Wedding Dress Alterations – Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

It’s January! A new year with lots of inspiration and advice coming your way on the blog -and we can’t wait to share it with you! Up first the wonderful Button and Bows Alterations an expert in their field of wedding dress alterations and here to take you through step by step of what to expect and what to do when it comes to wedding dress alterations for your big day! Nearly every single bride will need some form of alterations, so sit back and have a read to ensure you’re prepared, and you’re wedding dress alteration journey is as stress free as possible!

Wedding Dress Alterations – Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Image: MarkUza Photography Dress: River Elliot Bridal

The Preparation

“You’ve got the dress and it needs altering here’s what happens next…… Book an apt with a recommended seamstress who has years of bridal experience and make sure they are insured.  This is not a job for someone taking up jeans all day or a well-meaning aunty with a sewing machine.”

“Book as soon as you can.  If the shop has already given you the heads up that the hem will need taking up book as soon as you buy the dress.” 

“Be prepared to have fittings during daylight hours! Mon -Fri.  Seamstresses need to sew, fit, sleep, eat and see family too, especially true during the busy season March-Sept.

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Image: MarkUza Photography Dress: River Elliot Bridal

“Try and use a seamstress local to you, this cuts a lot of stress out – For example, you buy your dress near to your mums, a best friend, in say, Essex, but you live in Manchester.  The shop may have recommended a seamstress local to them or even in house.  You may think, I’ll just tie in fittings with a visit to the friend/relative etc.  But what IF the shoes for your fitting don’t arrive in time, there’s a work commitment unforeseen, or you’re just not feeling well.  You’ll be making mad dashes half way across the country for a 30 minute fitting only to be told that you’ll need another fitting as you’ve lost weight due to all the stress!! Or you get half way only to remember you left your wonder pants at home. I can almost hear your cry from here.”

“ALWAYS ALWAYS bring the underwear, shape-wear, underskirt, shoes you are going to be wearing on the day, and yes it does matter!  I know there will be fitters screaming this up and down the country.”

Wedding Dress Alterations – The Bra

“Let’s start from the top – Boobs, if you would never answer the door to the postman without a bra DO NOT buy a backless dress for your wedding day.  Okay so you did, what can we do about it? Often dresses do what you pay them to.  But an awful lot of backless dresses are not constructed to take a c+ cup that needs help to stay in position.   We have fitted illusion and low back dresses up to an E cup with a big thank you to Mother Nature or byebra and other various stick on cups.  But not everyone has a gravity defying E cup and not all dresses work with a sew in cup.”   

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Image:Camilla Andrea Photography Dress:River Elliot Bridal

“If more boob is what you require, bump pads can be added. We have fitted many of these and they can help shape out a little curve or be positioned in such a way that they push up your natural assets for a little decolletage.”

“Big or small, it is wise if you are going to wear a bra to buy a nude coloured strapless bra that you do not mind your seamstress cutting up, into or stitching to your dress.”  

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Image:Camilla Andrea Photography Dress:River Elliot Bridal

 Wedding Dress Alterations – Bums & Tums 

“Shape-wear, it’s everywhere, it’s a rarity to see a bride without some. Even if they are not sucking you in an inch they can add a very smooth line to the dress whether your size 0 or 32.” 

“Do not have your very first fitting without it and then come to a subsequent fitting with it.  Your seamstress may have to re do the alterations and be very annoyed as you too will be when they hand you the bill.”   

“Need extra bum cheek there’s a pant for that – Love My Bubbles”

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Dress: Hazaar of London

Wedding Dress Alterations – Hems

‘Why do they make wedding dresses for 6ft brides?’ 

“Hems, ahhh hems, one of the things when quoting we have to explain is that even though it only needs an inch off it doesn’t make the job any cheaper than taking off 2 inches we still have to cut and sew the same piece of fabric and the same amount of layers.”   

“Hems can sometimes be an expensive alteration.  Lace trimmed hems, beaded and any special finish e.g. ballooned hem, pleated are some of the more expensive to alter.”

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process Dress: Hazaar of London

‘Why do they make them so ridiculously long?’ this is the biggest complaint. Manufacturers are trying to accommodate so many heights add to that heel height and I cannot imagine there’s a mathematician willing to come up with the perfect length let alone a pattern cutter.  All I can say to help this be less of a problem, is to have the shoes you will wear on your wedding day with you when you go to choose and order your dress.  Some manufacturers have different lengths that can be ordered.  Always worth asking your shop if this if something your dress designer offers.”

“If your dress is a tad too long or short it may be cheaper to change shoes.  As simple as this sounds it’s amazing how many brides do not think of doing this. Another option is to wear an underskirt with a hoop.  I don’t mean the big ones with lots of net.  A small hoop with one bone and no net will not only potentially raise your hem a little it will hold your dress shape, stop layers collapsing into your legs and provide much needed air flow if it’s a hot day!”

