Wedding Dress Alterations: What You Need to Know

Let me tell you a story about wedding dress alterations. 

Recently, a bride brought me her dress. She’d bought it at a boutique and parts of the dress were several sizes too big. To make it fit, I took in the bodice which made the front straps move really far to the side which made the back become wide which meant I needed to cut down where the strap came out of the fabric so that it didn’t cut the bride off at the armpit.

I call this type of course correcting the domino effect of wedding dress alterations, and it’s not an usual situation for a bride who buys a pre-made dress (so, you know, most brides). Unfortunately, the domino effect happens a lot even though ? we don’t talk about it.

Why don’t we talk about this?

We don’t talk about how much labor wedding dress alterations take for two reasons. 

The first reason is that often, the people at the boutique or online store where a bride buys her dress sincerely don’t know how much or how little will be needed to alter the dress. That’s understandable. The person who sells you a wedding dress isn’t often a trained seamstress or designer. 

The second reason is a lot more gross: We don’t talk about how much labor alterations take because if we did, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t buy the dress to begin with. What seems like a good deal off the rack looks much less attractive after you tack on the $800, $1,200, $2,000 worth of alterations the dress will need to fit. 

These numbers aren’t bloated, by the way. Those are actual figures and the reason they’re so high is because they capture the hours of labor that go into altering a dress. 

What’s a bride to do?

The most important thing is to be informed. If possible, get an estimate for alterations before you buy your wedding dress or, if that’s not an option, get an estimate within the timeframe you may have on returning the dress. 

Another option is to make a dress from scratch. It’s easy to assume that ordering a custom dress will naturally be more expensive but, in my experience, it often isn’t. 

This is because there are no hidden fees or last-minute expenses. You and I work together to design your dress from the ground up. This dress is created for your one unique body and, as such, we don’t have to worry about alterations (and how much they cost). We spend more time working on the design and having fun with that instead of worrying about the fit.

It’s about risk

It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that buying a wedding dress off the rack is “less risky” than designing a dress ourselves. That makes sense. For many of my clients, our interaction is the very first time that they’ve ever designed a piece of clothing. 

But when you factor in the cost of altering someone else’s work, the time it takes to do so, and the labor (mental, emotional, and physical) to get it all done on a tight any deadline, it’s worth considering another option. Nobody wants to deal with dominos, particularly when planning a wedding.


Want to talk more? Great! Contact me.

Image by Abbey Elaine

3 Tips for Wedding Attire Shopping

My last post was all about how to decide what is flattering- and, yes, I probably left you with more questions than answers, but questions are good! And questioning the wedding industry is what we need right now.

So, how do you decide what to wear, when I’m over here telling you to wear whatever you want?

This is where working with a designer comes in handy. Especially someone who can really hear what you’re saying. 

Let’s keep this nice and straightforward. 

Pinterest is your friend

You might want a place to brain dump every single idea you have along the way, and a populated board is your friend when you reach out to me. Even if you don’t know why you like something, pin it! Like the color of the underskirt on this one dress (and it isn’t even a wedding dress) pin it! Like some piece of architecture or furniture for whatever reason and are wondering if you can incorporate the design lines into your look? Pin it!

Decide on a dress budget range

Yeah, I didn’t say pick a number for your budget, because a range is more reasonable. The truth is that we’re so conditioned by fast, cheap fashion, that compared to a custom made wedding dress, it’ll seem like a lot. That said, my prices are really reasonable once you see what all goes into your dress. You also might walk in thinking you want one thing, but once you realize what’s actually possible…you’ll want to be flexible. 

Focus on what you want

Honestly, there’s a way to make your every day style wedding day ready with the right laces, fabrics, and lengths. So, if you come in and you want the cut of the shirt you’re wearing, and the flow of the dresses you actually wear, we can do that!

If you’re into the trains and the crowns and the drama, we can do that, too! Add a couple of yards or the flowiest silk, and you’ll get the fanfare you know you love, and want to walk down the aisle wearing!

If you want to wear a family heirloom, but you want some changes here or there, we can definitely do that, as well! And custom re-designs are so much fun, because you can pretty much change anything, add anything, replace anything, and still keep the original design in mind.

(The pictures above are John & Katy when they got married in the 80s- Katy, in her mom’s wedding dress from the 60’s, to 2018 when they renewed their vows, and we made her dress into something more modern, that fit her style now.)

Where to start?

Find a shop, designer, seamstress, or tailor who you connect with, send them your ideas, and see what they come up with! (Always read reviews before you reach out!)

If you’d like to work with me, reach out through my contact page and let’s hop on the phone and see what we can dream up!

Indy Bridal Fashion Week 2019

Last year around this time, I was gearing up for the biggest build I’ve done. Originally, I designed 12 wedding looks for the runway, but whittled it down to 9. I was in full bridal season mode (between custom and tailoring, I don’t have many down times) and dreaming of what future brides might want.

I like minimalism but I love drama. Not sure how that’s possible, but here we are. I invested in all the fabric, from silks to laces! I needed models to work with, and I asked several model friends. They served as fit models for the pieces they wore, offering a lot of their time so I could get the looks I wanted and the fit I’ve become known for.

The first three dress samples were ready for the Perfect Wedding Guide July Bridal Show and they were a hit! I had these three beauties modeling the dresses at the show, after which we did a couple of shots outside. Black Iris Estates is just so gorgeous!

Lens: Amanda DeBusk Photography
Models: Arianna Cruz, Nora Dietz Kilen, Chloe VanRyn

I still had so much to do in between client dresses. I had my work cut out for me! Luckily, I had a wonderful intern from Ball State University, Emily Black, helping out with construction and finishing. There’s a reason why couture fashion houses have a team. Let me just say I don’t recommend doing all of this on your own.

I worked day and night getting everything ready. The night before, I was still adding a crinoline to one of the dresses. The excitement powered me. I wouldn’t stop.

The day of the show came and I didn’t feel ready. I wanted more time, more fittings, more of everything.

Models started arriving, Alayna Byrd came ready to do make-up and Allison Linnae was doing hair. It started getting exciting!

We did a run through and we stayed connected, talking and laughing, enjoying each other’s company. My models and all the professionals I work with are friends. I like spending time with them. This is my family.

The fashion show wasn’t really well attended but that didn’t stop us from having the time of our lives!

A representative of Wedding Studio Greenwood came to the show and caught this video and posted it to Instagram and I couldn’t be more grateful!

Video from Wedding Studio Greenwood

Bradley Michael Photography captured some wonderful images from the runway, beautifully lit by the amazing people at The Garment Factory in Franklin, IN.

It was a night to remember! Thank you, everyone! I love you all!