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Wedding Dress Alterations: 7 Tips Every Bride Needs to Know

By Kristi Kellogg

Published on August 16, 2017

Fit is everything. Which is why when it comes to your wedding dress, alterations are also everything. "You can splurge on a pricey dress, but if it's not altered properly it won't look any better than a gown that's a tenth of the cost," says Terry Hall of New York City's Kleinfeld Bridal. As you break out the measuring tape, here are seven key things to remember when it comes to bridal alterations.

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Wedding Dress Alterations

You've found your gown, but it's not quite the perfect fit...yet.

By The Knot 

Whether you found your gown at a couture salon or a bridal sample sale, the options for alterations are nearly endless. Many seamstresses who have worked on bridal gowns are used to reworking fabrics, opening up hems, and can practically redesign a dress. This is particularly common when a bride wants to modernize her mother's gown -- a seamstress can use the same fabric but create an updated style for the gown.

Why are Alterations so expensive?

After a very fun and exciting busy wedding season last year and beginning a fresh one, I thought it was time I address a burning question many brides have these days... Just WHY are alterations so expensive? Hopefully I can shed some light on this..

First off, everyone wants the wedding they always dreamed of.. but as we all know, this is not always the case. Finding a great dress at the right price can be challenge. Whether you buy a $5000 dress or a $500 one, one thing is for sure. In order to look great on your wedding day, your dress MUST have a proper fit. No ifs, ands, or buts about it! If your dress doesn't fit properly it more than likely won't look great or be comfortable..both which do not help to make you lookand feel your best on your wedding day!

Wedding gowns are made very differently these days than other garments. They usually have all sorts of built in features that were only put in high end couture garments in the past.. such as built in corsets and petticoats. Not every seamstress will deal with wedding gowns for this very reason! On top of that, the trims and appliques on dresses have to be detached and hand stitched back on, looking as perfect as it did to start. Much of the work I do when altering a dress is done BY HAND. Just trying to get a very heavy ball gown up to the machine can be a task in itself!

Another thing to consider is this.. Every bride I have ever met with no matter how different they are all have one thing in common. They want their special day to be PERFECT. That is a lot of stress to endure for many of us work in the wedding industry. We are professionals who work very hard, often going above and beyond to please our clients! This comes with a price, and deservingly so. I often feel as though my head could be served on a platter if I mess up someone's wedding dress!! 🙂 Wedding gowns are like cars, the higher end ones cost more to repair, or in this case, alter. Couture gowns can be very difficult to work on..equaling more time, resulting in more cost. Keep this in mind when shopping.. Maybe it is a great dress at a great price, but if it doesn't fit.. expect to spend the money you saved altering the dress to look good on YOU. I hate seeing a bride come in with a great dress she's excited about only to see it doesn't fit at all... All she saw was a dress, label, and price she liked...ignoring the most important thing- the fit.

I absolutely love what I do and working with brides. But remember, it takes many years to learn the art of sewing and more importantly sewing well. If you think sewing a button on is hard, imagine decreasing a strapless couture wedding gown that weighs 10 lbs, down 2 sizes! There is a lot of work that goes into altering a dress PROPERLY. I do not treat wedding gowns as if they were Halloween costumes.. just "zipping" in a seam won't always do.. I know there are far more things a bride would rather spend money on than something not so fun like alterations, and there are far more fun things I would rather be sewing too! But good alterations are worth it, and worth every penny. I don't think I can remember what party favors I got at the last wedding... But, I DO remember what the bride looked like... and how her dress fit.