You’ve picked out the perfect wedding dress and now you’re wondering how much it will cost for alterations. It may seem like every time you turn around, there’s another wedding cost to budget. I’m here to help you make sense of the typical cost of wedding dress alterations so you can budget accordingly.
In this blog post, we’re answering the big question: how much do wedding dress alterations cost? This inquiry was sent in by Rory who is planning her wedding.
“Dear Emmaline, I recently bought my wedding dress and I’m planning to get it altered. I’m wondering, how much do alterations typically cost for wedding dresses? I called around to two places and I’m not sure if the prices are just higher due to the busy wedding season or if that’s the average cost of wedding dress alterations. What is a good range?”
Great question, Rory!
What is the Average Cost of Wedding Dress Alterations
On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $750 on wedding dress alterations. If you’re planning a full customization, expect to pay more; to alter a wedding dress with minimal changes, expect to pay at the lower end of the national average.
The cost to alter a wedding dress is directly proportional to the number of services you require. For instance, if you are simply hemming the dress or having it taken in on the sides, you won’t need to spend as much as a bride who is adding sleeves to the wedding dress, customizing the train, adding a bustle, or attempting to add heirloom lace from her mother’s gown in the detail.
As you can see in this example, a wedding dress alteration is time-consuming, and most charge by the hour; if cost is an issue, eliminate the need for adjustments by choosing a simpler gown when you start shopping for wedding dresses.
Here is a chart to answer how much wedding dress alterations typically cost, although your rate may vary.
|Average Cost of Wedding Dress Alterations
|How Much to Spend
|$200 to $600
What do alterations cost on average per hour?
As a rule of thumb, most seamstresses or tailors charge, on average, $35 to $50 per hour depending on the alterations needed.
How many bridal gown alterations will I need?
In addition to when should I get my wedding dress altered, many brides need to know how many fittings they will need to schedule ahead.
As a general rule, most brides will require three total wedding dress alterations or fittings. These will occur 2 to 3 months ahead of your wedding date.
Cost to Alter a Wedding Dress
What do wedding dress alterations typically cost? It varies. Your wedding dress alterations may cost significantly more or less than a friend’s, based on these characteristics.
For this estimate, I spoke with a friend of mine who is skilled in the art of alterations. She gave me a general idea of how much alterations cost for particular wedding dress needs like taking in or taking out the dress, adding sleeves, removing or shortening the train, beading, and more. I hope these average costs will help you decide the best place for your alterations to get taken care of.
These pricing estimates are a general guide of what typical alterations cost and the price may vary depending on your location and what your seamstress will charge. You may want to call ahead to request pricing or book an appointment to get an estimate.
|Type of Alteration
|Take In or Take Out the Dress
|Add Bra Cups
|Change the Hem
|Add Long Sleeves
|Add Short Sleeves or Cap Sleeves
|Add Wedding Dress Straps
|Replace the Zipper with Classic Buttons
The Number of Fittings
Most brides will require 2 fittings, but some may need 3. If you need more fittings, the cost of wedding dress alterations will be more.
Items Being Added or Removed
Simply put, the more items you need to alter will result in a higher cost. If you don’t wish to alter the dress at all but simply hem it a bit, you won’t spend as much as another bride who wishes to add sleeves, remove a train, take in the seams, and add straps.
The more things you alter, the higher the cost to do it due to labor and materials.
If you book alteration services during peak wedding season, expect to pay more because services are at a premium.
Furthermore, if you wait too long to have alterations on your dress, you’ll need to pay express service costs in order to get it in time for the wedding. Yikes: take care of alterations as soon as possible to avoid the stress. :)
When should alterations be done?
You should aim to have your wedding dress altered no later than 3 months before the wedding. There is typically a final dress fitting the week before the wedding to ensure it is perfect, and you’ll want to stay on that timeline for the best results.
Here’s a good schedule to follow:
|# of Fitting
|When to Schedule Alterations
|4 months Before Wedding
|6 Weeks Before Wedding
|1-2 Weeks Before Wedding
How long do wedding gown alterations typically take?
Don’t expect to drop off your dress and get it back right away.
Wedding dress alterations will likely take at least 3 months during the peak seasonal months: May through September. You will need to schedule the fittings as early as possible to get on the tailor’s calendar in a timely fashion.
Do you tip for wedding dress alterations?
A tip is not mandatory for alterations. However, if the tailor or seamstress went above and beyond, a 15% gratuity is an appropriate amount to tip.
What costs less: getting a dress altered to be taken in vs. taken out?
It is significantly more expensive to get a wedding dress taken out than taken in. If the wedding dress is too small, it may be able to be altered but that’s not a guarantee. A dress that is too large is much easier to have taken in, so keep that in mind when you shop.
What to wear to your dress fitting
When you go to your fitting, don’t forget to bring the following items with your wedding dress.
Pick out the most comfortable wedding shoes you can and be sure to bring them with you to the fitting. The height of the heel — or lack thereof — will be a big factor when your seamstress is hemming the length of the gown.
– Undergarments + Shapewear
The foundation of your gown is just as important as the wedding dress itself. Your undergarments and shapewear will provide a nice foundation onto which your wedding dress will be worn. This is important to wear under the gown as it is fitted, just as you would on the wedding day. If you need suggestions, read: This is the Best Bridal Shapewear for Your Wedding Dress.
If you’re wearing a veil or a veil alternative, bring it with you to the fittings. Your wedding dress alterations may need to take the length of the veil or style into consideration when making adjustments.
– Bridal Purse and Jewelry
If you have a wedding clutch and bridal jewelry, bring it wth you to the fittings so you can get a proper overall look of you in the dress with your accessories and jewelry ahead of the wedding day.
Get the best price: It is best to contact two or three companies to get your best price and inquire about the waitlist. By doing so, you’ll get the most bang for your alteration budget.
Tips before you do wedding dress alterations
1. Choose a dress that won’t require too many alterations.
It’s easier said than done, but if you pick a wedding gown that won’t need too many things changed on it, you’ll spend less overall.
If you start changing everything about the dress in your mind, it may not be the right dress for you. It will cost less to choose the wedding gown you like vs. paying for wedding dress alterations to turn it into an entirely different style.
Also, if your dress will need to be bustled, it is a good idea to keep the cost of it in your budget so you can plan accordingly.
2. Ask about payment before you commit.
Some places require full payment up front while others require the payment at your final fitting. Make sure you’re staying on budget and you know how much the alterations will cost and when payment is due.
3. Avoid rush fees.
Book your appointments as early as possible once you have your wedding dress so you can avoid costly rush fees.
4. Read reviews.
On the fence about a particular tailor or seamstress? Read online reviews to see what other customers think before you commit to choosing them for your wedding dress alterations.
And there you have it: pretty easy! The cost of alterations isn’t rocket science but it certainly is a good thing to know in order to budget properly.
I hope this article helps you determine how much your wedding dress alterations typically cost and how much you’ll need to allocate in the budget. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!
Many thanks to Rory for writing!