Getting married is the experience of a lifetime (our founder’s daughter recently became engaged to a guy our family loves!), so we understand how nerve-racking it can get sometimes. From the venue, the food, the flowers, the music, the dress (THE DRESS!)…you want everything to be perfect. And why shouldn’t you? You deserve it!
If you were looking for a partner in your wedding dress journey, feel free to consider us. We not only alter and tailor to perfection, but also custom make dream gowns and other formal pieces. Simply put, our attention to detail and craftsmanship is unparalleled. (In fact, right as we were about to write this post, a bride’s mom came by and hired us to create her daughter’s wedding dress from scratch. Talk about the perfect blogging inspiration!)
Now regardless of whether you decide to work with us for your bridal alterations needs, we’ve compiled some fantastically helpful tips courtesy of our extensive experience and Offbeat Bride that should help you attain a hurdle-free experience with your tailor. Our additional commentary to these tips are preceded by “Alter Creations’ take.” Enjoy and good luck!
If at all possible, start with a dress (or outfit) that is your size—or very, very close to it.
While it is often possible to size a dress up or down, don’t count on being able to take in or let out a dress by more than one or two sizes. Many dresses do not contain enough seam allowance to let out that much–and with fabrics like velvet and satin, the original seam lines will show…
Alter Creation’s take: Very true. A dress that’s not too big or small is best, but we’ve been known to work magic on almost every kind of piece that doesn’t seem ideal. Stop by so we can show you whether your project is a good candidate.
When choosing a tailor, go with a reputable one, NOT the one that quotes you the lowest rate.
You get what you pay for. Believe me, it isn’t worth having something done cheaply if you subsequently have to pay someone else to fix the cheap-o job.
Alter Creations’s take: We get it. You like shopping around you should be free to inquire at various places. Note that we’re so relaxed we’ll never pressure you into working with us. Also note that we’re NOT the cheapest, which both we and our clients take pride in. In fact, we’ve often had to fix other shops’ mishaps–sometimes at the last minute! Our prices–relative to our unbeatable quality–are competitive. If you want work that’ll last you years to a lifetime, we’re the right people for the job.
Many alteration shops will not give estimates for wedding dresses or other formal gowns over the phone.
The shop needs to see the actual dress and see how it currently fits your body to determine EXACTLY what needs to be done and give an accurate estimate. Describing the dress over the phone is really not very helpful, especially since some less-scrupulous brides lie about how much work needs to be done on the dress in order to get a lower quote.
Alter Creations’s take: We couldn’t have said it better. We address this in our FAQs, but sometimes, the stress of planning a wedding gets to some brides and they try really hard to have us quote us a price over the phone. Please remember that this ISN’T possible because we need to see how the gown fits on you and what we’ll have to do. That’s the only way we’re able to fairly give you an estimate.
Ask whether an appointment is required.
Many independent alterations shops require appointments for bridal fittings to avoid getting fifteen brides in one afternoon….
Alter Creations’s take: No, we don’t require appointments or charge Rush fees. However, we still like to prevent that others show up when a bride arrives to ensure we’re completely available for them. So call us ahead of time and set up a time; we’ll be happy to accommodate you! We prefer to have bridal fittings in the morning (before you’ve had a big meal or two or accumulated that pesky water weight).
If you are a klutz and will be wearing a long dress, consider having it hemmed to hang 1″ from the floor rather than touching the ground.
Heavy dress + high heels + possible anxiety = heightened possibility of tripping over one’s hem.
Alter Creations’s take: We’ll also be happy to accommodate all your dancing- and movement-related requests :).
If you know of any upcoming changes to your physical dimensions (i.e. newly pregnant, having breast reduction surgery, etc.), tell whomever is making or altering your dress ASAP.
Once the fabric is cut, the dress generally can’t be made drastically bigger without adding panels or gussets. Similarly, if your E cups are about to become C cups, it’s best to wait and have the top fitted after surgery.
Alter Creation’s take: Be honest and let us know with plenty of time in advance whether you’ll be experiencing any changes. We also always tell our brides to keep their figure throughout the fitting process (i.e., for as long as we’re working together) as close to that from their first fitting. This way, we don’t have to “fit in” any drastic changes.
Don’t schedule a fitting right after a workout.
Having a wedding dress cleaned isn’t cheap, so you don’t want to have sweat stains removed BEFORE you actually wear it. Also, fitting someone requires being in close physical proximity. No one likes fitting a client who smells like a locker room, so hit the showers first. (As long as I’m on the subject of odor, please go easy on the cigarettes, perfume, and smelly food.)
Buy your foundation garments (and shoes!) BEFORE your first fitting, and bring them to ALL of your fittings.
- Yes, this is completely and absolutely necessary.
Even if they don’t appear to shape your body much or at all, your foundation garments WILL affect the way the dress hangs on your figure. Every so often, we’d have a bride go through one or two fittings with a certain bra or corset, then bring a different one and wonder why the dress looked so different. Depending upon the design and cut of the dress, wearing the wrong bra can even affect whether the hem hangs evenly… (It goes without saying that if you have a petticoat or crinoline, you should bring that, too.)
- Ditto for your shoes.
If you have not obtained the perfect shoes before your first fitting, mention this to the fitter and then bring a pair of shoes with a heel height in the range of your ideal shoe (heel height can affect your posture), and ask to have the hem marked at a later fitting. Don’t even THINK of standing on tiptoe and insisting your hem be marked that way– standing on tiptoe for the [ time] required to carefully pin a hem will make you wobble and the hem will not be even.
