Summer is one of the most popular times of the year for single men and women to enter holy matrimony. For the makers of wedding dresses, that means a rush to put the finishing touches on gowns for summer ceremonies.

At Brides By Liza in Sherman Oaks, owner Elizabeth Villerreal and her two sisters custom-make most dresses for anxious brides-to-be.

Villerreal recently spoke to reporter Jennifer Netherby about dealing with nervous brides and the challenges she faces in designing a dream dress.

"It seems like everyone wants to get married in 2000. Our business has increased about 25 percent. Last year it was busy, too, because people thought the world might end in 1999 and they wanted to get married that year.

"This year people are more rushed to reserve places for their wedding. They're having their wedding during the week and not on the weekends because places are booked.

"That means we have to have dresses ready not just on weekends. We only commit to making a certain number of dresses a month, usually about 20. We have to make the gowns as close to the wedding date as possible because a bride's weight fluctuates; usually they lose weight.

"When brides come in, they usually don't know what dress they want. I ask if they have a dream dress, and they usually do. We have designer and already-made dresses, but about 75 percent of our dresses are custom-made.

"With the custom-made gowns, I do all the cutting and part of my family makes the wedding gowns, and the other part makes the alterations. It's a family affair with me and my sisters.

"The average cost of a gown is $2,000 out the door. My main advertising is word of mouth. We've had people from as far away as Israel.

"I compete with other shops through service, which is a necessity. We try to talk to the brides about their problems. The worst is usually seating. The mother wants certain people at certain tables, the bride wants another arrangement, the groom another, and the groom's mother another.

"The challenge for me is to get the bride in the mood to try on a dress when she comes in. I want them to feel happy and beautiful. They usually come in with an agenda of what they need to do for the wedding, or they've had a fight with the groom or something else. They come in tense.

"I talk to them and try to draw it out. I want to have that wedding feeling. It's a challenge."

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.