Wedding gown alterations

Wedding Gown Alterations: Where to Go in New Jersey

One of the most exciting parts of getting married is finding your perfect gown. You’ve researched the different types of silhouettes, stalked your favorite designers, tried on a variety of styles, and finally found “the one.” But one detail you may not have considered—or budgeted for—is wedding gown alterations. Even the best fitting dress may need a bit of tweaking to ensure it fits like a glove. The costs involved with these “tweaks,” however, may be shockingly high, so it’s important to know what fixes may be needed along with your options on where to have them done.

Costs will be influenced by a variety of factors such as complexity of the work, type of fabric, how fast you need it, and whether you work with a private seamstress or a bridal salon. Basic adjustments such as hemming and taking in the bodice can range from $80 to $600, while more extensive modifications, such as reshaping the silhouette or intricate beadwork adjustments, can quickly add up to $1,000 or more. As crazy as it sounds, it’s not uncommon for some brides to spend as much on alterations as they did for their actual gown. So it pays to do your research, understand the complexity of alterations required for your specific gown, and to know your options about where to go.

Common Wedding Gown Alterations

It helps to understand the different kinds of alterations that may be needed so that you’re not shocked when it comes time for your fitting. If you thought you could easily add beading, take in the bodice two sizes and remove sleeves when you initially purchased your gown, you may be surprised at how quickly these changes can add up.

  • Shortening or lengthening hems. This is one of the most common alterations brides opt for. Whether you’ve chosen a voluminous ballgown, a sleek sheath lace gown or a tea-length design, hemming ensures that the length is just right for your height. The hem may have many layers. Often, there is a petticoat, lining and self layer. Sometimes the hem may have a lace scallop edging, crinoline edging or other details. The majority of dresses need re-hemming. But a hem may not always be a simple fix if your gown has a lace border at the bottom or multiple layers of fabric or tulle. It’s essential to bring your wedding shoes to the fitting to achieve the perfect hem.
  • Taking in or letting out. Perfectly tailored dresses are often a bit snug or slightly loose, depending on body changes or weight fluctuations. Taking in or letting out the gown can provide the ideal fit, ensuring you feel comfortable and confident on your big day. This can be done from the top to the waist/hips or all the way down to the hem (to reshape at the hips). It can also be taken in or let out from the center back, which may affect a zipper, buttons and loops, or a lace-up.
  • Lifting from the straps/shoulders. Sometimes, if the dress is too long in the body, lifting from the straps may be needed.
  • Bustle addition. Bustles are added to wedding gowns to enable the bride to dance or to move around freely without worrying that it will get trodden on and ruined. There are various bustle styles to choose from, so consult with your seamstress to find the one that complements your gown. Also make sure that either your maid of honor, mom or other close friend or relative knows how the bustle works so they can adjust on your wedding day.
  • Bust cups. Bust cups are sometimes used when a bra isn’t suitable or the chest of the dress is too loose.
  • Strap or sleeve adjustments. If your gown has straps or sleeves, alterations can be made to ensure they sit perfectly on your shoulders or arms. This can involve shortening, lengthening or even changing the style altogether. Some brides may also remove the sleeves— or add to gowns that didn’t originally have them.
  • Re-styling. Neckline change, skirt re-shaping, removal of layers, removal or adding of sleeves, shortening shoulders, shortening sleeves from the shoulders, etc..
  • Adding embellishments. Adding diamanté or beading to wedding dress or accessories or veils.
  • Repairs. Fixing stitching that has come undone, delicate lace that has torn, beads that have fallen off, replacing/repairing zippers.
  • Replacing buttons. Changing buttons to different type, size, shape or color.
Wedding gown seamstress

Tips on Working with Your Seamstress

Collaborating with a skilled seamstress is a crucial step in ensuring your wedding gown fits flawlessly on your big day. Here are some tips for a smooth experience:

