The Bridesmaid’s Guide to Dress Alterations

The Full Guide to Bridesmaid Dress Alterations

Hello future bridesmaids!

As one of the bride’s right-hand ladies, you’ll have two main jobs: go dress shopping with the bridal party, and show up on the wedding day feeling and looking your absolute BEST! 

In between those two events, there’s one very important task to discuss:

Construct a detailed map on how to get to the center of the universe. Handwritten in Latin. 

Kidding! 

You’re going to need to head on over to a tailor to alter your dress.

So, how do you know if your dress will even need alterations and when they’ll need to be done? Or how much they’re going to cost? 

For all the bridesmaids out there who aren’t sure what to expect, here’s everything you need to know about bridesmaid dress alterations. 

How Do I Know if I Need My Dress Tailored?

Bridesmaid's dress tailored

Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Philadelphia

This complicated question has a simple answer:

If the dress doesn’t fit you perfectly, you need alterations.

Alterations are crucial, ladies. You’re going to want to look and feel your best on the wedding day and in the photos that live on forever, so they’re a must!

When it comes to a long day of standing, dancing, and posing for photos, being comfortable is just as important as looking great.

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Most Common Dress Alterations

Most common bridesmaid dress alterations

Photo: Bella Bridesmaids Las Vegas


Now that we agree that alterations are a MUST, let’s discuss the most common kinds:

1. Hem the Length

Despite 50 Cent’s mantra, you can’t always make something out of nothing. There’s no good way to add length to a gown, so most designers make their gowns on the long side to fit women of different heights.

If you’re petite, there’s a good chance you’ll need to have your gown shortened by at least an inch.

And if you are tall, you may need to ADD extra length to the dress. This often adds an additional 5 inches, so you’ll still need to hem the dress to the appropriate length once it arrives and you select your shoes. You may only need 1-2 inches of the five, but the bride will be grateful not to see your toes next to everyone else’s to-the-floor dresses in professional pictures.

2. Take in the Bust

For those that are pear-shaped, you’ll need a dress big enough to fit your hips and derriere. But the top might be too loose.

Tailors can take in the bodice (usually at the side seams), so the dress fits properly over your bust and you are completely free to bust a move.

3. Take in the Waist and Hips

If your milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, you may have to go up a size or two to fit your bust. But then, the dress’s waist and hips might be too big.

Similar to taking in the bust, a tailor can take in the waist and hip so the dress fits you from head to toe.

4. Shorten the Straps

Unless you’re wearing a strapless dress, you have to consider the length of the straps.

Whether your gown has spaghetti straps or wide ones, they have to be the perfect length. Otherwise, they’ll be slipping off your shoulders all day long.

If they’re not already the right length, a tailor can shorten them for you.

What to Bring to a Dress Fitting

Obviously, you have to bring your dress to the fitting. But, there are a few other things you’ll want to bring as well.

For example, make sure to bring the shoes you plan to wear on the wedding day. That’s the only way to ensure you’ll have the proper hemline.

You should also bring or wear the undergarments you want to wear with the dress. A lot of bridesmaid styles already have built-in bra cups, but if you plan on wearing a bra, put it on when you try on the dress for the tailor. This way, you’ll get the perfect fit.

If you plan on wearing any other shapewear, bring that too. With the exception of glam (like jewelry and hair accessories), you should bring everything to the fitting that you’re going to wear on the big day.

When Should You Have Alterations Done?

When to have bridesmaid dress alterations done

Here’s a tip that’ll save you a lot of headaches:

Never wait until the last minute to try on your dress or get your alterations. 

Schedule your fitting approximately one month before the wedding. Some women prefer to do it earlier, but it’s best to wait until a month to ensure the most accurate fit.

If you think your dress needs extensive adjustments, schedule your first fitting about six weeks in advance. That way, you’ll have time to do a second fitting and a final fitting when the tailoring is completed.

Keep in mind:

During peak wedding season (June to October), bridal boutiques get busier than toy stores at Christmas time. So, schedule your fitting as far ahead as possible (at least two months in advance) to make sure you get an appointment.

And don’t forget this one crucial step:

About one week before the wedding, when all of your alterations are complete, try the dress on at home to ensure it still fits. Do not wait until the morning of the wedding to find out you can’t zip it up! 

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How Much Do Bridesmaid Dress Alterations Cost?

Let’s talk $$$. The price of alterations varies depending on where you live, but most bridesmaids can expect to pay between $75 and $150 for dress alterations. In some cities, tailoring can cost closer to $240.

It all depends on what the dress needs.

For example:

Just shortening the hem or straps? If yes, that will likely be less than a dress requiring more alterations, like taking the sides in. 

Dress details are another factor that makes a huge difference in the cost of alterations. Gowns with beading and sequins, while beautiful and totally reminiscent of The Great Gatsby, take more time and skill to alter. You may pay a little bit extra to look like Daisy.

Conclusion

Having the proper alterations is a must. You want your hem to move gracefully and for your straps to lay nicely on your shoulders. 

A good tailor or dressmaker will make your dress look and fit stunningly. So finding the right one is essential! And if you don’t know one, ask your local Bella for a reco. 

Be sure to book your fitting in advance. Take your shoes and undergarments with you!

Spending a little time and money on fit BEFORE the big day ensures smooth sailing the day of. And that will keep you smiling from photos to the dance floor - all day long.

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