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Category Archives: Seamstress / Alterations

Even More Frequently Asked Wedding Dress Questions

Every day when we go into the store we are asked any number of wedding dress questions that we realize has been asked several times. We did a  “What Do I Do If?” blog not too long ago and thought we would do another with a few more questions!

How many sizes can a dress be taken in?

This is very tricky and there is no one answer for this question. I personally have seen a size 12 strapless ballgown taken down to a size 0. Would I ever recommend this? Never. The bride who took the chance on this fell in love with a dress that was discontinued and it was her only option. She found one of our amazing seamstresses who worked with her and made this dress perfect!

Having said that we would not recommend sizing a dress down more than two sizes. This depends if it can even be done at all. If a dress has sleeves, a high mesh back, or ornate beading, this is definitely on a case by case basis meeting directly with a seamstress who sees you in the dress.

In many cases it can be done, but there are always costs associated and should be considered carefully. Perhaps ordering a new dress in your size would be less expensive than a sample needing a great deal of work.

How many sizes can a dress be let out?

Again there are a number of answers to this however we start by explaining something called seam allowance. Seam allowance is the extra fabric available inside a dress where the seams are sewn together. Sometimes you are able to get as much as an inch out of each seam allowance, other times there is nothing to use.

There is another option called a gusset. A gusset is when fabric is added to the same and can widen the dress significantly, but it will add another seam.

The lace up back is an option when asked the wedding dress questions of how to make a dress bigger
Lace up back

And finally an option is to remove the zipper and make the dress into a lace up back. We have done this a number of times when a bride and/or bridesmaid is pregnant and needs extra room.

What is a bustle and how much does it cost?

A bustle for your wedding dress is when hooks and or buttons are added to the back of your skirt to pull the train up to floor length. This is done prior to your reception so you are able to dance and move about without tripping on your train.

Bustles are typically not expensive, however depending on the length of your train, the fullness of your skirt, and how many hooks/buttons you will need factors into the cost. There are always multiple ways to do a bustle and your seamstress can show you those and price them out with you. However to give an answer, a one hook or button bustle can be s little as $30 when having your dress alterations and pressing done together!

What size do I choose if I measure between sizes?

It is definitely rare that a bride measures to a perfect size on a size chart. When we take measurements we then look at the designers sizing and put much thought into what size to get. Some things to consider are the largest measurement you have and the style of the dress.

Let’s say you fall in love with a mermaid dress. Mermaid dresses fit tight all over. If your largest measurement is your hip, then that is the size you need to order and here is why. When you have a dress that is tight on your hips you must be able to stand without it wrinkling and pulling, as well as sit down. Trying to let a mermaid dress out to fit the hip is not advised. Can it be done? Probably, however fit the hip in an instance like this.

How/where to measure for a dress
How to measure bust/waist/hip

Now if your largest measurement is your hip and you choose an A-line or a ball gown, you may not necessarily need to order for that measurement. There are any number of scenarios when it comes to measuring and your dress size and our stylists will explain and best advise you.

I am going to lose weight, can I order a smaller size?

It only takes one time where this goes wrong for us to say absolutely not. The best way to handle this is to wait until much closer to the wedding, get remeasured, and then order the size you are fitting into.

Our store refuses to order a size that a bride hopes to be. We will advise to order the size that you measure to that day, and if you lose you can take in. If you don’t lose, the dress will fit. Either way it works. Or better yet, come back closer to the wedding date when we must place the order and we can remeasure then. We will never order dresses too small in the hopes that a bride will lose weight and fit in it. It does not motivate anyone, it is an enormous stress knowing it won’t fit.

How should I hem my dress if I want to wear heels for the ceremony and flats for the reception?

This is another one of the wedding dress questions we get asked. When you him the dress ideally it should just skim the floor. You don’t want to trip down the aisle for sure! And if you are wearing heels it will skim the floor wearing those. If you take them off it will be too long. So what do you do?

The first thing we advise is to reconsider! Perhaps a comfortable pair of wedges would work for both the ceremony and reception, or a lower heel would work for both as well. If a bride is intent on two very different heel heights and one dress, we advise choosing one length, end it will usually be to make sure you do not trip walking down the aisle. Your first look and family photos will be taken before the ceremony and therefore the dress length will look best hemmed to the higher heel shoe.

Sure your dress will be too long at the reception and the bottom will get dirty, but that is what cleaning and preservation is for! You will be dancing the night away and will simply need to be careful in your dress that may be a tad too long.

Have wedding dress questions for us? Text us at 215-491-8500 and we will answer right away! For a great dress shopping experience and sound, honest advice, make you appointment here!

About the author: Wendy Ianieri-Salerno is co-founder and co-owner of Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo, now in its eighth year in business. In that time the store has grown from a small bridal boutique to a full-service bridal store serving not only Bucks County, PA but the surrounding counties and even border states. With the customer experience in mind, Wendy steers the company by offering the best designers and wedding attire while creating a caring, family atmosphere. A life-long Bucks County native, she currently resides in Warrington with her husband and co-founder/co-owner Franco Salerno, and their two daughters for whom the store was named, Daria and Deanna.