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Dress: Hazaar of London

 Wedding Dress Alterations – Changing Shape and Weight

“Hugely sensitive subject for many reasons.  Having fitted thousands of brides and maids over 18 years I have seen and heard it all.  I do wish weight and body shape wasn’t such a sensitive subject but it is.  Even with the baby steps being made in the fashion industry ask any fitter and they will tell you weight and body image is still a huge issue for brides and having a Instafabulous wedding is not helping this.”

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Image: Amber Marie Photography

“I have never known it to be such a huge issue as it has been the last few yrs. Get inside any fitting room and I guarantee most brides are worrying over whether they look too fat, too thin, big arms, no boobs, boobs to big etc. etc. etc…..depending on which why the Instawind is blowing it changes from boob fixation to bum, at the moment it’s blowing bums!” 

“Here’s the tricky part, fitting you, and doing it in the minefield of body image.  The best way to look at us fitters is to think of us a bit like a Dr. we see so many women in next to nothing.   All different shapes sizes heights etc. that we really don’t give it a second thought.  We are purely interested in the way the garment is fitting.  Most back room conversations won’t be about the shape, weight of the bride but about the quality of the dress and the construction of it, we are primarily dress geeks.  We couldn’t care less if you are a size 0 or a 32 we are there to make your dress fit like a glove BUT we can only do this if you are open and honest about your body.”

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Image: Amber Marie Photography

“Recently had a baby? and you’re body is still in the throes of transition back to pre-pregnancy, if you don’t come in with a baby we won’t know. Are you still breast feeding?  Do you suffer with any condition that causes bloating or take medications that can cause bloating e.g. steroids, IBS tell us.  Anything that will affect your body shape over the course of the fitting process we need to know.”

“Fitters have no abilities for time travel, we have no idea how your body will fit in 4 wks time if you are losing/gaining weight. You are going to be fitted into your dress exactly how you are at that point in time.  We try and start fitting approx. 6 wks. before the wedding unless it’s a dress requiring lots of modifications.  IF you are trying to lose weight or put on weight try and be at your goal weight 6 wks. before your wedding.  I’m sure shops are screaming ‘be at your goal weight at time of ordering the dress.”   

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Image: Amber Marie Photography

 Wedding Dress Alterations – The Dress

“About shops……..We have dresses come through up to 5 inches too small and 7 inches too big! Extremes I know but there are many in between these numbers and shops do not order dresses deliberately the wrong size-  99.99999% of the time shops are not in the business of selling you the wrong size dress they don’t want an unhappy bride, the hassle or the costs.  Best advice I can give is to keep an eye on your measurements.  Not high street sizes, they bare absolutely no resemblance to industry standard pattern cutting charts.  I could bore you senseless with talk of ‘ease’ positive and negative along with vanity sizing, I am a dress geek after all.”

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Image: Yvonne Lishman Photography Dress: Powdered and Waisted

 “So that’s the size issue out the way but also there are shape changers.  This can be anything from surgical enhancement, breast implants, lipo, to tummy tucks.  I told you I’ve seen it all.  It can also be from working out.  Be careful when toning up as you can add muscle, say, across the back. Although you may have lost weight your dress may not do up.”

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Image: Yvonne Lishman Photography Dresses: Powdered and Waisted

Wedding Dress Alterations – The Cost

“Cost is a tricky one… How much does a plumber charge per hr, an electrician, a mechanic?  And we don’t seem to bat an eyelid.  These professions have been seen in the past as quite traditional male roles and as such it follows that these professions charged a higher rate than what was perceived as traditional female roles e.g. sewing. I can’t help but think if there were more men sewing and fitting the rates would be in line with a mechanic.”

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Image:  Ioana Porav  Dress: Aneberry

“For instance we have brides book an apt, come in and they need nothing doing, apart from a lot of reassurance and to compare ribbon colours to a dress.  Now if a plumber was called out and nothing needed to be done, I’m damn sure the plumber won’t be hanging around to discuss whether or not the taps are the right colour and I am equally certain that there will be a charge for his time. A seamstress’s time is just as precious.”

“Geography plays a part, London, as you can imagine is a bit pricier. Skill and experience level, a comparison might be between a senior hair stylist and a stylist. The difficulty level of the alteration, the construction of the dress and the fabrics involved and how many layers. Is there hand work needed, e.g. Beading. These factors all play their part in the costings.  Always get a quote.  If you’re not clear on what’s being done, ask, but be prepared for us dress geeks to bore you senseless with tales of crin and interfacing.”

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Images: Ioana Porav  Dress: Aneberry

 “It is a skill and not many alteration seamstresses will take on bridal because it is not straightforward, hugely time consuming and at times a very emotional and supportive role.  But we do love it! Because we are dress geeks of the highest order. “

Wedding Dress Alterations - Expert Advice For A Stress Free Process

Image: Ioana Porav  Dress: Aneberry

Wedding dress alterations is just one of our advice features if you’re looking for more wedding advice and inspiration check out our online magazine BOND BRIDE

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