Congratulations, bride! You’ve said ‘YES’ to the dress of your dreams! Chances are, you’re one of the many brides who fell in love with a dress at a store and soon realized that it needed something hemmed or altered in some fashion.
Bridal gown alterations are super common, because every bride’s body is different, and to ensure everything is picture perfect on your big day, you may need to add a wedding dress alteration appointment (or two) on your master timeline.
So, how much do wedding dress alterations cost? Read on for tips, strategies, and more when it comes to altering your wedding dress.
Why Do I Need Alterations?
Did you think you were going to just stroll into a wedding dress boutique and walk out with a perfectly fitted gown in hand?
I have dreamt that dream myself, but it’s, unfortunately, a pretty rare occurrence. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: every single dress should be altered to ensure a correct fit!
Every single designer works off a different sizing chart, and mass-produced dresses won’t fit the majority of brides’ bodies. Chances are, your bust, waist, and hips will only match up to one or two of the measurements.
Fit is super important, and on your wedding day, you don’t want to risk a wardrobe malfunction because something was too tight, too loose, or too long! So budget for an alteration fitting or two, just to be safe.
If you’re a natural sample size bride… then consider yourself lucky! It’s rare to not need any alterations.
Where Should I Get My Wedding Dress Altered?
This depends on where you purchased your dress. If you bought it at a bridal boutique, more often than not, they’ll have an in-house tailor or bridal seamstress that is available for scheduling.
If they don’t, they will most likely have a list of highly recommended tailors and alteration services in the area for you to choose from.
You may want to do your research to see if there are other popular tailors, too. It’s good to have a backup list in case their time gets booked up crazy fast.
Also, in the spring, these pros are dealing with high school prom season! Read those reviews, ask around, and plan accordingly!
Be sure to look for a shop that has openings that fit in well with your wedding timeline (we’ll get into this below) and specializes in wedding dresses. Your average dry cleaner might not be able to handle what you’re looking for!
If you bought your dress online, don’t try to alter your dress yourself unless you’re super confident in your sewing abilities. You don’t want the stress of making a mistake, or adding more things to your to-do list!
Consider the Details at Your Fitting
Details and a little foresight will save you time and money at your wedding dress fittings.
Accessories do a lot to enhance the bridal look, and if you’re waffling between a few options, then your fitting is a great time to play around with them to see what looks best!
Also, it’s a smart idea to wear your wedding undergarments to the fitting to make sure everything looks picture perfect.
The fabric of your dress also influences the final cost of wedding dress alterations.
Expensive gowns will typically be made with silk, or have a ton of tulle or lace. These are more costly to alter, whereas polyester and rayon are more wallet-friendly.
The more layers your dress has will also drive the price of your alterations up!
Does your dress have lace, beading, crystals, or other intricate details? Those tend to cost more if you need alterations.
If it’s a matter of simple hemming, that’s less tricky and way more straightforward.
Wearing your wedding shoes will also help you visualize where your dress will graze the ground. It should be long enough to cover your feet, but not so long that you run the risk of tripping.
Don’t have your wedding shoes yet? Bring a pair with a comparable height to what you think you’ll wear on the day of.
Lastly, if you’re being indecisive (we’ve all been there), it helps to bring a trusted friend or family member to be an extra voice and opinion!
An honest friend is of course ideal, but be sure it’s somebody who will also build you up. Be selective about who you bring.
How Long Are Wedding Dress Fitting Appointments?
Typically, brides will have two or three fitting sessions. This helps because bodies do change over time, so buying your gown early will give you more time for accurate fittings.
It’s recommended that the first fitting is done between 8-12 weeks before the wedding day, and the final fitting is done a couple of weeks before the event.
If you start this process on a time crunch, you may risk running into timing conflicts with your seamstress- give yourself as much lead time as you can to avoid any potential hiccups!
Your first appointment will most likely be the longest. Consider it a first “snapshot” of where the dress is now, and what direction the dress will be going.
As you head towards your final fittings, each appointment will be significantly shorter as it’s only the details that are getting tweaked!
Just be sure to stay on your fitting schedule. You don’t want to risk throwing off your schedule for getting your final dress, and it’s also considered rude to your boutique or tailor as they’ve spent so much time getting ready for you!
Types of Wedding Gown Alterations
Bridal seamstresses can do it all!
From simple to complex, they are well versed in adding, taking away, letting out fabric, or taking things in! They’ve seen it all, so be communicative regarding your vision.
Note that if you’re between sizes, be sure to purchase a size up – it’s much easier to take a dress in than let it out.
Basic hemming is the most simple and arguably most essential wedding gown alteration.
A dress that fits well and makes you feel comfortable is so important. You want to be able to dance, greet guests, and most importantly, walk down the aisle with ease, but you also want to feel the most beautiful you’ve ever felt.
A gown that supports your bust and gives you that Megan Thee Stallion body-ody-ody vibe is what you’re going for!
Adding/Taking Away Details
Custom work can include things such as adding off-the-shoulder straps or embellishments such as additional beading, lace appliques, buttons, or a bustle. Most gowns don’t come with one, so if you plan on tearing up the dance floor, a bustle is your BFF.
Average Alteration Costs
Bridal alterations can add up quickly depending on what you’re looking for and there’s a wide range in pricing.
Some boutiques charge a flat rate that covers anything you could need, while some charge a la carte, depending on the service.
For instance, altering a neckline or other minimal alterations could run you around $50, whereas changing the fabric or adding lace and beading may result in an additional cost of more than a couple of hundred.
Keep in mind that alteration costs do vary based on the location of the shop, and also differ from shop to shop.
According to ZOLA, here are the average costs of typical wedding dress alterations.
If you’re going for full customization (for instance, if you’re planning to wear your mother’s or a family member’s wedding dress and need it to be updated), you can expect more fittings and consultations. These will be the most time-consuming and expensive sort of alterations!
How To Eliminate the Cost of Altering Your Wedding Dress
There are a few ways to cut costs if you’re looking to save money.
You can look for white dresses that aren’t listed as “bridal”- this is a great option for casual or outdoor weddings!
You can also shop at vintage or second-hand bridal shops that will have pre-loved dresses. Shopping at the end of wedding seasons may reveal a hidden gem when stores are trying to clear out their inventory!
Found the one you love? Consider a wedding dress that has a built-in corset back, which will allow you more wiggle room (literally, to tighten or loosen) leading up to the day of the wedding. There’s less fuss having to mess with a zipper and all of its anxieties!
You can also consider a different height of heel if your hemline is just a hair long and you can’t decide if you want to commit to hemming.
Just make sure that if you’re planning on switching shoes at the reception, the heels are comparable. Putting on flip-flops at the reception could cause you to trip, so keep that in mind!
The total cost of your wedding dress alterations will depend on several factors. Ultimately, what you’re hoping to get done, and the timeline in which you’re requiring it to be completed will be the biggest two.
To be safe, set aside anywhere from $50 to a few hundred for your bridal gown alterations. And don’t be worried that too many alterations will ruin your dream dress- as long as it makes you feel like an absolute princess, and you’re comfortable enough to mingle, eat, and dance the night away, you’ve nailed it!