Wedding Dress Fitting 101

Wedding Dress Fitting 101

Alright, so you’ve found your wedding gown. Kudos to you! Finding the perfect wedding dress to fit your style, personality, wedding locale and budget is not an easy thing. Often, the dress is the hardest piece of the wedding puzzle and brides agonize over this purchase for months, sometimes even years. So, congratulations on checking that one off the list.

But it’s not over just yet. Sure, you’ve purchased the gown and ordered the size, but now you are eagerly awaiting your first fitting. And that’s when the panic usually sets in.

Your first fitting shouldn’t be stressful, but it often is. Why? Brides tend to either forget what their dress looked like to begin with (and so they doubt their choice) or it’s a weight issue (have I gained, or have I lost?) or it’s just general anxiety over “Did I make the right decision?” thoughts.

So, let’s put some of those restless thoughts to rest right now.

First and foremost: Do not order your wedding dress a few sizes smaller than you normally wear on the street. Wedding dresses are made small. Generally, wedding dress sizes run 2-3 sizes larger than you would normally wear. So, if you’re a size 4 and you’re told you need a size 7 wedding gown, now is not the time to become an anorexic, nor is it wise to order your gown in a size 4 because that’s what you always wear. This will only end in disaster. No one is looking at the size tag of your wedding gown, what they will be looking at is how you can’t breathe or sit down because you ordered a gown that was clearly too small.

Ordering a gown a few sizes smaller than you should to prompt yourself to work out and lose weight is also a poor judgment call. Women often feel they need motivation to lose weight, and I have to agree. A big event, a pair of jeans we’ve been dying to get back into, a sickness we want to overcome… I get it, I really do. But stressing yourself out over a gown you know you won’t fit into unless you lose 20 lbs in 11 months is not going to make your wedding planning and prepping any easier.

Remember: Fabric can be taken away, but it’s much harder to add fabric (and sometimes impossible).

Order your dress in your gown size (which will be larger than normal) and if you happen to lose a few inches then that’s fantastic and the dress can be adjusted as needed in the follow-up fittings. Now, about those follow-up fittings:

Seamstresses can be pushy. It’s not a universal fact, but it seems to generally be the case. They know their trade and you don’t, therefore if they tell you something needs to be pinned, sewn or hemmed, you generally listen. Well, in this case you shouldn’t. How do you feel? How do you look? Can you move? Can you breathe? Can you walk?

Move around the fitting room in your dress. Bend down, sit down, dance; make sure you can do all the things you are going to be doing on your wedding day. Standing still and twirling isn’t the only thing you’ll have to do on your big day (unfortunately). And if a seamstress pins something that hinders your movement, tell her. There are always other solutions to adjustments, and they can be found.

Remember to bring your wedding shoes. Brides often leave their shoes as the last purchase. This isn’t always wise and the dress needs to work with the shoes. It is, after all, an ensemble, and the clothes must work together to make you the beautiful bride you were meant to be. So, bring the shoes to every fitting and make sure you can walk. If you can, test out stairs as well as carpet and tiled flooring. Really road-test your dress, you’re going to be wearing it for a very long day.

Wedding underwear is also good to have with you. Don’t laugh, it’s true. Do you plan on wearing a special bra? Strapless? Crossback? Will you wear stockings? Boxers (it might happen)? A slip? Try and have as much of your entire wedding day outfit with you for the fitting as you can. Why is this important? Well, imagine for a moment if you will that your seamstress brings in the bust of your dress because you have a strapless and have done all your fittings sans bra. Then, on your wedding day you break out your fancy new strapless bra with padding to give your girls a wedding-day oomph. With the bra on and the girls up, your dress no longer zips up. Major panic. Don’t let this happen. Have your dress fitted with everything you plan to wear under it.

Lastly, bring someone with you. At least one set of extra eyes will do the trick: mother, sister, best friend, MOH, bridesmaid, brother; anyone who you think will give you an honest opinion. This isn’t a “purchase the dress” trip, so you don’t need an entire entourage. What you need is someone who will tell you if you’re popping out somewhere or the dress is hanging strangely in the back where you can’t see it. Bring someone you trust, and someone who knows your style. The seamstress is a salesperson and won’t always give you honest feedback. They’ve done thousands of gowns like yours and they don’t have time to be picky with your details, which is why you have to realize what you need changed (with the help of a buddy) to tell them what to do precisely.

The fitting of your gown is, perhaps, just as important as finding the right wedding dress. Don’t push it aside as an expensive wedding extra you really don’t have to do. The fitting will make your wedding dress the gorgeous gown it was meant to be.

Photo: Michael Francis Photography

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