Why Alterations to your Wedding Dress are so Important …

Since I described in my last blog how wedding dresses are sized, I thought you might like to know more about how your wedding dress will be made to fit you perfectly. Almost every single bride I meet needs at least a minor tweak on a standard fit to make it fit close to her body and flatter her to the max. It’s very rare that a wedding dress won’t need to be altered, at the very least on the hem length. The vast majority of girls only need a little tweak to the bust-line to make it sit completely flush against her skin and to not gape or pinch, and lots of girls benefit from a little extra cinching at the waist to really showcase her curves. For the vast majority of brides and bridal boutiques the most effective way to carry out these amendments to fit are through a process called ‘Alterations’, carried out by an experienced bridal seamstress.

The reason most dresses will need these minor alterations is because they are made to standard size charts and by someone who has never seen your figure, and the handmade nature of the garment means that there will always be variations in the fit and finish as its nearly impossible to cut and sew two dresses in exactly the same way. It isn’t practical or economical to send it back and forth to the designer to make these tweaks, therefore most bridal shops will have an experiences bridal alterations specialist on hand to carry out the work in a much more efficient and effective way. It’s obviously much better for the person making the alterations to be the same person who sees you in the dress.

Some of our designers offer a made to measure couture service but as the dress will be handmade by someone who has never seen you or your figure the fit will not be exact without a calico – but this is a much more arduous and time consuming process and adds a considerable amount to the price of a gown. But even with a made-to-measure gown there is a possibility that alterations might still be required, as even an eighth of an inch difference on a seam might mean that the gown pinches or gapes. In many cases it is much more practical and less time consuming to simply order your gown in a stand size and have the fit tailored by a seamstress, only if you are a non standard fit (eg. very pear shaped) will it be worthwhile to go down the made to measure route.

Alterations are carried out quite close to your wedding day to make sure that the fit is as perfect as possible. If you are planning on losing weight for your wedding it is even more important that your alterations be carried out really close to your wedding day, as there is no point having to have your dress taken in multiple times as your figure shrinks – and your seamstress won’t be impressed at having to redo the work.

The price of alterations can vary significantly depending on who carries them out and when they are done. I’ve heard of some seamstresses charging a rush fee for last minute work. But expect to pay anywhere from £30 to £100 for a hem to be shortened – multiple layers, chiffon and lace hems are much more difficult to work with and are obviously more expensive than a straightforward single layer satin gown. Bodice work will start at around £20 and the price will depend on boning, fabric and bead-work. On average most brides pay around £70 to have their gown tailored to fit them. However, every person needs different amounts of alterations, therefore it’s not fair for a shop to set a standard price for alterations or to include them in the price of the gown – what if the bodice fits perfectly and you only need a hem – you wouldn’t be happy to pay for a job that wasn’t required.

It is really important that you take that final step and opt to have your gown tailored exactly to your body – no matter how expensive your dress, it’ll look terrible and possibly even cheap if it digs in or gapes and exposes too much of your cleavage. No bride wants her guests commenting that she should have had the dress fitted to her.  Investing in the final fit of your dress is vital and I promise you won’t regret it!


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