So you found the perfect wedding dress and now you need alterations?  If you’ve started looking around for a reputable seamstress, you’ve probably already learned that it is nearly impossible to find one unless they come recommended.  Although in most cases, it is more economical to find a seamstress that will be able to do the alterations for you rather than sticking with the bridal shop where you purchased your gown from, note that you will need to do a little bit of homework and check sources. There are plenty of seamstresses with years of experience that work from their home and who do this part time, but they are nearly impossible to come across simply because they don’t advertise their services enough.  

You may want to start off by asking a friend who has recently gotten married for a recommendation.  Another great resource is a local college or university with a fashion department.  Get in touch with the department's head person and they'll be more than happy to give out a recommendation. 

While the bridal salon where you purchased your wedding gown from is usually the best place to start looking for these services, take note that they may very well charge over $ 600 for alterations, especially if you are anywhere near the New York City area.  Bridal shops make most of their money on alterations.  So before you make your final purchase, consider the cost of alterations and make sure to include these in your budget.  Sticking with the bridal shop where you purchased your gown from, will save you time, headaches (for the most part) and you'll have the reassurance of knowing that they have a vested interest in keeping you happy.  
A seamstress will fit the dress on the bride and make recommendations to the areas that need adjustments, of course with the direction of the bride.  For more on what to expect during your first fitting, read A guide to your first bridal gown fitting where I discuss everything you need to know including time line, about your first fitting.

Although the cost of alterations varies greatly depending on the complexity of the work, the major areas that will need alterations are the hem line, bodice and shortening of the sleeves

Whether you choose to get your alterations done at a bridal shop or seek out a seamstress on your own, here is what you should expect to pay in alterations 


Some additional costs that you may want to consider are: 

Bustle[4]: $ 50-90 depending on the size of the train and how complicated the bustle needs to be in order to accommodate the train properly.  See Different Types of Bustles 
Pressing: $ 50-150 

Bodice[1] alterations: $ 50-150 depending on whether or not the gown has boning[2] or beading that needs to be removed and reapplied.

Hemming[3]: Unless you are purchasing a custom tailored gown, wedding dresses are designed to fit women who are 5’9 – 5’11 in height.  Expect to pay $ 100-250 depending on whether a dress is single layered or multi layered and the intricacy of the lace and beading.

Sleeve alterations: $ 40-80 depending on the intricacy of the decoration and beading


Some Key Terms:
[1] Bodice – The part of a woman’s dress (excluding sleeves) that is above the waist.

[2] Boning – A strip of plastic that is inserted onto the inside of a garment to give it support 

[3] Hemming – Folding back and sewing the edge of a garment 

[4] Bustle – The type of framework that allows the skirt to be lifted and secured and keeps the skirt of a dress from dragging


I previously shared this post on my blogger account and have since then changed my blog platform.  I'm sharing this article again.  Enjoy!

Since most bridal shops only carry gowns in sample sizes, if you're a petite or plus size bride, it is always a good idea to call ahead and ask if they have smaller or larger sizes.  Knowing ahead of time what sizes are available will prepare you for a much more pleasant experience.  You may need to try on gowns that don't necessarily fit and you will mostly likely end up purchasing a gown that will require alterations.  That is why for your first fitting, it is essential to know the following:  

Alterations are usually a separate fee from the price of the gown.  In some instances, you will be billed based on each individual modification to the gown.  That means that if the sleeves need to be shortened, waist needs to be taken in or the gown needs to be
shortened, all of these adjustments will be assessed separately.  A fee may be associated with having to replace any beading around the hem if the gown will be shortened.  And lastly, how many fittings will actually be required.  Other shops charge a flat rate and you can come back as often as you need to until the final product is complete.   (More on fees for alterations in our upcoming blog... stay tuned)

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Inspired Bride

Photo: Inspired Bride

Things to Know:
Your first fitting will take place about six weeks prior to your wedding day.  A second fitting will usually take place about 4 weeks prior to your wedding day.  During your final fitting, bring a friend or your mom.  Make sure that your dress flows nicely and that you're comfortable moving in it.  If the gown needs bustling or has complicated straps or buttons, ask the salesperson or seamstress to teach your friend or mom how to handle them so that they are prepared to help you on the day of your wedding.  

What to Bring:
Although it is not important to bring your bridal shoes or undergarments to your initial try on, it is essential that you bring these items to your first fitting once your appointment is confirmed.  Your bridal gown assistant will or I dare to say, "should" advise you of this.  If you plan on wearing a slip or any other hosiery, you should bring these to your fitting along with your bra as well.  

Photo: Pinterest

Photo: Pinterest

Same goes with shoes. Bring the shoes that you will be wearing on your wedding day.  This will ensure that the measurements for the hem are accurate. A small switch or change in the heel height may cause your dress to not fit properly.  The length of your gown should skim the front of the shoes' toe area.  A gown that is left too long will wrinkle at the hem and you can end up possibly walking over it.

Decide on your accessories: veils, necklace sets or headpieces. Purchase these items prior to your fitting so that you can see how everything will look together.

Expect to return for at least 3-4 visits if you're ordering a pre-made gown that requires alterations.  For custom made gowns, 1 or 2 fittings will do since the dress will initially be made to the bride's specifications and exact measurements.  Alterations are usually only necessary when weight fluctuations occur or if other custom adjustments will be made. 

Photo: OneWed

Photo: OneWed

Hope you have a great time at your fittings!

Tell us about your recent or former bridal fitting experience...