Do I Have To?


The joy of planning a wedding is that you are sharing your love with your family and friends. The pain of planning a wedding is that it often feels like all your family and friends are telling you what you need to do. Add that to sales people, wedding planners and whatever you may read in a bridal magazine or on line and you have a peck of well meaned advice coming at you from many sides. I'm here to be the voice in the wilderness crying, "You don't have to".

I have said in other places on this site that it's important that you be yourself on your wedding day. This includes what you want for your gown. If you like the way it looks than don't let a pushy sales person or alteration lady tell you you have to do anything to it. They can give you information of what can be done to your gown, but you are the one who gets to say if you want to do it or not. You are not being a bridzilla if you just don't want to alter your gown the way they say you have to.

Here I will try to answer questions of why you may not want to make certain decisions.

added June 2007

Hello there!

I love your website and have been studying it for a while now trying to figure out which bustle best suits my dress.

I have a chiffon gown with about 2 yards of simple fabric as my train. I thought about cutting it to a chapel length but have decided to keep it, even though it is a semi-formal wedding and outdoors. Do you know ifs this is a bridal no no?

Also, the seamstress suggested we do a french bustle and while we both liked the look of it I am now having second thoughts about a bustle at all. I have attached some pics for your reference.

If you have a moment to respond, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Sincerely, Jenna

You do not have to do a bustle, but you are running the risk of guests stepping on your train during your reception. This not only embarrass the guests, it could severely damage your gown.

added April 2007

I have a question…How do I steam out a crinoline slip? I was told to keep it in the bathroom for a month before the wedding and the steam would take care of it. I have no shower just a bath tub. HELP…the bridal shop charges extra to have this done.

I do not steam crinolines. They can be ironed if you want to do it, but it's totally unnecessary. Any places that are crinkled up can be hand smoothed into place. You do not have to do anymore, but if you want to you can iron it one layer at a time with a warm iron.

added April 2007

Hi Leanna,

Thank you for your most helpful website!

I just bought a dress that I adore; it's a strapless with made of a heavy duchess silk satin. So heavy at 11 lbs., in fact, that I'm worried that I won't be able to enjoy my September wedding! Would it be advisable to have the lining of the dress replaced with a lightweight china silk? Or would that ruin the shape of the fabric? Right now it's a heavy acetate, which I think is the main cause of the weight.

Thank you so much in advance! Liz

Aside from the fact that I have no idea why they would put a lousy acetate liner in a valuable Duchess satin gown, a heavy dress is not so bad while you are wearing it. Holding it makes it seems awful because your one arm is taking all the stress of the weight. When you wear it, your whole body is supporting the weight and it distributes better. You can replace the lining if you wish and it should not effect the outer fabric shape, but it's a very expensive job.

added July 2006

Dear Leanna,

I was hoping you could give me advice on how to bustle my wedding dress. Please view my wedding dress at the following website: The wedding dress style # is 2599. It is a strapless white satin gown with a chapel length train. What really makes the dress stand out is the long sleeve battenburg lace coat to be worn over the satin gown. Please advise as to which bustle would look best on this dress and how it should be sewn. Is it possible to bustle both the dress and the coat??? The company which sold me the dress told me that a french bustle would work best. What is your opinion??

Thank you, Tina

What looks "Best" is up to you. It really bothers me when people dictate to brides what bustle they "have to" do.

I think a French Bustle would look great on this gown. You can do the dress separate from the coat, but I think it would look good if you treated the trains as one and bustle them together.

Though more difficult, a Tufted bustle would also look great for gowns like yours with a train that doesn't have any appliques on it. I put up pictures of a gown I just finished in this style on the Bustle page.

