10 Things You Need to Know About Bridal Alterations BEFORE You Buy Your Wedding Dress

Alterations are necessary for most brides, and they are definitely not something you want to leave as an afterthought.

Whether you just need to hem your dress a few inches, or totally resize multiple parts of your gown - wedding dress alterations are something you want to consider before you even buy your dress. And most first time brides have no idea what to expect when it comes to alterations. So we have gathered a list of the top 10 things you NEED to know about bridal alterations, BEFORE you even buy your dress. This list will help you stay on track so that there are no last minute surprises when it comes to the fit of your gown!

01. Buy Early

This may seem like a no brainer. But making sure you are buying your dress in plenty of time to get any alternations made, is a complete necessity. Now, many bridal salons and seamstresses may offer a rush fee. But buying your dress early enough, ensures that you are not hit with any unexpected fees, not to mention that it gives you plenty of time to make any adjustments to your dress stress-free.

02. Do Your Research

Another thing you want to do before even buying your dress, is to have a plan of attack when it comes to alterations. Do your research. Do bridal salons in your area offer alterations? Are there seamstresses in your area? This can be especially helpful if you are shopping pre-loved or shopping online. If you order through a bridal salon, they may offer alterations.

But if you are buying online, you will be responsible for getting your dress altered on your own. So take some time before you buy to do a little digging. And never use this as an excuse to not buy your dream dress online. As long as you buy early enough to make adjustments, and have somewhere you can take your dress, then there is no reason to shy away from shopping online for your dream wedding dress!

03. Include Alterations In Your Budget

When you set your wedding dress budget, remember to buffer in a bit for alterations. You may not know exactly what adjustments will cost, especially if you have not found your dress yet. But be sure to buffer in anywhere from a few hundred dollars to even $1000. The more adjustments that need to be made, the more you will spend. So at least give yourself a starting point in your original budget so that you are not hit with a big unexpected bill at the end.

04. When Shopping Pre-Loved: Ask About Previous Alterations

If you are shopping for a pre-loved wedding dress, make sure to inquire about any previous alterations. For instance, if the dress appears to be the right size, but the bride is 5 inches shorter than you and had her dress hemmed, it is good to know ahead of time. And if you are aware of previous alterations, you can check with a seamstress to make sure that any previous changes are workable with what you have in mind. And remember, it is always easier to take in. So a dress that is too long, is easier to work with than a dress that has been altered to be far too short.

Many websites that sell pre-loved wedding dresses like Still White, will have the brides measurements on the listed dress. So make sure to read those carefully and ask if you have any questions.

05. Don't Panic If Your Dress Doesn't Fit At First

This tip can be especially helpful when buying online. If you order a dress, get it in the mail, put it on and the fit is off - don't panic! That is why you planned in advance for alterations. Most bridal salons will order your dress according to your largest measurement. This ensures that you have the space where you need it most, and then the rest of the dress can be taken in where needed.

Pro Tip: It is typically much easier to take a dress in, rather than let it out. So when in doubt, order a size up. That gives your seamstress more to work with. And this is great to keep in mind when shopping pre-loved or vintage. The dress doesn't need to fit you perfectly off the rack (or out of the shipping box). But a few alterations can have that dream dress fitting you like a glove. So when in doubt, order up.

06. Plan on Multiple Appointments

We already talked about buying early to ensure that you have plenty of time for alterations. But another thing to consider is that alterations can require multiple appointments. It is often recommended to plan on 3 separate appointments. So make sure that you begin alterations 2-3 months before your wedding day.

If you find in your research that alterations are booked out for a few months, make sure to buffer for that time when buying your dress. This may mean ordering your dress a few months earlier than you thought. If you are buying from a salon, they will help you with all of these dates. But if you are buying online, and then finding a seamstress, you will need to make sure you are leaving enough time for alterations to be made before your wedding day (and without accruing too many rush fees!).

06. Have Your Accessories In Advance

When you have your dress, and you are headed to your first alterations appointment, make sure that you bring any and all accessories that you will be wearing on your wedding day. This means planning ahead and making sure you have all the details about your look planned out before you begin alterations. This includes shoes, undergarments and even jewelry. These accessories can greatly impact the fit of your gown. So make sure you have them with you from the very beginning. You don't want to hem your dress, then buy a new pair of shoes that are a different height, and have to start the process all over again. So when you are shopping for your dress, shop for all of those cute accessories at the same time. That will save you from running into issues later on in the alteration process.

07. Customization

A lot of brides wonder what exactly can be altered on a wedding dress. And it will depend on your seamstress and your dress. But most of the time, just about anything can be adjusted (within reason). Often times, it really comes down to how much you are able to spend on customization. If you want to completely reconstruct a dress, it may cost quite a bit of money. So make sure you are ordering a dress that is almost exactly what you want. And then you can make tweaks from there.

If you are ordering a dress online and you are wondering if something can be adjusted - say for instance the neckline - it is always safer to check with a seamstress in advance. They may be able to tell you from looking at photos what can and can not be adjusted on any given dress.

08. Pick Your Entourage Carefully

This tip is helpful to keep in mind during the buying and altering process. Make sure you choose the people you surround yourself with wisely. And remember, that this is your wedding dress. Too many opinions can muddy up your true desires. So when you are initially shopping for your dress, be careful how many people you ask onions of. You don't want to find your dream dress and then have the first person you show shoot it down. Your option matters above all else.

Carry this mindset with you into alterations. When going to your appointments, it is fine to take a friend or two for support. But remember that how you feel in your dress is what matters most. Stay true to your vision and trust you gut above all else.

09. Communication Is Key

If you are getting a dress altered at the salon where you bought it, then the seamstress may already have an idea of what adjustments are going to need to be made. But if you buy a dress online and then find a seamstress, you want to have an idea of the adjustments you are thinking about before you go in. Now don't worry, you don't have to have all of the answers. That is why you are working with a professional! But if there are certain things you want to change, make sure that you communicate that right from the beginning. For instance, in you want to shorten the train or adjust where the neckline hits.

Another thing to keep in mind once you are in the alteration process, is to communicate clearly if things aren't looking or fitting how you like. Your seamstress may not realize if a zipper is poking you or if you are lacking support in a certain area. Remember that they are there to help you feel your best on your wedding day, so make sure you communicate your needs throughout the entire process. (It makes their job easier too!)

10. Weight Loss or Weight Gain

It is completely natural for your weight to fluctuate before your wedding. The stress of planning a wedding can cause anyone to loose or gain a few pounds. And that is why alterations are not done too far in advance. But if you are a bride who is planning on losing a bit of weight before your wedding, there are a few things to consider. First, make sure that you don't order your dress too small. Remember, it is easier to take a dress in. So even if you are planning on being at a certain weight, still error on the side of sizing up. Second, make sure to communicate your goals with your seamstress. This gives them a better idea of what to expect between fittings.

Lastly, remember that alterations exist so that your wedding dress can fit your beautiful body perfectly - not the other way around. Don't stress about "fitting" into your dress. Remember that this process is all about making sure your dress fits YOU perfectly.


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