When I was planning my wedding last year, I found that my experience as a Virginia wedding photographer was both a blessing and a curse. A curse because I’ve seen so many gorgeous weddings and great ideas that it was hard to distill down what I wanted. But a blessing because I pick up so many tips and tricks from planners and fellow brides. My wedding dress fitting experience was one such time that I appreciated that gleaned wisdom.
Usually I only had my mom with me at my fittings. Sometimes I went alone. It was helpful for me to know how I felt in the dress both with my Mom’s opinion and just my own discernment. But ultimately, there are a few things I recommend doing/paying attention to at your wedding dress fitting so that your alterations result in the perfect, most comfortable version of your dress!
Your tailor should be telling you this anyway. But you’ll notice there’s a step or pedestal for you to stand on in your fitting room. Don’t stand on it. Not yet. Standing on it will elongate your dress which may look very flattering in the mirror. But it doesn’t give you a realistic idea of your dress length.
Instead, stand on the level ground. Let your tailor come in and see just how much fabric is laying on the floor, so they can measure to cut it back. If you’re going the traditional look, you want your dress hem to just barely *kiss* the floor in the front — enough to cover your feet but not so much that you’re going to trip.
If you have a train, the back will remain long… don’t worry! Alterations are a process and you should be able to trust your tailor to hem or cut back the front of your dress gradually into the train so you still get the drama without a puddle of fabric to trip on.
(Note: after measurements are taken, your tailor may ask you to step up on the pedestal so they can more easily make cuts. At this point it’s ok to do so. Just don’t start out on the pedestal.)
I cannot stress this enough. Your shoes MUST be picked out before you begin hemming your dress. The heel height, even in a pair of flats, will matter so much in making sure you won’t trip on your gown. If you wear shoes that are shorter than your wedding pair, you’ll end up with a too-short gown, exposing your toes or even ankles. If you wear shoes higher than your wedding pair, your gown will be too long and you may trip.
Pick out your wedding shoes, and wear it to every single wedding dress fitting appointment so you can check and recheck the length.
Bonus, wearing your wedding dress shoes during these sometimes very long appointments helps you break them in before the big day!
Hopefully you also did the sit test before choosing your gown. But if you are wearing a dress that has any sort of fitted part to it from the waist down, sitting will only tighten the fabric around you. You want to make sure you test sitting down before and after alterations so you can let your tailor know whether things need to be taken in more to avoid bunching or let out more to give you more room to breathe.
Remember, you will be sitting for at least an hour during your reception. It may be the only time you get to relax, so make sure you’re comfortable.
If your dress has even a little flow, test out what your twirl will look like both unbustled and bustled! Unbustled twirls may happen during portraits, so take a look at how those look in the mirror. And bustled twirls may happen at your First Dance or Father Daughter Dance! This is a fun one, so it’s ok to feel cheesy and smile or giggle through it. You deserve this princess moment!
“Bustle” refers to the way the wedding dress train is pinned up to shorten the length of the back of your dress. It’s usually done so you can dance and walk around without the weight and tripping hazard of your wedding train. Your tailor will likely plan the bustle closer to your final fitting. Pay attention to where she is placing the loops and buttons or pins.
Bring your mom or maid of honor to this appointment so they can also learn how to bustle your dress! Some bustles are more complex than others. So don’t skip this step. You may even want to record a video of your tailor explaining how to do it.
I found it super helpful when I brought my jewelry, hair pieces, and veil to my wedding dress fitting. Especially the last one. When my tailor was finished pinning me up, I put on everything to see how it all looked together. Luckily I loved it all. But this is your opportunity to make any last minute changes before you realize too late that maybe some pieces just don’t “go” together like you initially thought. Take the extra minute for yourself. Get your mom’s opinion if you have her there. Or look for yourself. Do you still love how your veil matches your dress? Are they the same shade of white? Do your earrings and necklace work together? Bracelet? Or no bracelet?
Doing all these things at my own wedding dress fitting appointments made me fall even deeper in love with my dress. It’s so easy to get stuck in Pinterest and Instagram swooning over other dresses. But giving my dress this kind of attention made me feel so beautiful on my wedding day. Truly, there was no other dress for me.
If this was helpful and you are looking for more wedding planning tips, check out the below posts next!
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