It's essential that you go over the finer details before you take your gown home.

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bride and groom holding hands in grass
Credit: Alex Mari

Whether your wedding dress needed major alterations or just a few minor tweaks, the work your seamstress does will impact your entire big-day look. Your final fitting offers one last chance to make sure your wedding dress is perfect from neckline to hem—which is why it's so important to pay attention to these three key factors. If you haven't picked up a needle and thread since seventh grade Home Ec, then knowing what to look for in a finished gown may not come naturally. That's where we come in: Armed with this simple checklist from Sara Teixeira of Philadelphia's The Tailory, you can give your altered wedding dress a quick once-over with confidence.

The Fit

The first question to ask yourself when you put on any newly-altered dress, but especially the one you plan to wear on your wedding day, is obvious: How does it feel? "I always ask my clients if the gown feels good—comfort is as important as the final look," says Teixeira. If you're wearing a strapless gown, it should feel a little bit tight at the waist, where the boning and structure of the bodice provide the support that would have otherwise come from straps; these dresses "break in" during wear, says Teixeira. "If you start from what feels comfortable, there is a chance that it will end up feeling loose."

After addressing the feel of the gown, Teixeira does a visual check of the fit, looking for gaping at the neckline, waistline, and straps, and ensures there's a closer—but still comfortable—fit in areas meant to lay against the body (like the bodice or hip area). The finished version of your wedding dress may not lay as smoothly as it did on the model in your inspiration picture, but that doesn't mean the fit is off. "Sometimes there are design elements of a gown that will create movement in the fabric, and there may or may not be something that can be done," says Teixeira. "This does not necessarily mean that the gown is not fitting well. Since there are so many variations in garment construction and body types, not all gowns will always fit the same on everyone." 

The Details

When you're happy with the fit, turn your attention to the detailing. "If the gown has finishes that are hand-done—lace appliqué, beading, or hand-placed pleating—confirm that it has been put back," says Teixeira. "Loose hook and eyes, threads hanging without purpose, and seams that are unfinished are all things to look for." Then check the hem, making sure it's straight and at the length you wanted, and that the dress has been steamed. Simply put, says Teixeira, your wedding dress should be "ready to wear and in the state that you would want to wear it."

The Overall Look

Last but not least, says Teixeira, confirm that the finished wedding dress mirrors the one you fell in love with. "The garment [should] look like it did originally, but now sized appropriately to your shape," she explains. And if you're not happy, you shouldn't hesitate to ask your seamstress to make further changes. "At the end of the day, the best thing a bride can do is a hire reputable and experienced seamstress who will be able to guide her through the process," Teixeira adds.

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