What to Do if Your Wedding Dress Doesn't Fit

josabi mariees

Courtesy of JoSaBi Mariées

You made it through the hours of scrolling through Instagram in search of the perfect wedding dress, countless fittings, and dress alterations. Now the day is finally here. After hours of making sure your hair and makeup are just right, and exactly what you imagined, it’s now time to grab your girls and put the dress on. Like most brides-to-be, you’ve most likely rehearsed this moment over, and over again in your mind. You’ve seen the dress on, your bridesmaids helping you zip it, and pulling your train out from underneath of your dress. And the most important part? Visualizing how amazing you look and feel in it.

As you prepare to get in your dress, your bridesmaids assist you, and then it doesn’t fit. Within seconds your perfect day feels ruined. But don’t panic. The experts are here to help! Whether your dress isn’t fitting, because of some unexpected weight loss, or because bodies do their own things and bloat, see what bridal experts recommend if you find your dress not fitting on your day.

Meet the Expert

Dafra Sanou is the founder and CEO of JoSaBi Mariées, a custom wedding dress studio.

Tina Zimmerman is the Director of Alterations at Kleinfeld Bridal.

What Should You Do If Your Dress Is Too Tight?

First of all, don’t panic! “Take a deep breath and take a second to remember that all gowns require two people to help you get into the gown,” Tina Zimmerman, Kleinfeld Director of Alterations, says. Although this may seem like a moment that you should panic, it’s essential to stay as calm as possible. This will make getting into the dress more manageable. Zimmerman says that once you’ve calmed down, step back into the dress. 

“Second, pull up the dress, so the waist is in the right spot—at your natural waist. Whichever two people you choose to help you get into the dress should be at your front and your back,” Zimmerman explains. Now, here’s where following the steps is vital. 

  1. “Person one at your front holds your gown in place, and person two at your back should look for the small hook and eye at the top of the zipper and hook them together,” Zimmerman instructs. 
  2. From there, “person one holds your gown at the waist and pushes all the fabric of the gown towards the back, giving person two as much extra room as possible to zipper the dress up. Make sure that you take a deep breath and let all your air out while person one does this, deflating your rib cage,” she says.
  3. “If the zipper is almost there, but you need a little more help, add another person to pull the sides of the zipper closer together and then zip up. The most important thing you can remember is do not stress the zipper. The last thing you want is for the zipper to break.” Zimmerman says.

Dafra Sanou, founder and head designer at JoSaBi Mariées repeats the same advice, not to panic! “In case the dress is too tight, keep it on for a while, and try to zip it up little by little. The body gets used to the garment, and it may zip up much easier after five minutes,” she says. Try to let the dress adjust to your body and let it conform as much as it can. This will loosen the fit up more and give you some more room.

Some other quick tips and tricks that Sanou recommends are to “try slipping on some shapewear if you’re not already wearing any.” This will help the dress slide on smoother. You can also try removing some of the paddings of your bra. This will loosen up your bust area. 

You also need to “make sure the gown is in the right place before starting. The gown should be at the waist and adjust your bust to sit in the cups,” Zimmerman says. Also, “let your body get used to the tightness before thinking the dress is too small. When you first zip it up, it will feel tight—don’t be alarmed! Don’t be surprised if it feels like you can’t take a deep breath—breathe normally, and your body and dress will slowly adjust,” Zimmerman tells BRIDES. 

Go to the restroom before you get into your dress.  Brides get busy and sometimes forget this important step!

What Should You Do If Your Dress Is Too Big

If the dress is too big and not fitting your body how you want it to, still remember not to panic. Dafra recommends adding some bra cups to fill out the bust area if it’s too large in your chest area. You can also find a beautiful sash to cinch your waist if it’s too roomy at your midsection. 

So, Why Doesn't the Dress Fit?

“These things happen a lot more than you think, due to bloating and water retention,” Sanou says. These things you can’t really control, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your body decides to have a mind of its own on your wedding day. Zimmerman also notes that changing your workout routine can also add to the dress being too tight. “For instance, adding squats to your routine two weeks before your wedding is going to change your hip and thigh shape, which is a problem if you are wearing a mermaid or fit and flare silhouette,” she explains. A new routine can also result in muscle mass changes, causing the dress to be too big.

The Best Dress Silhouettes for The Best Fit

Zimmerman says when shopping at Kleinfeld, be sure to tell your bridal consultant about your concerns. “If you think your measurements will change, then shopping for a corset back gown would be best,” she says. In terms of silhouettes, “a-line, ball gown or empire waist styles would also be more adjustable than fit and flares, mermaids or sheaths,” Zimmerman adds. 

“Mermaid and trumpet-shaped gowns are cut close to the body for maximum curve and silhouette,” Sanou says. She also believes that an A-line shape is flowy and allows for more room. “The ultimate cheat code for a well-fitted dress on the wedding day is, therefore, a lace-up back A-line dress. Also, keep the fabric in mind too. “Stretch fabrics or knit linings will be most forgiving. With over 1,200 styles available to try on in-store, including styles from over 50 designers sourced from all over the world, we have plenty of great options available to you, at any price point,” Zimmerman explains.

Things to Keep In Mind At Your Fitting

Before you get too involved in fittings and alterations, “if you think your measurements will change for any reason, ask your fitter at your first fitting appointment about changing the zipper out for a corset back,” Zimmerman says. “Not all gowns can be changed, but it is worth asking the fitter. There will most likely be a charge for this design change. However, it may be worth it,” she adds. For custom dresses, Sanou recommends two sets of measurements a few months apart. “For dresses bought from a store, always realize the chances of you exactly fitting into a sample size are slim,” she notes.

During the alterations process, “wear the right undergarments. Have on the ones (or some similar to the ones) you are planning on wearing on your wedding day, so you are fitted well,” Sanou says.

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