Your wedding day is one of the most important days in your life. So every detail should be perfect. 

That includes your dress! Not sure if you need alterations for your gown? Here are some common modifications that brides have before they walk down the aisle.

Fit is everything, which is why alterations are also everything when it comes to your wedding dress. 

After all, your wedding day is the only day you’ll be showing off your stunning gown that took months to find. Looking for a wedding photographer in Melbourne? Look no further. Brighton Savoy has compiled an ultimate list of Melbourne wedding photographers to help you choose. 

 And the last thing you need on your special day is to deal with a wardrobe malfunction.

What Is a Wedding Dress Fitting?

A wedding dress fitting is an appointment with a seamstress or fitter to alter the dress correctly and sculpt the gown to the body. Brides typically need three fittings before the dress is ready to be worn.

Every dress should be altered, even if it’s only a little, to ensure proper fit. You can splurge on a pricey dress, but if it’s not changed correctly, it won’t look any better than a gown that’s a tenth of the cost. 

Case in point: dress alterations are essential, so make sure to leave room in your budget for them. 

The entire process is typically done in two to three fittings, the first of which lasts up to an hour. 

Your bridal boutique will either have an in-house seamstress who regularly works with the shop’s gowns, or they will recommend a trusted tailor to do the job.

What Is the Purpose of Dress Fittings and Alterations?

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Before you deem your wedding dress ready for your big day, you will go in for a bridal fitting. 

During this fitting, the consultants will talk to you about any necessary changes your dress needs to fit you properly. 

This is also a great time to talk about any changes you want to the gown.

For example, some brides want to add straps or sleeves to a strapless dress, while others might want to remove a couple of layers of tulle to make the dress lay flatter; while these changes aren’t going to change the fit of the dress, they are aesthetic decisions that are important to the bride.

Most Common Wedding Dress Alterations

Shortening The Hem

Commonly, the manufacturers make the wedding dress extra long so it will also fit the taller customers. 

It is hard to estimate a price for this work as it can be anything depending on the layers and if a lace needs to be taken off before adding it back to the final hem length.

Hemming is the first step in the alterations process. 

If your wedding gown is too long or wide in some areas, a tailor can take it up and in to leave you with a better fit that shapes the bust, waist, and hips. 

Saggy fabric doesn’t achieve the desired look for a bride, so hemming is a great way to perfect a wedding dress.

Designers intentionally make wedding dresses long. 

This makes it easier for designers to produce gowns that fit tall brides or those who wish to wear high heels on their wedding days. 

For this reason, many brides need to have the length of the gown adjusted. You want the dress to be long enough to cover your shoes, but not too long that you are tripping over it.

Train Loop And Button

Train loops are those little ribbon loops attached to your dress train that make it possible to lift the train later in the day to make moving around the reception easier (to bustle up the dress, so to speak). 

There are two types of train loops:

  •  the long one that you hold in your hand when you dance, and
  • the short one that buttons right under your bum

The latter has 1-3 loops and buttons to gather the train, and it is more requested because it lets both of your hands be free.

There are several different styles of bustles: over bustle, under-or french bustle, drawstring- or Austrian bustle, waterfall bustle etc.

Some store-bought dresses have a train loop/bustle, but surprisingly many gowns need these attached later.

Taking In/Out On The Hips And Waist

Everybody is beautiful and unique, so it is tough to manufacture dresses that would fit everyone. 

That means it is common to take the dress in or out on the side seams. When shopping for a wedding dress, always consult the sales assistant about how much it is possible to alter the dress size. 

Usually, it is easier to take the dress in because you don’t have to worry if the old seam will show.

It is essential to ensure that the wedding dress is well-fitting on the waist, bust and hips. 

These are vital points to achieving the perfect silhouette. If you are shopping for a dress on the rack, then remember to consult a sales assistant about the alteration possibilities.

Taking In Around The Chest

Many store-bought dresses are pretty generous when it comes to chest size. However, we have noticed that the shape might need some alteration so that the neckline won’t make a gutter when you look down. 

This alteration is a little bit trickier than the ones mentioned before, but it is also very doable, so don’t hesitate to ask your seamstress.

Shortening The Straps

Many wedding gowns are made with a bit longer straps to fit a wide range of brides. This is a straightforward alteration and, depending on the dress. 

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A great mix of DIY and no-sew tips and seamstress alterations all aimed to make you look like a million bucks on your wedding day. 

Adding A Waist Stay

A waist stay is a ribbon or an elastic band that goes inside your dress and fits snug on your waist. 

We recommend adding this to your strapless gown if it doesn’t have it. 

It works miracles when it comes to keeping your dress in the right place as it prevents your gown from sliding down. That means no more yanking your strapless dress up. Wait, stay is an easy alteration. 

