Photo: Black & Hue Photography

After you finally find the one (the dress that is!), there are a few more things you have to do before you wear it down the aisle, like getting it altered. The likelihood of your gown fitting you perfectly when it arrives is slim, and you'll probably have to have some tweaks made to your dress. To help you prepare for the inevitable, we reached out to several dress pros across the country and asked them what you should expect when you go in for a fitting.

Check out what you absolutely need to know before your first dress fitting!


Photo: Alysha Rainwaters Photography

What is a common misconception brides have about wedding dress fittings?


“The time it takes to alter a dress sometimes can be a shock to a bride. It is better to allow 8-12 weeks for ‘normal’ alterations to be completed. If you want customizations, you should allow more time according to the complexity of the work done.”

-Melissa Bryant of LeAnn’s Bridal in McKinney, Texas

“The price of alterations. A quality seamstress is a true artisan. They have been trained in their craft and need to be compensated for their time and work. Brides should budget a minimum of $500 for their gown alterations.”

-Beth Chapman of The White Dress By the Shore in Clinton, Connecticut

“Sometimes a bride will panic if their bridal gown doesn’t fit perfectly at just the second fitting. Brides must remember that a professional will take their time to get the dress to fit you correctly.”

-Emily Luther of La Soie Bridal in Pasadena, California

Photo: Alicia Wiley Photography

What typically happens during a dress fitting?


“The first gown fitting is scheduled at least three months prior to the wedding date. The bride must have her wedding shoes she is wearing for this first fitting. We first take a bride’s measurements and write them on her alterations worksheet. We then assist the bride into her gown. We discuss with her the various things we see that need to be done in order to achieve the perfect fit. We then ask if there are any additional changes she wishes to make to her gown, such as custom straps, lower of neckline or back, etc. . .The work that needs to be done determines how many fittings a bride will need.”

-Terri Espy of Gown Boutique of Charleston in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Photo: Olli Studio

Why is it necessary for a bride to have her dress fitted?


“When purchasing your gown, generally your measurements are being compared to a size chart and the bridal store is selecting the designer’s size that is closest to your measurements. It is very rare that anyone fits perfectly into the size from the chart.”

-Beth Chapman of The White Dress By The Shore in Clinton, Connecticut

“Most gowns that are purchased in reputable boutiques are produced by a designer. Each designer has their own size chart and they can differ considerably. Industry hem length is usually a lot longer than the average bride needs for sampling purposes and most every gown will need to be hemmed.”

-Melissa Bryant of LeAnn’s Bridal in McKinney, Texas

“We find that most all gowns need alterations in the bust and or hips.”

-Terri Espy of Gown Boutique of Charleston in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Photo: Tracy Autem & Lightly Photography

“That your seamstress cannot read your mind! If something is not what you envisioned, you have to tell her. If you were told something in the buying process about how the dress can be altered, please let her know. Communication is the key to a smooth process.”

-Kathryn Trocki of Kathryn’s Bridal in McHenry, Illinois

“It is imperative that you have the bra and undergarments that you plan to wear on your wedding day at your first fitting. Changing your undergarments during the alterations process can change the fit of your gown.”

-Beth Chapman of The White Dress By the Shore in Clinton, Connecticut

Photo: The Big Affair

What would you tell a bride who is concerned about the length of time it takes to alter or tailor their dress?


“You should factor in at least 3 months for alterations. Therefore, you should purchase your gown no less than 7 months before your wedding (I recommend purchasing 9-12 months before your wedding).”

-Beth Chapman of The White Dress By the Shore in Clinton, Connecticut

“The seamstress whom you are working with takes such pride in her work that the dress isn’t complete until she says it is perfect! It may take 2 months and 4 fittings, but the end result will be perfection.”

-Kathryn Trocki of Kathryn’s Bridal in McHenry, Illinois

Photo: Bellagala Photography

What would you say to a bride who has concerns about getting her dress altered?


“Keep in mind that a seamstress specializing in bridal gowns has a ton of experience. From familiarity with fabrics, silhouettes, and even specific designers, you should feel confident knowing that they’ve altered many bridal gowns. It also leads me to my next thought…always go with a seamstress who specializes in bridal gown alterations!”

-Emily Luther of La Soie Bridal in Pasadena, California

“The more questions you ask your seamstress and/or the staff the better you will understand what will be happening to your gown. An informed bride is our best client.”

-Kathryn Trocki of Kathryn’s Bridal in McHenry, Illinois

Photo: Randy + Ashley

Any other advice?


“When you are choosing a gown, if there are too many things about it that you want to change, keep looking.”

-Melissa Bryant of LeAnn’s Bridal in McKinney, Texas