Since wedding season is approaching, this is the most appropriate time to discuss the alterations process. As I mentioned in my previous post, alterations are almost always necessary. Since I was formally employed by an alterations shop, I’ve decided to give some tips and tricks to make sure your alterations experience is as smooth as possible.
- Buy your current dress size! I know. This seems like common sense, but the number one issue seamstresses run into is brides that thought they were going to lose weight and ordered her gown two sizes smaller. Typically, a skilled seamstress can take in a dress up to three sizes without compromising the style. Since wedding dresses are meant to be altered, this is usually a fairly standard practice. However, letting a dress out to make it bigger is a tedious process that can take twice the time as the former. If you’re lucky, a corset back can be added in lieu of a zipper. If not, the whole dress has to be taken apart and gusseted. If you haven’t made the connection yet that means it’s more expensive. Buy the dress to fit you today and deal with the weight loss if and when it happens.
- Shop Around! Just like any other large purchase, make sure you’re getting the best rate for alterations. Big bridal chains will often hike up the price of their alterations, just to increase their profits. One in particular will charge a minimum of $100 just to add a bustle! Even worse, some smaller bridal shops will try to force you to buy bigger sizes just to have something to alter! Don’t tell the consultants that you’re going to use their tailor right away. Also, give yourself enough time to get estimates from other alterations shops.
- Factor in the price of alterations! The cost of a wedding gown usually doesn’t include the price of alterations. If your dress budget is $1200, the dress itself should cost somewhere around $900-$1000 to allow for alterations. The worst thing you can do is insult the seamstress by trying to haggle for alterations on your $1500 gown (and yes, we can tell the price of your dress just by looking).
- Listen to your seamstress! You may think taking your mother’s dated wedding dress, complete with bell sleeves, and making it into a trendy strapless gown is a great idea. Unfortunately, requests like that usually aren’t feasible. If they are, it will end up costing you as much as a new dress would. Rule of thumb, pick a dress with the general style you like (ball gown, a line, strapless, long sleeves, lace), then consult with the seamstress to add details (belts, extra beading, removing fullness). The seamstresses know what they are talking about. This is their job!
Hopefully this guide makes one of the most stressful moments of the wedding planning process a little easier!