The Wedding Diaries
Part 7
2024-05-27 13:17:00 -0500

Dear Wedding Diary,

I once read that a fully altered wedding dress will be the most comfortable and well-fitting piece of clothing I’ll ever own. I sincerely hope that’s true, but judging based off the social media and TV shows I’ve seen, those dresses can still be uncomfortable.

So finally, about four months before the wedding, it became time for me to begin the alterations for my own dress. I ordered the dress in November of last year, so I’ve been waiting nervously for the time for me to begin this process, only trying the dress on a few times to ease my nerves by ensuring it still fits.

I may be an amateur seamstress, but I certainly don’t trust myself to do my own alterations. I knew I’d need to get the dress hemmed, the sleeves shortened with the buttons moved up, and attach a belt, but something on the chest/bust area needed to be changed, because there was too much fabric around the bust area. So, I went hunting for a solid alterations shop.

I started online. I found several options with positive Yelp reviews, and called a few. Because there were so many options, I removed any shop that didn’t answer my call or call me back within 24 open hours. I also looked specifically for shops that mention formal dresses or wedding gowns.

I ended up visiting four shops to get price quotes. The first, a shop about 8 miles away from my home, estimated the alterations at about $400, but the thing that concerned me was that they didn’t have me try the dress on, so they could really only guess the details of what would need to be done. They were also a bit curt and it seemed like they sort of wanted me to get out of the shop as fast as possible.

The second shop, about 25 miles away from me (a little bit of a drive), estimated about $385. This seemed reasonable. The folks were nice, and had me try the dress on to help demonstrate what they could do about the bust area. I also had heard positive reviews from them from a few people, so that’s optimistic.

The third shop, about 8.5 miles away from me, and specifically a bridal alterations shop, estimated about $550. They, again, were friendly and had me try the dress on.

And the fourth shop, was the same shop where I actually purchased the dress. I made an appointment online, and I think they thought I actually wanted to begin and do the pinning and leave the dress there, versus just trying it on and getting a price quote; they had to grab the manager and make some changes in the online system. The language barrier between us didn’t help. But, that’s not a huge deal.

But here’s the biggest problem—they couldn’t give an exact price quote for everything that needed to be done! They said they could do everything for $800!!!! To clarify, the dress itself was only $500, so for $800, I might as well just have them make a custom dress for me that doesn’t need so much work. Before I left, they asked me if I wanted to make another appointment to officially come back to begin. I told them that I’d call if I need anything else.

This obscene pricing (all the other shops could give me very specific pricing for each item required), in addition to a shoe order fiasco (I ordered a pair of shoes, somehow it got messed up in the system and was never ordered, and then six weeks later, was told that to re-order them, would take another six weeks to arrive), makes me hesitant to be purchasing much else from them in the next few months.

I ended up going back to the shop 25 miles away from me. It was a hefty drive to make it to my first appointment (I think a lot of people were doing Friday afternoon travel to cabins), but I felt very optimistic as they started pinning the dress. It suddenly went from too baggy on my upper body to feeling like it was an external skin… fitting so perfectly around me. For the longest time, the dress was so long that it was hard to imagine myself walking in it, and after they pinned the hem, it really started to feel like my wedding dress.

I am still nervous about the outcomes. They have to take in fabric on the upper body in so many little places, and once they raise the shoulders, they need to make the underarm area bigger. I’m worried the tiny little train I asked for will feel a little too long or a little too short. I’m nervous that I’ll gain or lose 10 pounds, and that could make all the difference in whether I can sit down or not. But for the first time, I feel like there’s a chance that this dress will truly make me feel like a bride.

We also decided to take the fiancè’s suit jacket into a closer tailor. They plan to take the back in a bit, which will hopefully make it more fitted around his waist. I am optimistic those changes will change his suit from a common, everyday suit to a more professional, custom look.