How Much Do Wedding Dress Alterations Cost?

Story Amour
Written by Story Amour · Posted in Dresses » Fashion Last Updated March 29, 2023 · minute read
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    We’ve all sat there on that rainy Sunday afternoon, scouring Pinterest, dreaming of collecting your very own Vera Wang masterpiece. However, what happens when you finally try on your beautiful gown, and it doesn’t fit quite right? This is where alterations, and their costs, can play a big part in wedding dress euphoria.

    So, how much do wedding alterations cost? First off, it’s imperative that you find the right seamstress. This is a must! But you could be looking at anywhere between $100 to $1000 for a simple adjustment. However, panic-not, generally everything depends on the size of the job and the types of alterations you plan to make.

    The good news is that after you’ve found your perfect tailor (see our finders guide below), the sky has no limits. No matter your request, they will ensure your gown is scrupulously designed perfectly for you.

    We consider ourselves kind of experts when it comes to advising future brides-to-be in this exact scenario. Below, we aim to demystify those horrible rumors about sky-rocketing dress adjustment fees and provide you with the complete walkthrough to getting your dress altered. So, grab a cuppa (or glass of wine), sit back, put your feet up, and let us delve into the amount you need to budget for wedding dress alterations.

    water color painting of a dress with title over it

    How Much Do Wedding Dress Alterations Cost?

    What’s the difference between a fitting and alterations?

    Before we explore the world of gown tailoring and the associated costs, it’s good to grasp the concept of how fittings and alterations vary. In wedding talk, the two phrases are often interchanged, and, while they might seem similar, they are in fact two alternative practices that often overlap.

    Initially, fittings are all about trying on your gown, making sure you are more than content with how it looks and feels. Moreover, your seamstress will likely take note of any areas that require alteration, or adjustments.

    On the other hand, alterations include making physical changes to your gown. Your bridal boutique, tailor or seamstress will break out the hemming scissors and conduct any necessary adjustments to ensure your gown is elegantly sculpted to your figure.

    Common amendments can include, narrowing the bodice, adjusting sleeve length, adding your own fabrics etc. Some alterations are personal customization wishes whereas others are essential to ensure you look and feel like a million dollars.

    One important point before you frantically start searching for “How much do wedding fittings cost?”, most bridal boutiques will include a first time fitting for free, however alterations often come at an additional cost. Hence why we put together this super helpful guide. For additional fittings you can expect to pay anything between $40 to $250 depending on your boutique. Most brides can expect to have between 1 and 3 fittings.

    Cost factors to consider when altering wedding dress

    Before we get into the different types of alterations and how much they cost, it’s worth taking a look at various cost factors in order to ensure you get value for money. The factors listed below are the most common changes brides request after their fitting. As a result, they also tend to have the biggest impact on how much wedding dress alterations cost.

    Different Alteration = Different Price

    Of course, it goes without saying that the cost is highly dependent on what alteration you are making. Shortening the sleeves, say no more. Bedazzling the entire dress, wait right there. No but in all seriousness, the costs can vary dramatically based on your requests and requirements.

    How quick you need it

    Top tip from the Story Amour team, start everything early. From choosing your venue to of course, choosing your dress for fittings and alterations. Most companies will charge a premium should you need to rush the service.

    Fabric & Materials

    Fabric type is a common cost factor that impacts your wedding dress alteration cost. Both the original material of your gown, plus any additional material or changes you are adding on. Want to add a silk train? That’s going to cost you a lot more than a simple adjustment to a satin dress.

    As a general rule, the more delicate fabrics tend to require more attention and time meaning they will cost extra compared to the more versatile fabrics.

    Experience and quality of the tailor

    When it comes to finding the right person to alter your forever gown, it’s important to keep in mind that more experienced providers may charge just that little bit extra. But don’t let that get you down! You can always find cheaper options to fit your budget however we’d always point out that you only get married once.

    Location

    Not a difficult one. Looking for a tailor in central Manhattan? That’s probably going to cost a little more than a local seamstress in a small town in Indiana. Be sure to shop around to find the right solution for your wedding budget.

    Additional Details

    Any added detail means more time spent by your seamstress. Little details like beading or lace embroidery all take time. Generally speaking, most professionals will charge using the “parts and labor” method.

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    What alterations can I make and how much?

    We’ve broken down various aspects of alterations, but how much should you actually budget for wedding dress alterations? Below we’ve broken down common alterations into different sections along with specific adjustments for each area.

    Bodice Alterations

    The bodice can be taken in or let out to make the dress smaller or larger. On average, the cost to make alterations costs between $100 – $300.

    Alteration Average Cost
    Re-shaping the Neckline $30 – $100
    Adding Bra Cups $20 – $50
    Corset Adjustments $100 – $150
    Taking in and letting out the seams $50 – $250

    Skirt Alterations

    Generally speaking, skirt alterations are broken down into 3 main categories. This includes the hem, bustle and train.

