How Losing and Gaining Weight Affects the Fit of Your Wedding Gown

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Your wedding gown will probably be the most fitted piece of clothing you’ll ever wear. And if you’re like me, and your weight fluctuates all the time, it can be hard to maintain your weight exactly as it was when you got your dress fitted. So I’m going to tell you about the relationship between your measurements and your dress, and how they can get along.

I used to work at David’s Bridal. When I first started out there, I fitted a bride who was easily a size -1, and she wanted her mermaid style dress to look like it was painted on. This is never a good idea for mermaid dresses. You need enough room in the hips to be able to bend, but this girl was hearing none of it. Even my boss couldn’t convince her to keep it a little loose. When the dress was finished, she tried sitting down with it on and she couldn’t. The dress wouldn’t let her bend a full 90 degrees. Rather than admitting she was wrong, she said it was fine, and that she could just stand all night. Lesson #1: Make sure you can sit down. Even skinny girls can pop a zipper, and I often wonder if she did.

Another bride I recall had a ball gown with a tulle skirt. Tulle is a very light, airy material. To hem it you simply cut it, since it doesn’t fray, which means there’s no going back. The girl came for her second fitting and squeezed into the dress. She wasn’t upset about the tightness; she was upset because the hem was higher on the sides than it was in the front and back… noticeably higher. She wasn’t my bride, so I didn’t see what she looked like at her first fitting. My boss whispered to me in the other room, “She gained weight.” At David’s Bridal, they take your measurements at the first fitting so that if you come to your second fitting and the dress doesn’t fit, they can prove it’s your fault if the measurements don’t match. That sounds mean, but it’s actually a good business practice since this happens pretty often when the lead times are 4-6 weeks. Now that I own my own business, I avoid this problem by getting my customers’ dresses done in 2 weeks or less. Anyway, lesson #2: Your weight affects the hem. The tighter the dress becomes, the more the hem will ride up. Likewise, if you lose weight, your hem will drop lower and you could trip on it.

Another important thing to remember is that your undergarments will have a profound effect on the fit of your dress. By undergarments I’m talking about the bra, slip, shoes, and Spanx/shapers. Lesson #3: When you go in for your first fitting, make sure you’re wearing all the official undergarments you plan to wear on the day of your event. If you change anything, you better believe there’ll be a difference in fit. For instance, one time I had a bride come back for a second fitting and her halter strap was too loose. It was perfect to begin with, so we wondered what had happened. Well, I found out she’d changed from wearing no bra to a push-up. Now that her bust was properly supported, there was no more pressure being put on the halter strap, making it gap up behind her neck. This is something I wouldn’t have even thought of had I not had this experience, so just be mindful of your underwear.

Quick lesson #4: Children grow quickly; you never know when they’re going to have a spurt. If you are the mother of a flower girl or junior bridesmaid, I highly recommend you either the get the work done close to the wedding date or leave some room in the dress. A lot of junior bridesmaid dresses these days have elastic panels in the back, which is nice. Quick lesson #5: Don’t come to your second fitting right after eating a meal. I would hope this goes without saying, but if you’re going to do this, make sure your first fitting was right after a meal as well.

And now for a story with a happy ending: Four months before I got married, I decided to quit the job I was working and look for something more professional. Two months later, I accepted a job in a different state and moved 15 hours away from my fiancé, and my dress. I altered my dress to fit me before I left, and I knew in the back of my mind I was going to need to exercise in order for the dress to still fit when I returned for the wedding. Well, I didn’t exercise. Moving to another state without my fiancé, and working at a company that had “Pizza Fridays” and birthday cake at least twice a month, I gained about 5 pounds in those two months. I was preparing myself to have to let the dress out just two days before the wedding. But when I tried it on, I was still able to zip it up. It was tight, but I could do it! Lesson #6: You don’t have to completely stress out about your weight. Five pounds up or down probably won’t hurt you.

You can save yourself and your seamstress a lot of grief by following these six lessons. If you’re planning on losing weight for your wedding, be sure to let your seamstress know that ahead of time. When I’m told this, I usually schedule both fittings as close to the wedding date as possible, although this is not always possible with some alterations shops. Above all, be smart. I’m certainly not saying that all fit-related problems are the customer’s fault. But you can make sure the liability is out of your hands by keeping this advice in mind.