Congratulations, you’ve said yes to the dress! Many brides have dreamed of their wedding dress before they have even found the one they want to marry! But before the gown fits perfectly, you’ll most likely need some alternations to personalize the dress to fit every curve of your body. Where do you start? How much time before the big day do you need to begin the alteration process? What happens if you lose or gain weight before the wedding? Here’s some alteration advice and guidelines to follow to get that dress fitting like a glove!
POSSIBILITIES, POSSIBILITIES! Almost all wedding dresses are made in standard sizes, so it’s inevitable that some sort of alterations will need to take place (let’s face it, we aren’t all ‘standard sizes!’). When shopping for a dress, ask the salesperson what alterations are possible. If it seems like you’ll want to make more changes to the dress than the simple hem, adding straps, or taking it in to fit your body perfectly, you may want to select a different dress. Tailors are truly amazing and talented, but they can only do so much to an already designed dress. If you are looking for that dime in the rough and can’t seem to find the right one, it may be best to find a designer who can customize that one-of-a-kind dress for you.
RESEARCH & REVIEW! Before you go down a rabbit hole searching for a local seamstress, ask your bridal salon if they offer any tailoring services in-house. Not only can it save a considerable amount of time, but the seamstresses have most likely already worked on similar dresses, giving them an advantage on what they can accomplish. The bridal salon might even give you a small discount for alterations as well. If your bridal salon doesn’t offer alterations, they probably have a few recommendations and trusted professionals who specialize in wedding dress alterations. Whomever you decide to use, check that they specialize in bridal and formalwear alterations (not just someone who can sew a button back on a jacket)!
SPEAK UP, HAVE PATIENCE, STICK TO THE SCHEDULE! It’s usually recommended to have at least three wedding dress fittings - starting with your first fitting at least three months before your big day (this appointment is generally about an hour). You’ll finally get to try on your actual wedding dress at your first appointment, but don’t panic if it doesn’t fit perfectly (because it rarely does!). It’s essential to be direct with your seamstress about your dress vision and look and how you want to feel in it. Be honest, ask questions and be open to hearing their recommendations and advice - it’s not their first rodeo. The second fitting is typically about a month before your wedding, and your final fitting is about two weeks out (these appointments are usually about 30 minutes). If you are adding extensive customizations, you may need additional fittings, but in most cases, your wedding gown will come home with you at the final fitting! Don’t be afraid to speak up to the seamstress if something doesn’t feel right. A strap might be loose, there might not be enough support for the girls, or a zipper is poking you - you’re ultimately the one wearing the dress, and the last thing you want to worry about on your wedding day is how your dress doesn’t fit perfectly!
WAIT, WEIGHT? Whether you are sweating for the wedding or just stressed eating, chances are, you want to look and feel your best on your big day! It’s totally normal to start dress shopping as soon as you said yes to that bling, and that’s perfectly fine. As alterations typically don’t begin until three months before your big day, you’re not likely to experience drastic weight fluctuations between then and your final fitting. But once you start your alterations, it's important to maintain a consistent weight. It’s a major stress factor for tailors when their brides lose a ton of weight for their wedding once alterations have begun - it means alterations will have to be done twice, which is twice as pricey. But even if your weight changes by a couple of pounds, your seamstress will have plenty of time and opportunities to make that dress fit like a glove.
SPANX + SHOES You’ve dreamed about your dress, and you found ‘the one’ - but have you thought about what shoes you’ll wear (pumps or Chuck’s), or you're going to wear under it (Spanx, bustier, a sticky bra), or with it? Before attending your first alteration appointment, make sure you bring any bridal accessories with you. Shoes & undergarments will significantly impact the fit of your wedding dress, and if you already have your veil, jewelry, belt, etc., feel free to bring all of those items with you to your alteration appointments.
BUDGET It’s easy to forget about the budget for alterations once inside the bridal salon, but experts suggest budgeting at least $500 for adjustments. The cost will specifically altar, depending on the alterations, ranging from a few hundred dollars to well over $1,000. The more you plan on changing the dress, the pricier the alterations will add up. Be sure to prioritize your alterations, you don't want to step on your train down the aisle, but you also don't want to have your straps falling off your shoulders constantly.
DON’T MAKE IT A PARTY!
As much fun as it seems to bring your entire bridal party with you to your alteration appointment, it’s probably best to bring just one or two people with you. Your crew can be with you when you say I do to your dress, but too many opinions at the alteration appointment can throw the vision off and can run the risk of your voice (the most important voice) not being heard by the seamstress. At the last fitting, bring at least one person who will be assisting you in getting ready on your wedding day - the seamstress will show them how best to get you in your dress, zip or lace you up, and bustle your train for the reception. (Pro tip: Record a video of the bustle on your phone to give to your wedding planner on the day of if you have a particularly difficult bustle!)