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Bridal Guide

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Say ‘sew long' to ill-fitting wedding attire

Seamstresses and tailors are sometimes the unsung heroes of weddings. These individuals often work tirelessly under pressure to ensure that tuxes are taken in at the right places and that gowns are hemmed to perfection. People may underestimate the importance of good wedding ensemble alterations, but having someone whose skilled with a needle and thread is essential to looking your best on such a momentous day.

Proper fit can be as important as the gown or suit. Although some couples will spend thousands of dollars on wedding attire, many will not research the person to handle any necessary alterations. Few, if any, wedding ensembles can be purchased right off the rack and worn without custom tailoring. The scope of the alterations will depend on the desired changes and how well the clothing initially fits. Timing is crucial, and these guidelines can facilitate the process of wedding alterations.

Length of time

It's difficult to say how long alterations will take, as it depends on the extent of the work and how busy the seamstress or tailor is. And until the alterations have begun, seamstresses and tailors may not know how long the job will take. The bridal resource The Knot advises allowing between two and three months from a first fitting to the last as an ideal timeline to make all of the alterations. For complicated gowns, brides or bridal party members may need three or four fittings, with the last occurring a few weeks before the wedding.

Alteration costs

Cost alone should not dictate where to go for alterations. The costs can include many factors, including which fabrics are used in the gown or suit, which types of alterations are requested (minor tweaks or a major overhaul), proximity to the wedding date, and even geographical location. Brides also can add straps, beading, lace, or other detailing, but it will affect the cost.

Whom to choose

Many bridal salons and formalwear retailers will have someone on staff who can handle alterations. If a store doesn't have a tailor or seamstress, or if this person isn't able to provide what is needed, take clothing to a professional who specializes in wedding wear. Gowns can be complex, with wedding gowns featuring bustles, intricate hems, boning, beading, and much more, so try to work with experienced professionals who have seen it all. Ask friends and family for recommendations, or find out if wedding planners or retailers who sold you the dress recommend anyone.

When attending a fitting, bring along the shoes and undergarments that will be worn on the wedding day so the fit can be matched accordingly. Also take one friend or family member who can offer an extra opinion on how the clothing falls and fits. Brides may want to bring a maid-(matron)-of-honor if she needs to learn how to bustle a gown.

Skilled tailors or seamstresses help couples look their best on their wedding days, and finding reliable professionals should be part of wedding planning.

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