Couture Gowns are hand made in Australia (or in whichever country the company is based) by a designer and his/her staff and is made specifically to fit your body, with the proportions of the gown adjusted to suit you precisely. It usually requires around 5 fittings and a lead time of 6 to 9 months, (but can be up to 12 months).
It is a very indulgent and luxurious experience, and what better gown than your wedding gown to experience such lavish attention and perfection.....The advantage also, of couture, is that you are working with a designer, so all your tiny personal preferences can be catered for. I should also mention the wealth of knowledge and advice they would have about styling your wedding for spectacular results as well as almost all other aspects of your wedding - which you can make use of for free.
Off-the-Rack Gowns are imported from overseas generally. They are mass produced to standard sizes, meaning they cost quite a great deal less than the Couture Gowns. These gowns are ideal for Brides who are on a budget, and are a standard size.....If you are not a standard size, always choose a dress that fits your biggest bit.....it is not impossible to take in a dress but virtually impossibly to let out a dress any significant amount.
You will still need 4 to 6 months (generally) to have the dress ordered and brought into the country, and you will also need to allow time to have any alterations that need to be done on the gown prior to you wedding date. Just a note on the alterations...make sure you check that the store you are purchasing the gown from do the alterations in house, or have them recommend someone else to you. Get a quote on the cost of the alterations, and details of how long they will take to do. Make sure you book in the alterations as soon as you have decided on the dress, so that you can be sure they will be done without rushing before the wedding.