  1. Schedule your fitting. Begin by scheduling your fittings well in advance, allowing ample time for any adjustments. Two to three months before your wedding date is a good time to start.
  2. Communication. Clearly communicate your vision, preferences and concerns during the initial consultation, sharing details about the desired fit, any specific changes and your overall comfort. 
  3. Don’t take it in too much. Make sure you can not only breathe in your gown but also sit down. You don’t want your gown to be so tight that it’s restrictive.
  4. Advice. Be open to the seamstress’s suggestions, as their expertise can guide you toward the most flattering alterations. 
  5. Accessories. Remember to bring your wedding shoes and undergarments to fittings, ensuring the hem and overall fit are perfect. 
  6. Multiple visits. Attend multiple fittings to address any necessary tweaks and guarantee the gown feels comfortable and looks stunning. 
  7. Speak up. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification during the process—effective communication is key. And speak up if there’s ANYTHING you’re not comfortable with. You don’t want to be second guessing anything about your gown when you finally bring it home.
Luxury wedding gowns at Elizabeth Johns in Morristown, NJ.

Where to Have Wedding Gown Alterations Done

Bridal salons often charge premium prices for alterations, while independent seamstresses may offer more competitive rates. But there are pros and cons to working with both. 


Bridal Salons

Bridal salons often offer in-house alteration services, providing convenience and a seamless process. The professionals at these salons are well-versed in the intricacies of wedding gown alterations, and they may have a better understanding of the specific details and fabrics used in their gowns. In many cases, brides have developed a relationship with their bridal salon so it only makes sense to complete the alterations process with a salon associate who has been with you every step of the way.

Pros

  • Expertise. In-house seamstresses at bridal salons specialize in wedding gowns, possessing an in-depth understanding of the unique fabrics, embellishments and designs. Their expertise can ensure a flawless alteration process.
  • Convenience. Having alterations done in-house is convenient, as it eliminates the need for you to coordinate with an external tailor. The entire process, from the initial fitting to the final adjustments, can be seamlessly managed in one location with many storing your completed gown until the week of your wedding.
  • Familiarity with your specific gown and designer. In-house seamstresses are familiar with the specific designs and details of the gowns carried by the bridal salon. This familiarity can contribute to a smoother and more accurate alteration process. And in the event that a mistake is made, the dress wasn’t made properly or more fabric is needed, your in-house seamstress and salon will have a direct line to your gown designer.

Cons

  • Potentially higher costs. While the convenience of in-house alterations is undeniable, it can come with a higher price tag. Some bridal salons may charge more for alterations than independent tailors or seamstresses.
  • Limited options. Choosing in-house alterations means limiting your options to the services provided by the bridal salon. If you have a specific alteration in mind that the salon does not offer, you may need to seek an external professional.
  • Scheduling challenges. Bridal salons are often busy, especially during peak wedding seasons. Scheduling fittings and alterations may be challenging due to the salon’s availability, potentially leading to a time crunch.

Local Seamstresses

Many brides opt for local tailors or seamstresses to handle their wedding gown alterations. This can be a cost-effective option, and you may already have a trusted professional in your community. Ensure the tailor has experience working with bridal gowns and ask to see examples of their previous work.

Pros

  • Personalized experience. An independent seamstress for your wedding gown alterations can offer a personalized and attentive experience. These one-on-one consultations ensure your vision is understood and executed flawlessly.
  • Available appointments. There’s typically greater flexibility in scheduling your fitting with a local seamstress who can accommodate your timeline with ease, especially for last-minute issues.
  • Highly skilled. Seamstresses who own their own businesses are highly skilled and typically have decades of experience.
  • Lower costs. Many local tailors and seamstresses are more cost-effective compared to bridal boutiques. 

