For every Bride that walks out of our doors with their dream dress, I can guarantee you, they all ask the same questions regarding alterations.
"What will the bustle look like?"
"Can they take the sides in/out?"
"Can they make by boobs look bigger?"
"Can they alter this in 2 weeks?"
The list of questions is so long, that we've actually decided to create an "Alterations Bible" at our store to show Brides some of the more common alterations.
However, finding your gown and then thinking of alterations is a little stressful. Altering a wedding dress is an art, and a dying one at that. Just because your grandma has hemmed some pants for you, certainly doesn't mean she's qualified to do wedding dress alterations, or even provide insight on to how it will be done. There are professionals out there that spend years perfecting their craft, and guess what, they make you pay for it. Like, a LOT. It's expensive because it is an art form that is dying out. Thus, less seamstresses out there with the time to do wedding alterations.
That being said, there are two forms of alterations offered by bridal boutiques - in-house, or referred-out. To do in-house alterations requires a pretty big space for a sewing room and storage, and at least 1 full-time seamstress. Less and less you will find boutiques offering alterations because it is hard to find seamstresses to hire.
We are the latter, and refer-out alterations to experts in our area. And I want to spend some time on this point.
When we opened our doors, a lot of research was done in determining who we would partner with for referring our Brides to get their alterations done. We landed on two - Tina's Alterations in Dilworth and Dulce Alterations in Gastonia. I personally visited about 10 locations to "interview" them and look at their work before deciding who we would refer to. Getting proper alterations is literally magical for the final look on the Bride. And although we are not responsible for alterations, we want the best for our Brides.
As consultants, we also are looked at as semi-experts in alterations because we spend all day with wedding dresses. Consultants should have some basic knowledge on common alterations like raising the hem, shortening straps, adding cups, bustling, lettting a dress out, etc, and can provide a price range that is directionally accurate. The difficult part is depending on the seamstress availability, prices may fluctuate. The most popular months to get married are October to January, which means busy season for alterations is usually August through December. So if you are looking to get your alterations done during this time, you will probably be paying a higher price.
Our suggestion is, budget between $150-$400 for alterations depending on what needs to be completed, and plan on visiting the seamstress no less than 2 months before your wedding (and most of the time appointments are required). We refer out only 2 seamstresses because after doing research, we know that they have the best track records around. We don't get kickbacks or a percentage of the alterations, we refer them because they are the best.
Whether you buy your gown from Savvy Bride or a different boutique, trust whomever the boutique recommends as far as alterations. As boutiques, we know that alterations is a specialized field, and we want all of our brides 100% happy, so we won't steer you wrong. But just note - only a professional seamstress trained in bridal wear can tell you 100% whether the alterations you want are doable or not, and how much they will cost. So if there are any concerns regarding alterations, ask to talk to the seamstress before purchasing the gown. We do this all the time - so Brides feel confident walking out the door.
Remember, we all love Grandma, but if she offers to handle your alterations "for free", don't be surprised if it ends up costing you twice as much to fix it!