Let the Alterations Begin!

Memorial Day is approaching and you know what that means… wedding season is in full swing and by now, many of you are experiencing (or have already experienced) the thrill of your first bridal gown fitting. Fittings can be both exhilarating and exhausting,  the high and low of your entire wedding gown experience. The alterations process is not something to be taken lightly and you should be prepared for a snafu… or two. 

Bring a friend. Bringing an objective friend or family member to your fittings will help you answer questions, remember things and stay on top of any problems. This is especially true for the final fitting when you will need some assistance with the bustle, if you have one. This is the perfect task for the maid of honor.

Bring your undergarments. Check in advance if the salon has all of the cups, bras, etc that you will need for your particular gown in stock. If they don’t – you will need to bring these with you for your first fitting. Depending upon the style of the gown, this may include special underwear as well.

Bring your shoes. Same as undergarments. Some salons carry shoes, some don’t. Even though you may not have the hem of your gown pinned at your first fitting, it is always best to have the shoes with you.

Call ahead. Alterations season can be hectic, calling ahead to confirm your appointment is a great idea. Lets face it, things happen; seamstresses get sick, sewing machines need repair, all kinds of things can factor into your appointment being re-arranged.

Be flexible. Try to avoid scheduling your alterations appointment when you are in a rush or when the salon is at it’s busiest.

Talk to your consultant. Make sure he or she is working when you have your alterations appointments. This will avoid any conversation that begins with “but, my consultant said…”  The sales staff at any reputable salon will want to be there for you from beginning to end.

Speak up. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion or ask questions about the alterations process… or the price of alterations up front. If you are uncomfortable with your seamstress, ask to see another one.  Now is the time to ask about alterations pricing.

Remember your ABC’s…. Always Be Courteous! Even though you had a stressful day at work,  the seamstress is there to help you look your best and he or she may have  had a stressful day as well. Being polite is essential to a pleasant outcome.

Alterations and fittings can be tricky, and stressful. Making sure that you are prepared, informed and relaxed can make the difference between a good, bad or great salon experience. As much as it is their responsibility to uphold their end of the bridal bargain, you must maintain control of the situation from beginning to end.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

 

Bridal Gown Shopping FUN!

Selecting your bridal gown is probably one of the best shopping experiences in your life, or at least it should be. It should also be a fun and an uplifting experience. Unfortunately reality can rear its ugly head and turn your dream into a nightmare if not managed properly. Yes, you will have to manage a shopping trip. 

The Bridal Salon – Select a Bridal Salon that you trust. Make sure you have checked them out thoroughly and they are highly recommended.  Make your appointment in person so you can see the salon and familiarize yourself with parking, etc. If at all possible, avoid busy times and book your appointment when there is less traffic. This will ensure you get the most out of your hour-long visit. Keep in mind that you will be going back for fittings if you decide to travel a great distance to find a gown.

The  Companions –I recommend bringing no more than three people with you. Generally less is better since having five opinions on every dress is  a mathematical disaster. In this case 5×10 = stress. This is not a bridesmaid function or a family picnic. Meet up with them afterward to show them a picture of the dress you bought.  This appointment is only for people whose taste you trust, people whose opinion you respect, those who will behave properly in this environment and of course whoever is paying for the gown (if it is not you). Maybe I’ve witnessed too many appointments gone wrong where the bride is in tears because Aunt Fanny said her butt looked too  big, or worse. If Aunt Fanny has a habit of saying hurtful things include her in something else wedding-related. No matter how much you love her, she might not be the best person to have in the fitting room with you. Mom & Dad  if they are available,  sisters who are supportive and of course a TGF (Tasteful Gay Friend)  are always  good choices.

The Underwear –Remember when your mother told you to always put on clean underwear in case you were in accident? That goes double for trying on wedding gowns. If you plan to wear a strapless gown, bring a strapless bra or ask if the salon has them available for trying on gowns. Wear your best undergarments, bring shoes with the same heel height you wish to wear for your wedding and always make sure your hygiene is impeccable. Spend a little extra time on your hair and makeup that day as well since if you are successful in finding a gown, you will probably want to take some pictures. If you already have family jewelry you wish to wear, by all means bring that as well. You will feel better, look better and get a much better idea of how you will look on the day of your wedding.

The Appointment –  Arrive early in case your consultant has some extra time and can take you before your scheduled time. Most bridal gowns appointments last one hour and trust me, with their experience this is plenty of time to find a gown for you. Make sure you are comfortable with your consultant, spend a few minutes making sure they understand what type of wedding gown you are in search of. Describe the ceremony and reception locations to them and don’t leave anything to the imagination. You do not need a cathedral train for a resort wedding, so make it clear what is off  limits right away. This is also the time to specify your budget….. and leave some wiggle room. If you absolutely cannot go over $3,ooo make sure the consultant knows this so they don’t bring gowns that are $4,000 and up. If the consultant brings in gowns that are twice your budget, do not try them on because as luck would have it – this is probably the gown you will fall in love with.  I have seen tears, temper tantrums and anxiety attacks over this. Most salons do not allow any photography unless you have purchased the gown so always ask before taking pictures.

