When most on-lookers look at a bride, the first thing they marvel at is her bridal gown. They admire the delicate garment in its entirety, without realizing the amount of hours that was put to perfecting it to fit her body.
Where was the bridal gown bought from? How much did the piece cost her? Variations of these questions pop up in an on-looker’s mind and yet, understandably so, they miss out the crucial process that led to the final product, which is the bridal gown they see.
It’s no surprise that the value of bridal gown alterations is underestimated – by normal people and by brides-to-be. But if you were to compare before-and-after pictures of most bridal gowns, you’ll realize immediately that altering a bridal gown is not something you can exclude from your wedding budget.
The truth is, many of us will not realize its true importance, until we become brides ourselves – or at least have a really important gown that needs to look really nice – no questions asked.
If you are a bride in a few months, take it from someone who knows. Your wedding dress is not as ready as you might think until it has been in the hands of an experienced seamstress. Luckily, minor bridal alterations can be done in as quickly as 2 weeks.
Make it your #1 priority if you are looking to make major changes to your dress. Appointments with a reputed bridal alterations service should be scheduled months before the big day. The average bride may need as many as 3 fittings.
Many brides have undergone bridal gown fittings without knowing anything about the process. This has led to a lot of time and money being wasted, not to mention frustration from both sides. Thus, it’s important to know how you can make the experience better for both you and your tailor.
Go to the alterations shop knowing what to expect. Familiarize yourself with the process. To help, here are some useful tips for bridal gown alterations that will help you with your experience.
Tips for Your Bridal Gown Alterations: Re-style or re-make
The dress you’ll be sending for alteration should be in your size, or at least very close to it.
Why? Your dress will very likely not be able to be reduced or increased by more than 2 sizes. If your dress contains popular materials like satin and velvet, the earlier seam lines will also be visible on the final product.
While hunting for a dress to re-make, select a size that fits the largest part of your body.
Why? It is easier to take in a garment (reduce the size) than it is to let out (make bigger).
If you do bring home a wedding dress that is a lot bigger than your size, be prepared to pay more.
Why? Fitting the large dress to your body will require a lot of hard work as it constitutes the entire gown being taken apart and put together, and it is this extra work that will cost you.
If you are ordering from a bridal shop, order your dress early and make sure the dress you get is in the correct size and measurements.
Why? Unfortunately, there are bridal shops out there that will get you a wrong size just so you will use their alteration service. Don’t fall prey to these and check your measurements thoroughly. That said, it’s not all evilness. As mass-produced dresses come in generic measurements, some shops will order a size that fits the largest part of your body (same logic as above), which could mean a looser fit for the rest. Overall, it’s wise to order early to account for these changes if necessary.
If your requests for the changes are too much for your tailor, try looking for another seamstress who can handle the job. That said, you should trust the knowledge and experience of seamstresses who have decades of experience with bridal garments and other materials.
General Alterations Tips
Schedule an appointment prior to the fitting.
Why? A proper fitting takes time and patience from both sides. If you arrive at the bridal boutique for a fitting, you could be faced with 10 other impatient customers in line. Your fitting is rushed and you do not receive the quality of treatment you sought for.
Select a time and date that both you and the bridal alterations shop can agree on.
Why? If you schedule your appointment at less busy hours, you will not receive hurried work and service. Ultimately, this quality of work will show in your bridal gown.
Don’t expect to receive accurate estimates of your bridal alterations over the phone.
Why? Most of the time, the only way an alteration shop can gauge how much work there needs to be done, and hence come up with the amount to charge you with, is by seeing the state of the dress and how it currently fits your body.
Low prices can be tempting – but go to a tailor you can count on. This will normally be a reputed one in your local area that can be backed by recommendations from your friends or family.
Why? You will want to entrust your precious wedding gown to someone who has the skill and experience with handling bridal gowns. The cost you save on a cheap tailor will not be worth the poor workmanship that shows on your gown.
Don’t go to a fitting without a shower!
Why? You and your seamstress will be working closely – literally. Let’s not make it an unpleasant experience… Moreover, if you go for a fitting while sweating, you will cause the bridal gown to smell. You won’t want to add the cost of cleaning the bridal gown to your wedding budget.
Try not to move much, if at all, during the fitting.
Why? For certain areas like the hem and sleeves, your movement can lead to unevenness in the tailoring. Sudden movements can also lead your seamstresses to poke you with her pin or cause you to accidentally hit her.
However, once you’re told to move around, do it so you can know the level of comfort.
Why? If you are uncomfortable when carrying out a particular action (e.g. sitting) the appropriate changes can be made. You will not be stuck with an uncomfortable dress on your wedding day. It’s not what you’re spending hundreds of dollars for.
Have faith in your tailor. Resist watching her every move.
Why? Doing so counts as movement and has the potential to affect your wedding gown. Most tailors who carry out bridal gown alterations are trained at what they do and do their best in making you look your best.
Things to Bring
Bring all your bridal foundation garments with you to every fitting.
Why? These pieces greatly affect the shape and fit of your wedding gown. If you fail to take these into consideration in the fitting process, your dress may not fit you the way you want it to.
Bring your wedding shoes to every fitting as well. If you haven’t gotten them, bring heels of a similar height as a makeshift.
Why? Your hem needs to be marked carefully and accurately. If the height of your heels changes on your wedding day, so can the look of your bridal gown. Standing tiptoe will be neither useful nor sensible, since the seamstress will require you to be still for a good while.
If your body is undergoing major changes prior to the wedding (pregnant, surgery, etc), let the seamstress know immediately.
Why? You can’t make your wedding dress larger after it is cut without introducing other elements to it. For these cases, it’s best to wait for a date closer to the wedding for your fitting.
Schedule your final fitting about 2 weeks before the big day.
Why? Stress from wedding planning and other factors can lead you to a weight gain or loss, even if you do not restrict yourself to a diet. By giving your wedding dress a period of 2 weeks, there will be enough time to make the changes accordingly while still being very close to the actual day itself.
Achieving perfection in your bridal gown involves time, patience and of course – money. Remember that you as a bride and a consumer have the responsibility to be smart about your choices. When you take your dress for bridal alterations, you are not obligated to sign up for a service that you feel is too high.
That said, remember that your tailor will be putting in hours of hard work, which will naturally require immense patience, just to see the beautiful piece of bridal gown fit you perfectly for your big day.
Image courtesy of Mary Jean Murphy Photography