Alterations: What to Expect
Something that’s often a first for many brides is the whole experience of alterations. We’re all so accustomed to shopping at our favorite stores and we know what sizes and fits work best on our bodies. Rarely do we get ANYTHING professionally tailors. And then along comes the wedding gown.
First of all, it seems weird that your bridal stylist takes measurements, but then the dress doesn’t fit when it comes in. What’s the point? Well, the point of taking measurements is to see the best size to order that’s CLOSEST to your measurements. That’s why if your bust is a size 6, your waist a size 8 and your hips a size 4, your stylist probably recommended ordering the size 8 and having the parts that are too big tailored to fit you.
Another reason you need alterations is for the length of the dress, also known as the hem. And finally, since most wedding gowns have a train and you don’t want it dragging behind you all night, your seamstress will install what’s called a “bustle” to hold it up. More on that later, though.
Let’s start with the fit- since the bust, waist and hips aren’t exactly your size, your seamstress will alter them first to make the gown into almost a second skin. It’s SUPER important that you have your undergarments for these appointments. Planning to wear spanx on the wedding day? Or maybe a stick-on bra for your backless gown? DEFINITELY bring those things to your appointments. ALL of your appointments. The seamstress is aiming for a perfect fit, so you’ve got to be wearing everything you’ll be wearing on the wedding day for her to get it perfect.
The other super important accessory to bring to your fittings is your shoes! Your heel height will impact both the hem and the bustle placement, so if you don’t bring them to your fitting, your seamstress can’t get those perfect either. It’s a sewing machine, not a magic wand, after all!
Speaking of bustles, there are a few different ways to bustle wedding gowns and we actually made a video all about it last year. Here it is:
For those of you who are MD brides, you likely have our list of recommended seamstresses. If you stray from that list, it’s a good idea to ask a few questions including:
1. How long have you been doing bridal alterations?
2. Are you insured?
3. What is the location of your studio (in a home, in a business, stand-alone, etc.)?
4. How many fittings will I need?
5. What should I budget for the cost of alterations?
It’s good to remember that all seamstresses are different in their training and expertise and you want to make sure that the one altering your gown is one who understands or even specializes in formalwear or bridal gown tailoring. Some seamstresses might ask you to email or text photos to them of you in your gown before they can answer questions 4 or 5. And one seamstress might approach your alterations different from another, but that doesn’t make one better or worse than the other- there are often multiple ways to tailor a gown.
If you have questions about your alterations process, just reach out and we’ll help you!