In an ideal world, we would all be a perfect size 16, 8, 28, 10, etchowever, we all know that each persons body is different from the next, and it is VERY rare that someone fits into a gown perfectly. In fact, I dont think I have ever worked with a customer that hasnt had to have some alterations done to their gown. We are here to breakdown how we determine what size to order for our customers and how to survive the process of alterations.
One of the most challenging things about choosing a wedding gown is that the sample size that is in the store rarely fits you. Clips and clamps and all kinds of things can be done to help you get a vision of what the gown will look like when it does fit, however; things like the cups in the bust and the length will not be the correct size. You will probably have to use a little imagination to get an idea of what the gown will look like in your size, but the good news is that it will only look better once it does fit you! Just knowing that before you go into your appointment helps significantly. So youve found the one, you have said yes, how do we go about ordering the correct size for you?
Once you have said yes, the bridal consultant will take your measurements. Measurements are typically taken at the bust, waist, and hips. The consultant then compares those measurements to the size chart for the designer that makes your wedding gown, and according to that chart, a size is recommended. Now here is where it gets tricky. Like I mentioned before, nobody is a perfect size 16, 8, 28, 10. It is much more common that the bust measures at a size 14 while the waist and hips measure at a size 16and that is if you are lucky! Sometimes the bust will measure one size, the waist another, and the hips a third. So what do you do when this happens?
Do not worry!! This happens almost every single time. Your consultant will sit down with you can go over each measurement and the corresponding size. At our store, we recommend a size to the customer, but they have the ultimate decision on what size is ordered. Our recommendation is based on the largest of the 3 measurements we take. This is because it is much easier to alter a dress down in size than it is to alter a dress up in size, especially if the dress has details such as beading and/or lace. In the example above where the bust is a 14 and the waist and hips are a 16, we would recommend ordering a size 16. So you have decided on a size and have placed your order. What happens when the dress comes in? How much will alterations cost (something to keep in mind when planning your budget)?
Once you have ordered a dress, you can work on finding a seamstress that can alter the gown. It is best to contact them far in advance as they often times book up quickly. Let them know that you have ordered a gown, what alterations might need to be made, and when the gown is expected to arrive. Chances are, the hem will have to be taken up at the very least, and you will probably want to add a bustle (more on that in a moment). At Ellens, we have a list of seamstresses in areas across Northeast Indiana and beyond, so you can find a seamstress close to where you live. This is important because you will have several fittings throughout the alterations process, and you dont want to be traveling great distances for these appointments. On average, a bride will have 3-4 appointments and will spend around $100-$600 on alterations. Of course, that depends on what you want to be done to the gown and the amount of fabric and details on the gown.
One of the most comment alterations to be made to a wedding dress is adding a bustle. During the ceremony and pictures, you will likely want the train of your dress to be extended out, however; it can be a challenge to dance with a long train. Additionally, the train might be damaged by others (or yourself) unintentionally stepping on it. A bustle can be a hook or ties added to the back of the gown to secure a train at a higher position. After the ceremony and pictures, a member of the bridal party can help you bustle the dress so the train is safely out of the way.
Bridesmaids dresses are ordered in a very similar way. The bridal consultant will measure the bust, waist, and hips and compare each measurement to the size chart for the designer of the gown. Measurements are discussed, and a recommendation on sizing is made. The good news is that bridesmaids dresses are not as complex as bridal gowns, so alterations are typically easier and cheaper. If you are a bridesmaid, expect to have 2-3 alterations appointments (typically 1 fitting and 1 pickup) and expect to pay $40-$80. Again, the length almost always has to be hemmed, and it is likely that one or two areas on the gown will have to be altered.
Overall, knowing that alterations will likely have to be made on the gown is key. It is certainly something you want to consider when thinking about your overall budget and the type of gown you want. Expect to pay more in alterations for gowns with beading and lace. The hem will have to be raised, and a bustle will need to be added. It is also important that you establish who will pay for the bridesmaids dress and alterations with your bridal party ahead of time so they know what to expect. All these things can help you have a smooth and enjoyable alteration process!
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