Visiting a Bridal Shop
It goes without saying that every dress needs alterations. Not one woman is the same shape, so it will always take a few tweaks here and there to get everything perfect. For example, if you’ve got a large bust and narrow waist, your dress is going to have to be fitted more precisely to your frame.
Alterations can be as simple as taking in the waist a bit and shortening the hem, or as detailed as shortening the sleeves, taking in the bodice, or adding lace and beads. You will probably have at least two or three fittings, which you’ll schedule with the stockist when you purchase your dress; more may be necessary, so leave ample time before the wedding.
Your first fitting usually takes place about six weeks before your wedding day. Just as when you were shopping, it’s a good idea to bring one like-minded friend or family member along for advice (too many people will only confuse things). Before you go, decide which accessories you want to wear with your dress, and buy or order them so you can bring them along and see how everything looks together.
For your purposes, the first fitting is to ensure two main things: that your gown is the right size, colour, and design (neckline, train, sleeves and so on); and that the person from the shop looking after you (we’ll call her the ‘Seamstress’ for arguments sake) knows what she’s doing. A Seamstress will most likely have an assistant (who could be the shop salesperson or a simply another member of staff) who helps you get into your gown. The seamstress should then begin looking for places where your dress needs to be taken in, let out, shortened, lengthened or otherwise altered – hence the term ‘fitting’!
Getting a feel (for the dress)…
While she (or he) is busy fitting your wedding dress, take a close look at the way the material falls, how the waist feels, how the chest area fits, and so on. Is there any funny puckering, bunching or bulging? Look closely at the stitching, embroidery, or beading. Does everything seem well sewn? Look in the three-way mirrors to view all angles, and ask “Does my bum look big in this?” of course! Speak up if you see anything you don’t like – or forever hold your peace. This is your time to be demanding.
The Seamstress should be able to tell you why each problem exists, and what can be done to fix it. Don’t expect miracles, however, as there may be certain circumstances that simply aren’t possible. This is why trying on the dress is so important: you’ll get a really good idea of what you will have for the big day. But you are also paying lots of money for this gown, and it is your prerogative to have as many fittings as it takes to get the perfect fit. Oh, and on that note, don’t forget to schedule your next fitting before you leave the shop!
Your second fitting should take place about a month before your wedding. Bring along your foundation garments, bridal shoes, jewellery, and any accessories you plan to wear on your big day. And if you’re not quite sure which accessories to wear, bring along a Polaroid camera as well, so you can see how each option looks with your dress.
In addition, you’ll want to make sure all your concerns from the first fitting have been addressed and fixed. Then start walking around the shop. Can you move comfortably in your gown? Does it stay in one place as you move? Is there any obvious wrinkling, bunching or pulling of material? If you have a full-length dress, you’ll also want to make sure your hem skims the tops of your wedding shoes.
Once again, don’t be afraid to speak up if you see something that doesn’t look right. If there is a problem, continue to schedule fittings until you are completely satisfied.
When the day of your final fitting arrives, if appropriate (and if they haven’t seen it yet), get your chief bridesmaid and mum to come along so they can learn about your dress. Does it need bustling? If so – ask the assistant to teach them how to do it. Does it have complicated straps or buttons? Ditto. Also, now’s the time to find out how to get rid of last-minute wrinkles (in your dress, not your face!) – should you use an iron? On what setting? Is steaming a better option? And what if you spill something on the gown? Are there certain products you should/shouldn’t use?
When your final fitting is complete, schedule a date and time within two weeks of your wedding to pick up your gown. When that day arrives, try your gown on one last time, especially if it’s been a while since your last fitting. We all know the ways stress affects out appetites, and you don’t want any last minute surprises.