There is so much you can do to a wedding dress. It is possible to transform the back completely: opening it up or adding more cover.

Altering The Neckline

Neckline alterations are a prevalent request, and it’s easy to make a significant impact. 

Alteration goes both ways as you can have the neckline opened or closed. 

Cost varies a lot depending on the style you want. It always helps if you have inspiration pictures ready when you consult a sewist.

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Altering The Back

No matter the style of your wedding dress, it is usually possible to alter the back. 

You may want it open when some of the material is taken away. It is also possible to build, for example, a lace back to a strapless gown. 

This is one of our favourite kinds of the alteration as it requires some designing eye to make a plan for the back with the bride. 

If you request an alteration for your wedding dress’s back, make sure you have some inspiration pictures when consulting your seamstress. This is a bit more expensive alteration, so be prepared to pay.

Altering the wedding dresses back and closure is commonly requested to change to ready-made clothing. This is because it has a significant impact and is usually relatively cost-efficient.

Altering The Closure

Does your wedding dress have a zipper, but do you dream about a long line of buttons? Or would you rather have a corset back? 

Altering the closure is surprisingly common and not even a complex alteration. Just ask your seamstress what is possible!

Adding Sleeves Or Doing Other Special Alteration

Sometimes we just can’t find the perfect wedding dress on the rack. That is when more considerable alterations come to question, and it is possible to do a lot for a dress. 

We recommend buying a dress as close to your dream as possible and then consult a sewist for more significant alterations. 

One of the most common considerable alterations is adding sleeves, but you can also ask for the fuller hem, added lace or a big train. So you don’t have to compromise your style even if you aren’t getting a made to measure gown. At Brighton Savoy, we have compiled a list of the Best Photobooth Hires in Melbourne to help you choose who captures your magical day.

Adding Pizzazz

Some brides want to make changes to their gown to transform it into the dress of their dreams. 

These changes can range from minor to extensive, and a significant overhaul of an existing gown may include adding sleeves, beading, buttons, lace appliqués, trains, and more.

Keep in mind that significant changes to the appearance of the dress could dramatically increase your alteration bill. 

You might want to discuss these additions with a bridal consultant or tailor before ordering your dress to get an estimate of the cost to ensure that you are budgeting correctly.

Adding A Bustle

Many brides don’t realize that bustles aren’t sewn into the dress during the manufacturing process. 

So, if you want to bustle your gown for your reception, you will have to have one added in during the alterations process.

A bustle will prevent the gown’s train from dragging on the ground at the wedding reception, saving it from being stepped on and tripped over. 

Take it from us; if you have a train, you need a bustle.

Adding A Bra

Sewing a bra into a wedding gown eliminates the need to find the perfect brassiere for the wedding day. 

A sewn-in bra won’t poke out or slide down as you move, which makes it an excellent option for all brides—especially those with a large bust. 

Save yourself the time, and have a bra sewn directly into your wedding dress.

What Does the Wedding Dress Alterations Process Look Like?

The bridal boutique you purchased your dress from will alert you when your wedding dress arrives. 

At this point, if they offer in-house alterations, they will try to schedule a time for you to come in for a “fitting.” 

During the initial fitting, you can discuss potential alterations with the boutique’s seamstress.

Bridal salons that don’t offer in-house wedding dress alterations will schedule a time to pick up your dress. 

At that point, you can make arrangements with the seamstress of your choice.

What Happens at the Initial Wedding Dress Fitting?

During the initial fitting, which usually takes place two to three months before the wedding date, you will put on YOUR wedding dress for the first time.

The initial fitting allows you to try your dress on with the accessories you plan to wear. 

For example, you will want to bring any shoes, belts, or undergarments you plan to wear on the wedding day. 

This allows the tailor to make sure that the gown’s hem lays correctly and that your dress looks the way you expect on the big day.

While the initial fitting is where you start determining the changes your gown needs, it is likely that you will need to make some tweaks, which is why you need to attend at least three fittings. 

The second fitting is when you put the dress back on and make sure that things move in the right direction. 

If something doesn’t feel right, this is the time to speak up. After this appointment, your seamstress will make the final changes.

What Happens at the Final Wedding Dress Fitting?

At the final fitting, you will make sure your wedding dress is perfect! 

This fitting usually takes place about two weeks before the wedding, and this point should do all the significant changes you have requested. 

The goal at the final dress fitting is that you put on the dress, it is perfect, and you waltz out the shop door with it in your hands.

However, if there are problems, it is still early enough to make a few additional changes.

Budgeting for Wedding Dress Alterations

Wedding dress alterations need to be included as part of your overall wedding budget. 

Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine the cost of alterations until you know precisely what you want and how your dress fits initially. 

To get a better idea of how much your alterations will cost, you should discuss them with your seamstress.

First, you want to figure out how they charge for services. For example, some seamstresses will charge per service, while others charge a flat fee. 

If you have more than the necessary alterations, you will likely have to pay above the flat fee, which should be part of your discussion.

Alterations can range from $150 to over $1,000. You can discuss everything you want to have done to your dress before ordering it to get a better idea of your total dress cost.

Wedding Dress Alteration Tips

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Stay On Schedule

To take the stress out of wedding dress alterations, it’s best to buy your dress early, leaving plenty of time for fittings and tailoring. 

Buy a dress ten months before the wedding if possible (It can take up to five months from when you order it to arrive in the salon). 

Schedule a fitting eight to 12 weeks before the wedding and a final fitting no later than two weeks before your wedding.

If you’re making significant changes to the design—reworking the corset or cups, for example, or accommodating a pregnancy—budget a few extra weeks.

Be Mindful Of Your Anticipated Wedding Weight

Never order a too-small dress as motivation. It’s easier to take a giant dress in than to let a smaller one out. Instead, consider a gown with structure. 

About 40 per cent have built-in corsets, which can be easily tightened or loosened. And ask if the designer will build new cups if your bust size changes (some won’t). 

Can’t find a corseted gown you love? Try an A-line, which covers lingering pounds. In general, the slinkier the dress, the harder it is to fix the fit if you gain or lose weight.

Bring Your Wedding Shoes, Accessories, And Undergarments To Every Fitting

Be sure to bring your day-of essentials to get a proper fit. For example, brides need to bring the shoes and undergarments on the wedding day to obtain the appropriate fit. 

We all know the difference Spanx or the right strapless bra can make. But, of course, you want to wear exactly what you’ll be wearing on your wedding day, including shapewear, for the best possible tailoring. 

The alteration process is when a bride can see and feel what she will look like on her wedding day.

When your tailor adjusts the hem, make sure to wear the shoes you’ll wear at the wedding so you’ll be the same height you will be on the big day. 

If you haven’t picked out your wedding shoes yet, bring a pair with a height comparable to the boots you imagine yourself wearing (otherwise, you’ll end up with an incorrect alteration).

And while jewellery, gloves, and other accessories might not change the fit of your wedding dress, they contribute to the overall look. 

For example, where your wedding necklace falls might influence where you want the neckline of your dress to sit.

Remember that the gown is adjusted for the wedding shoes, so if you take them off or switch into flip flops for the reception, it will be too long. 

For this reason, Kleinfeld recommends brides find a shoe that’s comfortable enough to wear at both gatherings.

Go For A Hemline That Grazes The Ground

Brides are advised to aim for a hemline that gently grazes the ground. 

With your hem grazing the floor, you will be able to walk, dance, and mingle with your guests. 

The main thing is to make sure you won’t trip on the dress. After the seamstress pins the dress hemline so that it grazes the ground, walk around the salon a bit in your shoes to make sure it’s a comfortable length. 

As for any brides wondering if a grazing hemline will end up staining and ruining the dress, rest assured that no matter the length, the bottom of the gown will get a little dirty on the big day. Still, the stains will come out during the post-wedding preservation of the wedding dress. So don’t worry about it.

Don’t Worry Too Much If You Lose Or Gain Weight Once The Dress Arrives.

If your dress doesn’t fit after you’ve ordered it, or even after it arrives, don’t worry too much. 

The gown will be taken in at each fitting appointment if a bride loses weight until it fits perfectly. 

If a bride gains weight, we will try to open the seams and release some extra fabric. If there is not enough fabric to work with, we can order fabric from the designer, and a panel can be added to the dress.

Too Many Alterations Won’t Ruin The Dress.

Whether you bought a giant dress to accommodate specific parts of your body, or you found a great deal on the perfect dress that wasn’t exactly your ideal fit, remember that this is what the dress alterations are for.


If you choose to purchase something outside of your typical size, don’t forget that it is always better to buy a gown in a larger size rather than a smaller size. 

We can always make a gown smaller, but it is harder to make a dress larger. Depending on the style and embellishments on the shift, alterations should not ‘ruin’ the class.

Bring A Friend

Bring a supportive friend or family member to cheer you on and bring good vibes and energy to the experience. 

They’ll help you feel more comfortable and relaxed, act as an extra set of eyes, and of course, help you document the memories via endless BTS selfies.  Looking for a Wedding Photo Location? Look no further. Brighton Savoy has compiled an ultimate list of wedding photo locations to help you choose. 

Oh, and if the opportunity presents itself, having them there to grab you that much-needed celebratory mimosa doesn’t hurt either.

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