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After you’ve found the wedding gown you’ve been dreaming of, the next step is achieving the desired fit for your gown. Stores attempt to select the best possible size for you, but the reality is the vast majority of brides need at least minor adjustments made to their gowns. That’s where an alteration specialist enters your wedding planning process. This person is ultimately very important to deliver the final look you’ll have on your big day. There are options for altering your gown, several important things to keep in mind and items that are essential to make your fittings productive.
Many Bridal Shops employ alteration specialists in-house allowing your fittings and all the finishing touches such as pressing to be handled where you purchased your gown. This allows you to work with much of the same staff you became comfortable with during the purchasing process and keeps your gown in the hands of people you’ve come to trust. It’s also important to find out if the place you are purchasing from has alteration options. Keep in mind buying from a warehouse setting or on-line could leave you not knowing where to even start looking for help in getting your gown altered.
When deciding if you want to have your alterations done at the shop you purchased from or elsewhere, questions to ask are: 1) What are the usual charges for the work your gown needs? 2) What is the time frame necessary to complete alterations in a timely manner? 3) What items are necessary to bring to my alteration appointment?
The answers to these questions will vary by store, but at Emmy’s Bridal we only do alterations by appointment and prefer to start the process 8-10 weeks ahead of the event. We ask that our customers bring their shoes, and strapless bra, shape wear and/or crinoline, if necessary, with their gown. Not having the correct shoes or undergarments at your fitting may result in a poor fit and extra charges to correct the fit when you do have the items you plan to wear.
Pricing is an important consideration. Alteration charges are rarely included in the price of your gown, and can vary widely. Some brides will try to save money by having a friend or relative alter their gown, and this can be a good alternative if the person doing the work is an accomplished seamstress accustomed to working with formalwear. It’s not a good idea to cajole Grandma into doing your alterations if the scope of the work is way outside her comfort zone. In all likelihood you’ll wind up back at the bridal shop paying additional charges and possibly rush fees to fix any mistakes made.
Independent seamstresses are also a good alternative and many work at reasonable rates. However, price isn’t the only consideration when choosing your alteration specialist. It’s always a good practice to ask for references or examples of completed work. A reputable seamstress will happily provide them. It is also prudent to ask for an estimate of the cost of your alterations. At Emmy’s Bridal, we give broad estimates during the shopping process if asked and more specific estimates after the work to be done is determined. Even after you receive your estimate, keep in mind that additional work requested may result in additional charges as the process progresses. We have heard “But she said my alterations were going to be $125!” and then take the time to explain that that was for the original work quoted, not the custom straps, additional beading and extra bustles added later.
Realistic expectations are the final ingredient for outstanding alterations. Your alteration specialist should provide an excellent fit but cannot transform a gown into something it wasn’t meant to be. As a seamstress myself, I will tactfully tell a customer if a request isn’t feasible for their gown. Some examples would be trying to make a strapless gown sit higher on the body than it was meant to or straightening a full skirt too much. Keep an open mind and communicate well with your fit specialist, and you’ll achieve the look you want for the moment you walk down the aisle!