All You Need to Know About Wedding Dress Alterations

When planning your wedding, you may start to realize that many decisions are left to be made. One of the most important considerations is whether or not you want an alteration for your wedding dress. Unfortunately, many people don't know what alterations are available and how they can affect the look of their dress on their big day.

Sometimes, as the bride-to-be, you might feel like your wedding dress just doesn't fit right. There are a few reasons why this could be: The original design of the dress may not have been meant for the body type that is wearing it and needs to be tweaked to make it more comfortable.

Or maybe after putting on weight or losing weight since ordering your dream gown, alterations need to be done for it to fit properly. But don't worry! If you're looking for someone who can help with any necessary adjustments to your wedding dress, then we're here!

It's time to find your perfect wedding dress, and when you do, you want it to be perfect. For the most part, a wedding dress is just that-a a gown with lace sleeves or an empire waistline. But for many brides - especially those who are plus size - finding a gown can prove challenging because they don't have access to the same styles in their sizes as thinner women do.

And if you're not careful, alterations might make your dream dress into something you never wanted!

The good news is that some simple adjustments will work wonders on any wedding dress style regardless of how curvy or thin it was originally designed for. Alterations like adding cups to fit busts better; shortening hem.

Have you ever been in a situation where your dream wedding dress doesn't fit? There are many reasons this might happen, but the most common is that it was made for someone taller than you. You can avoid this problem by ordering from a store with custom sizing or buying off the rack and having alterations done.

If you need help finding an alteration specialist in your area, type "dress alteration near me" into Google Maps to find one!

As a bride, you want to look perfect on your wedding day. But often, clothing is not made for every body type and can be too big or small in certain areas. One solution? Alterations! This blog post will give you step by step instructions on how to get the most out of your dress alterations experience.

In this blog post, we will discuss some common types of alterations and when they would be appropriate to help you make a better-informed decision about altering your gown!


1. Wedding Dress Alterations Tips

When it comes to wedding dresses, we've got one rule - regardless of what style you're going for or how much you're spending, your wedding dress should fit you perfectly.

It's important that you not only feel amazing on the big day but that you're comfortable from that first walk up the aisle, all the way through to the last dance - and that's where wedding dress alterations come in!

Almost every bride will need to have some small tweaks made to their dress, yet this area is still a source of confusion for many people.

Book all your fittings in advance

Book your fittings with your seamstress in advance, don’t leave it until a week or two before your wedding.

Weddings are seasonal, so sewists get very busy. You should book your first fitting at least 8-10 weeks before your wedding; it is gradual and takes a few fittings to create the perfect finished look.

Be prepared to have fittings during daylight hours Monday -Friday. The seamstresses need to have fittings, sew, sleep, eat, and have a social life! Especially true during the busy wedding season, which runs from March to September.

Bring your wedding underwear to every fitting

You've probably already been told to bring your wedding shoes to your dress fitting. But you may not know it's also a good idea to wear your bridal lingerie. Or not, at least the underwear you plan on wearing on the big day.

Big or small, it is wise if you are going to wear a bra to buy a nude strapless bra that you do not mind your seamstress cutting up and stitching to your dress. Shape-wear is also a good option. It’s a rarity to see a bride without one these days.

Even if they are not sucking you in an inch, they can add a very smooth line to the finish of the dress. So if you plan on wearing it on the day, make sure you bring this to any fittings.


Ignore the length of your dress (at first)

As you can imagine, the bridal designers have to make their gowns for so many height brides and include heel height.

The best advice we can give is if you have your shoes you will be wearing on your wedding day when you choose and order your dress; some styles may have the option to order in with different lengths, which will save you a lot in alteration costs.

Be realistic with your goal weight (and leave enough time for alterations)

If you are trying to lose weight for your wedding, you must be at your goal weight several weeks before the big day. Ideally, it would be best if you left at least six weeks before your wedding so your alterations can start.

We see so many women of all different shapes, sizes, heights etc., that we don't give a second thought, so please be very open with us. Our only interest is in the way the garment is fitting. We don't care if you are a size 0 or a 30.