The Gown – Maybe it is the first gown you try on. Maybe it is the fifteenth (lets hope not) but you have found a gown and you know it is THE one.  Buy it. You look great and you feel great so what is stopping you? Don’t wait until next week so you can bring another person to tell you what you already know…. just buy the gown. Some brides hesitate when it comes time to making that final decision and I’m not sure why. There is always the question, “What if I order it and then later on I like something better?”  Here is my answer: Finding the right gown is similar to finding the right partner, when it’s right you will stop looking.  Something better will not come along. You have found the dress and all you have to do is buy it.

Most of all when shopping for your bridal gown, be respectful of your consultant, your family or friends who have accompanied you and the other guests in the salon.

Gum-chewing is unacceptable, opt for Altoids if you want to freshen your breath.

Profanity is unacceptable, if you cannot control your temper or your vocabulary, maybe a thesaurus or charm school is in order. If that is not an option, take a deep breath and count to ten.

Don’t bring anything to eat or drink in the fittings rooms. Bottled water may seem innocuous but try spilling 20 ounces of it  on a silk wedding gown and let me know how that works out. Even plain water will stain most delicate fabrics .

Now that you have the basics, take a moment to watch our couture runway fashion show video so you can get inspired to find the gown of your very own dreams. http://www.bridalshowexpo.com/photo_gallery.html?PHPSESSID=a0cafe868a71f47c6e6d6277d6c3a135

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Let the Alterations begin!

It is that time of year when the flowers are in full bloom, pollen counts are high and brides everywhere are awaiting the arrival of their gown to begin the alterations process! I know you have all heard horror stories about half-done alterations and demanding brides. Those stories truly are the exception rather than the rule. I have personally lived through hundreds of bridal alterations and I can tell you there is one thing that will carry you through the entire process without fail,  “Always Be Prepared”. Once again the Boy Scout motto will help to guide you through a sometimes prickly process. If that seems too vague, I have some tips for stress-free alterations.

Better safe than sorry. Make sure the salon and fitting rooms are clean and that you or no one else brings food or drink of any kind to any fittings. Not even bottled water. Nothing. Ever.

Try on the gown as soon as it comes in. Call the salon, speak to your bridal consultant and make an appointment to try on the gown. You will want to make sure your consultant or an alterations expert is available to help you at least get in and out of the gown. It is critical that you have some assistance because this is the time you will be deciding on what type of undergarments to buy. Will you need a petticoat? If so, what kind? Yes, there are several types. Will you need a strapless bra, merry widow, or cups? Do they have these available or do they have recommendations where you should buy?  If the gown is tight, this is the time to decide if you are able to lose weight or if you are looking at making the dress bigger. Bring a scarf or makeup hood so you do not get foundation, lipstick or anything else on the gown. Use this every time you try on the gown. At this time the seamstress will not do any pinning but you should have a good idea of what kind of alterations lie ahead. If you have selected a headpiece or veil, try it on with the gown. If you have not – now would be a good time to do that.

Be prepared for your first fitting. Bring your shoes, undergarments and arrive on time. Schedule at least an hour  for this fitting. During the busy alteration season it may take even longer. Don’t be in a hurry and don’t rush the seamstress. It is always best to call ahead and it is also wise to schedule all fittings during a time of day when you are less stressed, not after a big meal, and not a time of the day, week or month when you are bloated (wink, wink)  if at all possible. If you can – bring a trusted friend, maid of honor or family member with you. If you are not comfortable with your seamstress at any point in time, talk to your consultant and request another seamstress.

No distractions. DO NOT schedule bridesmaids fittings at the same time as your bridal fitting. This to much to worry about at one time. You and the seamstress will need to focus on the bridal gown right now and not the needs of others. You also don’t need several varying opinions on what, when, how and why.

 Ask questions. Before you are pinned into the gown, ask about the pricing for alterations. Bridal seamstresses spend years learning their craft, they spend hours working on a single gown and are skilled professionals and therefore deserve to be paid fairly.  If you fear you cannot afford the alterations, don’t ask the seamstress to pin you. In all fairness, a good pinning is complicated and you might be charged for it or the seamstress will remove the pins if you choose to alter elsewhere.

Second fitting. At your second fitting you might be trying on the gown in the middle of the alterations. It may not be sewn shut, it may still have some pins or it may be completely finished. Speak now or forever hold your peace about any concerns you may have. The hem might have to wait until the next fitting, depending on the gown… since not all gowns are created equal.

Final fitting(s). When you arrive for the last  or even second to the last fitting, the gown should fit well and be near completion. If the hem has not been finished, this is the time to finalize that as well. Generally this is when you will also finalize any details of your headpiece, jewelry, etc.   Someone should be with you to learn how to handle the gown, especially if there is a bustle involved.

Pick up/try on. When you schedule the time to pick up your gown, you might want to try it on one last time to inspect it and make sure there are not problems. You may not need to try it on, you decide.  Either way, an appointment is required so the gown can be steamed, stuffed, bagged and ready to travel home with you. This kind of preparation  requires time and planning on the part of the salon. You will probably be escorted into a room where you can either try on or inspect the gown in private. This is your last chance to make sure everything is the way you expected. It is important to note that you should not double-park for this. This might take longer than a couple of minutes and you don’t want to be hurried…. or worried. Take your time, do this right and you will have one less stress headache. If there is a balance due, some salons do not take a check at the time of pick up.

Alterations can be the most pleasant experience of your entire wedding  process and it can also be a nightmare (from all angles) if not handled properly. Always, always, always ask for references, check with the better business bureau and communicate with your seamstress.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago