8 Things to Ask your Wedding Gown Tailor

In my previous blog “An Introduction“, I promised to outline my knowledge of this industry. By doing so my hope is that you will be better prepared to enter the world of alterations when the time comes.

Our topic for today is going to be centered around wedding gown alterations. However, most of these 8 questions to ask of yourself and your tailor are useful for any garment you need altered.

Let’s start today by asking, “Why is it hard to find a wedding gown tailor you can trust?”

When looking for a tailor to do alterations to your wedding gown, you need to weigh a ton of options, right? Here are 8 questions that we find most important to ask of yourself and of them.

  • How long has this person or company been in business?
  • What are some reviews of work they’ve done in the past?
  • Do they have a deep understanding of what they do?
  • I love my wedding gown, how can I just leave it for weeks with someone I don’t know?
  • Do they have insurance if something like a fire or theft happens?
  • What measures have they taken in the past for losses, and how are they mitigating the risk now?
  • What am I paying for?
  • Is an inexpensive wedding gown really going to save me money in the long run?

In addition to all of that, brides (and their significant others!) are already under so much stress, a wedding gown disaster during alterations can be the tipping point that turns your special day into a nightmare.

Let’s face it, choosing a tailor for alterations to anything can be hard. We’ve been interviewed by so many brides that are shopping around for a tailor that it’s obvious to us how much stress they’re under — even if they don’t realize it. It’s why, as tailors that care, we ask so many questions!

So, let’s break down our original question, “Why is it hard to find a wedding gown tailor you can trust?”

The best way to address our topic for this week is to break our bullet points down and dissect them. We’ll start at the top and work our way down.

black tuxedo with bride in her white wedding gown

#1. How long has this person or company been in business?

Check up on the company and the people within it. Everyone has Google skills, right? Look for when the business was started, talk to the owners if available. If they’re not, talk to the second in command! Ask a few general questions that validate your initial interest in them. For something as important as a wedding gown, don’t you want someone with skill and experience to work with you? To put it into perspective, would you trust handing a random stranger cash from your wallet with a promise that they will return it — with interest? How much research into this person would you commit to before making that exchange?

#2. What are some reviews of work they’ve done in the past?

Leading into question 2 comes the inevitable research that needs to take place while you’re weighing a very important decision. The best place for that research? Reviews! Places like Yelp and Google house reviews for just about every open to the public business out there. Honestly, there isn’t much more to explain here. Check those reviews!! Look at not just the 5 stars, but really delve deep into the 1 stars. Most 1 star reviews are subjective and made out of anger, but some are informative and written with honesty. Find out why that person is writing the negative review, and decide if you’d like to pursue based upon the quality of the reviews for your specific needs. Also look at the interaction from the business owners. Do they respond? How? Again, make sure all reviews you’re looking at are relevant to what you need done. When making your decision, would you disqualify a coffee shop if you’re looking for coffee and they have a few negative reviews of their tea steeping skills? Or would you look for the reviews relevant to coffee?

#3. Do they have a deep understanding of what they do?

Most of us are really good at picking out the (excuse me) bullcrap from the real honest truth. We’ve all been kids, we’ve all fibbed, and we’re all (for the most part) really good at recognizing it. Talking to the owner and the people about to work on your wedding gown is vital. Have a good conversation with them and try to listen to their emotions and their passions. We let our positive emotions flow into our work.  As the owner of Only One Tailoring, each of my employees have heard me say that each customer is important and has their own situation that could cause any reaction at any time. It’s our job as stewards of your garments to hold your hand through everything. It’s no secret that I get emotional pretty darn easy, and if you’re crying, I probably am too. Listen to your tailor and let them walk you through their knowledge. If they can’t answer every question you have, it may be that your wedding gown needs a bit of “winging it” to make it look like you want. The bottom line?  Make sure your tailor can talk the talk, and let the rest of your research prove if they can walk the walk!

#4. I love my wedding gown, how can I just leave it for weeks with someone I don’t know?