We are there to make your dress fit like a glove and make you feel a million dollars in the best dress you will ever wear, but we can only do this if you are open and honest with us about your body.

Bring a friend to your alteration appointments (but not a crowd)

Just as with your initial fitting, having someone else with you can help guide your alterations and ensure your wedding dress fits you correctly.

However, while a friend's opinion can be really helpful, having too many voices sharing their thoughts can be counterproductive. Instead, bring someone you trust and who knows your style and desired look.

2. Understanding Your Wedding Dress Fitting Timeline

There's one thing you shouldn't compromise on when it comes to your wedding dress, and that's the fit! Not only should your dress fit you perfectly; it should be comfortable, and most of all, you should feel amazing in it!

So you've found the perfect dress, the big day is approaching, and you need the perfect fit – your wedding alterations are just as important as finding the dress itself, so make sure you do your research and ask the right questions to make it as stress-free as possible.

When should you first see a seamstress to have your wedding dress fitted in time for the big day?

You’ve found your dream dress, put in the order, and after months of waiting, it’s finally arrived. For most brides, this is the first time they’re able to try their gown on in their size, rather than in whatever sample size was available to them in the bridal boutique.

But even trying on your actual dress in a size closer to your body, almost every dress requires alterations of some kind, and these can have a dramatic effect on the final product.

Most brides know this, of course, and are eager to set up their first appointment with a seamstress to begin the alterations process. But while it does take several weeks to get the dress just right, it’s important to time the appointments carefully—especially if you expect to change sizes in the final weeks before the wedding.

Schedule your first fitting too soon, and your dress may not fit the way you want it on your big day. But, leave it too long, and you may have to compromise on some of your major alterations.

It’s typical for a bride to have three to four fittings to get everything just right. Most of this can be handled in the last two to three months before the wedding. Even knowing this, most brides can feel anxious about their schedule as the big day nears.

So, if you want a more detailed breakdown of your wedding dress fitting timeline to ease your mind, read on.

3–4 months to go: Bespoke customizations

Some brides order a dress that's close to what they want but still need some significant alterations to be their dream gown. For instance, a bride may wish to incorporate a dramatic contrasting colour into the dress, add sleeves, or change the neckline.

While these are all doable for an experienced seamstress, they do require extra time. And because these changes affect other parts of the dress, some of them must be done before any other adjustments occur.

If you know your dress will require customizations, talk to your seamstress early to figure out how much time she will need to fashion these alterations. However, if you found a dress that was practically perfect in any way (save the fit), you probably don't need to schedule your first appointment so early.


2–3 months to go: Major alterations

For most brides, their first fitting will be about two to three months out. At this fitting, the seamstress goes over every aspect of the dress from head to toe to see what needs to be altered. Even though dresses are ordered in a size close to body measurements, most brides will still need to adjust for every nuance of her figure.

And since it takes several months to arrive at the wedding gown after an order is placed, it's more than likely that the bride's measurements will have changed in the meantime.  Even a small change in size can impact the fit of a gown as there is little to no give or stretch in the fabrics of wedding gowns.

Don’t forget to bring the undergarments and shoes you plan to wear for the wedding! The height of your shoes and the way you stand in them will affect how the dress falls and are crucial to getting the hem just right. Plus, the amount of structure and padding (or lack thereof!) will change how the dress falls.

When the seamstress finishes pinning shoulders, bust, waist, hip, and hem, many brides are left wondering if any part of their dress won't be altered by the time the fitting is over.

This may be overwhelming for you, but don’t worry. Your seamstress knows what she’s doing and has seen it all before.

One month to go: Minor adjustments

After the major heavy lifting is done, it’s time to make the final tweaks.

Maybe you want to fine-tune the neckline of your dress or raise the length of your sleeves by a quarter inch. Of course, it's hard to make these adjustments until the major ones are taken care of, but now that they're out of the way, your gown should be close to the ideal you had envisioned.

