When Alfred Angelo, once one of the largest bridal retailers in the United States, shut its doors over long-term debt, brides were in a panic. Not because they had nowhere to shop, but because many had their dresses shut behind closed doors, and their weddings months or even days away.

For some brides, a hero came in form of a former Alfred Angelo seamstress, who delivered and altered 80 dresses for free.

Simply put: alterations can make or break a dress. But even if you have your dream gown from a healthy, reputable boutique, it’s still crucial to nail the perfect timeline for wedding dress alterations.  Here’s when to do what:

  1. First Fitting: Right after you purchase your gown you should have your first fitting in mind. Most brides purchase their gown 9 months before. The reason: most gowns will have to be ordered (unless you buy off the rack). But even this early in, you’ll need to lay out your timeline because wedding planning can get busy quickly. Your first fitting lasts about an hour, and should take place 8 to 10 weeks before the wedding.
  2. Second Fitting and Third Fittings: How many fittings you have depends on a few factors. Pregnant brides, of course, might require more fittings, but most brides go with about three. Schedule a few weeks apart, and the last one should take place 1 to 2 weeks before the wedding for the best fit.


Other factors that require more fittings include cosmetic alterations (beyond fit) and changes in taste (say you wanted your dress to snug more or less than you did originally). No matter what you do, make sure you are dress for each fitting in the undergarments you’ll wear for your wedding, and try to pick a bridal boutique with in-house alterations.