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  • Writer's pictureClaire Ingram


Nearly every dress will have to be altered to make sure it fits properly. You’ve probably paid more for it than any other dress you’ve ever owned, so it’s a shame for it not to look fabulous, or for the fit to look like a much cheaper dress. So make sure you allow budget and time for your alternations.

Nearly every bride who buys a wedding dress will need alternations of some kind, from a minor shortening to customising your dress. So to make the process easier, there are some things you need to know:

  • You don’t need to start standard alterations (shortening / bodice fitting) much before 6 weeks before the wedding. Have them done too far in advance and your body shape could change, meaning more fittings and more cost. An experienced bridal seamstress can easily get these changes made in 6 weeks, and often less.

  • It's extremely risky to buy a dress that’s too small in the hope you can fit into it – it’s much easier to make a dress smaller than bigger. Seamstresses are very talented but they can’t work miracles!

  • Most brides need 2 or sometimes 3 fittings for standard alterations.

  • Once you’ve had your first fitting, try not to put on or lose any more weight, or you’ll have to have more changes made, which causes stress and could cost you more money.

  • Charges can vary wildly between seamstresses, especially if they work for a shop which may be adding a commission on to the basic price. So shop around, and remember that you don’t have to have your dress altered at the shop you buy it from.

  • If you are having your dress shortened, you should have your shoes and petticoat ready by the first fitting otherwise the length of your dress may not be quite right.

  • Your seamstress can discuss underwear with you and help you find the right option for your dress – and if you don’t want to wear a bra they can sew bra cups into the dress for support.

  • You can have a bustle hook / loop added to your wedding dress to get your train out of the way later on - make sure you know how it works!

  • Have a walk around and sit down, you’ll be doing a lot of both so make sure your dress lets that happen comfortably!

  • Your seamstress wants your dress to be perfect for you – if its too tight, too loose, or you aren’t happy about anything please tell them. They won’t bite, and they’d rather have a chance to make the changes.

  • Extra boning and support can be added if you feel that your dress is not giving you enough support or you would like more structure.

Ultimately you are looking for a really good fit that still allows for comfort and movement - but bear in mind that the shape of your dress will have an impact. If you want a skin tight, figure hugging dress it will always put some constraints on your movement regardless what the seamstress does, and a loose dress may be the ultimate in comfort but won’t show off your curves quite as much. Your dress should be comfortable, but its never going to be as comfy or easy to move in as your PJs!

And a good seamstress can do much more than fit your dress – they can add straps or sleeves, make matching jackets or veils, add or remove sparkle, colour and other decoration and much more. Many of them are experienced in making entire wedding dresses so they can help you to make your dress unique to you!

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