Wow. This one is a doozy, right?! Sorry in advance, but this is going to be a bit of a ramble. You’ve bought your gown and are in love. I mean head over HEELS in love! How are you supposed to trust anyone touching it, let alone making alterations to it? What if the wedding gown boutique you bought it from gave you specific instructions not to use a certain type of pin, or to handle certain alterations in a certain way? Well… faith, I guess. Of course I’m simplifying it quite a bit here. Faith in your tailor plays a large role. We’ve been told by multiple people to only use a certain type of pin on their wedding gown, or how to do a specific seam or bustle based after what grandma, mom or even the boutique owners suggested. Of course we’re ok with input! That would be awfully ignorant of us to not take input and use it in a positive fashion. It’s your gown, it’s ultimately your rules! Allow me to counter that, though. Most of us have been in a position in life to be told to do something one way, when we know that the end result won’t be a good one. We go through the motions and operate under the constraints set by the requester because it’s our job, but it works out exactly as we feared — badly. The same thing happens with any type of alteration. With my 26 years of trained professional alterations and tailoring, I can pick apart a garment in my head and go through so many variances based on what needs to be done that, within a few moments, I can tell you what’s a good idea, and what’s a bad idea. Everyone in our shop does the same thing every day. It’s why people come to us — they trust our capabilities! This has been a roundabout way of answering the question, but I hope you get the gist of it.

a sewing machine presser foot raised with white thread

#5. Do they have insurance if something like a fire or theft happens?

Bailee’s, bailee’s, bailee’s! As defined in Investopedia: “Bailee’s customers insurance provides coverage for the legal liability of damage or destruction of a bailor’s property while under the care of a bailee. A bailee is a person or organization that has temporary possession of someone else’s personal property (dry cleaner, parking valet, jewelers, repairers, etc.)”. This is a vital part of a legitimate business. Ask if they have bailee’s! This question is pretty cut and dry, so we’ll keep moving.

#6. What measures have they taken in the past for losses, and how are they mitigating the risk now?

If you’re going to ask #5, go ahead and follow up with this question as well. Not much to weigh in on here. This one is pretty self explanatory.

#7. What am I paying for?

Written record is not just for them, it’s also for you. Treat this information almost like gospel. Every move and motion doesn’t have to be accounted for — you probably don’t want to have to read a novel about your gown alterations — but the overarching motions to alter your wedding gown need to be written down and accounted for. We always write up a bit of a book on our wedding gown alterations, which our clients always walk out with as a physical copy and an email of. We love it because it sets expectations in concrete, and also keeps us on track when we pull your gown to do the work.

#8. Is an inexpensive wedding gown really going to save me money in the long run?

Whew, if we thought #4 was rough, you’ve not seen anything yet! The answer is, “We (you and us) won’t know until our first fitting/consultation”. Stinks, right? We’ve had some of the most beautiful $50 wedding gowns walk in our shop, and we’ve seen some absolute monsters of false advertising. If you’ve got the budget and you’ve got the protection of a good credit card and you find a reputable Etsy maker or random place in another country that gives you what was in the photo or as requested, BRAVO! You’ve just won the wedding gown lottery! The cold hard truth is that most of the time our brides end up spending more in alterations on those wedding gowns because they’re made quick without the benefits of proven patterns and a proven workforce. Can these wedding gowns be turned around and made perfect? Most of the times! Please be prepared for a potential case of sticker shock. You’re taking a risk that may pay off in the long run! We are always transparent about what your money is going to, and we’ll outline what motions need to be made, and why a certain price is what it is. We want your investment to have lasting value.

There are so many more questions that need to be asked, but these are the main ones that we’ve had asked of us, and also wished people we help after someone else altered their wedding gown had asked before going with them. Are we the alpha and omega of the alterations universe? Nah. Should you take my word on what capabilities we have? See questions 2, 3 and 4!

What I can promise is that if these questions are front and center and answered to your satisfaction, the rest of your time with your tailor will most likely be wonderful.

Want to learn more about who we are and how we operate? Do you live in Nashville or the surrounding area and are looking for a tailor? Take a look at a small rundown of our services, then send us a contact form and we’ll be glad to help!