    Hemming the dress involves shortening the length of the dress specific to your requirements. It also refers to adding or removing a train. The average costing of hemming is between $150 – $450.

    Alteration Average Cost
    Adjusting Lace $120 – $250
    Beading Adjustments $20 – $40
    Removing Train $30 – $100
    Lining $30 – $50
    Shortening & Reshaping £150 – $400

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    More complex alterations are also available.

    Adding a bustle involves implementing a structure to allow you to easily lift the dress as you walk throughout the day. You will see many popular wedding photos with brides walking using the bustle. The average cost to add or adjust a bustle is between $30 – $400.

    General adjustments such as “taking in” and “letting out” of the skirt costs between $20 – $40.

    Alteration Average Cost
    1-3 pts $10 – $30
    3-5 pts $30 – $60
    5-7 pts $60 – $100
    7+ pts $100+

    Waist Alterations

    Nothing too complicated about this one. A talented seamstress will adjust the waist to suit your figure both in comfort and looks. The average cost of this alteration is dependent on how successful the wedding diet is. Joking, joking! You should budget around $100 to $250.

    Embellishments & Additions

    It goes without saying, this price is pretty variable depending what additions you want to make. Common additions include embroidery, beading, adding a belt or sash etc. Most embellishments cost around $30 per hour.

    Strap & Sleeve Alterations

    Most brides will go through the process of adjusting the sleeves to suit their arm length. Altering the sleeves will cost around $30 – $100. Adding straps to your gown will cost between $20 – $60.

    Finding a wedding gown tailor

    It’s important to find the right seamstress to adjust your gown. We spoke to a selection of our brides and asked for their tips and experience in finding a tailor for their big day. We’ve also included some of our own sure fire ways to find the best suppliers in your area and how to ensure success in your search.

    Your Bridal Boutique

    It might seem obvious, but usually the best place to start is the place you bought your dress from. Many bridal stories will include a free dress fitting with a purchase however will charge for any additional. Furthermore, you can also visit other bridal stores and ask if they provide alteration services.

    Friends & Colleagues

    Ever been a bridesmaid, or just attended a friend’s wedding? Well go ahead and ask the bride which vendor she chose. She can also offer advice on her experience, both good and bad.

    If you haven’t attended a wedding, a simple post on social media will help. You will often get many brides sending referrals. Generally speaking, you can always trust what they say and they have lived through the very same situation as you.

    Search Online

    Google is probably the most user friendly service for finding a wedding gown alteration service. While social media, such as instagram, is great for finding photographers and creative services, for a more professional service such as this, Google is great at showing vendors in your area.

    Facebook Groups & Forums

    If you haven’t joined any “Bride-to-be” facebook groups or wedding planning forums, then you should. They are an often overlooked resource for answering many wedding planning questions. Just post your question and you will like have dozens of brides giving their experiences.

    Reviews

    Once you’ve selected a few candidates, we always recommend looking at their reviews. Many wedding suppliers will request couples to leave their reviews on their Facebook page. Don’t be put off if your favorite supplier does not have reviews. Many businesses are still lacking in a tech savvy approach to marketing. Just ask in person if they have any testimonials and many will happily provide.

    Compare Prices

    No matter your budget, it’s always good to compare prices and ensure you pay a suitable amount. Many tailors will vary prices on experience and location but remember to ask what is specifically included in the quote.

    Questions to ask your service provider

    Ensuring you have found the right wedding alteration professional can be a tricky task. However, below we have put together a list of questions that should improve the success rate of your search. Be sure to ask them before, during and after your search.

    Before you agree to anything

    • What’s your experience? Have you been a wedding dress seamstress for long?
    • Can you show me photos of your past alterations?
    • On average, how long will the alterations take?
    • How many fittings will I require?
    • Do you provide a warranty or guarantee policy?
    • Insurance, do you have it?
    • Are there rush/premium delivery services?
    • What is the booking procedure?
    • What is the payment process?
    • Do you have a list of common alteration prices?

    During your first fitting

    • What changes can I request for my gown?
    • When do I need to schedule my next fitting?
    • Do you provide a steaming service for before the wedding day?
    • How many fittings will I require?
    • What specific alterations do I require?
    • Can you provide an outline of costs on my alterations?
    • How long will the alterations take?
    • When will the alterations be completed?

    During your final fitting

    • When will my dress be ready?
    • What if I need last minute changes?
    • How should I store my gown until my day?
    • Have all the requested changes been made?
    • Do you have any advice for care after the wedding day?
    • Is there anything else I need to know?

    FAQs about wedding dress alterations

    Working with wonderful brides, day in and day out, gives us great experience in all things weddings. Other than obvious “How much does wedding dress alterations cost?”, we get asked a range of queries about wedding gown shopping. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the fitting process and all things alterations.

