What to Know About Wedding Dress Alterations

A seamstress taking measurements of a bride in her wedding dress.

You finally found the perfect wedding gown! Amazing! Even when you find the wedding dress of your dreams, you’ll most likely need to have some alterations done to it. That gorgeous gown needs to hug your curves in all the right places and make you feel confident and comfortable on your big day. Every bride will require different alterations whether it’s shortening a hem or adding sleeves. If you’re a little nervous about your beautiful gown undergoing such changes, that’s totally normal! Have questions about your alteration? Here’s what to know about tailoring your wedding dress.

Yes, you’ll probably need to have wedding dress alterations

…And that’s okay! Don’t feel bad about it. More importantly, don’t second-guess your dream wedding gown choice. Most wedding dresses are made in generic sizes, so it’s practically impossible that they will fit you exactly right. Typically what happens after you select your wedding dress is that your bridal salon will select the gown that’s closest to your size and then schedule tailoring sessions so it’s altered to fit your body like a glove.

Use someone who specializes in bridal gowns

A wedding dress seamstress taking a bride's measurements.

Usually, if you bought your wedding gown at a bridal salon, then you will get your tailoring done there. If you need additional alterations, or if your alterations require some specializations, then you can go with a bridal-specific tailor who deals exclusively with wedding gowns. Because wedding gowns are so intricate and detailed, it’s important to go with someone who specializes in them. Meaning, a tailor who hems your pants won’t be the best choice for your wedding dress.

Schedule three alteration sessions leading up to the wedding

Ideally, you should schedule your wedding dress alterations three times. Why? Because you want to make sure that it properly fits you right up until your big day and, let’s be honest, weight can easily fluctuate. A good rule of thumb: book your first alteration about three months before your wedding. Then schedule the next tailoring session a month out. The final alteration session should be about two weeks before your big day. Keep in mind that you might need additional alterations depending on how much detail you’re dealing with, like sleeves or a train.

Be specific about what you want

A bride and her wedding dress tailor looking at a design sketch ogether.

It’s important to be specific with the tailor about what you want when it comes to your wedding dress—not only about how you want your dress to look, but how you want it to feel. Comfort is key, but so is your vision for the dress. Do you want to take out straps? Do you want to add more volume to the skirt? Do you need to alter the neckline? Don’t be afraid to ask questions and to voice your opinions. At the same time, take in the advice and opinion of your seamstress because chances are they have seen it all and have sound advice.

Bring undergarments, shoes, and accessories to each session

Take your accessories, undergarments, and your wedding shoes with you when you go to your tailoring sessions. (Yes, you want to take your entire bridal look.) By wearing your shoes and undergarments, your tailor can ensure the proper fit and length of the dress. By wearing the accessories like the train and veil, your tailor is able get a feel for your entire look so it will all feel perfect and well-balanced. You might also want to bring your maid of honor or whomever will be your assistant throughout the night so they will know how to do the bustle for you.

Wedding dress alterations are an important part of the wedding dress journey. While it might seem a little overwhelming at first, keep the tips above in mind and understand that this labor-intensive process is leading you to your dream wedding gown.

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