Bridal Alterations Guide – Reduce Stress and Save Money

seamstress sketch of the dress and bridal alterations needed

Everyone knows that wedding dresses are expensive and considered a substantial expenditure for almost every wedding budget. Not everyone, however, realizes that the cost of the wedding dress isn’t only the market price you pay for it in the store, it also requires additional costs due to bridal alterations. And that extra tailoring can be surprisingly expensive. Inspired by my experience, I wrote this article not only to help you avoid the seamstress drama but also show you some ways to save money on your wedding dress alterations. There are a few things that every soon to be bride needs to keep in mind.

1. Buy the wedding gown in the right size 

Whether you buy your dress new from the store or on a sample sale, try to always get a dress as close to your size as possible. Don’t take the unnecessary risk with a dress that is a size too small hoping that you will lose some weight before the big day. And absolutely don’t buy something that is way too big for you- even if on it’s at a massive discount. Remember it’s always easier to take a dress in than to let it out. If you buy a wedding dress too small, there might be not enough material to let out, or the old seams might be visible. Why would you put another stressful issue on your plate? Don’t create another hurdle to get hitched. Taking a dress multiple sizes down can create several problems – larger sized gowns are proportionally bigger all over the whole dress. Simply letting in on the sides of the dress will only cause the material to pucker and the whole dress to lose its shape and won’t fit the way you would like it to.

2. Find a qualified seamstress

In some cases find an expert tailor might be easier said than done. You can look at the reviews of the seamstress and read the opinions of other brides. Ask her about specific details and see her answers. Does she sound like someone knowledgeable?  Ask her for any examples of work she is currently working on. Ask her about the size differences, and mention any complicated designs, lacing, etc. and whether she’s handled things like this in the past and if she anticipates them to increase the cost.

3. Get the bridal alterations price upfront

Before she even starts working on your dress ask for the approximate max cost of your wedding dress alteration. What needs to be done and any future problems that can surface while working on the dress. Make sure to take notes of any issues or complications she mentions and the price quote. Read back your notes to her and ask her to confirm that your price, what’s included in it, and what are possible exceptions that could increase the price.

4. Avoid wedding dresses that require complicated alterations

Be aware that certain modifications take more time and work and this cost more money. For example – it’s much harder to shorten a dress that has a lace hem. It requires more time and effort (and money) to take in a dress if it has intricate designs on the sides. It’s more expensive to take in a dress with multiple layers –  every layer needs to be altered separately.

5. Dress material matters

Certain kinds of materials require more precision and skills from your tailor – chiffon, organza or a real silk are more challenging and require high expertise from the tailor. On the other hand regular lace, for example, is much easier to work with. On a side note, if you are buying a used or sample dress that requires cleaning, try to avoid materials that are more challenging to clean. For example – a friend of mine bought a beautiful sample dress, had it altered, and then couldn’t find a dry cleaning place who would work on the dress. The dress was made of silk and chiffon, and all the dry cleaning places in her neighborhood were too afraid to take the job. It was a nightmare for her. She finally ended up pressing the dress instead and luckily it looked gorgeous at her wedding, but the stress she went through trying to have it cleaned was tremendous. So remember that the material of the dress matters. The more delicate and sheer it is, the more difficult it is to work on it. And it means more money spent out of your pocket on your bridal alterations.

6. You can insure your dress.

Many couples don’t know that you can actually purchase insurance for your wedding dress, which could be a good option if you went for an expensive gown. Insurance can also be thrown in as part of general wedding insurance which can cover many unexpected risks that could occur on or before your wedding. Keep in mind that your credit card also may provide some protections if you use it for purchasing your wedding gown or bridal alterations if there are issues with the quality of the goods or services. Credit to Investopedia for putting together some useful tips on protecting your dress.

7. Don’t wait till last minute

You can be hit with some rush fees that can add a substantial amount to the price of the service. Start the alteration process at least 2 to 3 months before your special day.

I hope this article introduce brides like you to the entirely new (for a majority of us) world of wedding dress alteration. I went through such a hassle with my bridal alterations and don’t want anyone ever to go through anything like that ever again. Let me know what you think in comments below. If you have any additional tips regarding wedding dress alteration, don’t hesitate to share them as well.

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