Alterations to your wedding gown are essential for completing your bridal look. Here are some tips to ensure your alterations go as smoothly as possible.
Congratulations! You have found your dream bridal gown, but the process is not done yet — you still have to get that stunning gown tailored to fit you and your body type perfectly before the festivities can occur. Whether you need to shorten the length of the hem, add a bustle to your dress, or have it completely resized, we have the expert tips for wedding dress alterations that you need to be aware of. Not sure what to expect when you first meet with a tailor or seamstress? Don’t worry! We are sharing our top tips for wedding dress alterations and information on proper wedding dress fitting etiquette.
Because most wedding gowns are constructed in generic sizes, it is unlikely for a bride’s body to be a perfect fit for a designer’s dress. Consider the possibility that your dress will fit perfectly in the hips but be far too loose in the bust.
After you have found that ‘one’ gown, the bridal shop matches your measurements to the designer’s size chart and orders the dress in the closest available size. Once the dress has arrived, it will be some form of alteration to ensure that it is perfectly tailored to your body. Count yourself lucky if your wedding gown fits you perfectly right out of the box and needs only minimal alterations.
We recommend you have three (not one) dress fitting appointments before your big day. Plan for your first fitting to take place around three months before the wedding date, your second fitting to take place approximately one month before, and your final fitting to take place two weeks before. If you are altering your dress too much, such as adding long sleeves or a train, you may need to schedule an additional fitting. The final fitting is typically when you can take your dress home — hurray!
Among the most crucial pieces of advice for wedding alterations is to inquire with your bridal shop about whether or not they do in-house alterations. The fact that those seamstresses have likely worked with your specific gown (or similar designs by the same designer) previously is a major time saver — and many shops will give you a modest discount for having your alterations done in-house as well. But do not get too worked up if they don’t! Your bridal shop will almost certainly be able to provide you with the names of a few reputable seamstresses who specialize in wedding dress alterations.
Bring the shoes and undergarments you want to wear on your wedding day to your first fitting appointment since these will affect the fit of your dress. If you are rocking a pair of sky-high heels, the hemline of your wedding Gown will need to be a little different than if you are donning a pair of dazzling bridal sneakers or flats. Another piece of advice for brides-to-be regarding alterations? If you want to ensure that your wedding dress is made to the exact fit you desire when walking down the aisle, be sure to come to your fitting appointment prepared with the shapewear, undergarments, and jewelry you want to wear at your wedding.
At your first fitting appointment, you will get to try on your actual wedding dress for the first time. Do not be alarmed if it does not fit perfectly the first time — this is very normal. If you wish to make major alterations to your dress, such as adding straps or changing the neckline, be honest with your seamstress about how you envision your dress to look and feel. Do not shy away from asking questions either! Your seamstress has probably seen it all, and they may be able to provide you with some invaluable professional advice.
Your seamstress will do everything she can to ensure that your dress fits perfectly, but you are the one who will be wearing it, so speak up if something does not feel quite right. Whatever the issue is (a zipper poking you, a strap sliding down, or not enough support in the bust), being outspoken can help you avoid having to schedule more fittings, which will eventually allow you to stay on schedule with your dress deadline.
It is customary to invite only one or two close family members or friends to a wedding dress fitting to get a second opinion. The same as when you go dress shopping, you want to avoid bringing too many people since all of those differing opinions will drive you insane and make the seamstress’s job even more challenging. Invite at least one person who will be assisting you in getting ready on your big day to the final fitting — the seamstress will want to show them how to zip you up, lace your corset, and bustle your train, among other things.
When determining how much you are willing to spend on a wedding dress, do not forget to factor in wedding alterations. Although the cost of alterations varies drastically based on your dress and the sort of alterations you want, most brides-to-be spend a few hundred bucks — in some cases, as much as $1,000 — on their wedding gown alterations. The more you plan to alter a dress, the more money you will pay.
Q1. What is the average duration of a dress fitting appointment?
You should expect your first wedding dress alterations appointment to last around one hour. Because it is the first time your seamstress will see you in your wedding gown, the first appointment will take the longest — especially if you are making significant alterations, such as adding sleeves or altering the neckline. After your first dress fitting appointment, each subsequent fitting should take no longer than 30 minutes.
Q2. How many alterations can you make to your wedding dress?
Depending on your wedding dress, the exact type of alterations you can make will vary. The fabric, beading (if any), and whether you bought your dress as sample size or had it custom-made will all make a difference. Although many expert seamstresses should be able to work their charm and completely alter your gown, if that is ultimately what you desire, it is best to consult with them first.
When it comes to wedding alterations, the possibilities are virtually endless — wedding alterations can include everything from adding modesty panels to shortening shoulder straps, sewing lace, adding bra cups, hemming a lace applique, and much more.
Don’t forget to ask the bridal shop about the types of alterations that can be done when buying your wedding gown. They may refer you to an experienced seamstress who is experienced in working with their dresses if they are unable to accommodate your special requests during the design phase.
Q3. Can you alter a dress that is a little too small?
It is easier to take in wedding gowns that are too big, but it is still possible to alter your dress if it is too small and has to be let out.
Most wedding gowns generally have seams that can be let out by 1 to 2 inches, which is excellent if you simply need your dress to be bigger. Your seamstress can add boning and a lace-up back or insert gussets to your dress to allow you to move up multiple dress sizes.
Q4. What if I lose or gain weight in the months leading up to my wedding?
It is not recommended to alter your wedding dress until around three months before the big day, even if you bought your dress a year ahead of your wedding date. At that point, it is unlikely that you will experience a substantial weight fluctuation that will affect the way your dress looks. Plan two or three additional visits after your first dress fitting appointment — one or two months before your wedding and the last fitting/dress pick-up two weeks before your big day. This provides your seamstress with enough opportunities to ensure that the dress fits perfectly, even if your weight has fluctuated by a couple of pounds after the first fitting.
Ultimately, you can get your wedding dress altered just as you want, so long as you have enough time and budget. Just always remember to be as honest as possible with your seamstress throughout the entire process.