BRIDES BEWARE. Bellina Bridal will waste your time, take your money, and back out on you, leaving you with no dress. I had an experience similar to stooks247 (above), but luckily I didn’t let it get that far.
As a business person, Karen is the worst. I did TONS of research on custom dressmakers, and decided on Bellina Bridal due to her willingness to communicate by email, some pictures of past work, her Etsy feedback, and her price.
I should have trusted my instinct when she charged me $50 just for the sketch (I gave HER a sketch of what I wanted, but she insisted on making her own sketch, and I didn’t complain because I wanted to make sure she was on the same page aesthetically). None of the other 8 dressmakers I vetted charged me for the sketch.
I stated from day 1 that I wanted to have a lace that I loved. Apparently, her Italy-based family makes lace, so she wanted me to use a lace that she could get from them. I didn’t like any of them, so I declined. I ended up finding a lace on Etsy, and it was not at all expensive. But because I didn’t want her family’s lace, she got mad.
So after 2 solid months of communicating, and often WEEKS between emails from her, I started to worry that she hadn’t started anything at all. She never asked for my measurements. When I reestablished contact with her by email, and she wanted $400 for the deposit, I asked for a contract to protect us BOTH (with what I have experienced in the past for custom burdesmaid dresses, this is standard practice). Then, she backed out.
She accused me of being demanding (all because I wanted a contract and wouldn’t settle for second-rate lace!) and wasted two months of my time. Now I have less than 5 months until the wedding and no dress in the works. I am lucky that my mom is willing to do some leg-work for me, and we are finding another seamstress.
Businesspeople: If you don’t want somone to have “demands” about the most important dress they will ever wear, DON’T DO CUSTOM BRIDAL GOWNS.