All About Alterations
Part of being sure you look fabulous in your wedding gown, bridesmaid dress, mother’s dress, or other special occasion garment is being sure that it fits you just right. Our team of alterations specialists and seamstresses* has years of experience fitting bridal and special occasion garments. When you call or email for your appointment, we’ll ask you some questions to be sure we match you with the seamstress just right for you and your project.
You can usually expect to have two to three fittings for your wedding gown. Ideally, your first fitting is 8-10 weeks before the wedding. During this appointment, your seamstress will decide with you what needs to be done and what type of bustle (if any) works and looks best. The seamstress will pin your gown and it will stay with us after the first fitting. About two to four weeks before your wedding will be your second and final fitting(s). You’ll try the gown on to be sure everything is just right and we’ll spend some time teaching your attendant how to do the bustle on the gown properly. If all is well, you’ll either take your gown with you after this appointment or leave it with us for cleaning and/or pressing.
Here are a few tips to be sure your fittings go smoothly and that you are delighted with the fit and look of your gown or dress:
Arrive on time with just one or two guests. Our studio is small with only one fitting room, so when our clients help us stay on schedule by arriving on time or a touch early, we are best able to accommodate everyone’s expectations. Dress fittings work best when you have just one (or two) trusted friends or family with you.
If you have any budget or lifestyle concerns (examples: wearing an insulin pump, being pregnant, or nursing a baby), please let your seamstress know right away, at the beginning of your fitting appointment. Then she can best accommodate your needs and be sure any concerns are addressed.
Our seamstress may ask you some personal questions; Are you planning to gain or lose weight? Are you on your period? Have you started any new medications? These questions and any comments made about body shape, size, or symmetry are in no way meant to be intrusive or negative. They are necessary so that we can be sure your gown is fitting your body as it should.
Communication is key! Following up with last two tips, if you ever have a concern, a desire, or something you are not sure about, your seamstress wants to know. Please do not be afraid to ask a question or voice a concern.
Shoes. It seems like a little thing, but having the shoes you plan to wear with the dress is very important to a successful fitting.
Bra & other foundational garments. Like shoes, these are very important to how the dress or gown fits you. It is very important that if you plan to wear a bra, you have the bra that works with your gown at your first appointment. If you do not have the correct bra at your first fitting, we do have a selection of corset bras as well as sew-in cups available in the studio for purchase. (It’s important to know that sew-in bra cups add shape, but not much support, so we recommend them only for A,B, and some C cup sizes.). Bras and cups are non-returnable, so please be sure you are ready to make a decision at your first fitting and know that your gown will be altered to fit best with that bra.
Rush options. We understand that engagements, gown shopping, and even gown shipping does not always fit into an ideal time frame. However, we do reserve the right to charge a $50 rush fee on wedding gowns with less than a month from the first fitting to the wear date.
Cancellations. If you decide not to have us proceed with the project after your first fitting, we reserve the right to charge a $50 cancelled work fee.
We know that you also want to know about cost. Our average bride spends $200 – $400 on alterations. Most brides will need a hem, bustle, and strap or bodice adjustment; on an average gown, this comes to about $300. Gowns with lots of layers, very full skirts, or lots of beading can be significantly more costly for alterations. If your gown already fits you great, you may just need a bit of “tweaking” for much less. We will give you a quote at your first fitting. Bridesmaids and mothers can expect an average of $50-$85 for a hem and some bodice work. Just hems for these gowns range from $30 – $60 in general.
*Please note that our seamstresses are independent contractors and pricing may vary between them based on experience and personal preference. Great Lakes WGS is proud to offer their services, but they are not employees of our company. All scheduling and payment will be handled through Great Lakes Wedding Gown Specialists. Just like your hairdresser, your seamstress does appreciate personal tips, but they are not required. Cash tips of $15-$25 for bridal gowns and $5-$10 for other dresses is customary.