Cons

  • Storage. If you’re not having your gown altered at your bridal salon, you’ll need to pick it up as soon as it comes in versus the salon storing your gown until it’s time for your fitting. Make sure you have a safe place to store. And once your gown alterations are complete, you’ll need to pick up and store at home versus a salon that may safely store for you until the week of your wedding.
  • Less room for error. If mistakes are made or extra fabric is needed, they don’t have a relationship with or access to your gown designer.
  • Have they worked on wedding gowns? They may be a great seamstress but not as experienced with wedding gowns and intricate laces, fabrics and beading. Ask to see examples of their bridal work.
Wedding gowns at White House Bride in Whitehouse Station, NJ

Local Seamstresses

So if you decide to go the independent seamstress route, here’s a list of professionals throughout the state who have received high praise from current brides in my private Facebook group. When contacting them, inquire about rates, availability, payment methods accepted, and whether appointments are required.


New York City

Venchy Couture, 265 W 37th St Suite 306, New York, New York; 347-294-0098. High-end quality dressmaking, tailoring and alterations for wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, moms’ gowns and more. All prices are listed on their website, so you can see rates before you call. For example, very reasonable wedding-gown hem rates range from $80 to $350. Great option if you live or work in Manhattan. They also design and make custom gowns.


North Jersey

Abby’s Sew Right, 1925 Greenwood Lake, Hewitt. 973-506-6200. On-premises alterations and tailoring of wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, moms’ gowns. They can customize your dress or turn into a christening gown. They also offer professional gown cleaning and preservation.

Allys Bridal, 636 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey; 201-217-9711. Allys specializes in alterations for bridal gowns and wedding-related dresses. See their Instagram @Allysbridal for reviews, photos of previous work, and to book an appointment.

Arlene’s Bridal Salon, 606 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield, New Jersey; 973-743-9056. This full-service bridal gown salon also offers expert alteration services by the most seasoned bridal seamstresses for wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, moms’ gowns. They recommend two to three months from the time of your first fitting to your last as an ideal timeline to make all the alterations. Bridesmaid dresses will take a shorter amount of time. There it no set number of how many fittings you will need—they will work with you until you have a perfect fit. All alterations are done on premises with standard pricing. They also offer cleaning and preservation services.

Brielle’s Bridal, 123 Sussex Road, Bergenfield, New Jersey; 201-665-8893. Brielle’s specializes in custom-made gowns and expert alterations for wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, moms’ gowns and more. By appointment only.

Enelda’s Happy Brides, 3 Center St, Sparta Township, New Jersey; 973-729-0408. Enelda’s is a full-service bridal boutique that first began as a small home tailoring business 35 years ago designing custom wedding gowns for local clients. Along with offering a line of bridal wear and tuxedos, they also offer tailoring services.

Fit N Fashion Tailors, 39 W. Pleasant Ave, Maywood, New Jersey; 201-843-7443. Their master tailors have more than 45 years of experience and offer special tailoring for bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, moms’ gowns and more. They also offer gown cleaning and preservation. Personal fittings and consultations are available by appointment or walk-ins.

Humble Thread, 160 Woodport Rd, Sparta Township, New Jersey; 973-726-3400. Tailoring for wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses and more, all at reasonable prices.

JAZ Designs, 86 Park Avenue, Madison, New Jersey; 973-714-1052. Wedding gown alterations, headpieces, custom gowns, bridesmaid, mothers’ and flower girls. 

Lingerie and Bridal by Lisa, 190 Rt. 10 West, Hanover, New Jersey. 973-299-1110. Lingerie and Bridal by Lisa offers custom alteration services done in-house by Lisa herself, who has been designing gowns for more than 30 years. She will assist you in making changes while keeping your original design and give personal alterations to ensure a perfect fit for your special day. She also offers professional gown cleaning, lingerie, wedding gowns and accessories.

Moline-Kronberg Dry Cleaners, 225 Lorraine Ave, Upper Montclair, New Jersey; 973-744-6482. As a full-service garment care specialist, Moline-Kronberg offers the finest in tailoring and alterations, and are bridal-gown experts. They also offer gown restoration, cleaning and preservation services.

