You’ve said yes to the dress! You’ve waited months for it to arrive. You try it on & love it even more than the day you found it. Now what? You will need some sort of alterations—99.9% of our brides need some form of alteration. It’s very few and far between when a gown arrives, fits the bride perfectly, and needs zero alteration. Don’t get your hopes up—that most likely won’t happen. Here are a few things to consider when purchasing your dress and having it altered:
Choose a seamstress who is experienced in bridal—not just slightly experienced, but heavily experienced in bridal. Your bridal salon will either have an in-house seamstress or recommend one they trust. This may not be the time to have grandma, your aunt, or a friend’s mom do your alterations.
When purchasing your dress, make sure any changes you want to envision are possible. Here are a few examples:
- You love the dress but want to add straps or sleeves: extra fabric or lace can usually be purchased from the designer to make this happen. Some designers allow changes, but check the cost of the changes before deciding if you want the designer to make them or a local seamstress since one may be more cost effective than the other.
- It’s an off the rack dress and it’s a size too big: speaking from our experience, and what we have learned from our seamstress, a dress can be taken in two sizes before compromising the integrity of the gown. Check with your seamstress on cost! What you are saving purchasing off the rack may be spent in alterations.
- You want it to be strapless: make sure the dress has enough structure to remove the straps.
The two most common alterations our brides need are a hem and straps taken up, so expect that going into your alteration appointment. For a hem, seamstresses usually charge by layer. A plain edge is always a less costly hem than a lace hem. If your dress has lace edging at the bottom, check to see if the lace hem can come detached. The designer will send your dress without adding the lace hem. You seamstress can then hem the plain layers to the desired length, then add the hem lace on when finished. If you are short, see if the dress can come four inches shorter or do a custom hollow to hem. There is generally a fee for both, but it may save you on alteration cost in the long run. A custom hollow to hem is always the answer if you are a shorter bride and fall in love with a mermaid or trumpet style gown.
Listen to your seamstress. She knows what she is doing. You hired her for a reason: her skill set and experience. We have had brides take a dress in too much. Once that happens, there is no going back. Yes, a mermaid silhouette is supposed to be tight fitting. But remember: you still need to be able to sit down. If a top is taken in too much, the boning in the dress can dig into your sides. Altering down more than recommended makes for one long uncomfortable day.