How Long Do Wedding Dress Alterations Take?

Wondering how long wedding dress alterations should take? Find out now, with this complete guide.

By Jane Chertoff

How Long Do Wedding Dress Alterations Take
Photo by Corey Lynn Tucker Photography

Wedding dress alterations might feel like yet another to-do that you need to cross off your growing wedding day checklist, but don’t discredit the process.

Most wedding dresses typically undergo two, three, or even four rounds of alterations. For that reason, you’ll need to leave extra time before your wedding day, so that your tailor or seamstress can work his or her magic.

A wedding dress is sometimes described as the “best tailored dress” a woman will ever wear. That’s all thanks to the multiple fittings that you’ll have before the big day. So, how long do wedding dress alterations take, exactly? This article is going to explain everything you need to know about bridal gown alterations, so that you can plan accordingly for your big day.

How Much Alteration Will Your Wedding Dress Need?

How Long Do Wedding Dress Alterations Take? | Zola Photo Credit // Star Noir Photography

Some wedding dresses are simple to alter. But, the more complicated, or custom, the bridal gown, the more time that it’s going to take to alter. For example, some dresses just need to be hemmed for length and adjusted on the sides for fit. You may want to adjust the neckline, add a strap, or add additional beading or other embellishments. In order for you to achieve your dream dress, these customizations may require additional time. Your seamstress will likely also need to add in the bustle, which keeps the train off the ground post-ceremony.

Related: How to Bustle a Wedding Dress

Note that if you’re having a gown custom made, or you’re modernizing your mother’s (or another relative’s) dress, expect to go to multiple rounds of fittings and consultations. Leave at least six months or longer for these extensive customizations.

Typical Wedding Dress Alteration Timeline

Getting the timing right for alterations is key. You don’t want to do your final fitting too early, or your dress might fit differently by the time that your wedding day rolls around. But, you don’t want to wait too long, either. Your wedding dress isn’t something that you want to rush, so give yourself at least a week’s buffer in case something needs to be altered at the last minute. Three or four months before the big day is usually the sweet spot when it comes to your bridal gown alterations.

Three to Four Months Before the Wedding Day

After your dress arrives, you’ll go in for your first fitting, which typically takes place three months before the big day. At this fitting, you’ll discuss if you want anything custom added or taken off from the dress. Your seamstress will also alter the hem length, and measure how much your dress needs to be taken in or out. He or she may also figure out where the bustle is going to attach during this appointment, so that it’s in place for your next fitting.

Six Weeks Before the Wedding Day

Around six weeks pre-wedding, it’s time for your second fitting. When you try on your dress at this time, you’ll get to make sure that the length and fit are what you had in mind. The customizations you requested may be ready, so you’ll get to make sure that everything is to your liking. You can also bring your jewelry and veil to this appointment to ensure that all of the details match the dress.

Two Weeks Before the Wedding Day: Final Fitting

The final fitting is really just a chance for you to try on the dress and make sure that all of the requested alterations are in place. Hopefully everything is looking amazing and you can enjoy the moment of seeing your perfectly fitted dress. (If you’ve lost or gained weight and need last minute adjustments, those can usually be done in a few hours or a few days, depending on how busy your seamstress is.)

At this fitting, you may want to bring your MOH or another bridesmaid who will be in charge of the bustle on the wedding day. She can get a tutorial on bustling and may even practice, if needed.

After you’ve tried on the dress at your final fitting and are satisfied with the alterations, you can take it home and keep it safe until the big day.

Don’t Forget to Bring…

At your alteration appointments, bring along:

  • The wedding day shoes that you plan to wear.
  • The undergarments that you plan on wearing underneath the dress.
  • Your veil and jewelry, to try on with the dress.
  • Your MOH or another bridesmaid, who will learn how to bustle the dress.
How Long Do Wedding Dress Alterations Take? | Zola Photo Credit // Studio Opia

Who Should Alter Your Wedding Dress?

If you’re not sure who should take care of your dress alterations, you might need to do a bit of research. If you got your dress in a specialty boutique, they might have a seamstress on-site who will take care of all the bridal gown alterations. They also will give you a specific timeline of alterations. However, if you bought your dress online, you’re going to need to find a seamstress in your area. Don’t just take your dress to any dry cleaner or tailor, but, rather, look for someone who specializes in wedding gown alterations.

Wedding dress alterations are delicate, so it’s best to go with someone with a lot of experience. Talk to friends who have gotten married recently and ask for references, if you wish. After all, the last thing you want is something to go wrong with your dress just days before your wedding.

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