagement with friends and colleagues, who flew out for the occasion, before retiring to Hôtel Costes, located on Paris’ Rue Saint-Honoré.

As the couple began the process of wedding planning, finding a perfect gown was, naturally, of paramount importance. While most little girls dream about what their wedding gown will look like, Sydney was no different—she just had the added benefit of growing up surrounded by them, as her mother, Vatana Watters, is the founder of Watters Designs. Now a bride-to-be herself, Sydney had a chance to turn her own dress dreams into reality—designing a custom gown with the Watters team.

“Since I was raised around all these gowns and gown ingredients, I’ve definitely paid hyper-attention to certain things,” she says.

Acknowledging that the custom route can be trepidatious for brides—whether it’s designing a dress from the inside out or requesting changes to an off-the-rack design—Sydney shares her best advice on tailor-making a gown that’s just right for you.

Sydney Watters Dunbar Engagement

Sydney’s Advice for Customizing a Gown:

Try, Try Again

To assuage that custom-gown fear, Sydney advises trying on as many gowns as possible. “Of course, it’s all new territory as a bride,” she says. “You should take the time to really work through what you want. Try everything on.” Experimenting with dresses that already have the customizations you want will help you visualize the final product.

Consider the Context

Sydney points out that your venue and the time of year in which you’re getting married could help drive your customizations. A summer bride who still wants her arms covered, for instance, could swap out a heavier sleeve in favor of a lighter arm drape.

See You at the Alter(er)

What happens if you go in for your final fitting and you don’t absolutely love your gown? Sydney says trustworthy tailors can seamlessly change a gown’s neckline, build or take away fullness in the skirt, or add on a sleeve or cape.

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