One thing that seems to always be a question for many of our brides is alterations. This tends to be a topic that is overwhelming because most of us don’t really understand how the whole process works. I myself had no idea the amount of time, skill, and back crunching hours go into making these gowns the perfect fit. Because that really is what we are all attempting to achieve. The gown fitting like it was meant for you and only you.
One thing we always tell our customers when they order a gown from us is that the size we are ordering for you best suits your measurements, but will not be custom made to fit your body. This is important to understand because unfortunately our bodies are never a true perfect size. For example; my waist is a 4, my bust is a 2, and my hips are a 6. So naturally if I am going to order a dress, then I need to go with my biggest measurement and then alter the other parts that will be too big. Now from woman to woman the size numbers may change, but more than likely it is usually the same scenario and alterations will need to be utilized.
Enter Sera! Not sure if you knew this but we are the ONLY bridal boutique in the Okanagan that offers in house alterations. And I will tell you right now, that will never change. We think having a seamstress as part of the team is vital to making sure our brides, bridesmaids, mob’s, and prom gals have a dress that fits absolutely perfect. Now any of our customers are more than welcome to purchase a gown from us and then take the dress to another seamstress as is the case for many of our out of town customers.
So let’s go over the whole process, because it really is a big process. I am going to walk it through step by step using an example of a Bliss bride who we will call Trixie.
So step 1, call and make an appointment. Trixie will call and tell us she wants to set up her alteration appointments. Perfect! For bridal we book a minimum of 3 appointments (two for grad and bridesmaid). This may seem like a lot but soon you will see why.
Sera works in the store on Monday’s from 5-7 and Thursday’s from 12-7. The reason why she is only here 2 days a week is because the other 4 days she needs to work on all the gowns and then Sunday she takes a break and works in her garden. She loves her garden… that passion is lost on me.
So we would schedule Trixie 3 appointments with a two week turnover in between to make sure the work is completed. Usually we schedule our brides 6 weeks out from their wedding to start their alterations. The reason we do this is so that the final fitting is done the week before the wedding, and the week of the wedding we steam out the gown so it’s ready to walk down the aisle.
We ask our brides to bring their shoes and any undergarments they would like to wear under their gown to all of their appointments. Shoes are absolutely crucial because Sera will not cut the hem of any wedding gown without knowing the exact height of the shoes her bride is wearing. We are sticklers about this, but we feel it’s important so there is no miscommunication on heel height.
So Trixie has arrived for her first fitting, Sera will get her into the gown and help get her shoes on. She will now chat with her on what work needs to be done on the gown and then pin everything they have discussed to the right specifications. Once this is done, she will itemize everything being done to the dress on the alteration ticket and the price per item next to it.
While Sera is making her notes, I will meet Trixie in her room and help her get out of her dress that now has pins in it. Once she is dressed I will meet her at the front where Sera will have passed me the alteration ticket. I will go over with her everything that has been itemized and the price it’s going to cost. She then signs off on seeing the quote and gives us permission to go ahead and begin the work on the gown.
The discussion I have with the bride about her alterations is really important because that is the time to voice any questions or concerns she may have. This is not the time to be shy; I want to know everything you are thinking. I don’t want anyone to leave the store with questions in their heads.
The gown will then be transferred to the alteration department where it will get worked on and wait until the next time it has an appointment.
Appointment #2 is the “check the work” appointment. If a wedding gown has any beadwork, or lace appliqués that need to come off in order to be hemmed or taken in, they will not be sewn back on for this appointment. The reason they don’t put everything back is because this appointment is to check that enough fabric was hemmed or enough fabric was taken out and made smaller. That way, if the seamstresses need to go back in and alter a bit more they don’t have to take the appliqués and beadwork off again. The second appointment I feel is most important because we are able to gauge how the work is going and if any more needs to be done before putting the finishing touches back on.
And appointment #3 is essentially just to try the gown on one more time and make sure our fictitious bride Trixie is happy with the alterations!
Now of course this is just a basic rundown of how a typical alteration experience goes. Sometimes we need more than 3 appointments, sometimes we need less. However, regardless of how many appointments it takes, Sera and her team will work tirelessly until the bride is 100% happy with her gown and how it fits.