How Long Does it Take to Alter a Wedding Dress?

One of the first questions we get from almost every bride is “how long does it take to alter a wedding gown?” 

The simple answer is three months.

The long answer is that it really depends on a variety of details: 

  1. The style of gown

  2. The complication of alterations

  3. The degree of changes to be made

  4. The type of materials (beading and lace detailing can be more time-consuming)

  5. Your work schedule and planned trips (we can't fit the gown if you aren't in town!)

  6. Any planned changes in diet or fitness habits

  7. Any customized elements desired

  8. Pregnancy—please contact us if you are pregnant or have recently been pregnant so we can discuss an ideal time to start the fitting process.

Most dresses could technically be altered within 24 hrs, but this is not ideal; you don't want rushed work, and neither do we. We have made some exceptions for brides with emergency situations. To minimize the occurrence, we have to charge a rush fee for any alterations needed to be done in less than six weeks, and we ask that you email or call us to check that we will be able to accommodate your rushed schedule. This also usually means there won't be time to make detailed adjustments, though we will always do our best in the time allowed.

If you're planning on making major alterations and adding bespoke details, such as illusion necklines, custom sleeves, drastically changed skirt silhouettes, or having lace and appliquéd detailing added, we ask that you schedule your initial fitting a full three months (or earlier) before you'll need the gown in your hands. Again, a variety of elements factor in, but if we will need to order custom fabrics or lace we need to allow several weeks for shipping as well. 

At your initial fitting we'll schedule your second and third fittings. For unusually extensive work we may ask for four fittings. The second fitting will generally be scheduled for a month before the big day, and your final will be one to two weeks before the wedding. At the second fitting all alterations discussed in the initial fitting will be altered but not completely trimmed and strongly stitched so that we may make slight adjustments without damaging the fabric. We will pin a bustle then as well, as the hem will be approximately correct, and you're welcome to try on accessories to get the overall feel of your big day. We are happy to help you choose some of our jewelry and veils as well. 

If you are planning to change your diet, medication, or exercise habits before the wedding, your body will most likely change as well. It should maybe go without saying, but we have encountered this on several occasions, so it's worth repeating; planned bodily plastic surgery is highly unadvised less than 6 months before the wedding. Bodies can take several months to stabilize after surgery and will be difficult to tailor to. Bridal gowns are tailored much more precisely than probably anything you have ever worn, so this will affect the tailoring. Therefore, we at Ette ask that you make any changes several months before your initial fitting so your body can stabilize and we can make the most accurate alterations possible. Believe us, we want you to look as perfect as possible on your big day too. And remember—your fiancé fell in love with you just as you are!