    How Many Fittings Will I Need?

    All brides will need at least 2 fittings before their big day, and on average 3. Ensuring that your dress fits you and your figure perfectly is important to look and feel amazing. You don’t want to be looking back at your wedding photos, wishing you’d spent that little bit extra time in the fitting room.

    Once you’ve chosen your beautiful gown, your bridal store may suggest a fitting in their establishment. Here you will meet their seamstress, talk about your likes and dislikes and of course, get the measuring tape out to check for any minor (or major) adjustments. You can also make any requests at this point.

    During your second fitting, the tailor will check for any changes in your body shape plus will run you through the changes made so far. Generally speaking, this the penultimate run through before your third and final fitting. Anything major you want, now’s the time. Plan ahead and don’t leave it until the last minute!

    Finally, the last fitting will ensure everything is just right. Chances are, this is the last time you will wear your gown before you tie the knot.

    How long will the appointments take?

    Generally speaking, prepare to spend between 30 mins and a couple of hours with your tailor. Obviously, the time spent will tend to depend on how many changes and adjustments need to be made.

    Your first fitting is likely to take a little bit longer than the rest as it also acts as an introduction into the process. Your tailor will take all the initial measurements while working through the different options you have available.

    Ensuring your dress fits is incredibly important, don’t worry about asking questions or requesting changes. Spend the time to get it right.

    Can I bring my own fabric for alterations?

    Absolutely. It’s important to remember that this is your wedding day, this is your wedding dress. You can make any requests you wish. Most tailors will be happy to accommodate.

    Many brides will include their own personal fabric choices, just take along samples or ideas you have to your first fitting. This way you discuss in detail about possibilities and learn how to ensure your requirements are met. Most professionals will give you advice on how to achieve the look you want along with recommendations about where you can source the materials (if they don’t offer them directly).

    Just a word of caution, from a technical and practical point of view (not fashion), some fabrics will not work well together. Keep this in mind to avoid disappointment.

    Can I alter an off-the-rack dress?

    Of course. As mentioned before, many bridal boutiques offer in-house tailoring services. We also recommend going with this option if you can as most bridal boutiques solely focus on wedding gowns whereas other tailors may offer a range of services.

    Booking a professional well versed in weddings will ensure that any potential issues that arise, are probably commonplace with them. They will understand exactly how to fix any problem that may occur. Furthermore, they’ve also got great experience and ideas with what works. They can provide samples and reviews from past gowns and dresses. It’s a win win!

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    Final tips

    By now, I think we have covered everything to do with alterations and their costs. That being said, below we have curated our list of top tips to ensure your wedding dress alteration experience runs smoothly. Ensuring you are the only thing going off and getting hitched!

    Shop around for your gown

    Don’t just buy the first gown you see. Shop around, visit various bridal stores. Ask for reviews. Most importantly, make sure the gown you choose fits as close to perfect as it can. While it can always be fixed, this will help reduce the cost of alterations.

    Plan ahead

    As we’ve said before, do everything 2 weeks before you think you should. Leaving enough time ensures that there is room for error. Changes can be made. Budgets can be followed.

    Compare and contrast providers

    Ask around. From friends to family be sure to ask past brides for tailors they recommend. Requesting several quotes will ensure you get the best price, from the best provider.

    Transparency

    Be clear what your expectations are in both ideas and budget. This will allow both yourself and the seamstress to be on the same page throughout the entire process. The last thing you want is added stress before your big day.

    Patience is key

    Don’t pressure your tailor. They have experience in what they are doing and will be doing everything they can to ensure your dream wedding gown is created. Sit back, put the kettle on, that phone call will come and you will be able to pick your dress knowing it’s perfect.

    All about the knickers

    Just a cheeky one. Make sure you are wearing the right underwear for every fitting. Seamless is always good however a lot of gowns will be made out of thicker material meaning it’s not imperative. Once again, it all depends on your specific gown. If you are planning on wearing sexy lingerie on the big day, wear sexy lingerie to the fitting. Once again, most bridal boutiques can advise in this area as well!

    Always ask about costs

    Be upfront and honest about costs. Ask questions about everything. It’s absolutely crucial if you are on a tight budget. This will make sure there are no unexpected expenses in the build up to your day. You can also ask your provider for a detailed breakdown of expected costs before proceeding.

    Conclusion

    To wrap it up, wedding dress alterations can quickly add up if you don’t plan ahead and be upfront with your tailor. A good estimate on the cost of wedding dress alterations is between $100 and $1000 however it’s more likely to cost between $250 and $600 depending on your requests.

    As we’ve mentioned a few times already, don’t skimp on the cost of your alterations. A good tailor can help you feel like a princess. Their experience will help sculpt your gown to your every wish.

    Most importantly, enjoy the experience, keep to your budget and enjoy your special day!