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The Smart Bride's Guide to Alterations

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Now that your dress has finally come in, it’s time to make it look like it was made just for you. Most gowns need some sort of alteration, but the process is easier than you think.

1. Do Your Research

Don’t commit to your bridal shop’s alteration service without researching other options. Solicit or research names of trusted tailors to inquire about their industry experience, alterations timeline, and estimated price. Find someone you like and feel would treat your dress as if it were their own. Be picky and don’t settle.

2. Give Yourself Enough Time

Annie Foland, a former bridal consultant, recommends allowing eight to 10 weeks from your first fitting to your last as an ideal alterations timeline. On average, brides have three to four fittings, each focused on different design elements.

Foland also suggests contacting your seamstress as soon as your dress arrives so the tailor can work you into her busy schedule.

3. Set an Appropriate Budget

Vera Skenderis, alterations manager at Kleinfield Bridal in New York City, told Martha Stewart Weddings that brides can expect to pay between $400 and $700 for professional tailoring. "Anything less and I wouldn't trust it," she says. "Bad work can ruin your dress."

One way to keep costs down is to order your dress in the right size. Rule of thumb: listen to your bridal consultant. Specialty shops use European sizing, so don’t feel discouraged when she suggests 1-2 sizes larger than your jean size. Remember, you can take a dress in easier than you can let it out.

4. Bring the Essentials

Bringing your shoes and undergarments to your fittings is nearly as important as bringing your dress. These accessories allow you to obtain the proper length and fit of your gown. If you can’t commit to a shoe by your first fitting, find one with your desired heel height.

While it's important to bring friends to fittings, keep your entourage small. Invite a trusted friend or relative for a second set of eyes. A bridesmaid should also be present at your final appointment so the seamstress can teach her how to tackle your bustle.

The more prepared you are for alterations, the better your chance of your dress fitting perfectly. After all, you've spent all that time finding the dress, right? Why risk it not fitting like a glove?

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Tags: fitting, alterations