Birmingham Wedding Gown Care Blog

Wedding Dress Alterations - How Much Time Do They Really Take?

Posted by David Whitehurst on April 24, 2010


"How long will it take to do my Wedding Dress alterations?"

We get questions all the time asking about the time it takes us to complete Wedding Dress alterations at our gown care shop in Birmingham, Alabama.  The same questions also come to us about Bridesmaids Dresses, Mother of the Bride Dresses, Maid of Honor Gowns and Prom Gowns.  These questions are often in the form of e-mails and phone calls. 

And the answer is......

...we need to see the dress first and then we can answer this question.   

But let me try to explain the factors that enter into the answer to this question.

There are many different needs when altering and fitting a wedding dress.  The actual amount of time it takes to do the alteration typically depends on three primary factors: 

  • the style of the wedding dress,
  • the complexity of the desired alteration, and
  • the backlog of work to be done by the wedding dress alterations specialist  
Style of the Wedding Dress 

A heavily beaded gown will require more time for an alteration affecting the beaded area than a simple wedding dress.  Beads must be handled with care to make sure the gown keeps its look when altering an area of the gown involving beads and other adornments.

Hemming sleeves with buttons and beads require more time than sleeves without buttons or beads.

A wedding dress with multiple layers will likewise require more time for a hem or bodice alteration than a simple wedding gown.  We must hem each layer when hemming a wedding dress...and the more layers, the more time it takes for the alteration.  The number of layers and the structure of the wedding gown will also impact the job of replacing a wedding dress zipper.

Complexity of the Alterations 

It often takes less time to hem a bridal gown than to take it in or let it out.  Removing straps in a wedding dress can be simple, but if combined with a bodice alteration...and it often is, the process can become more complicated and more time consuming.

Adding a bustle might be simple.  But again this depends on the complexity of the gown, especially the number of layers and type of fabric.  Beading can also affect a bustle.  When adding a bustle, I recommend adding more than one, even on a simple wedding dress. If the Bride steps on the hem or sits the wrong way, a single bustle can always add more than one.  Add even more when the train is heavy and extra long.

How Many Fittings? 

One other common factor that can affect the time it takes to do bridal gown alterations is the number of fittings required to make sure your wedding dress fits perfectly.  Again, a hem on a gown without extra layers or beading should take fewer fittings while changes to the design or taking in or letting out the bodice typically requires more.

As I've said in my previous wedding gown blog posts, the best solution is to purchase a wedding gown that most nearly fits you.  But our commitment to our Brides is that we'll do whatever it takes to get your wedding gown alterations in Birmingham done right and on your schedule.  All I suggest is to make arrangements ahead of time and meet with with your alterations specialist.  Let her see the wedding gown to get a good idea of the complexity of the wedding gown and the required wedding gown alterations.


A person can get only 8 hours of work done in 8 hours.  But an experienced seamstress has fewer "start-overs" and can get more done than a less experienced seamstress.  However, a major issue for completing wedding dress alterations is to make an appointment with your wedding gown specialist and keep the appointment...and all subsequent fitting appointments  That will help insure timely completion of your wedding dress alterations

Experience Counts

One last bit of advice is to make sure your seamstress is qualified and experienced with wedding gown alterations.  For successful wedding dress alterations, experience is critical.  A seamstress or even a tailor who spends all of their time hemming pants and sleeves...or even making men's suits... might not be able to handle a wedding gown correctly. 

My suggestion is to make sure your wedding gown specialist is a qualified dressmaker and has years of experience with wedding dress alterations.  This will reduce the number of fittings required and get your wedding dress alterations completed on schedule.  And you'll stand a better chance of getting it done correctly when your wedding gown specialist is qualified.


Topics: mother of the bride dresses, brides maids dresses, wedding gown alterations in Birmimgham Alabama, wedding dress alterations, wedding dress alterations in Birmingham Alabama, wedding gown, wedding dress, Destination Wedding, bridal gown alterations in birmimgham alabama, brides

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