The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress: Part 3

In this Part 3 of the Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress, I write about the options you have for altering your wedding dress, and the costs involved.

Part 3: Altering Your Wedding Dress

Once you’ve chosen your wedding dress, the bridal boutique will order your wedding dress for you in the size closest to yours, which will then be altered to fit you. The alterations will be done by an in-house seamstress, and you would attend about 2-3 dress fittings to get the wedding dress altered just right for you.

An in-house bridal boutique seamstress will usually be quite familiar with the boutique’s product line of wedding dresses, and would have amassed the knowledge and experience in altering wedding dresses similar to yours. However, while it may be a good idea to have the in-house seamstress to alter your wedding gown, you always have the option to consult an independent seamstress instead.

When Should You Get Your Wedding Dress Altered?

Have your wedding dress altered at about 3-4 months prior to your wedding date. On one hand, you don’t want to alter your dress too early, in anticipation that you will lose (or gain) more weight closer to your wedding date.

On the other hand, if you decide to use an independent seamstress, a good seamstress may be booked up well in advance, especially if you’re getting married during the peak wedding season.

How do You Choose the Right Seamstress?

If you decide to use an independent seamstress, you should do some research prior to getting your wedding dress altered.

Look on the Internet and ask your family, friends, and the boutiques you have visited to recommend a good and trusted seamstress or tailor that is skilled in making and altering wedding dresses.

You want to find a professional who has the knowledge and experience in working with the many complex details which comprises a wedding dresses – from the boning to the hem and bustles. Go on the seamstresses’ websites and visit them at their studios (if they have one) and have a chat about the alterations that you would like to make to your wedding dress. You can then obtain a clearer time frame and estimated cost for the alterations to be carried out.

Some seamstresses will even come to you and measure you in the comforts of your own home. However, be prepared to factor in their travelling cost and time if you decide to hire them for their services.

Choose a seamstress or a tailor that you can trust, one that you feel you can work and communicate well with, is open and respectful of your ideas and whose studio is located near to you.

How Much Should You Expect to Pay for Alterations

Most upscale bridal boutiques will offer you a dress alteration package if you purchase your wedding dress from them. If you decide to take the package, you will have to you pay for it on top of the price of your wedding dress. The price is set, regardless of how much alteration is required to be carried out on the wedding dress to fit you – whether it’s just the hem you need shortened, or a total reconstruction of the dress. However, it is unlikely that you will need a total reconstruction of your wedding dress that would warrant the £395 alteration package price, if you order your dress brand new.

On the other hand, if you decide to choose an independent seamstress or tailor, the cost to alter your wedding dress will depend on how much alteration is required, how difficult and time consuming it will be to carry out those alterations, and where you seamstress/tailor is based. While the pricing may vary slightly depending on the seamstress or tailor and his/her location, here’s an estimated breakdown of how much it’ll cost to alter a wedding dress in London:

1. Altering the hem (bottom) of the wedding dress: £75 – £100

If your wedding dress is too long for you, you would need to have it shortened to avoid tripping on your wedding dress. The more layers your wedding dress comprises, the more layers that would need to be shortened. To shorten the hem on 2 layers of material on the front of your wedding dress will cost you an estimated £75, and each additional layer may add an estimated £25 to the cost.

2. Altering the sides of the  wedding dress: £50 – £75

If you are in-between sizes, sometimes the best option is to purchase a wedding dress that is of the bigger size. You can then have it taken in at the sides. Taking in the sides of the dress from the bust to the waist may cost about £50, and upto £75 where the seamstress has to also deal with other components of the wedding dress, such as boning and/or beading.

Similarly, altering your wedding dress from the waist to the hips will cost you about £50 – £60, depending on whether you have embellishments and beading on your dress.

You will be charged extra where there are embellishments and beading on your wedding dress as your seamstress would have to remove them from the “problem area”, and then sew it back  by hand once the alterations are done. The additional cost would have factored in the time taken to carry this out.

3. Adding bustles to your dress: £20

If your wedding dress has a train, it may be best to have it bustled for ease of movement, especially when you dance. Depending on the size and length of your train, you may need to add several bustles to your dress, and every bustle would cost about £20, whether they come in the form of ribbons or thread loops.

4. Changing the zip on the back of the dress to a laced back: £75 – £100

If you want to replace the zip on the back of your dress to a laced back, this may cost up to £75 as the seamstress would have to add loops and an inner fabric panel to the back of your dress.

So if you decide to alter your wedding dress in London, you can probably expect to pay between £50 to £400 to alter your wedding dress, depending on the complexity involved in the alterations process. If you are not happy with the way the dress is fitting at any time, make it known to the seamstress immediately or it’ll cost you more to rectify it later.

Generally, the more complex and labour intensive the alterations, the more time and money required to make your wedding dress fit you like a glove.

Getting Fitted for Your Wedding Dress

When you get fitted for your dress, make sure you bring your wedding shoes and any support/shapewear that you plan to wear on your wedding day with you. You don’t want to get the dress altered only to find out that the wedding dress has been altered too short to wear with your chosen wedding shoes. Don’t get a spray tan the day before, in case it rubs off of your wedding dress and while you’re at it, ditch the easily transferable make up too.

Storing Your Wedding Dress

Once you bring your wedding dress home, you should hang the dress long and cover it with a white cotton sheet to protect it. Remove any plastic wrapping from the dress, to allow the dress to “breathe”.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress, and will find the information useful in your search for your wedding dress. If you would like to read Parts 1 and 2, follow the links below:

Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress

Part 1: How to Find Your Dream Wedding Dress

Part 2: Bridal Boutique Appointments and How Do You Know If You’ve Found Your Wedding Dress

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