Understanding Your Wedding Dress Fitting Timeline
When should you first see a seamstress to have your wedding dress fitted in time for the big day?
You’ve found your dream dress, put in the order, and after months of waiting, it’s finally arrived. For most brides, this is the first time they’re able to try their gown on in their size, rather than in whatever sample size was available to them in the bridal boutique. But even trying on your actual dress in a size that is closer to your body, almost every dress requires alterations of some kind, and these can have a dramatic effect on the final product.
Most brides know this, of course, and are eager to set up their first appointment with a seamstress to begin the alterations process. But while it does take several weeks to get the dress just right, it’s important to time the appointments carefully—especially if you expect to change sizes in the final weeks before the wedding. Schedule your first fitting too soon, and your dress may not fit the way you want it on your big day. But, leave it too long, and you may have to compromise on some of your major alterations.
It’s typical for a bride to have three to four fittings to get everything just right. Most of this can be handled in the last two to three months before the wedding. Even knowing this, most brides can feel anxious about their schedule as the big day nears. So, if you want a more detailed breakdown of your wedding dress fitting timeline to ease your mind, read on.
3–4 months to go: Bespoke customizations.
Some brides order a dress that’s close to what they want, but still need some significant alterations to be their dream gown. For instance, a bride may want to incorporate a dramatic contrasting color into the dress, add sleeves, or change the neckline. While these are all doable for an experienced seamstress, they do require extra time. And because these changes affect other parts of the dress, some of them must be done before any other adjustments can take place.
If you know your dress will require customizations, talk to your seamstress early to get an idea for how much time she will need to fashion these alterations. However, if you found a dress that was practically perfect in any way (save the fit), you probably don’t need to schedule your first appointment so early.
2–3 months to go: Major alterations.
For most brides, their first fitting will be about two to three months out. At this fitting, the seamstress goes over every aspect of the dress from head to toe to see what needs to be altered. Even though dresses are ordered in a size that is close to body measurements, most brides will still need to adjust for every nuance of her figure. And since it takes several months for the arrival of the wedding gown after an order is placed, it’s more than likely that the bride’s measurements will have changed in the meantime. Even a small change in size can impact the fit of a gown as there is little to no give or stretch in the fabrics of wedding gowns.
Don’t forget to bring the undergarments and shoes you plan to wear for the wedding! The height of your shoes and the way you stand in them will affect how the dress falls and are crucial to getting the hem just right. Plus, the amount of structure and padding (or lack thereof!) will change how the dress falls.
By the time the seamstress finishes pinning shoulders, bust, waist, hip, and hem, many brides are left wondering if any part of their dress won’t be altered by the time the fitting is over. This may be overwhelming for you, but don’t worry. Your seamstress knows what she’s doing and has seen it all before.
1 month to go: Minor adjustments.
After the major heavy lifting is done, it’s time to make the final tweaks. Maybe you want to fine tune the neckline of your dress or raise the length of your sleeves by a quarter inch. It’s hard to make these adjustments until the major ones are taken care of, but now that they’re out of the way, your gown should be close to the ideal you had envisioned.
With one month to go you still have plenty of time to get the details perfect, so don’t be afraid to discuss any reservations you may have with your seamstress.
2 weeks to go: Final fitting—final check.
In most cases, the final fitting is more of a quality check to be sure that everything done in the prior fittings has turned out according to plan. The last thing anyone wants is for the bride to discover a problem with one of the adjustments on her wedding day. But, if there is still something that needs adjusting, the final fitting is the bride’s last chance to make the change.
Getting your fit just right is key to feeling comfortable on your big day.
It may seem like a lot of work, but remember that you’ll be in your dress all day. Getting the fit right won’t just improve the appearance of the dress on your wedding day—it will also make it more comfortable. The last thing you need as you’re walking down the aisle is for your dress to be anything short of perfection. So plan plenty of time to get your alterations done, and you won’t second guess yourself on your big day.