Sandra Elizabeth Diaz Bridal, 27 Chestnut Avenue, Summit, New Jersey; 347-251-7423. Sandra Elizabeth Diaz is a full-service alteration specialist and custom design atelier. Services offered include alterations of wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, mothers’ gowns, custom design consultation and bridal dressing. They also offer bridal accessories such as headpieces, tiaras and bridal belts. They recommend to have your first fitting six to eight weeks prior to your wedding date. If your dress needs customizations, then three months prior is recommended. Brides can book up to a year in advance to ensure calendar availability.

Sue’s Custom Sewing, 160 Ticonderoga Terrace, Wayne, New Jersey; 973-333-1168. Sue Weisberger has been sewing since she was 11 years old and is an expert seamstress and tailor. She works on wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, moms’ gowns and more. Text is best to make an appointment.

Tailoring by Ken & Pinar, 77 Union Place, Summit, New Jersey; 908-277-3844. For 38 years, Ken & Pinar have been providing all kinds of high-quality tailoring including wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, moms’ gowns and more. They also make custom wedding gowns either from your own unique design or by mixing and matching pieces from more than 1,000 styles in their wedding gown catalog. It takes four to six weeks to finish a gown with an average of two fittings. Turnaround time for alterations is about 10 days.

Vesa Brides, 408 Bloomfield Avenue, 2nd Floor, Suite G/H, Montclair, New Jersey; 973-798-2562. Vesa Brides is a wedding-gown salon that offers in-house alterations for Vesa clients as well as for brides who did not purchase their gown at the shop on an as-available basis. Be sure to make all appointments in advance—once they book up, they stop taking outside clients.


Central Jersey

Belsy’s Tailoring, 35 Main Street, High Bridge, New Jersey.908-638-6531. Wedding gowns, bridesmaid and moms’ dresses, tuxedos. Cash only.

Gianna Scanelli Bridal, 555 Newman Springs Road, Floor 2, Lincroft, New Jersey. This full-service bridal salon also offers alteration services for both wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses not purchased in-house. There is a pinning fee of $50 for an alterations quote that is waived if you follow through with alterations. On average, bridesmaids spend between $150-$450 here and brides spend between $300-$850 all depending on how much work needs to be done to the dress. Costs may be more or less depending on the labor that needs to be done. They recommend booking at least five weeks before your event. By appointment only.

Lydia’s Magic Touch, 1061 NJ-34, Matawan; 732-566-0101. This full-service tailor and designer of custom garments is an expert with wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, moms’ gowns and more. She gets high reviews for quality work at reasonable prices and is on the recommended seamstress list of local bridal salons.

One Special Evening by Linda, 1875 Hooper Avenue, Toms River; 732-255-4040. This former wedding gown salon that has served Ocean County for more than 30 years is now focusing solely on alterations. By appointment only.

Silvia’s Tailoring, 415 Main St, Metuchen, New Jersey; 732-321-0080. Silvia’s offers extensive alteration services for all bridal fashions, French bustles, veil creations, bridesmaid and flower-girl dresses, fluffing services (pressing and steaming before wear), and heirloom services (cleaning and museum-quality boxing after wear). By appointment only.

Zatsarina Bridal Fashion, 116 Chestnut Street, Suite 104, Red Bank, New Jersey; 732-383-7223. They specialize in wedding-dress alterations custom wedding dress design bridesmaid dresses and mothers of the bride dresses. They also create their own line of wedding gowns. By appointment only.


South Jersey

Elena’s Alterations, 311 Echelon Road, Voorhees, New Jersey; 856-770-0322 or elena.ny2021@gmail.com. Also works at Aleana’s Bridal as primary seamstress. Highly talented. Wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, moms’ gowns and more.

Nailes Tailoring & Alterations, 113 Haddon Ave, Haddon Township, New Jersey; 856-854-0198. Alterations for wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, moms’ gowns and more.

Al & Bruna Tailoring & Dressmaking, 11 S Maple Avenue, Marlton, New Jersey; 856-983-0409. Alterations for wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, moms’ gowns and more. Known for reasonable prices.

For any great seamstresses not on this list that you’d highly recommend, please contact me at molly@weddingfile.com and I’ll add them.

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