Your Ultimate Guide to Wedding-Dress Alterations
You've said yes to the dress … now what? Read our quick-tips guide to wedding dress alterations, and enjoy a stress-free, seamless experience.
How much will it cost me?
Unless your dress is custom-made just for your particular body, count on having to go the alterations route. How much the tailoring will cost can vary wildly, depending on how involved the tweaks are. Vera Skenderis, alterations manager at Kleinfeld in New York City, puts it this way: "Expect to pay between $400 and $700 for professional tailoring—any less and I wouldn't trust it."
Are some fabrics more expensive than others to tailor?
Yes, in the sense that you want delicate, hard-to-work-with fabrics, like charmeuse, chiffon, and georgette, to be handled by someone with tons of expertise. (Translation: someone charging top dollar.) If, on the other hand, your gown is constructed of shantung, lace, or linen, it's fine to have it finessed by someone a little less seasoned.
How long will it take?
This depends on the extent of the alterations being done, but most fittings require three trips to the tailor over the course of several months. If you go with the services of the bridal salon where you purchased your dress, it might take another two to four months after the dress comes in for the work to be completed (for that reason, we recommend buying your dress around the eight-month mark).
How many fittings will I need?
Good news here: Just three fittings—one a month leading up to your big day—should be all it takes to get your dress in tip-top shape. At your first fitting, about three months prewedding, expect to spend around an hour with your seamstress to discuss what needs to be done. Your next appointment will be about one month out; strive to be at your target size so that any major alterations your tailor makes will work on the aisle. Aim to have your third fitting with one week to go. This last session is exclusively for final tweaks and should therefore happen as close to the wedding as possible.
Should I bring anything with me?
Yes! Ask your bridal consultant what types of undergarments should be worn with your gown, and make sure you've bought them—whether that's a simple strapless bra or something more elaborate, like a lace-up corset with boning—before your first fitting. While you don't necessarily have to sport the exact heels you'll be wearing on the day of, it's a good idea to decide early on what heel height works best for you and your dress, and at least don a proxy pair for your first two fittings.
Do I have to use the alterations service at the bridal salon?
Nope, and it could save you big bucks to use a local, independent seamstress instead. Ask around, check out Yelp reviews, and schedule a consultation. Another potential perk of going the independent route: Your tailor most likely could whip you up a veil, too, which could cost upward of $300 retail.