What Is The Difference Between Wedding Dress Alterations, Modifications, and Custom Changes?

What Is The Difference Between Wedding Dress Alterations, Modifications, and Custom Changes?

What Is The Difference Between Wedding Dress Alterations, Modifications, and Custom Changes?. Mobile Image

Feb 07, 2024

If you have found your dream wedding dress, you might be wondering what happens next. Or maybe you are a bride-to-be who is just getting ready to begin wedding dress shopping and you are curious what happens after you say “yes to the dress.” Our bridal stylists at Lovella Bridal are here to guide brides in their search for their dream wedding dress and that includes what happens after you have found your dress.


At our bridal boutique, we often hear from brides who have questions about wedding dress alterations. Questions often arise as brides are trying on different wedding dresses. There might be a certain part of one dress they love, like the neckline, but maybe they also love the sleeves of another dress. They might wonder if there is a way to change certain aspects of a dress to make their dream wedding day outfit. Other brides are just not familiar with the wedding fashion world and don’t know what to expect with wedding dress alterations.


Today, we will be sharing all the inside knowledge brides need regarding wedding dress alterations, modifications, and custom changes, and the differences between all three. These terms might sound like they are all the same thing, but they are very different when it comes to communicating with your wedding dress seamstress. We’ll be sharing the differences between alterations, modifications, and custom changes so you can be prepared to know exactly what you need to make your wedding dress perfect.


VIDEO: What Is The Difference Between Wedding Dress Alterations, Modifications, and Custom Changes?


If you are a bride who has purchased your wedding dress and you are ready to begin alterations, you won't want to miss our video detailing the difference between wedding dress alterations, modifications, and custom changes. Our tips and advice will ensure you make the most of your wedding dress alterations appointments and are able to effectively communicate with your seamstress to ensure your wedding dress fits perfectly on wedding day.



Wedding Dress Alterations


One important tip that we always share with brides when they are shopping for their wedding gown is that their dress is going to most likely need some level of alterations. Nine out of ten wedding dresses require at least a little alterations to ensure a perfect fit based on a bride’s body measurements. When you order your wedding dress, this will be done based on your bust, waist, and hip measurements and what size most closely aligns to the designer’s size chart.


Some brides will be very proportional and may not need to take in their wedding dress. Many brides might need a slight alteration though to take in the bust or waist or perhaps take out the hips a bit. It’s easier to order a size up and take the fabric in versus being able to let a dress out as you might run out of fabric to work with. Let’s say you are a bride with a larger hip measurement. You would order the size dress that will accommodate your hips and then take in the rest of the body of the dress in the alterations process. The majority of brides will need at least a little bit of bodywork on their dress to make sure it properly fits. It may be a little tweak, but you should shop for your wedding dress knowing that alterations will likely need to happen.


Another common item that falls into the alterations category is the dress hem, so the length of the dress. Be sure to bring the shoes you plan to wear on your wedding day to your alterations appointment so the seamstress can ensure the proper length of your wedding dress. Again, the majority of brides will need to have their bridal dresses hemmed.


The other main item that you will see under the alterations heading is your dress bustle. A bustle is when your dress train gets picked up so you can dance and move around freely throughout the day. Wedding dress bustles are individual to each dress based on the bride’s proportions so it’s not something the dress designer can do in the manufacturing stage.


Also falling in the alterations category would be minor alterations like adjusting a strap to better fit your shoulders or hemming or taking in a sleeve to best fit your arms. Wedding dress alterations all involve taking the dress in its as-in conditions and making some changes to better fit the bride. These details above are what you will typically see included when you get a price quote from a seamstress or bridal store on alterations.


Wedding Dress Modifications


Wedding dress modifications will also happen during the alterations process, but these items are more involved than the items we discussed in the alterations section. Modifications involve things like changing the look of the dress. For example, if you purchase a strapless wedding dress that has a neckline that is just straight across but you want to change it to a sweetheart neckline. Maybe you want to lower or raise the back of your dress. Or maybe you want to add an off-the-shoulder strap to your strapless dress. All of these items would fall under the modifications category and would be priced separately from your standard wedding dress alterations.