With one month to go, you still have plenty of time to get the details perfect, so don't be afraid to discuss any reservations you may have with your seamstress.

Two weeks to go: Final fitting—final check

In most cases, the final fitting is more of a quality check to ensure that everything done in the prior fittings has turned out according to plan.

The last thing anyone wants is for the bride to discover a problem with one of the adjustments on her wedding day. But, if something still needs adjusting, the final fitting is the bride's last chance to make the change.

Getting your fit just right is key to feeling comfortable on your big day

It may seem like a lot of work, but remember that you’ll be in your dress all day. Getting the fit right won’t just improve the appearance of the dress on your wedding day—it will also make it more comfortable.

The last thing you need as you’re walking down the aisle is for your dress to be anything short of perfection. So plan plenty of time to get your alterations done, and you won’t second guess yourself on your big day.


3. How to Have a Successful First Wedding Dress Fitting

Remember that wedding dress delivery takes time

Like many moving parts of your wedding planning, your wedding dress fitting is all about timing. So here are some timeline fundamentals to keep everything on track:

  • Wedding dress delivery typically takes 4-5 months, so you’ll want to order in time to have your first wedding gown fitting at least 6-8 weeks before the wedding.
  • Because wedding dress deliveries take time, remember that your mindset and emotions can shift during the interim between shopping and fittings. More on this as we go along, but remember that it helps to be patient, calm, and mindful of these periods of anticipation.
  • Be open to scheduling more than one wedding dress fitting, especially if you make major alterations to your dress and accessories.
  • Remember that weight can change over time, but be patient and realistic about how much that will affect a wedding dress alteration.

Do Your Hair and Makeup Similar to How You would on Your Wedding Day

You don’t need to book a professional HAMU artist for your first wedding dress fitting, but it certainly helps to prep a beauty look that’s similar to your vision for the big day. Here are some tips:

  • Give yourself time before your bridal appointment to moisturize your face, apply a basic contour, fill in your brows, brighten your lips, and define your eyes. Even if you don’t create the exact same makeup look on your wedding day, this will help you feel primped, polished, and confident.
  • One makeup item you may want to avoid applying is a statement lip or dramatic eye, as it can easily rub off or stain your wedding dress as you get dressed and undressed.
  • Wash your hair the day before your fitting, and style it up or down, depending on your bridal vision.


Bring some of Your Wedding Accessories and Jewelry

If you have key pieces like an heirloom bridal veil or splurge-worthy tiara, be sure to include them in your first wedding dress fitting appointment to help map out your final look. Here are the basic bring-along to consider:

  • If you haven't decided on your exact bridal shoes, bring a pair of the same height as what you'd like to wear on your wedding day.
  • You don't have to have your "real" jewellery on hand, but it helps to know which statement pieces you'll be working with, e.g., long chandelier earrings, gloves, a necklace, or a flower crown. At the very least, bring similar items to help curate your look.
  • Bring your bridal veil or browse options at your boutique. Whether or not you’ll be wearing a veil (not to mention its length and style) can play a big role in fittings and alterations.

Bring the Wedding Shoes You’re going to Wear on Your Wedding Day

A big part of wedding gown alterations is length adjustment, which in turn depends on your shoe height and hemline preferences. Here are a few factors that might influence your footwear:

  • Opt for a shoe height and length combo that allows your hemline to graze the ground lightly. Too short, and it will cheapen the look of the wedding gown; too long, and you'll be tripping over it all night.
  • Since your wedding gown hemline is adjusted for shoe height, you want to choose a pair that’s comfortable for both ceremony and reception. If you plan to switch from heels to flats over the evening, your hemline will likely be too long.
  • Familiarize yourself with the fit and feel of your wedding gown's bustle. This plays a big factor in your final wedding dress look's length, sweep, and hemline.

Wear Correct Undergarments for the Style of Your Wedding Dress

If a successful wedding dress fitting depends on one thing, it's the power of undergarments. So be sure to bring the exact pieces that you'll be wearing on your wedding day to all your fitting and alteration appointments.

