Something to consider when purchasing a gown off the rack or choosing a size to order from a commercial designer: how drastically can gowns be altered to be a totally different size?
What do you do if your dress is too big?
Taking a gown one to two sizes down is pretty common, and should still keep the integrity of the original design fairly easily. Of course, the closer to your actual size the better; you’ll save money in alterations, and the gown will look best when it is closest to how it was designed. But if you have fallen in love with a sample gown multiple sizes too large, a talented tailor can often work wonders to reshape the dress. Do keep in mind the time spent to do so will be extensive and therefore expensive, and it may not be possible to keep specific details of the gown. If you're saving a significant amount on the sample gown, and love the fabric and the bones of the dress, this can be worth it, but generally it is not advised.
Most people won't fit the standard measurements of any gown perfectly, and it is easier to take in than let out, so always go with the larger size if you find yourself split between two. Though there may be some exceptions—if your hips fall into a larger size than your bust and waist fall into, but the gown is cut far away from the hips, it may be best to size the gown to the bodice measurements. Always consult with your stylist when ordering as they will generally have more familiarity with the fit of the gown.
Many brides plan to lose weight or get more in shape for their wedding day, but this is very difficult to account for when ordering a gown. You of course know your body and your habits best, so if you feel confident you will fit a certain size in six months that is your decision to order for the expected size. However, it's often very difficult to know where the weight loss or sizing will occur—it’s often not where a bride is expecting it from! Most brides will lose some weight during the process whether they are trying to or not, due to the stress, but it's generally an amount that can be accounted for in alterations. **If you are pregnant or will recently have had a baby before the wedding, consult with your stylist and tailor for sizing concerns before ordering.**
What do you do if your dress is too small?
This is a trickier problem, but not necessarily impossible to deal with. Some dresses will have extra seam allowance and can comfortably be let out a size without any structural changes. Much more than that and your tailor has to get creative. Almost nothing is impossible, but expect to pay for the extensive time it will need, and be open to some design changes. We have lowered the backs of gowns, opened armholes, installed corset backs, and made discreet side panels for many brides, and would be happy to discuss options with you if this is your situation.