A professional tailor or seamstress can help when a wedding dress isn’t perfect. Pros can adjust the overall fit, add a bustle, change or remove the straps, fix the hem, attach bra cups, add embellishments, or redesign it entirely. Wedding dress tailors are equipped to work with lace, embroidery, beading, appliques, crystals, sequins and long trains and most can take on any level of complexity. Several factors affect the cost of wedding dress alterations.
Wedding dress specialists often charge an hourly rate for all their services, and some use their hourly rate as a gauge to provide cost estimates for alterations. Rates can vary greatly, depending on experience, level of training, expertise working with bridal wear, reputation, location and other factors. An alteration specialist who has successfully reworked thousands of dresses may charge a higher hourly rate than someone with less experience. Here are two examples of hourly rates:
Alterations from Edward Sylvia in Bronx, New York: $20 per hour
- Consultations and measuring from The Seamstress in Bellevue, Washington: $40 per hour
Details and Layers
The number of layers a dress has, the type and quantity of embellishments such as pearls or sequins, and any unique alteration requests all affect the cost of alterations. A ruffled gown with many layers will cost much more than a sheath gown. Unique touches such as horsehair braid stiffening the hem or beaded lace also have high prices. Simpler dresses and alteration needs cost less.
Edward Sylvia charges the following rates for common bridal gown alterations. All of these estimates are based on his $20 per hour rate:
Taking in the waist of a dress: $30–$125
- Range reflects variances in the cut, fabric, lining, boning and other details
Average dress hem: $40–$60 per layer of fabric
- Approximate cost to hand finish the hem of a chiffon gown: $100
Most seamstresses and tailors request photos or a video of clients wearing their dress to help with a free estimate of what an alteration might cost. Bashert Designs in Teaneck, New Jersey—a company that has custom-sewn over 1,300 bridal gowns—provides free in-person consultations to determine alteration costs.
Pressing and steaming
Professionals can press and steam wedding dresses after alterations are complete. Don’t assume this will be included free of charge with alterations, however. This service can cost $25– $100 or more, depending on the provider’s policies and the delicacy and complexity of the gown.
Plan ahead if you need wedding dress alterations. Many tailors and seamstresses require multiple fittings to complete alterations, and rush orders will have an additional fee.
Bring your wedding shoes to your alteration meetings so the seamstress can hem your dress to the proper length.
- If you’re in between sizes, always buy the bigger dress. It’s much easier to tailor a dress to a smaller size than vice versa.