It seems the word alteration brings about the most stress, emotion and frustration to any wedding. Brides spend countless hours concerned on looking perfect on their wedding day. I wonder if the entire bridal industry has lost the meaning of alteration. The root of alteration comes from the word alter. In the late 14 century the meaning of “action of altering” came from the French word altération. In the 15 century modern Latin used alterationem from alterare meaning “change in character or appearance” circa 1530. In 1901 the standard english dictionary defined it for the clothing industry as that of “change in ready-made clothes to suit a customer’s specification” (Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper). It seems today’s brides are reverting back to the modern Latin alterare to “change in character or appearance” – but what are they changing?
A marriage proposal is one of the most honest expressions of love. It’s that moment in time when one person could never imagine being with someone more physically, emotionally and mentally beautiful. I get perplexed when brides more than strive to loose weight for their wedding date. When they find a radical fitness regiment that will “overhaul” their body. I’ve worked in the fashion industry for 22 years. I won’t begin to act naive concerning the body image my industry blankets over every form of social media. I do question what part of a marriage proposal I’ve misunderstood. Why would a bride want to change in character or appearance what their fiancé has found to be the most magnificent person on this world?
Are we spending more time trying to find the perfect wedding dress for a bride that doesn’t exist rather finding the perfect dress for the bride that is looking?
It’s become an odd custom in a bride’s journey to find her perfect wedding dress to be asked over and over again, “how much weight was she planning on loosing before her wedding?”. This custom reinforces the paradigm that just maybe, the bride can improve herself for her fiancé. I had the privilege of making a wedding dress for a bride that told a Toronto Bridal Studio, “she was not planning on loosing weight and had a bucket of KFC chicken waiting in the car.”. The journey to finding the perfect dress is already daunting. Mass produced wedding dresses fill bridal studios that provide an endless rolling rack of options. Are we spending more time trying to find the perfect wedding dress for a bride that doesn’t exist rather finding the perfect dress for the bride that is looking? It seems finding the perfect wedding dress is a little like playing Russian roulette. The manufactures of wedding dresses do their best to adhere to standard industry sizing. They work effortlessly to ensure an adherence to reproducing wedding dress samples in mass production. Ordering a wedding dress for a future state person is a gamble that can lead to a lot of unnecessary headaches.
A wedding dress has two jobs. It needs to make a bride feel like an absolute princess. It needs to make a bride feel as comfortable as a princess. Alterations should celebrate every curve on a bride’s body from size 6 to 22. Alterations should ensure the wedding dress provides support to allow a bride to do everything and more on her wedding day without having to fuss with the fit of her dress. Alterations need to eliminate the crazy idea that spanks, special bras/underwear and even secondary corsets are needed. The Bridal Association of America reports the average cost of a wedding dress is 1505$ based on 2006 data. Using the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, the average price in 2014 is 1725$. At this price, a bride should have the option to wear her wedding dress all day long in absolute comfort. A bride should never be meant to feel a second dress is required at the reception because the alterations won’t make it comfortable enough to enjoy throughout her wedding day. It’s like buying a brand new car and being told you need to also buy a horse to help the engine move it. I’ve worked hard over 22 years as a fashion designer, learning from a lot of mistakes to ensure brides my alterations make them look like a princess and feel as comfortable as one without the requirement of a scuba suit (my personal pet name for spanks, special bras/underwear and secondary corsets). I’m more than a seamstress. I’m a specialist that earns a brides trust. When alterations are done for the right reason, anyone looks fabulous! Talent aside, equipment means a lot. There is only so much a Sears sowing machine can handle. Wedding dresses have become elaborate. They have become multi layered. Manufacturing techniques have improved producing detailed woven crystal beaded/embroidered lace. My studio has the industrial equipment that makes any alteration possible.
Alterations need to eliminate the crazy idea that spanks, special bras/underwear and even secondary corsets are needed.
I’m asked several times a year, “Do I mind making alterations to wedding dresses that are purchased outside of my studio? You are a Designer and create your own wedding dresses.”. The answer is simple and sincere – No, I don’t mind. I’m lucky to have found a career where I can sincerely make someone happy. Watching a bride smile from ear to ear because she feels beautiful makes it all worth while. The time I have available to outside alterations is directly dependent on my own work. My customers come first in my schedule. I’ve never charged to alter anything I’ve designed and created. My schedule always has open time for my clients. I firmly believe it is my responsibility and mine alone to ensure my designs fit comfortably and properly to the customers that purchase them. It’s as simple as that. When I have time available, I gladly help out with outside purchased alterations.
When should you book your alterations? As soon as you know you need them regardless of your wedding date. We wish we can provide detailed one on one attention to each bride on last minute requests but we can’t. Booking your alteration lets any fashion designer, seamstress or tailor the opportunity to set aside the time required to look after your alteration. It is far more important to call ahead if you want to work with your top two choices otherwise, you’ll have to settle for who ever has the time available to take on your alteration.
Weddings are expensive. No one will argue this. I offer brides a Disney like experience where sometimes, dreams do come true. Each year, I get excited to be given a few challenges that allow me to tare apart a wedding dress that was bought on an incredible sale and transform it into a wedding dress that overwhelms the needs and wants of a bride. There are times when brides can find a wedding dress that is on a drastic rock bottom discount price. I’ll be the first to point out these sale prices don’t even cover the cost of the fabric. I encourage brides to check out these sales and focus on the fabric and not the style. Altering these wedding dresses allows brides to save an incredible amount of their bridal budget while getting a custom made wedding dress that fits like a glove. Now ladies, let’s understand one very important point about an incredible sale price wedding dress. If you purchase a crazy sale price wedding dress that is more than 4 times your size up or down, don’t be misled that your sale price dress can be altered to fit you without loosing its original shape and design. There is just too much being altered to fit you. The design of the wedding dress will change. This change is dependent on how the sale price wedding dress was constructed in the first place. The better it was constructed, the less change to its original design BUT, even the best constructed dresses will change their design shape. Now, I do have one caveat to this statement. Yes, a size 16 dress can be altered to fit a size 6 with retaining 100% of its original shape however, this process is very cost prohibitive. Or, in-other-words, its just too expensive. To keep 100% of the shape in an extreme alteration, the wedding dress needs to be deconstructed and each panel needs to be recut than all the panels need to be resown into a wedding dress. So yes, you can retain 100% of the shape but, are you willing to pay for the process?
I offer a final alteration service that looks after the family heritage. Wedding dress styles come and go and come back again. I’ve helped where brides want to wear their Grandmother, Mother or Aunt’s wedding dress but the style is not theirs. I can reduce the family wedding dress to basic fabric and than make the bride a new dress using the fabric from the family wedding dress. This allows a bride to incorporate a special wedding dress from a family member while getting a wedding dress that fits their personal style. It’s a tear moving experience watching a bride walk down the isle knowing a loved family members wedding dress is the fabric that has made their custom dress and now comforts them on their wedding day.
Weddings are a celebration of two people falling madly in love for who they are and not who they will become. Never let your alteration make you feel uncomfortable. Alterations MUST enhance a person’s body and spirit. They should never cover up either of them. Never change in character or appearance who you were when your fiancé proposed.