When should I order my gown with alterations in mind?

If you have already visited a bridal shop you may have heard that it might take 6 months to a year before you have your gown in hand if you order it. Bridesmaids sometimes take up 6 months to receive. This should be a warning that these things take time. So finally, now you have your gown and it doesn’t fit. Do you have time for alterations? There are differences between bridal gown and bridesmaid dress alteration time frames. Obviously, the bridal gown is more involved, generally has more fittings and will take longer to complete than a bridesmaid dress. We like a full 2 months to alter a bridal gown. This gives the bride, the shop and the seamstress enough time to complete everything without feeling rushed. A typical bride will have 4 one hour fittings. First fitting we work on the bodice and mostly things above the waist to make sure the dress fits properly and won’t be falling down. During the second fitting we focus on the hem, third is the bustle and finally a final fitting to make sure everything is perfect. Other alterations like straps, bead work, belts and repairs get worked in along the way. As you can see this an undertaking for the bride as well as the shop. For bridemaid’s dresses and other formals we like a month to be able to work on them which usually include 2 or 3 30 minute fittings. The order of work completed is the same as a bridal gown. Most alteration shops will charge a rush charge if the time frame is rushed to complete a dress. When a rush order comes in several things happen. The bride needs to have time available for all the fittings; the shop appointment book needs to have openings and the sewing schedule at the shop needs to be re-arranged to accommodate the rush. A rush charge should be expected if you are running short on time. Our rush charges are 25% of all work completed on a bridal gown under 4 weeks, bridesmaid or formal under 2 weeks. There is a 40% charge for a 36 hour turn around. Many times we have heard dismay at rush charges because she had the dress hanging in the closet and simply procrastinated bringing it in. It’s usually not too early – but it can be too late, we have turned dresses away especially during busy May and June. So the moral of this story is to think “time” when you pick out dress. A little planning can save you money – or least not cost you more.