What Do I Do If… Q&As

We get so many questions last minute when plans or details change, especially in the age of Covid. Call these some frequently asked “What do I do if” questions specific to these times!

The most frequently asked question over the last 14 or so months has been, without a doubt, “I have gained weight, what do I do?”

The pandemic has coined not only the term “mimimony“, but also borrowed a phrase from the well-known “Freshman 15” (which describes the 15 pounds that freshman typically gain during their first year in college). We now have the “COVID-19”. When everything was closed – including and especially gyms – weight gains were rampant. Everyone stayed home and the result was a more “sedentary lifestyle” …

So what do you do if you have gained weight? If you have rented a tuxedo, you can simply come back and get remeasured! Not a big deal for the tuxedo. It can be a bit more complicated when it comes to a wedding dress.

We have had brides do their try ons and their dress fit beautifully, but their wedding was then postponed and when they tried it back on it did not fit. We would then get frantic phone calls asking what to do. Some would say they wanted to exchange for a larger size, which is not usually possible unless they are swapping with the sample in the store. Wedding dresses are not returnable and therefore not exchangeable. The chances of swapping with the sample are slim, because the sample size would need to fit you better than the one you purchased – but it has happened and we have done it!

Perhaps you ordered your dress and it hasn’t come in yet, but you know yoursize has changed. When your dress comes in, tell us you think your size has changed! Don’t be afraid to come in and try on, it may not be as bad as you think and that way you can be prepared for any adjustments! We are happy to take new measurements in case that will help put your mind at ease.

Depending on how much the size has changed, there is an option to do a lace up back where the zipper is removed and loops and a ribbon are added to the back. It will accommodate several sizes in the waist and bust area, and there are many dresses that are designed that way already!

What do I do? Wedding dress with a lace up back that is a great option when your dress is too small
Example of a wedding dress with the zipper removed and loops and ribbon added

If your dress happens to be fitted in the hips and you can no longer sit down or move in it, there is an option to let out a bit or add fabric to the side seams. Some of these alterations can get costly and stressful and there are times when it is simply in a bride’s best interest to purchase another dress that fits and sell the one that no longer does.

Our seamstresses do everything they can to make dresses fit perfectly. The advice we have is to discuss the options calmly and make a plan from there. Understand you are not the only one in this position.

It is the same thing with bridesmaids. We have had parties where maids have all gained some weight. Several have swapped dresses while others have had to order new ones completely.

Another question is “What do I do if my dress arrived, but my wedding was postponed 12 months?”

Bridal stores have different policies, some depending on the size of the store, some depending on business practices. Our policy is that we require the dress to be tried on and taken from the store when it arrives. Storing wedding dresses is very difficult for us, due to space restrictions, as we learned through the pandemic. Dresses that were in the store during our lock down made brides panic that they would never get them. Dresses that were on order that couldn’t be shipped to our store during lock down made brides panic. When lock down was lifted and the shipping started, we had hundreds of dresses arrive but not the space to store all of them! We do not want this kind of situation again, and the best way to make sure it doesn’t happen is to have brides in possession of their wedding dress as soon as possible.

If your dress arrives and your wedding is postponed. You should still come in, try your dress on, make sure that you know what alterations will be needed, assuming your size stays the same, and take it home with you. Any accessories will be included with the dress and should be kept together.

Dresses can be stored in our gown bags in a closet or lying flat under a bed, (assuming there are no animals in the home of course!) with no issues. Do not store a dress in a damp basement or in direct sunlight. Do not allow a dress to hang by its straps or sleeves, make sure it is hung up by the sewn in hanger straps. This way there will be no stretching of the sleeve and the integrity of the fabric and/or beading will remain perfectly intact.

How about, “I already bought my dress but I have changed my venue and I want a different dress, what do I do?” This is a very unfortunate circumstance. Once your dress is ordered, there is no stopping it. We cannot change the style, size, nor color, what you ordered and what was confirmed is what is coming in. Changing a venue does not allow us to change your dress with the designer.

Our advice is to choose the venue first. If you think there is a chance you may change it, do not order your dress. Bridal stores are not responsible for changes like this, so make sure you understand when you sign for a dress, that is your dress. If you decide you need a different one, you can sell the one you have and purchase a different one, but there are no exchanges or refunds.

If you find yourself in a position thinking “What do I do?” – reach out to us! We can help answer any of your questions and help lower your stress level 🙂 Whatever your situation, we are here to help as best we can!

About the author: Wendy Ianieri-Salerno is co-founder and co-owner of Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo, now in its eighth year in business. In that time the store has grown from a small bridal boutique to a full-service bridal store serving not only Bucks County, PA but the surrounding counties and even border states. With the customer experience in mind, Wendy steers the company by offering the best designers and wedding attire while creating a caring, family atmosphere. A life-long Bucks County native, she currently resides in Warrington with her husband and co-founder/co-owner Franco Salerno, and their two daughters for whom the store was named, Daria and Deanna.

