Wedding Dress Alterations 101

Congratulations, you found your dream wedding dress! Now onto your next task – making it fit you perfectly!  

Whether you bought off the rack or a custom gown doesn’t fit as it should, bridal alterations are likely to be part of your future. Learn everything you need to know about wedding dress alterations here. 

Where to Get Bridal Alterations

Choose a local seamstress so that the likely multiple visits won’t further complicate your already busy bridal schedule. Most wedding dress alterations take two to three fittings since the process is done in stages. Working with someone local is usually most convenient for brides. 

Choose a shop or local tailor that has experience with bridal couture. Many seamstresses focus solely on bridal gowns, so this should not be too difficult to find. 

Check reviews and keep an eye out for any price or timeline complaints. 

Types of Wedding Dress Alterations


Hemming refers to the length of the gown and is the most common of wedding dress alterations. Nearly every bride will need their dress hemmed. For floor-length gowns, the general rule of thumb is long enough to cover the shoes but not touching the floor. 

Have your wedding shoes on while the dress is measured to be hemmed. Even flats add a bit of height, and you want the length of your dress to be perfect. Bring THE shoe, not just a shoe!

The cost of hemming is determined by the number of layers of the gown. A full skirt with several layers of fabric will take more time and therefore cost more than a single layer. Embellishments at the bottom of the dress may also affect the cost. 


Bridal sizing can be a little tricky since every designer sets their own size chart according to bust, waist, hip measurement. Wedding gowns are typically cut smaller than our ready to wear which is why it’s not uncommon for most brides to go up several sizes in wedding attire. Sizing in bridal is not consistent due to these factors. Most brides are considered a “split size” in bridal, meaning we are usually one size on top and our bottom half is a different size. When working with a skilled, bridal seamstress, he or she will be able to size down the gown where it’s too big as well as size it up in places it may be a little snug. When scheduling your bridal appointments be sure to book appointments with trusted bridal shops and work with a bridal stylist that has years of experience in the industry so they can recommend sizes that won’t become an issue once you are in alterations. 


A bustle refers to the method of pinning, clipping, or tying the back of a wedding dress to transition the train from long to floor length. This is usually done before the reception to allow for easier dancing and walking around. 

The style and method of executing the bustle will need to be chosen and installed ahead of time with the bridal alterations shop. Dresses do not come with a bustle because they are custom installed to your height. 

Wedding Dress Alteration FAQs

How long do wedding dress alterations take?

Depending on the project, it could take months for detailed resizing work with a heavily embellished gown. A simple hem should take about a week or two, depending on how busy the wedding dress alteration shop is. 

How much do wedding dress alterations cost?

Depending on the project, you can expect to spend anywhere from $50 to $1,000 on alterations. Typically, the cost is evaluated based on the time of labor. 

Fitting the Dress of Your Dreams

Don’t expect your gown to be perfect as soon as you buy it. Be on the lookout for what bustle, length, and size changes need to be made so that you look and FEEL your best walking down the aisle, and leave some room in the budget for the necessary alterations.