Your Guide to Bridesmaid Dress Alterations

We're here to make sure your wedding alterations experience is *seamless.*
carli brennan headshot
Carli Brennan
carli brennan headshot
Carli Brennan
The Knot Fashion Contributor
  • Carli writes freelance fashion articles for The Knot.
  • Prior to The Knot, she was the style section editor at Her Campus Media and launched the Fashion Institute of Technology chapter of Her Campus.
  • Carli’s passion for the wedding industry stems from her time as a bridal consultant and her previous internship in a bridal showroom.
Updated Mar 09, 2023

Once you've said "yes" to your bridesmaid dress, you probably won't be ready to walk down the aisle until you've had some key alterations done. Even on the rare occasion that your dress fits almost perfectly, there are likely still a few small adjustments you'll need to ensure a flawless fit on the big day. While it may be tempting to forego alterations in order to save some money—trust us—proper tailoring can make your dream dress look even better than you imagined.

While the process of starting your bridesmaid dress alterations can feel overwhelming, we're here to help. If you have never had a dress tailored before, there are some important considerations to keep in mind when starting the process. Knowing all of the information about the process upfront, like the cost of alterations, what they typically entail and how long they take will help you to plan ahead. Below, read up on everything you need to know about bridesmaid dress alterations. We promise it'll be a seamless experience.

In this article:

Types of Bridesmaid Dress Alterations

Even if you feel confident in your sewing skills, we highly recommend taking your dress to a professional, as alterations aren't as simple as they may seem. Delicate or heavily embellished fabrics require extra care and attention, and sometimes even special types of needles or thread. You want to make sure an expert handles this important step.

Hemming the Length: A hem is when the length of a gown is adjusted according to height—this length can be taken up from the bottom or even from the waist, depending on the dress. Bridesmaid dresses are typically cut at a standard length across all sizes with the intention that the wearer can alter it to her perfect length no matter her height. The majority of bridesmaids will at least need a hem. It's essential to keep in mind that your shoes will play a big factor in the length of your gown, so make sure you bring the heels you plan to wear (or ones of the same height), so that your seamstress can work accordingly.

So how long should your bridesmaid dress be? It's up to you. You can choose to let your dress hang about an inch off the floor, just barely touching the floor, or even let it puddle on the floor a bit. This is all at the discretion of the bridesmaid and what she finds most comfortable. For example, if the wedding is going to be outdoors or if you find yourself tripping over the hem, an inch off the floor will likely be the most comfortable for you. Your seamstress can pin the hem at different lengths so you can try out which one you like best before making a decision.

Taking in the Bust, Waist or Hips: As is the case with any off-the-rack garment, your dress probably won't fit perfectly the first time you try it on. No two bodies are exactly the same, so chances are you are going to need a few alterations here and there. This is where taking in the bust, waist and hips comes in. These alterations are what really give a dress that custom look on the body. It's important to note that most bridesmaid dresses can be taken in up to two sizes smaller, but seam allowances on the dress will dictate how much it can be taken out and made larger. As a general rule, it's better to opt for a larger dress than a smaller one if you're between sizes. Talk with your seamstress if you're concerned about any weight fluctuations and they'll be work with you to achieve a perfect fit.

Shortening the Straps: No wardrobe malfunction is quite as annoying as straps that keep sliding off of your shoulders. Whether your dress has spaghetti straps or wide straps, shortening the straps of your gown will ensure a snug fit so that you can toast, move around and dance comfortably all night long. For petite folks, this adjustment can also be done to make the waist of the dress hit the correct place on your body.

Bridesmaid Alterations | What to Expect

How Much Do Alterations Cost for a Bridesmaid Dress?

On average, bridesmaid dress alterations cost between $75 and $150, depending on the extent of the alterations, the fabric of your dress and where you live. For instance, if you're only having your dress hemmed, you can expect to pay between $45 and $90. When you get into more complex tweaks regarding bust, waist and hip fitting, expect to pay $150 or more. These costs are important to keep in mind when selecting your bridesmaid dress so that you can factor them into your budget.

It is also important to note that the material of the dress can play a factor in alterations cost. If the dress has intricate beading or appliqué that would need to be removed and or repositioned, this will increase the price. Double layers in the skirt and horsehair trim also make the process for your seamstress more labor intensive and will increase the alterations cost.

How Long Do Bridesmaid Dress Alterations Take?

The average turnaround time for alterations is about a month. Depending on how complicated your alterations are, you may need to go back to your seamstress for multiple fittings. While you may be eager to get your dress altered as soon as possible, we recommend starting your alterations no sooner than six weeks before the wedding so that the fit is as accurate as possible. While you don't want to start your alterations too early, that doesn't mean you should wait until the last minute to schedule them. Wedding season is an extremely busy time for tailors, so make sure to schedule your appointments as soon as possible. Bottom Line: You should have your first fitting about six weeks to one month before the wedding.

What to Wear to a Bridesmaid Dress Fitting

Coming prepared to a bridesmaid dress fitting is imperative. Similar to the essentials you need when trying on wedding dresses, you'll want to make sure you've packed everything below for your bridesmaid dress alterations.

Shoes are one of the most important things you'll want to bring with you to ensure your dress length is perfect. Ideally, you'll want to bring along the exact shoes you plan on wearing to the wedding, but if you're not sure try to bring a shoe as close to the heel height you plan on wearing as possible. If you plan on wearing certain undergarments or shapewear under your dress, wear these to the appointment too.

Consider showing up to your appointment with your hair and makeup done—you don't need to go overboard, but a little glam will give you that extra boost of confidence for the fitting. After all, you'll be looking in a mirror a lot during the appointment and want to feel confident and comfortable.

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