Your wedding dress was expensive enough. Don’t spend more money on complicated alterations.

I was looking at myself in the mirror as a friend carefully pinned and cut my wedding dress. This was my fourth dress fitting, and it was not going well. “You have to tell her to stop forcing you to eat,” she said.

My friend knew my soon-to-be mother-in-law was notorious for pushing ridiculous portions on dinner guests, and that I was too polite to say “no” to her home-cooked food more than twice. I was living with her at the time, so I was a dinner guest every, single night.

“I’ll try,” I said, feeling devastated I had gained weight again, forcing her to amend her work on my wedding gown. It wasn’t so much about the slight weight gain as much as the hard work and effort I knew my friend had put into these alterations. Those alterations would have been incredibly expensive had she not been generous enough to donate her services for free.

Avoid the Most Expensive Wedding Dress Alterations

Wedding dress alterations vary in price depending on what you’re having done. More complicated alterations will obviously cost more money, so try to choose a dress that will let you avoid the most expensive types of dress alterations. If the seamstress does the work and then you gain or lose weight, they essentially have to do their job twice.

If you’re pregnant, expect to pay even more for alterations. Seamstresses will work with you, but they’ll have to anticipate changes and continually readjust. It requires more work and more fittings which will result in a bigger bill.

Maintaining Weight is Key

The best thing you can do to prevent huge alterations bills is stabilize your weight. That means no drastic changes in diet or exercise after you have your first fitting. Any weight or toning goals should be accomplished before it’s time to buy your dress, so keep that in mind when you’re setting your wedding date. After you’ve met those goals, you should only maintain them.

Here are some other tips your professional seamstress wants you to know before you buy your dress and have it altered.

How I Mediated My Weight Fluctuations

For my first wedding, I learned to say no to my mother-in-law when she insisted on filling up my plate a second time. It wasn’t easy to turn down her generosity without guilt, but with the seamstress on my team it was possible.

For my second wedding, I slowed down my exercise regimen. My fiancé loved me the way I was, otherwise he wouldn’t have proposed. The big day was ultimately about celebrating our love — not how fast I could get down to a size 6.

Body image issues? You’re not alone. Know you can combat the voices in your head to look and feel great on your big day.

The bottom line is, it’s not about looks, or honestly, even health. It’s about not dropping thousands of dollars on a service you should have only needed once. You can up the exercise a little if the stress of putting together a wedding is causing you to put on pounds, but otherwise, keep to your same old routine from the day you buy the dress to the day you wear it down the aisle.

Written by Brynne Conroy, who blogs at Femme Frugality

Participation Pays Off: Are you stressing out about fitting into your dress on your wedding day?

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