As a COVID bride, I approached the wedding dress search apprehensively, never knowing whether or not I'd actually even have a wedding, never mind find The Dress on any given shopping appointment. When I was finally able to meet with a specialist at Markarian in New York (masked, of course), the studio was closed to other customers and I didn't bring any family or friends. I was longing to try on a particular gown that I'd been eyeing and hoping to customize. Sure enough, once I was wearing it, I nodded at myself in the mirror and thought, well, this is it. Whether I walk down the aisle in 2022, 2028, or never at all, this is my wedding dress. I felt proud that in a world of so many unknowns, at least this I was sure of. Even if I ended up tying the knot in my 760-square-foot apartment with my cat as my witness, I'd be wearing this dress. I turned to the manager and asked the more pressing question: "When can I get this thing tailored?"
As it turns out, it wasn't when, but where. Due to COVID restrictions, in-house alterations were limited and Markarian recommended a second party tailoring service called Alteration Specialists. I know I'm not the only bride faced with this dilemma; there are countless reasons why someone might have to find a seamstress to work on their gown. But I was a bit wary about the process simply because bridal shopping had been complicated thus far, and the evolving virus had made scheduling and traveling all the more difficult. I had a lot of questions about what the alteration timeline might look like for me, especially since I wasn't sure if my date would be postponed again.
After I sent in my measurements to Markarian, the made-to-order dress was mailed to me to try on a few months later. Unsurprisingly, I found that I needed additional adjustments, so I brought my camera, my dress, and my mask with me to one of the three different bridal locations that Alterations Specialists operates (they also do at-home appointments if you're in the area!). I was curious about the same things you probably are if you've read this far: how many times would I need to come in? How much could my body change before the eventual wedding? How long does an appointment take? And by the way, I already bought the dress, so what additional cost am I looking at here? Thankfully, the team at Alteration Specialists — and specifically the garment maker I worked with, Diana Buendia — put me at ease as soon as I walked through the door. Read on to get a rundown of what the experience might look like for you before you make an appointment with an expert, too.
Wedding Dress Alterations Cost
Firstly, it's important for me to mention that in the case of Alteration Specialists, you feel like you're getting your money's worth as soon as you enter the atelier. From the backlit mirrors with tech advancements, so you can adjust the brightness, to the platforms set up near the dressing rooms, the atmosphere feels luxurious. There's also a spacious waiting room with fashion coffee table books and additional floor-to-ceiling mirrors so that you can put on a show for any guests you might bring along, pending COVID restrictions. Pricing is based upon request and depends on the complexity of the job at hand. My gown, made of satin, is decidedly simple and needed to be tweaked at the waist, along the side, and under the bust. I also brought in a second dress that I plan to wear for my reception, which needed to be shortened by a few inches and taken in under the arms. The total for these two jobs, which took about an hour to determine including the time it took for me to get changed, was right around $700. Of course, prices may vary depending on where you go, where you live, and what your dress(es) looks like.
Wedding Dress Alterations Schedule
At Alteration Specialists, the team recommends three separate fittings, unless your dress needs more work or is extremely intricate. One of those fittings will happen the day of pick-up, just to make sure everything feels right. As a bride, it's your choice to add in as many fittings as you feel are necessary throughout the months leading up to your wedding or event. Of course, the more work you request to be done, the higher you'll ring up the bill. I settled for three and scheduled my first appointment six months out from the planned wedding date, second appointment three months out, and final appointment week-of. The team will work with you to help you figure out your own best course of action.
Wedding Dress Alterations Near You
Not in the New York City area? No problem. I've done the research to provide you with some companies that offer the same services as Alteration Specialists in several major cities, and you can drop me a line if you know of any others that are missing from this list.
- Chicago, IL: Arthur + Lucca, Weddings 826Dallas, TX: Altered For the Altar
Denver, CO: The Wedding Seamstress
Las Vegas, NV: Bridal XOXO
Los Angeles, CA: Marin Tailor
Miami, FL: Lady Blue
Seattle, WA: Lani's Tailor and Atelier
Washington, D.C.: BeFitted Tailoring Co.