Wedding Dress Fittings & Alterations: All Your Questions Answered

Here's everything you need to know

Bride and tailor during dress fitting

Getty Images / Jacoblund

When it comes to wedding dresses, you want to make sure you have the perfect fit. After all, your wedding day is the only day you'll be showing off your stunning gown that took months to find. And the last thing you need on your special day is to deal with a wardrobe malfunction.

What Is a Wedding Dress Fitting?

A wedding dress fitting is the best way to sculpt the gown to the body and ensure a proper fit. Brides typically need three fittings before the dress is ready to be worn.

Between working around busy schedules and wedding planning appointments like cake tastings and venue visits, it’s important to prioritize buying your dress early on—about nine months before your wedding day—to give yourself plenty of time for wedding dress fittings and alterations before the big day. But what exactly does a wedding dress fitting entail? And what’s the process of alterations?

Read on to learn exactly what to expect.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time for the First Fitting

Because alterations take time, you should schedule your first fitting eight to 10 weeks before your wedding day. This will give your tailor plenty of time to do your first fitting, make alterations, and then determine if another fitting is necessary. 

How Long a Dress Fitting Appointment Lasts Can Vary

The first fitting will generally last one hour as your tailor begins to assess your dress and the alterations needed. "At the first fitting the bride will meet the artisan fitter who will be with her during every fitting until her wedding day," says Nicole Sacco, the director of fittings at Kleinfeld. Following the first hour-long appointment, each subsequent fitting should take less time since the dress is getting closer and closer to the perfect fit.

Meet the Expert

Nicole Sacco is the director of fittings at Kleinfeld and a Say Yes to the Dress star. 

Multiple Dress Fittings May Be Necessary

How many fittings you'll need may all depend on the number of alterations required and how much your body changes in that time. "The gown will start to take shape when the fitter starts pinning and tucking the fabric and sculpting it to the bride's body," says Sacco in regard to the first fitting. "At the second fitting, the bride should have a better idea of how the gown will fit."

Often the alteration process can be complete in just two fittings, but on occasion, a bride may need three. Either way, schedule your final fitting to take place one to two weeks before the wedding since your body won't change much in those final weeks.

What to Wear to a Wedding Dress Fitting

Be sure to bring your day-of essentials to get a true fit. "Brides need to bring the shoes and undergarments they will wear on the day of the wedding in order to obtain the proper fit," says Sacco. Haven't settled on the perfect wedding shoe yet? At least bring a shoe that has a heel the same height as what you anticipate wearing on your wedding day (otherwise you'll end up with a hem that's too long or too short).

Don't Worry Too Much If You Lose or Gain Weight Once the Dress Arrives

If your body weight changes after you've ordered your dress, or even after it arrives, don't worry too much. "If a bride loses weight, the gown will be taken in at each fitting appointment until it fits perfectly. If a bride gains weight, we will try to open the seams and release some extra fabric," says Sacco. "If there is not enough fabric to work with, we can order fabric from the designer and a panel can be added to the dress."

Too Many Alterations Won't Ruin the Dress

Whether you bought a larger dress to accommodate specific parts of your body, or you found a great deal on the perfect dress that wasn’t exactly your ideal fit, remember that this is what the dress alterations are for. If you do choose to purchase something outside of your typical size, don't forget that it is always better to purchase a gown in a larger size rather than a smaller size. "We can always make a gown smaller, but it is harder to make a gown larger," says Sacco. "Depending on the style and embellishments on the gown, alterations should not 'ruin' the style."

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