Alter Creations’ take: These are very important so please don’t ignore them. It’s key your undergarments, corsets, shapewear, shoes, and any other pieces you intend to wear on your big day are brought to every one of your fittings. (If you don’t have the exact shoes, find some of similar height!) That way we always know what we’re working with and can ensure the fit is always the right one.
If the tailor balks at your request for drastic changes to an existing dress, look for someone else who can handle the job.
Even some of the best tailors are not well-versed in radically altering clothes (i.e., turning Aunt Karen’s long-sleeved 1950s number into a halter dress). Your wedding attire should not be someone else’s learning experience, particularly if the garment has sentimental value.
Alter Creations’ take: That tip made us laugh but we wanted to include it anyways :)!! Listen, cheap and/or inexperienced tailors abound. If you want to radically alter a gown, we’ll be more than happy to satisfy that request. We’ve been doing it for over a decade! In fact, some of our favorite projects involve pieces that are inherited from previous generations and the bride wants to adapt them to today!
If the tailor recommends against making a particular change, there’s probably a good reason why.
I personally feel it is fine to ask why s/he is recommending against something, or to get a second opinion from another tailor, but please keep in mind these people are professionals–they are intimately familiar with garment construction, and may know of a better way to make something look the way you want it to look.
Alter Creations’s take: Clients are sometimes amazed when we suggest that they’re better off not doing X or paying for Y. We’re passionate about what we do, so we won’t just take anyone’s money: We strive to accomplish 110% satisfaction so we’re 110% honest and don’t mind showing you various alternatives (even in cases when they don’t involve us!) when the original isn’t something we’d suggest.
During the actual fitting, please don’t move unless the person fitting you indicates it is all right to do so.
Moving during a fitting can cause the garment to be fitted unevenly (this is especially true of hems and sleeves) or cause you to be accidentally poked with a pin. (I used to come home with bumps and bruises because some of the less-attentive clients would move during a fitting and bonk me in the face, chest, shoulders, etc.) Not sure when it’s okay to move? Just ask. Believe me, it’s appreciated.
Do move around to test the fit once you are given the all-clear.
Will you be doing a lot of dancing, walking, sitting, etc.? Make sure you can comfortably do all of those things once the dress is pinned. If the dress will inhibit your movement, point it out so the fit can be adjusted accordingly.
Your final dress fitting should be held approximately two weeks prior to the wedding, if possible.
Any closer to the big day and there might not be enough time to fix any problems—any further from the big day and there’s a chance the dress might not fit. Many brides lose weight from stress, or get swamped with last-minute things and simply forget to eat. (98% of all the brides we worked with lost several pounds during the 4-6 weeks before the wedding, regardless of whether they were trying to do so…)
Alter Creations’s take: Pretty please try to retain your first-fitting figure throughout all your dress fittings. Otherwise, though we can manage (we love a challenge!), our work will be made more difficult, which isn’t fair to you.
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That pretty much about sums it up when it comes to our wedding dress fittings tips for all you lovely brides out there! Call us at (435) 658-4432 or email us at Martha [at] altercreations [dot] net if you’d like to meet us and see why we’re the best suited to work on your wedding dress and bridal party projects. Have a great rest of your week and we look forward to seeing you!
WANT EVEN MORE TIPS FROM OTHER BRIDES AND PROS? CHECK OUT THESE ONES WE’VE GATHERED:
• “If you are having breast implants, breast reduction, lipo, tummy tuck or other surgery, allow 6 MONTHS for your body to settle. Yes it really does take that long and there is nothing worse than trying to fit a dress on someone who’s boobs are a different size and in a different place each fitting.”
• “When ordering a knock-off from overseas for $150 including shipping, being given a quote of $200 to take up the hem and train, tighten up the straps, and take in the waist (and that’s a low quote!), sounds high to bargain-hunters who don’t understand how state-side labor to alter a dress can cost more than the total cost of the foreign-labor-made dress… Also the cost of mass-alterations from a place like David’s, measurements taken by one person and alterations done by someone barely making minimum in the back, is going to be so much less than one-on-one, yet the cost many brides want for that quality service is mass pricing :(.”
• “I think most people underestimate the value of dress alterations. …I bought my dress at a very upscale department store for a steal. The hem, which the designer had kept raw, was the only alteration I thought necessary; otherwise the dress fit like a glove. I [later] wandered into [an alterations shop] shop thinking I only needed a quick hem stitch and was totally blown away when the seamstress started pinning all over the dress, explaining every nip and tuck as she went. The dress that fit like a glove was transformed into a second skin. It was mind blowing and gave me such an appreciation for the craft.”
• “As a professional, I’d like to add — Don’t try to watch what your tailor is doing! You may be afraid of getting poked, cut, or just be interested in watching their work, but don’t! We are highly trained NOT to stab you with whatever pointy implement we have in our hands. Furthermore, if you’re constantly twisting around or looking down, it’s going to alter the fit and hang of your dress — this is especially true on hems (if you’re leaning down to see what the tailor is doing on the floor, your hem will be too short — see what happens some time when you are wearing a long skirt), but is really true for the entire dress. Just be patient and trust your tailor — we’re out to make you look perfect, so as long as you have faith, you will.”