Planning a wedding can be a daunting task, and for brides, one of the most important items on the to-do list is to find the perfect dress. You want to look your absolute best, but finding the right dress is just the beginning of the journey – you need to make sure that dress fits like a glove. Alterations are the way to go, but how much do wedding dress alterations cost?
Wedding dress alterations can cost anywhere between $150 to $700 on average, with the majority of brides spending around $450. These costs are determined by the timeline, the scope of services needed, and the location in which the alterations are being sought.
If you’re not sure what to expect about the cost of wedding dress alterations, don’t worry. We’ll delve into all those details for you so you can make sure your dream day goes off without a hitch.
Wedding dress alteration costs vary depending on the complexity of the alterations required and the area you live in.
On average, brides can expect to pay between $150 to $700 for alterations, according to Fash. Keep in mind that these costs may fluctuate based on factors like the type of fabric, lining, beading, or lace used in the dress.
Hemming or shortening a wedding dress can cost anywhere between $70 to $180, which tends to be the most common service. These charges are often dependent on the style and fit of the dress – the more layers or intricate the style, the higher the alteration cost is likely to be.
Some seamstresses charge by the hour instead of the job, which can add more complexity to the situation. The average per hour cost is around $30 to $40 per hour.
|$30-$75 per side
As previously mentioned, the materials used in a wedding dress can also significantly affect alteration costs. Alterations for dresses made from delicate fabrics, such as silk, satin, or chiffon, can cost more, and additional charges may apply for beadwork or lace. And brides who need their dress to be customized to meet their specific needs are likely to pay more (for instance, brides who want cups sewn into their bust area or a bustle added to the back).
As is the case with most wedding-specific services, the location of the bridal alterations can also play a role in the total cost. You can almost always expect to pay more if you are going to a reputable bridal salon.
These salons typically charge more because of their experience in working with wedding dresses and the focused attention given to each client. Many offer guarantees and other peace of mind services that might add to the overall value of choosing them for your alterations.
That said, you can also save money by opting for a private, independent seamstress – these professionals will often complete alterations for half the cost of what you’ll pay at a more formal boutique.
Every bride wants the perfect wedding dress – and having a dress that fits perfectly is key. Now that you know the average cost of a wedding dress, what factors are contributing to that cost?
Understanding these different variables will give you a better idea of how to create your budget as you’re shopping around.
First and foremost (and perhaps most obviously!) you’re paying for the actual service of altering your wedding dress. This includes adjusting the length, taking in or letting out seams, adding or removing sleeves, and more. The cost of this can vary based on the complexity of the alterations and the amount of work required.
In addition to the service itself, the cost of wedding dress alterations also includes materials. This may include extra fabric needed to make alterations, bra cups to provide additional support, or other supplies.
Be sure to ask your seamstress what materials might be necessary so you can get an accurate estimate of the cost.
If you want to make customizations to your wedding dress beyond the standard alterations, such as adding beading, lace, or embellishments, this will also come at an additional cost.
You are also paying for the seamstress’ time and expertise – a more experienced seamstress will likely charge more than a novice one.
This time includes taking your measurements, having consultations with you, and doing the actual work of altering your dress. Keep in mind that the more complicated your alterations are, the more time it will take and the higher the cost.
Finally, many seamstresses will include a dry cleaning service as part of their alteration package. This can be a convenient option, especially if your wedding dress needs to be cleaned anyway.
Be sure to clarify whether dry cleaning is included in the cost or if it’s an additional expense.
Some seamstresses charge a flat rate for their alteration services, while others charge a la carte. Flat rate pricing can be more convenient and easier to budget for, particularly if you only need a few small adjustments, but it may not always be the most cost-effective option for brides that need more sweeping changes.
A la carte charging allows you to pick and choose which alterations you want and can be more flexible in terms of cost.
Keep in mind that if you need your wedding dress alterations done quickly, there may be an additional rush charge. This is because the seamstress will need to prioritize your dress over their other projects and may need to work outside of their normal hours to complete it on time.
There are some geographic variations in wedding dress alteration costs, although the difference is usually not as significant for this wedding expense as it is for others (like a wedding DJ or photographer).
Typically, wedding dress alteration costs are determined by a medley of other factors, such as the complexity of the alterations, the fabric of the gown, and the level of experience of the seamstress/tailor. However, in certain cases, location can also impact the cost.
For example, wedding dress alterations may be more expensive in urban areas compared to rural areas. This is because urban areas typically have a higher cost of living, which can ultimately lead to higher prices for products and services overall, including wedding dress alterations.
However, this doesn’t mean that rural areas always have better rates for alterations, as that could vary from region to region. Make sure you shop around!
Now that you know roughly how much you should expect to spend when it comes time to alter your wedding dress, it’s time to plan ahead for the dollars and cents. Specifically, how can you include this line item in your wedding budget without breaking the bank. Here are some tips:
How to Budget for Wedding Dress Alterations
First things first, don’t scramble! Don’t wait until the last minute to start alterations and give yourself a few months instead. Planning in advance is so important if you want to avoid any unnecessary stress and last-minute fees.
