Dieting Brides


added July 2010

Hi Leanna:

I love your website, thanks so much!

I was hoping to pick your brain a bit.  I have a small alteration business.  I have been doing alterations for 35 years, but it is part time, so I don't have a great deal of business experience.  I have done many brides throughout the years, but never come across a situation like the one I am currently in.  First I need to give you a little background.

A bride came to me about 3 1/2 weeks ago wanting her dress altered in the bust, waist, as well as hemmed and bustled.
I measured her etc... and performed the body alterations.  At the second fitting, she said that the bust etc was great (it was in fact a little on the tight side), but she wanted the waist a little tighter ( I pinned the waist, and measured it was about a total of 1 inch that needed taken in).  At that time I measured the hem.  She said it was perfect, and had several people there (brides maids etc) who agreed the length was perfect.  

When her gown was ready, I went back for her final fitting.  At that time (one week later), she had somehow lost 2 dress sizes.  The bust and waist are now huge.  She now wants 2 inches taken in at the bust, as well as boning removed and replaced so that the waist can go in farther.  She also wants one inch let out of the hem.  
Her wedding is in 3 days.  Although time is VERY tight, I don't mind doing the alterations, and I told her I would have it done by Friday (the day before the wedding).

Okay, here is my question (finally), is this standard to include such major last minute changes in the original price?  Should I have charged extra?  I realize it is too late to change her price now, since I agreed to do it, and did not discuss any additional charge, but I would love to know in case something like this ever happens again.

Thanks so much!!

I know it's been awhile since you wrote, but as you well know, it's bridal season and I thought you wouldn't mind me writing you later when I had some time to think.
Of course we know brides want to have their special day be the best it can, some even expect perfection. We do our best to give them their dream day. Sometimes this means last minute adjustments. It's best to avoid this situation for both the bride's nerves and yours. I do several things to accomplish this.
I have some wordage on the back of each invoice I give a customer. This is one item there: "Any change by customer of undergarments, shoes, weight gain or loss that results in the work needing to be repeated, the fee charged will also be repeated."
At each stage in the altering process I do my best to make it right for the bride. I will rework anything to get it right. I don't usually have to do any task more than twice. My prices are set to include adjustments that I may need to do. Once the task is right I have the bride declare the alteration perfect. Once I go on to the next task she is not allowed to ask me to redo any prior task unless she also agrees to make the payment again. If I end up doing so just days before the wedding date I charge double. This is all explained before I accept any job.
Most brides are dieting. I've gotten pretty good at figuring out what brides may be dieting. They usually say some little thing that gives them away. When they do, I inform them that if they want me to work for them they must go in a maintenance diet. If they refuse, I explain my policy. If they continue to refuse I simply refuse the job. I don't need the stress.  
The final fitting is set for 2 weeks before the wedding date. Occasionally I have to have it closer but I don't plan things that way. I was up past 4AM one night before a wedding fixing last minute things that I had planned to fix the week before but the bride got her appointment time mixed up. I pledged I'd not ever do that again without being paid handsomely for it.
I hope these ideas help you.


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