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Why it’s ESSENTIAL to budget for wedding dress alterations

On behalf of TDR Bridal, Birmingham

Buying a wedding dress is a Big Deal. Chances are you’ll be spending £££ on your dress, and buying from the loveliest wedding dress shop in your area – and in your budget. Just before you get your heart set on your dream dress though, can we share some advice about alterations? They’re really, really important – and it’s as crucial to have alterations done properly as it is to buy a dress that’s the right size and shape for your figure.

It’s easy to assume you’ll buy your dress after your first fitting, have your measurements sent off to the designer, and your dress will arrive at the boutique a few weeks later fitting like a glove. Easy peasy!

… nope.

Having your wedding dress altered: the facts

Every wedding dress will or should need to be altered to fit you perfectly. A size 14 isn’t universal: girls who are a size 14 can be different heights, with different proportions – and there’s no such thing as “the perfect size 12” – we’re all different shapes and that’s what makes us amazing, right?

Wedding dress alterations are a key part of buying a dress from a bridal shop, even if no one really talks about them until you get there! So here’s what we know:

Alterations will cost from about £200 – so budget for at least that much

Most wedding dresses will need alterations to the hem length. The ideal length is when the hem just kisses the floor, but isn’t so long you trip over!

It’s common to need to add or remove material from a dress to get a perfect fit (around the bust, hips or waist)

Other alterations you might need include adding straps or sleeves, changing the neckline or the back of the dress. These are more expensive, so allow more in your budget.

Wedding dress alterations are very specialist work – they’re not something your dressmaking auntie can do for you on the cheap. (Read our article what’s underneath your wedding dress to make you look amazing to understand why)

Finding a bridal boutique with a seamstress in house is important (because do you want your wedding dress to be carted around from boutique to seamstress again and again before your wedding? Whose car boot will it be in? Will it get cat hairs on it?)

How wedding dress alterations work

Once you’ve chosen your wedding dress, it will be ordered in a size to fit your largest measurement (ie hips, waist or bust). It will be made in your size by the designer, then delivered to the boutique. This can take around 6 weeks or more.

You’ll have several fitting appointments before the big day. The first will be an hour or so long with the seamstress, taking measurements and pinning where necessary – as well as chatting about any planned shape changes (and we’re not saying anyone needs to diet for a wedding – ever! – just that we know a lot of you choose to lose weight) or special requests and adjustments.

Try and find your wedding shoes before your first fitting, so you and your seamstress will know how long the dress should be.

Invest in a good strapless bra for your wedding day, and wear it to your fittings. Once the dress is warm from your body heat the structure inside softens. A decent bra will give that little bit of extra support and save you tugging your dress up on the day!

With proper alterations, professionally done, your wedding dress will feel like your second skin, and you will feel like a Queen!


Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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