In my experience, the majority of girls have no idea what the cost of a dress alteration will be. They have a preconceived notion that all the work they need to have done will only be a few extra dollars. Sometimes when purchasing a gown, the salesman will lead you to believe that an alteration will be cheap and easy. This advice either comes from an inexperienced employee or a dishonest one.
Wedding gown alterations done correctly are not inexpensive and require a lot of skill. They take time; they take experience and expertise. Tip #10 from our post Ten Keys to Finding the Perfect Dress is, “You get what you pay for.” We have fixed many botched wedding gowns from inexperienced seamstresses over the years. Can you imagine paying for alterations twice! Make sure your seamstress knows how to do wedding gown alterations. Ask her/him how long they have been working on bridal alterations.
Dress alterations are not the same as shirt/pant and other dress related alterations. If you know someone that sews, great, but that does not qualify them for bridal alterations. Many bridal boutiques have qualified seamstresses or will recommend someone. Usually, if they recommend someone, it is because they have done work for them before and their clients were happy with it. I would suggest going with a recommended seamstress from a bridal boutique over a friend.
Expect to pay anywhere from $200-$700.00. The most significant cost being side-seams, bust (princess seams), and or lace/beadwork. Make sure to factor alteration cost into the total price of your gown, especially when deciding what gown is right for you. I would also recommend that you consider the time that an alteration will take. We recommend you start at least ten weeks before your event for alteration work. As soon as you have your gown, go see your seamstress. They will need to know what work needs to be done to make time for you within your time frame.
Keep in mind, you will not be their only client, and they are likely managing multiple time frames. Agree on a date for the gown to be completed, especially if you want it sooner than the actual event.
My first job in the bridal industry came in the alteration department. I saw first hand the frustrations of altering wedding gowns and the time and work that go into them.
I always knew I wanted to create a line of wedding gowns. With my experience doing alterations, I decided first and foremost that my line would address common alteration problems and expenses. We do this by primarily using separates. They are easy to get into and alter, and if alterations are needed, they are usually minimal. This is because most girls vary greatly in dress size from their bust to their hips. By creating a top and bottom, you reduce the chance of getting the wrong size because you can order the top and skirt in two different sizes. The lace overlays are also easier to get into and adjust, and by not being attached to the satin or lining fabric, you have more give to the piece. If you need a size that is not offered on the size chart, we recommend having a custom size made for you. Just shoot us an email, and we can help you with that.