As mentioned earlier, if you have to put a rush order on your wedding dress alterations, you’re going to pay a lot more for the alterations than you would if you did everything on a more gradual timeline (not to mention, you’re going to cause yourself a lot more stress!).
Ideally, you should start shopping for your wedding dress about eight to ten months before your wedding day, so you have plenty of time for alterations.
Wedding dress alterations can range from simple adjustments such as hemming or taking the dress in at the waist to complex changes such as adjusting the neckline, or adding sleeves. The more extensive the alterations, the more expensive they will be.
Because of this, you should think carefully about any potential need for alterations while you’re shopping for your wedding dress.
There are very few people who will be able to find the perfect-fitting wedding dress and won’t need alterations – to go into the dress shopping experience with the attitude that you will definitely need alternations and try to find a dress that requires the fewest alterations possible.
When shopping for a wedding dress, keep in mind that it’s much easier and less expensive to make a dress smaller than larger.
So if you find a dress you love that’s a size or two larger than you normally wear, don’t panic. A skilled seamstress can typically make adjustments to fit you perfectly. On the other hand, be cautious of dresses that are too small, since letting out the fabric can be challenging. That’s not to say that it can’t be done – it will likely just be more expensive.
It may be a bit cumbersome, but bring everything with you that you plan to wear on your wedding day to your fitting. This includes the undergarments you’ll be wearing, shoes, and any other apparel accents you may have chosen.
By doing this, you can see the whole picture and make any required changes based on the entire outfit. Without all of the accessories, the dress will not fit as expected, and you may end up with additional alterations and expenses.
When you’re searching for a seamstress for your wedding dress, make sure you ask about any and all fees that might be charged. This is especially important if you’re working with a seamstress that charges a flat fee, since this can include hidden costs.
Here are some common pitfalls:
- Fitting fees: The alteration process involves multiple fittings, and most seamstresses charge a fitting fee for each appointment. Fitting fees can range from $50 to $100 and can add up depending on how many fittings are necessary.
- Design changes: Change your mind last minute? No problem – but you’ll pay for it. On average, you can expect to pay $200 to $600 for design changes, but it all depends on the complexity of the work.
- Storage services: If your seamstress doesn’t offer storage services, you may need to incur additional costs for storage. A dress bag costs around $20 to $50, and most dry cleaners charge around $5 to $10 per month for storage.
- Rush fees: Rush fees are typically 50% or more of the regular alteration fee. Therefore you should plan ahead to avoid last-minute rush fees.
If you’ve made it through this article and are thinking, “boy! This sounds expensive. Is there anything I can do to avoid wedding dress alterations?” then the short answer is – kind of! There are certainly steps you can take to reduce costs and get a bit closer to that perfect dress without requiring alterations.
First tip – go for a corset back that allows for weight fluctuations. Wedding planning can be a stressful time, and the stress can sometimes lead to fluctuating weight. Instead of having to take your dress in or let it out, opt for a corset back.
The corset lace-up design not only adds a touch of romance to your dress but also gives you the flexibility to adjust the fit of your dress as you need it. You can also add a modesty panel to your corset back without altering the entire dress, giving you the best of both worlds.
If you’re getting your wedding dress altered to adjust the length, consider wearing heels of different heights for your wedding ceremony and reception. For the ceremony, wear higher heels to elevate your gown and make it easier to walk without stumbling on your dress. Then for the reception, switch to flats or lower heels to save cash on hem alterations (and save your feet).
Instead of altering your dress to include sleeves, consider adding a lace bolero to your look. Adding a bolero jacket not only gives you the illusion of actual sleeves but also offers you a more customizable style option.
Finally, consider dry cleaning and storing your dress yourself. Dry cleaning your dress can take a significant chunk out of your alterations budget. And between the cost of cleaning and storage, you’ll find yourself paying a pretty penny.
Most brides can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $700 for alterations, with the average cost coming in around $450.
Wedding dresses are often made of delicate fabrics that require special care and handling. Plus, they are often heavily embellished, which can make hemming a more time-consuming and intricate process.
Brides should schedule their final alteration appointment around six to eight weeks before their wedding date. This allows enough time for any necessary changes to be made without feeling rushed or stressed in the weeks leading up to the wedding.
Some brides may choose to spend thousands of dollars on a dress, while others may opt for a more affordable option. However, a good rule of thumb is to budget around 10 to 15 percent of your total wedding budget for your dress.
While wedding dress alterations can be a source of stress for many brides, they are an essential part of ensuring that your dress fits perfectly and looks beautiful on your big day.
By knowing what to expect in terms of cost and timing, you can be better prepared for the process and enjoy a stress-free wedding day.
And with so many beautiful options available at every budget, you’re sure to find a dress that makes you feel like the best and most beautiful version of yourself!
Hey there, I’m Jennifer M. Lowes, but my friends call me Jenn. Born and raised in sunny California. By day, I’m a freelance makeup artist transforming everyday people into their best selves. By night, I’m here on this blog, sharing my favorite nail designs, makeup tips, hair styling techniques, and much more.