Photo: Amy & Stuart Photography
You chose the dress. You waited for the dress. Finally, it's time for your first fitting. And whether you've picked a structured gown or a flowing slip dress, you'll want to make sure that it fits absolutely perfectly. We've enlisted the help of Rita Ertl, Monique Lhuillier's Director of Alterations and pinner of thousands of dresses, to find out the questions every bride should ask at her fitting.
Who and What to Bring
Invited your mom, sister, future mother-in-law, grandma, and all of your bridesmaids to shop for your dress with you? You might want to consider scaling back — way, way back — when going in for your first fitting. Ertl suggests inviting just two people to join you for the appointment. "At your first fitting a myriad of emotions will be running through your head. You want to have moral support but you don't need everyone's opinion," she explains. And while you're in the headspace of making tough choices, don't forget to zero-in on your shoes and undergarments before you try on your dress. "The fitter will work with you to determine, depending on your gown, your body and what results you want whether any undergarments will be worn," says Ertl (and she can only do that if you have them on-hand!).
The Dress Is On
You stepped in and are zipped up. Now what? Ertl hopes (like, really, really hopes) that you'll be happy from minute one, but notes that, for some brides, this is where the process can go south. "The gown is a standard size, with your measurements matched to the measurement chart of your designer. It will need adjustments to become your dream gown," she explains. Take a few deep breaths and remember that a lot of work still needs to be done. Whatever you do, don't panic if the dress doesn't immediately match your vision.
You know what you like about your body — now is the time to talk. Be as specific as possible about which parts of your body you'd like to accentuate and which parts you wouldn't. According to Ertl, any good fitter should explain the alteration process and review each section of the dress. "I start with the bust, the gown and your apex (bust point) need to be aligned, adjustment then can be made from shoulders, waist, or both, keeping the apex aligned," explains Ertl. (So make sure to keep an eye on your bustline as adjustments are being made). Then scan the dress on your body. Ertl suggests getting in touch with your own look during the process, asking yourself if you want a fuller bust (hello, cups!) or are looking to show more or less cleavage.
Sure, you splurged on shoes, but unless your dress is tea-length or short, they shouldn't be visible when you're walking down the aisle. Ertl says "grazing" should become your go-to word when discussing hemlines at your fitting. "With your hem grazing the floor you will be able to walk, dance, and mingle with your guests," Ertl explains. The only thing you shouldn't be able to do is trip on it. And for any brides worried about grass stains, mud, or other elements of nature wreaking havoc on her dress, Ertl offers the following wisdom: "It will get dirty. That's what preservation is for."
In her 30+ years as a fitter, Ertl has encountered one question more than any other: "What if I lose weight?" And, while dealing with 100 last minute to-dos, many brides do lose weight — a lot of weight — before the big day. Ertl says planning is key, "I schedule each fitting to accommodate a final fitting close to the wedding to make sure the gown is perfect!!" Request that your final fitting be no earlier than 10 days before your wedding. Ertl believes that will still give the seamstresses enough time to make final adjustments and give you enough time to pick up your dress well in advance of your wedding.