What You Need to Know About Wedding Dress Alterations

Before you step foot inside the salon, here are some tips you should keep in mind.

What You Need to Know About Wedding Dress Alterations

Bridal Gowns
Photo: Dalal Photography

Little girls dream of shopping for their wedding dress, but what they often don’t account for is the period of snipping, clipping, and tweaking that needs to go into a gown before it’s ready for its bridal debut. Alterations can be tricky, and many women don’t realize the steps they must take following their big purchase.

In order to help organize your time, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of tips you should keep in mind before you swipe your credit card at the salon.

The General Timeline

-  10-11 Months Out: Find and buy your beautiful gown.

-  3-4 Months Out: Bring your dress to a tailor, seamstress, or salon for alterations.

-  2-3 Months Out: Fitting #1

-  4-6 Weeks Out: Fitting #2

-  2-3 Weeks Out: Fitting #3 (Sometimes, a fourth is necessary.)

Special Considerations

-  Changes in the timeline. This schedule may shift depending on what you’d like done. For major alterations, speak with the tailor or salon you’re working with in order to get a more accurate idea of what will be happening when.

-  Don’t use your gown as a goal. Some women looking to lose weight before their nuptials will order their garb in a smaller size than they fit into at the time of purchase: we recommend against this practice. Though you may be motivated, consider that it is far easier to take a dress in than it is to let it out.

-  Allow for special circumstances regarding “something old” fabrics. If you plan on wearing your mother/grandmother’s dress – or incorporating substantial elements from their gown into your own – be prepared to cope with a “no” from your tailoring team. Some older materials seem to have stood the test of time, but going through standard alterations can change that rather quickly. Trust the professionals to find a more subtle way to add them into your ensemble. 


-  Salons may charge differently. Some charge per service and others provide you with a flat rate. Determine in advance which payment plan you’re more comfortable with.

-  There will be a wide range of prices. In some cases, you’re looking for minor alterations, which might only be around $50, but this number can go up quickly with added/significant changes. Ask your bridal salon what specific alterations you want or need before you purchase the frock.

Find more wedding fashion inspiration and advice here. Browse hundreds of images in our photo galleries to see the wedding gowns chosen by real brides, and preview the latest collections from your favorite designers in our Lookbooks.

Opening photo by Dalal Photography 

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