Types of Bridal Alterations

Your wedding day is the day you will be showing off your stunning gown. The way it fits you is everything, which is why alterations are everything. The last thing you need on your special day is to deal with a wardrobe malfunction or ill fitting dress. When you have your first fitting you want to make sure your seamstress understands how you want the wedding dress to fit.


There are several different types of alterations that can be done on your dress. The seamstress will help you with what is needed to make your dress fit you perfectly, but it’s up to you to find a credible seamstress that will exceed your expectations. No matter where you buy your dress, there will usually be alterations needed. So make sure you factor in these costs before you buy your dress. 


Most alterations start with adjusting the sides of the gown, adjusting the length and fine-tuning the fit of the dress. The alterations are essential for the dress to look its best, fit your body like a glove and make you feel like your most beautiful self inside of it. Your dress should accentuate and complement the body’s shape, support and shape the bust.


Basic Hemming- It’s important that your skirt is long enough to cover the shoes (but not so long that you trip!).

Shoulder Raise- This alteration is very common. If the neckline seems to be gaping or the bodice washboards, a shoulder raise will usually smooth things out.  Watch to make sure that the bust curve doesn’t raise above your own natural bust line.  This can cause more issues than the shoulder raise fixes. 

Taking the Sides In or Out- In order to make the bodice fit perfectly, you may need to have the side seams adjusted.  Be sure to take some deep breaths to detect if the fit is too tight.  You want to be able to breath and enjoy your wedding day. 

The female body fluctuates continuously: from morning to night, from day to day, and week to week.  Hormonal changes, birth control, and water weight changes the female body significantly.  The side seam on your wedding dress is the alteration most vulnerable to these changes. Some females change very little, others change a lot.  You know your body. If bloating and fluctuation is a reality of your body, try and find the “sweet spot” for the side seams that will accommodate the size you will most likely be on your wedding day. 

Adding Details –In some cases you may have the PERFECT dress except… for one detail like, off -the-shoulder straps, sleeves, a longer train, lace appliques, beading, or buttons. Instead of finding a completely different dress, this is something a bridal seamstress specialist can help you with so you can create the dream dress you envisioned. But these more extensive changes need to be planned into your budget in advance, they will cost extra. 


Remember to buy your dress early. Give yourself at least 10 months to leave room for ordering, shipping, and alterations. Make sure you schedule your first fitting at least 12 weeks before your wedding and schedule your final fitting at least two weeks before your wedding.


If you don’t have the luxury of time for shopping and ordering in your dress, you may need to buy “off the rack”. This limits your choices and you will need to be realistic about making a choice from the available dresses you find. Some stores are completely off the rack, others will not sell their sample dresses at all. Finding the right seamstress for your alterations in this circumstance is more important than ever.  There is less chance of finding a dress that fits perfectly, and also you will have less time to have the alterations completed.


Bring your shoes and undergarments that you will be wearing (to every fitting) with your dress. It will help the seamstress ensure everything fits properly. You may want to bring a supportive friend or family member to help you feel more comfortable and relaxed.  An extra set of eyes never hurt. 


And remember, the key to a good alterations experience is communication. Be sure the seamstress understands your vision and how you want the dress to fit.