In the 40 years I have been in Couture Design and have completed many tasks in alterations of Bridal Gowns, Formals, these are my recommendations for every Bride to follow. Whether or purchase is off the rack, or requiring "special order" all gowns are going to need some minor adjustments. These guidelines are important:
1. Remember, your dress will take 6-9 months to special order. For example, if you are planning your wedding for July, 2012, you are all ready TOO LATE to special order your gown. Arrivals for these orders are going to be early 2013. Check with your bridal salon as these dates may vary but don't expect it to arrive any earlier and you will have to compromise and buy off the rack.
2. Once you choose and pay for your dress..the Consultant will take your measurements(I have 40 years experience doing this!), or if they have an Alterations Department, they will to it.
3. Your measurements will be as follows- Underarm measurements, natural bustline, under the bustline, natural waistline, natural hip measurement(widest) part. They will also take measurements from end of the shoulder to the wrist(especially if the dress has sleeves). To get the correct length especially for lace gowns and you are a petite woman(under 5'4"), a "hallow to hem" measurement is always taken. This is done from the hallow part of the neck with the measuring tape following naturally to the floor, with your SHOES ON IN THE LENGTH YOU PLAN TO WEAR WITH YOUR DRESS.
4. Your measurements are compared with the size chart prepared with the Bridal designer you chose as they are all different. If you fall in between two sizes the larger dress size is ordered, or the largest part of your body measurements determines the size! You cannot guess as these measurements because your dress will not fit when it arrives!
5. Expect to pay additional costs for the above. Each designer determines their own and there is no negotiation on "how much". It takes extra time to make the dress especially for you,and many times it's going to cost less than having it altered professionally when it arrives. No matter how it is, Bridal Alterations are going to cost.
In Part 4, We will discuss more about Bridal Alterations!