What Is A Wedding Dress “Bustle”?

Put simply, your wedding dress bustle is when the beautiful train of your dress is buttoned up to floor length when you enter your reception. This is done so you can dance and move about freely without it getting stuck or caught, or stepped on!

In our bridal appointments we often have girls ask, “How does this dress bustle?” Depending on the dress, the fabric, the length of the train, etc., there are a number of different ways to do this.

This is a very important part of your dress alterations because for your entire reception the back of the dress will be pulled up and secured. It may be fastened by hooks/eyes, buttons, ribbons, or a combination of them.

Many bustles look beautiful when done properly, but others can look messy or even fall out if done incorrectly. You must know what your options are when having your final fittings done.

Let’s look at the different types!

Over bustle done two ways as shown, lower at the flare of skirt and higher up at the waist

The most common is the the ‘over bustle’. This one will use hooks or buttons either at the waist line of the dress or at the start of the skirt flare on a fitted dress. Depending on the length of your train and fullness of the skirt, you may only need one hook or button, or you may need many to keep it up and floor length the whole way around.

Ballgown with over bustle at waistline
Over bustle on a plain skirt where hooks are visible when train is fanned is not advised

Next is the French bustle. This is buttoned underneath forming “pick ups” or tiers to the skirt. It also should be done when the skirt is plain, satin, silk, crepe, etc., or the button/hook will be visible on the outside of the skirt. (See photo above.)

French bustle buttoning underneath for beautiful tiers and volume on A-line or ballgown
5-point bustle on a mermaid dress

Watch this quick and informative Bustle video by our own Suzanne who will illustrate and explain these two further!

You can also skip the buttoning altogether and use a wrist loop as the bustle. This is simply a band around your wrist that holds your train up as you twirl the night away! This works best on simple trains, chapel or sweep length, and fewer layers.

Wrist loop simply goes around your wrist to hold up the train

Lastly, if you are not a fan of the train or bustling concept, consider buying a dress with a short (or no) train or have it altered to floor length. Add a dramatic cathedral or royal length veil to give you the incredible drama for the aisle walk and photos, and remove it for the reception! No extra buttoning or hooking needed! See photo below:

When you say yes to your dress, make sure you know your bustle options! Your stylist will show you the various ways and your seamstress will pin them so you can see before committing to the one you want!

The Seamstress

The dress of your dreams can turn into the stuff of nightmares with the wrong Seamstress.  Read on for tips to ensure your spot-on, perfectly-fitted dress!

In the weeks leading up to your wedding day, you will be meeting with your seamstress for any necessary alterations to make your gown fit like a glove.  These can be anything from a hem, bustle, take in, let out, and strap adjustments, to additional work to personalize your dress such as sewing in a handkerchief or other sentimental piece, adding buttons, changing the neckline shape, and more.

Some bridal stores charge a flat fee.  This is okay if you need lots of work done and multiple fittings, but definitely not great if you only need a few  changes.

Whatever alterations your wedding dress requires, there are some very important things to do prior to starting them.

  1. First fitting.  Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo recommends scheduling this 4-5 weeks before your wedding because you are closest to your wedding shape and weight.  You will put your dress on and consult with the seamstress on adjustments.  The communication must be clear and you must feel confident that she cares about you.  She will pin areas where the work will be done.  Also, bring your shoes for hemming and bustling purposes.
  2. Find out an estimate of costs prior to having the work done.  Hemming dresses with numerous layers, doing beadwork, removing/replacing appliques, these can add up so find out approximate cost first.  (If your bridal store charges a flat fee, reconfirm there are no additional fees involved.)
  3. If you feel like that particular seamstress is not a good fit for you, find another one.  Recommendations from other brides, community groups, and online searches/reviews can lead you to another who may provide you the peace of mind and confidence required.
  4. At your last fitting, make sure to take someone along for bustle instructions.  The bustle is the lifting of the train of your gown (using buttons or hooks) that is done prior to the reception, allowing you to dance and move about without stepping on your train.  You may even want to take a video of it, just in case a few glasses of champagne get in the way of remembering…

An idea to consider is to schedule your hair/make up trial just before your fitting, so you can see your look come together!

Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo has trusted and experienced seamstresses doing fittings both in-store and in-studio.  We also have relationships with numerous others who may be more of a fit for difficult schedules, locations, etc.

In addition, we work with bridal vendors who will do custom sizing, changes, petite cuts,  custom lengths, and various other changes directly to your dress as it is being made and this can lead to real savings in your alterations costs.

The outstanding women we work with – our bridal consultants and our seamstress partners – are committed to making your dress perfect so you feel beautiful and confident on one of the most special days of your life.  From the dressing room to the aisle, make your bridal appointment with us, find your dream dress, and let us take 5-star care of you.