An easy way to differentiate between wedding dress alterations and modifications is that alterations include the standard tweaks to a dress, like hems and taking in the waist, and modifications change the look of the dress. Alterations are just adjustments to the dress for the best fit whereas modifications are making changes to the existing gown design and may include creating something from scratch like a sleeve or crafting a new neckline.


Wedding Dress Customizations


The last type of changes to discuss when it comes to wedding dresses are custom changes or wedding dress customization. This involves any custom change you want to make to the dress that you are ordering from the manufacturer. Now this may involve some of the same changes you could ask for in the modification category, like changing the neckline or lowering the back, but rather than a seamstress making the changes during the alterations process, these changes are made directly through the designer before your dress order arrives at the bridal store.


Custom changes to wedding dresses done with the dress designer at the time you place your order will require an additional fee. The fee for custom changes will vary with each designer and depending on the extent of the changes. Keep in mind that you will just be envisioning what the changes will look like on your dress since there will not be a sample dress for you to try on. What you are envisioning may also be interpreted slightly differently by the designer so you do sometimes take a bit of a risk with custom changes. Sometimes it can be completely in harmony and turn out beautifully, and other times what you thought it was going to be, and what the designer did can be two completely different things and it does lead to disappointment when the bride receives her dress.


In our experience, we have also seen brides disappointed in their custom changes because for months they have been staring at photos of themselves in the dress they tried on without the changes and have gotten accustomed to the style of the sample dress. They might even fall in love with the thing they changed and then it can be a bit of a shock to try on a different dress when their order arrives in the store. We also have our fair share of brides who make custom changes and completely love their dress when it arrives, so it all depends on the bride and the dress.


Our best advice when it comes to wedding dress customization is that if you are making a lot of changes to a dress prior to purchasing it then that dress is probably not the one for you. It’s one thing to fall in love with a dress but wish it had sleeves or a strap; that’s an easy fix. It’s another thing to completely customize a dress so that it doesn’t even look like the original. You know you found the right dress when you have the least amount of changes. If you want to make a lot of changes, let’s keep looking for a dress that better fits what you are envisioning.


A better, and safer, way to give your wedding day look your own unique flair is to customize your accessories and the way you style your dress. Something like a custom sleeve or shrug can transform your dress without making crazy modifications. Adding a belt to your wedding dress or other accessories is an easy way to personalize your wedding day look and will also be more budget-friendly than custom changes.


More Helpful Wedding Dress Shopping Advice


We hope you have found this advice helpful when it comes to learning the differences between wedding dress alterations, modifications, and custom changes so you can feel confident in communicating with your bridal stylist and seamstress to ensure your dress looks and fits perfectly on your wedding day. For even more helpful advice when it comes to shopping for your dream wedding dress and finding your bridal style, be sure to check out our past posts:



About Lovella


If you're shopping for your perfect wedding dress, come visit us at Lovella Bridal in Glendale, CA. We carry wedding dresses in all sizes and styles, including plus-size bridal gowns and a full selection of veils and accessories. Lovella Bridal is the premier, luxury bridal wedding dress shopping boutique located in Los Angeles, California. Lovella features couture, feminine, modern and chic bridal gowns in all sizes from the best wedding dress designers. Schedule an appointment to find the wedding dress of your dreams at Lovella Bridal. We can't wait to help you!



About Wedding Fashion Expert


Our wedding dress shopping tips and advice are from Nayri, Lovella's own, in-house wedding fashion expert. Nayri is truly the expert when it comes to bridal fashion and wedding style. As the Wedding Fashion Expert, Nayri is the top bridal fashion stylist and the best-selling author of the book "I'm Getting Married And I Have Nothing To Wear," the ultimate guide to helping brides find their wedding day style and their perfect wedding dress. You can subscribe to her YouTube channel or listen to her podcast for more helpful and practical advice on wedding dress shopping.