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Wedding Dress Alteration

So you found the perfect dress. The only problem is that it is too small. "No problem!" says the sales clerk. "It can be altered. We’ll take a little from the train, add it to the sides and Presto!" Is this really possible? Perhaps.

If you know the specific alterations that your gown needs, feel free to call around and get some telephone bids. You do not necessarily have to use the alterations service from your bridal shop, but do not cut corners that you might regret. A seamstress experienced with altering wedding gowns will probably do a better job than your average tailor at your local dry-cleaner.

Can Every Dress be Altered?
Not every dress can be altered
to fit exactly the way you would like. Remember two rules of thumb:

1.  It is easier to take something in than it is to let it out. If you are wearing your mother's wedding gown it may be worth going to great lengths to get the gown to fit. But, if you are buying a new gown, get the correct size. Making a dress larger is difficult, and you may not like the fit afterwards.

2.  Dont buy a gown more than one size larger than your own size. Larger gowns are cut proportionally larger all over the gown. The neckline, the bodice, and shoulders will all be over sized. This means the gown may not fit quite right if only the side seams are taken in. However, some dresses are designed to fit several sizes, with a corset back that ties instead of zips. To get the best fit, stay as close as possible to your correct size.


Could I do the alterations myself?
If you (or a friend or family member) are a competent seamstress
you could make many of your alterations easily and save quite a bit of money. Hems can be very simple, but be aware that if your gown has lace at the hemline, it may require more extensive work.

Some alterations are more difficult and should be reserved for someone who really knows what they are doing. But wedding gowns are designed to be altered and many are constructed in such a way as to make adjustments easier. Take a good look at the interior construction of your gown to determine how difficult it will be to make the necessary adjustments before you take it on.

Alterations Timeline
If possible, order your dress at least 12 weeks
before your wedding to allow enough time for the necessary adjustments. Plan your last fitting several weeks before your wedding so you have time to make last minute adjustments if needed. Weddings can be stressful and you may find that you either lose a little weight or gain a little weight during your engagement.

Alterations Tips

  • Try your wedding gown on without any make-up. You want to be as clean as possible to avoid soiling your gown. And wear your nicest under clothes as it is likely you may be only partially dressed during your fitting.
  • Be sure to wear the bra and shoes that you will be wearing for your wedding. Don't try to find shoes with the right heels after your gown has been altered. Buy your shoes prior to having it hemmed.


Keeping these tips in mind will help you when selecting your gown and your tailor. And remember, for a less stressful wedding preparation, shop early for your wedding gown. Once you have your wedding gown, be sure to store it in an acid-free environment.

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