Bridal Alterations – Everything You Need To Know!

Abigail WestrupBridal

So, you have the dress of your dreams on order, or perhaps you’ve bought an off the peg dress that needs some tweaks to make it fit like a glove, or you’re thinking of making some design changes to create a unique dress. It’s never too early to start thinking about your alterations! A lot of brides leave it to the last minute to book them in, any good seamstress will get busy especially during spring and summer.

When should I have my fittings?

Fittings schedules will vary between seamstresses, but I usually do the first fitting 8-12 weeks before the wedding. This allows enough time for the alterations to be done and also a second fitting to take place.

At the first fitting I always pin the dress (you will need your shoes and bra if you’re wearing one!) at this fitting I give you a full invoice based on everything that needs doing. I then book you in for a second fitting, to check the dress is ok once the alterations have been done. This is usually a few weeks before the wedding. Occasionally if lots of alterations are required you may need a third fitting, however this is rare.

What alterations am I likely to need?

The alterations needed vary for every bride. It’s worth remembering that even though the bridal shop may have taken your measurements, usually the dress is not made-to-measure so more than likely you will need some tweaks making to the dress. Most brides usually need a take in, hem, shoulder lift and a bustle to loop the train up in the evening (so there’s no accidents on the dancefloor!) a lot of brides also choose to have a bra sewn into the dress so you don’t have to try and hide one! some brides choose to make design changes, such as buttons added, straps added/taken away and a bespoke jacket made , the list is endless on changes that are often asked for.

What happens if my weight fluctuates between my fittings?

I know that lots of brides are conscious of this and it’s a question I get asked a lot. I always say it’s great if you are the size you intend to be at your first fitting, but if you do change size at all it isn’t a problem, it may just involve another fitting closer to the wedding. Please don’t starve yourself though!- you should be enjoying the lead up to your wedding, not worrying about everything you eat!

The dress is made to fit you, you don’t have to make yourself fit the dress.

Are alterations included in the price of my dress?

Every boutique has a varying policy on this, so it’s always a question worth asking when you purchase your dress! Some include alterations as a package incorporated into the price of the dress. Most boutiques it is an extra charge, which is worth bearing in mind and budgeting for when you buy your dress. I personally am an independent seamstress, even though some gorgeous boutiques recommend me, so I charge the bride directly rather than them paying the dress shop. I have a capped price for my alterations, but every dress does vary in price based on the detail and what needs altering! If you’re hunting around for quotes for alterations its worth remembering that if you’ve had a few similar quotes and a really cheap one, there is usually a reason it’s cheap! You don’t want have to pay to have things re-altered, or even worse end up with a dress you can’t wear.

If you have a bespoke dress made, then alterations are included as its made to measure so sometimes you save money having a bespoke dress over one that needs lots of alterations!


To sum up, my top tips for bridal alterations are:

  1. Book a seamstress in advance! (especially if you need weekend or evening appointments)
  2. Book your first fitting for 12-8 weeks before the wedding
  3. Have your shoes and bra ready for your first fitting
  4. Don’t freak out about your weight and start eating dust 2 weeks before the wedding!
  5. Check with your dress boutique if alteration costs are extra on top of your dress
  6. Always do your research and use a recommended seamstress! It’s probably the most expensive and sentimental dress you will ever buy, you want to make sure it’s in safe hands. 😀