If you are a bride who has already purchased your dream wedding dress, you may be wondering what comes next and what happens during the bridal dress alterations process. One of the most common wedding dress alterations questions we hear at Lovella Bridal is what length a wedding dress should be hemmed to. Hemming a bridal gown is one of the most common steps in the alterations process as the majority of wedding gowns will need to be hemmed to fit a bride’s height.
Even if you are a bride who has not yet purchased a wedding dress, today’s advice will be helpful to keep in mind as you are shopping and trying on wedding dresses. For most brides, the sample wedding dresses you will try on at a bridal store will be too long and will need to be hemmed to your height before wedding day. We going to share everything brides need to know about having their wedding dress hemmed to the proper length.
Video: What is The Proper Length a Wedding Dress Should be Hemmed?
If you are ready to have your wedding dress alterations completed or just want to be more prepared as you begin wedding dress shopping, be sure to watch our advice video to learn the proper length a wedding dress should be hemmed.
What Is A Hem?
When you purchase a wedding dress, you will be buying a gown in a particular size with dimensions set by the bridal designer. Based on your body’s measurements, your bridal consultant will ensure you get the correct size for your wedding dress. But each bride has a unique body and so for the majority of brides, alterations will need to be done to the wedding dress so that the gown fits perfectly.
Alterations includes items like adding in a wedding dress bustle or maybe taking in the bodice so it’s more snug around your bust or waist. A very common alteration for wedding dresses is a hem. Wedding gowns come in standard sizes which includes a standard length on the dress skirt. For brides of an average height or shorter, you will most likely need to have your bridal dress hemmed so you are not tripping on extra fabric as you walk down the aisle. For our tall brides, your dress might happen to be the perfect height, but this is rare and you will still likely need a hem based on your height and the type of shoe you plan to wear on wedding day. Brides who are very tall might find themselves in the position where they need to order extra length on their wedding dress to ensure they will have the proper length.
When you are placing your order for your wedding dress, we encourage you to go by the bridal designers size chart and plan on alterations to perfectly tailor the dress to fit you. There may be the option to order the dress in a custom length, but we would caution you against this. When you are ordering your wedding dress, it should be eight months to one year before your wedding day. At this stage in wedding planning, you likely don’t know yet what bridal accessories you will wear on wedding day, including your bridal shoes. You might have an idea of what type of shoe you want to wear, whether that be heels or flats. But a lot can change in the months that you are waiting for your wedding dress to arrive after placing your order.
If you order your wedding dress with a custom length based on your height wearing a certain pair of heels or a certain heel height, you could end up with a bridal dress that is too short if you change your mind on your shoes. This won’t be as big of an issue if you go from a taller heel to a shorter heel, you will just have to have your dress hemmed to the correct length. But if you change your mind and decide to wear a taller heel on wedding day, then you run the risk of your dress being too short. Fabric can always be cut away from your dress but you can’t add it back.
Keep in mind that some bridal designers charge an extra fee for ordering a dress with a custom hem length. Even if this is included in the cost of your dress, it doesn’t mean that it will arrive in store 100% perfect. You may still end up needing an additional hem or other alterations so it may not be a work around to save a bit of money. The safest option for a stress-free wedding dress experience is to order the standard length and then have your dress hemmed during alterations to whatever length you need based on the heels you have chosen to wear on wedding day.
The Perfect Length
The proper length a wedding dress should be hemmed to will depend slightly on the type and style of wedding dress. If you have a more fitted style wedding dress or a dress in a sheath or column style that only has one layer, the dress should be hemmed so it is just grazing the floor. This is true for any bridal dress with just one layer of fabric and no under layers such as a lining or crinoline layers.
For wedding dresses that have a lining or layers of crinoline, the lining should be hemmed to the top of your foot and then the crinoline layers are just a teeny bit longer than the lining, but still above your foot. This might sound like the dress will be too short, but you don't want it to be too long for you to walk. You want to avoid any fabric rolling under your foot and being stepped on.
If you have layers of crinoline and you will be walking on carpet or grass, having a proper hem will be particularly important. Crinoline is a bit stiff and can easily get caught on things like grass, especially if the dress is too long and no bride wants to be dealing with dress snags.
The easiest way to think about hemming your wedding dress is to work from the inside layers out. The layers will get just a bit longer as you work your way out. So your lining layer will be above the foot and each layer on top will be just a bit longer until you reach the outer most top layer. The perfect hem should just be grazing the floor when you are standing still.
Should My Toes Show?
One of the most common questions we get asked from brides at Lovella when we are talking about wedding dress alterations and the length of wedding dress hems is whether a bride’s toes should show a little when they walk or if their feet should be completely covered. Since wedding dresses are most often long gowns that go to the floor, it makes sense that brides think their feet should not show at all in their wedding dress.
The answer to this question again depends a bit on the style of wedding dress. If you are wearing a big ball gown wedding dress, your feet will most likely be covered even when you are walking just because of the width of the skirt and the many layers of fabric. If you are in a more fitted wedding dress, then your toes are going to peek out a bit when you take a step. No matter what style wedding dress you choose, your dress should be hemmed to just graze the floor when you are standing still.
Keep in mind that when you are trying on wedding dresses you are mostly just standing still, looking in a mirror. The dresses are going to be too long for most brides, so it will be a little difficult to walk a lot in the dresses you are trying on. Even if you are able to walk around a bit, the dress won’t be a perfect hem to your height so you won’t be able to experience how the dress will really move on wedding day and how your feet will look. We often have brides who are surprised and sometimes disappointed in the alterations stage when they realize their shoes will be showing when they walk.
More Helpful Wedding Dress Shopping Advice
We hope you have found this advice helpful when it comes to knowing what to expect during wedding dress alterations, particularly how your dress should be hemmed. 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:
- The Total Cost Of A Wedding Dress Including Alterations & Accessories
- What Style Wedding Dress Should Tall Brides Wear?
- What To Expect During The Alteration Process
- Tips For Wedding Dress Shopping as a Petite Bride
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.