Wedding Dress Alterations 101: Your Ultimate Bridal Alterations Guide for a Flawless Fit

We're here to make sure your wedding alterations experience is *seamless.*
Brides and bridesmaids getting ready
Photo: Moment Studio
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by
Lauren Whalley
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Lauren Whalley
Fashion Editor, Beauty & Inclusivity
  • Lauren writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a specialty in fashion, beauty and size inclusivity.
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Lauren worked in wedding editorial for Brides, Style Me Pretty and Enaura Bridal.
  • Lauren studied public relations and advertising at the University of Central Florida.
Updated Mar 01, 2024

Wedding dress alterations are key to achieving the perfect fit. As a bride-to-be myself, it was incredible to see how just a few small tweaks took my gown from just another dress to something that felt custom-made just for me. Even if your dress arrives at the salon and feels great on, those little adjustments (along with the perfect bridal shapewear) will help your gown fit like a glove.

Wedding alterations are typically done during a wedding dress fitting with a professional seamstress or tailor, who will make adjustments or modifications to your gown as needed or requested so that it feels like the perfect reflection of you. Whether it's hemming the length so you don't trip over your gown while walking down the aisle or tightening the shoulder straps to prevent an undesirable wardrobe malfunction, bridal gown alterations are an essential part of the dress shopping process that you don't want to skip. Below, we will explore everything you need to know about wedding alterations, from how much it costs to alter a wedding dress to the most common types of alterations and how to find bridal alterations in your area.

Meet the Experts

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Bridal Alterations Near Me

Finding a reliable and skilled seamstress or bridal alterations specialist is crucial for achieving a perfectly tailored wedding dress. The Knot Marketplace is an excellent resource to find experienced professionals near you. Simply select your location, click "+ More Filters," and choose "Alterations" to browse through alterations services in your area.

Wedding Dress Alterations FAQs

Achieving your ideal dress fit often requires alterations; as Harris states, "A bride's wedding day is the one moment when you want the dress to fit you like a glove so expect to need alterations and build them into your wedding budget and timeline up front." To help you navigate bridal gown alterations with ease, we're answering some of the most commonly asked questions that you probably have. From how much it costs to resize a wedding dress to understanding when to start alterations and selecting a reputable seamstress, these FAQs will ensure that your dress fits just the way you want it to.

How much do wedding dress alterations cost?

On average, wedding dress alterations cost between $150 and $800. Keep in mind that the cost to alter a wedding dress can vary based on a multitude of factors, such as the complexity of the alterations, the fabric type and any additional embellishments. Specific details that are more labor-intensive, like intricate lace, beading or even upcycling a vintage wedding dress, could incur higher costs of upwards of $1,000+. I recommend scheduling a consultation with a reputable alterations specialist to receive an accurate estimate.

How long do wedding dress alterations take?

Wedding dress alterations usually take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to complete. The time required to complete the process can vary depending on the complexity of the alterations and the seamstress's schedule. According to Nunez, it is recommended that brides come in for their first fitting consultation about 2–3 months before their wedding; this allows ample time to alter the wedding dress, review bustle options and ensure a flawless fit on their special day. However, the timeline ultimately depends on the bride's preferences and the extent of alterations needed.

How do I know what alterations my wedding dress needs?

Your first dress fitting appointment will be the best time to determine your alterations needs. When you schedule a fitting with your alterations professional, they will carefully assess the fit of the dress on your body and suggest alterations accordingly Harris also advises that seeking guidance from your bridal stylist can be invaluable. They have in-depth knowledge of the gowns and can provide valuable insights into what adjustments will enhance the fit and overall look of the dress. Trust their expertise and be open to their suggestions to achieve the best results.

Types of Bridal Dress Alterations

When it comes to wedding dress alterations, several common alterations can ensure a perfect fit and enhance the overall appearance of your dress. "A bride's wedding day is the one moment when you want the dress to fit you like a glove and, ultimately, look like it was made for you and your specific measurements," says Harris. "That's where alterations can come in. While the number of alterations depends on the individual, they can range from adjusting the bust and taking in the waist to as simple as ensuring the hem length is right for the bridal gown."

Hemming the Length

The most common wedding dress alteration is hemming the length at the bottom of your dress. This alteration involves adjusting the hemline so that you can move with ease on your special day. It's often done to floor-length gowns so that you don't accidentally step on or trip over the fabric of your dress. This adjustment doesn't just apply to long dresses; a wedding dress seamstress can also adjust the hem on minis and midi lengths so that it hits just where you want it to.

Taking It In

Taking in the wedding dress refers to adjusting the size to achieve a more fitted silhouette. Whether it's the waist, hips, bust or even shortening your dress straps, alterations specialists can expertly tailor the dress to create a flattering fit. For instance, when my wedding dress arrived, I had extra space on the sides of the bust, to the point where I could fit my entire hand inside the space. My seamstress was easily able to take in the dress in those areas, and the result is a much more secure fit.

Adding Elements

Wedding dress alterations can go beyond simply adjusting the fit. "Gown customizations are also a great alternative to reduce alteration complexity," says Harris. "Whether you want to add a few simple touches, remove an unwanted design feature, combine multiple gown features to make one, or create an entirely new design," They can also involve adding elements to make the dress more comfortable or match your vision flawlessly. Some of these additions include:

  • Sleeves or Straps: If your dress lacks sleeves or straps but you prefer additional coverage or support, wedding dress seamstresses can add sleeves or straps according to your preferences.
  • Bustle: For dresses with a long train, adding a bustle during the alterations process allows you to easily transition from the ceremony to the reception without the inconvenience of carrying the train.
  • Corset or Boning: Adding a lace-up corset provides a customizable fit and is ideal for brides who anticipate weight fluctuations. Boning can also be inserted to help a sleeveless dress stay up and maintain its shape throughout the day.
  • Finishing Touches: Personalize your wedding dress further by incorporating delicate beadwork, appliqués, or other embellishments to create a unique and stunning design.

    Pro Tips for Getting Your Wedding Dress Altered

    When it comes to getting your wedding dress altered, there are a few ways that can help you ensure a flawless fit and a stress-free experience. From bringing the right undergarments and allowing ample time for alterations to conducting thorough research and reading honest reviews, these tips will ensure that your wedding dress alterations appointments go seamlessly.

    1. Bring the Right Undergarments and Shoes

    One of the most important tips for getting your wedding dress altered, according to both Nunez and Harris, is to bring along the right wedding dress undergarments and shoes you'll be wearing on your big day. They both emphasize the importance of packing these essentials, as wearing the correct undergarments helps the tailor assess how the dress will sit on your body. Plus, with your wedding shoes on, the tailor can adjust the hemline to the correct length.

    2. Grant Yourself Enough Time

    Planning a wedding is exciting, but it can also be a bit stressful. To alleviate any last-minute panic, "give yourself time to get the dress altered," Nunez suggests. "This can already be a stressful time and you need to allow time just in case any changes need to be made or you change your mind about something." Aim to start the alterations process at least two to three months before the big day to allow for multiple fittings and adjustments. With this cushion, you can breathe easy, knowing that your dress will be picture-perfect when you walk down that aisle.

    3. Do Your Research and Read Reviews

    Before entrusting your wedding dress to an alterations specialist, it's crucial to do your research. Nunez emphasizes that you should seek a trusted tailor or seamstress who has experience working with wedding gowns, particularly the type of dress you are wearing. Read reviews, ask for recommendations from bridal salons and inquire about their expertise in dealing with the specific fabrics, styles, or embellishments of your dress. Choosing an experienced professional will give you peace of mind and ensure that your dress is in capable hands.

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