This ensures the best fit, tailoring, and overall comfort factor for your final look. Proper undergarments may include:

  • Shapewear complements design elements like a plunging neckline, low back, skirt slit, or illusion fabric.
  • A bra that properly supports your bust while complementing your wedding gown’s bodice.
  • A slip or dress to add fullness to your skirt.
  • Design elements already featured in your wedding dress, such as built-in shapewear, bra cups, a corset back, or smooth jersey lining.

Bring your Maid of Honour and a close Family Member to the Bridal Appointment

Your first wedding dress fitting appointment isn't typically an occasion for the whole bridal party; your MOH and a close friend or relative are the only guests you need to make it fun and productive.

Choose two guests who will give you honest feedback about your shopping and alterations process but who will always stay sweet and supportive of your big-picture vision. Here are a few ways your two guests can help with that first fitting appointment:

  • Take lots of photos.
  • Browse and test out accessories.
  • Give honest feedback about proposed customizations.
  • Keep you within budget.
  • Reassure you if you’re anxious about your decisions.

Have an Open Mind about the Fit of Your Wedding Dress

As you step into your gown for your first wedding dress fitting, don’t be surprised if it feels different than when you tried on gowns for your shopping appointment.

After all, some time has passed, you’re in a different stage of your wedding planning, and (most importantly) this is the first time you’re getting to see “the one” IRL.

Remember, the first version of your wedding dress was likely an in-store sample (which may have even been in a different size, colourway, and style variation), so it might take a moment to adjust to the actual real-life wedding gown you'll be wearing down the aisle.

As you get reacquainted with your fresh-from-the-box gown, your bridal stylist will likely begin to ask you about the most important part of the wedding dress alteration process: the way it contours to your body. Here are a few variables to discuss:

  • Though you’ve ordered based on your measurements and clothing size, this is only the beginning of the wedding dress fitting process. The actual shape and features of your wedding gown become much more tailored as you go along.
  • Fittings typically take 1-3 appointments, so it’s important to schedule and communicate all expectations accordingly.
  • When it comes to creating a flattering and personalized fit, your bridal stylist and alterations specialists are your BFFs. Trust them to give you the care and expertise you need.
  • Talk about how sexy, unique, or classic you want your wedding dress to look after fittings and alterations. This will help you and your specialists determine what is both practical and possible for your budget and timeline.
  • Be realistic about your weight and measurements for your wedding day.


Think about the Different Ways You'll Be Moving on Your Wedding Day

To make the most of your wedding dress alteration and fitting process, try out some different postures and movements to optimize fit, comfort, and structure:

  • Walk around the room and up and down some stairs. This makes sure you like your heel height and hemline.
  • Sit down. See if you feel comfortable and that your gown and undergarments stay in place.
  • Slouch your shoulders to see how this changes the look of your wedding gown’s bodice. (You won’t maintain perfect posture all day.)
  • Dance around to test out the stretch and flexibility of your wedding dress for your reception.
  • Consider how your wedding gown's fabric will feel based on the temperature of your wedding day and whether you'll be spending most of it outside or inside.
  • Test out your bathroom plan.
  • Take the wedding dress off, so you understand how to untie, unclasp, readjust, and get dressed again.

If You’re Second-Guessing Your Choice of Wedding Gown, Don’t Panic

Ok, so planning a wedding is complicated. And if you’ve got ambitious plans and an overactive imagination, it’s totally normal to feel anxious about your planning decisions as the big day gets closer.

