Every wedding dress needs a tweak or two or more, so find an alterations specialist right away | Weddings

Size up — but not too much

When choosing a dress, make sure it fits your biggest area. For some, that may be the hips and for others the bust or the waist. The rest can be taken in. Otherwise, if a dress needs to be expanded, there may not be enough fabric to let out. That could mean ordering more material, and some designers don’t sell their fabric. Many brides also arrive with a dress that is three or four sizes too large, which creates extra work, which ups the bill.

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Consider the labor involved

Every dress alteration involves five or more hours of labor. Hemming a puffy dress or ballroom gown takes more time than a sheath. Beading and lace must be carefully taken apart to make alterations and then put back together again. “It’s very time-consuming,” Pollens says. The industry standard is to charge by the hour.

Budget for the final bill

The average alteration runs between $450 and $680, Pollens says. But it can go much higher. She has had some brides buy a $3,000 designer dress, and then use only the skirt or top. If they ask Pollens to create something different, it can run as much as $2,000. For one bride who wanted a new skirt, she used lace from the original to create a veil. On the opposite end, adjusting a bust can start around $90.

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