If your first wedding dress fitting leaves you stuck on your choice of the wedding gown, take a moment to breathe and reassess. Here are a few ways to move forward:

  • It's common for brides to doubt their choice of wedding dress simply because they kept browsing after they placed their order. Ask yourself if you've changed your mind because you truly don't like the gown you bought OR simply because you're overwhelmed with other options.
  • Think back to why you chose that wedding dress in the first place. It probably made you feel elegant and comfortable. But since you're, like, a beautiful and complex and multifaceted person with a unique and ever-evolving personality! That part of you may have shifted a little in the weeks since that first appointment. So allow yourself to be that cool and complicated bride-to-be, but also clear your mind and try to refocus a little before you completely dismiss your initial decision.
  • Remember that you chose your wedding dress based on more than looks; there's also budget, timing, venue, weather conditions, and delivery to consider. Does reminding yourself about these factors help to reaffirm your decision?
  • If you're stuck, ask your bridal consultant about the agreement you signed to see the flexibility you have for exchange, payment, or resale your chosen wedding gown. Be kind and courteous to your stylists, discuss your options, and remember to honour all parameters of your contract!

4. Wedding Dress Fitting Dos And Don’ts

  • DO make your first fitting appointment six weeks before your wedding because unless you're 5'7" and wearing a three-inch heel, you're going to need alterations.
  • DO make peace with your body the way it is at your second fitting, scheduling your fitness regime to become a maintenance program at that time.
  • DO bring your actual wedding shoes as there is no other way to determine the perfect length. If you don't have them, reschedule the fitting. Hem length and fit are not something people notice when they are perfect. However, tripping over extra material on your way down the aisle is definitely something people will see.
  • DO bring your undergarments. Find practical, properly-fitted support that will create a perfect (yet potentially unfamiliar) silhouette. Remember, if your dress is structured and proportioned to be larger than life, you might have to be too. No problem, thanks to body shapers, balconettes and padding! Choose a colour as close to your skin tone as possible.
  • DO NOT feel guilty about taking the time to meticulously examine the dress for marks, tears, loose seams, missing beading, discolouration etc.
  • DO schedule your hair and makeup trial before your second fitting, then bring a silk scarf to cover your hair and face to get in and out of the gown. If scheduling doesn't work, don't wear any makeup to the fitting to be safe. Also, NO ONE handling the dress should wear watches or personal jewellery that could potentially snag lace, tulle, organza etc.
  • DO familiarize yourself with the bustle on your dress. Figure out where all the hooks and loops are so you can easily transition the gown on your wedding day.
  • DO bring whoever will be helping you get in the dress and bustle it to the fitting for a how-to tutorial.
  • DO try on many veils and headpieces while in the dress. If you have a small face, wearing your hair up and off will make it look bigger. So will choosing smaller hair accessories worn close to your head. Conversely, consider wearing pieces of your hair down for big faces and choosing bigger hair accessories and veils to create proportion.
  • DO consider final light steam wherever you are getting dressed, especially if you've travelled with your gown. If you don't have a steamer, run a hot shower in a bathroom with a closed door until medium steam is created, then bring the dress in and hang it on the back of the door. Then, lightly sweep the dress down to the hem with a white towel wrapped around your arm, starting with the inside layer.
  • DO budget for alterations from the beginning, remembering the more elaborate the dress, the more money, time and level of expertise required to alter it. For example, a bodice and sleeves can range from $30 to over $100 if laced, beaded or boned. Likewise, bustles and pressing/steaming can cost from $30-$100 each depending on the length of the train, etc.
  • Remember that "attire" is traditionally budgeted at 10 per cent of the total wedding cost and should include gown, alterations, shoes, headpiece (s), undergarments, accessories, jewellery, and whatever expenses the groom incurs.

Frequently Asked Questions

On average, typical wedding dress alterations cost between $150 and $600. If you're customizing your gown or modernizing your mother's dress, it may be up to $1,000. Some bridal boutiques may charge you a flat fee, while other seamstresses may charge you for individual alteration services.

When do you need to get your wedding dress altered? We recommend coming in for your fitting two months in advance, but not less than 1 month before to have your dress altered. Then, because everyone is trying to lose weight, we suggest having your final fitting no earlier than two weeks before the wedding.

Usually, you can alter a wedding dress two sizes down and a size up. A dress could also be recut if you need to take more than three sizes in. However, your tailor could make other special alterations depending on your size, the dress's current size in question, and its peculiarity.

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