Thanks for your advice regarding my wedding dress bustle. Thanks to your website and a link which you provided, I was able to find a wedding dress designer in my local area who knows how to do a "French bustle." I do have a dilemma, however, and I was hoping you could give me advice. As of now, my wedding dress is sitting in an alteration shop. It's been there since the end of April. I was supposed to pick it up this weekend (3 months later), but the individual who is working on my dress has to attend a funeral and now I must pick it up next weekend. Now in this situation, I completely understand. However, when I asked her what work has been completed on the gown, she went to pull my ticket and was basically reading off of it. I know because I had a copy of the very same ticket in front of me. I paid her $350 for her to hem the dress, take in the sleeves, move the button on the coat about 1 1/2 in from its original position, take in the bustline an 1" on each side and add straps. The only thing, I know she hasn't done for sure is to add the straps. Here's the problem, when I saw her during my first and only visit, I brought in a picture of a "French bustle," thanks to your website. She told me that she would figure out another way to bustle it, as she does not do the French bustle. I also asked her if she uses strings, and she told me that she instead uses buttons and hooks. She wrote me up a slip/ticket with a $40 charge to bustle the dress, $40 charge to bustle the coat and $40 to press it. I let her know on the phone yesterday, that I have found someone else to do my bustle. She obviously cannot do the bustle which I prefer. She gave me a really hard time about it. She stated that when we met the first time and because she briefly discussed a bustle and wrote me a ticket that it was an agreement. I never signed a contract, nor do I recall seeing a sign at her front desk stating this. I do not want to have my dress bustled by her. She hasn't done any work as far as the bustle is concerned and I do not feel that I owe her anything. After all, it is my wedding dress. Any advice????

Thanks, Tina

Wow, I'm so sorry you are in this situation. Viewing from the outside I can see where both of you are correct, but you are still the customer and have every right to change the "contract" at any time. She is being pigheaded. If a bride asked me to do something I did not know how to do I would either find out how for her or let her go to someone who does know how. I do have a DVD that teaches how to make the French Bustle, but I seriously doubt she is interested in learning to do something new. It sounds like she is content with what she knows and would get very upset if you suggested her learning something new.

There are several things you can do from this point. You can still have the bustle you want no matter what she does or does not do to the gown. Anything she does in rigging the bustle she knows how to do can be undone without hurting the gown. First, I would call her and inform her that you are on your way over to pick-up the dress in whatever state it is in. You can request a refund on the unfinished work, but I doubt she will give it over willingly. You can threaten to sue her, but she may think you are not serious unless you bring a letter from a lawyer with you to present to her. You can also request a police officer to come with you to her shop to collect the gown. He can't really do anything, but it will intimidate the snot out of her.

If you paid with a check, once you have gotten possession of the gown, you can contact your bank and try to stop payment on the check. I doubt this will work if you paid her over a week ago though.

The best scenario is if you paid by credit card. You get 90 days to dispute the transaction. If you can get the gown away from her before she does the bustle, you can go to your credit card company or bank and request a "Charge Back". This will force the credit card company to take the disputed amount of money out of her account and hold it in escrow for 10 days. In that time she has the right to PROVE that she did the service you requested or made the return you asked for and gave you the money. Since you have the unfinished dress, she can not prove either and you will be given the money after the 10th day.

The most important thing is for you to get possession of the gown. The rest can be figured out later. You may lose the $80, BUT you will have the gown the way you want it.

added February 2005

I'm a 56 year old bride. I'm getting married in 4 weeks. Everyone is telling me to wear a veil, just in the back. I have long hair and I'm wearing it down. My dress is white and very pretty, it's a dress with a jacket. The dress is layered in an angle, and the jacket had shear sleeves and little sparkly things on it. I'm heavy set also. Do you think a veil is too youthful for me, I think it's pretty but I don't want to look like I'm trying to be 21. What is the right thing to do?
Desperate for Good Advise

This is YOUR day. It doesn't matter how old you are, do what you feel like. Getting married at age 56 is bound to make you feel young anyway. If you want a veil than wear one. I don't think a small, discreet veil will make it look like you are trying to look 21. And if it worries you that people think that then they are not your true friends.

I think it's really important to be the person you are on your wedding day. Don't just follow some moldy old traditions. Do what reflect who you are. I love it when couples do something totally untraditional and creative. It shows that their new life together is starting off on a great footing.

added January 2005

You said to bring all underwear that will be worn with the dress, does that mean that I have to be nude or at least topless for some or all of the fitting?

If you plan to not wear a bra for the wedding, yes, you will need to not wear one for the fittings. What good is it to fit the dress with your bra on and then take it off for the wedding and have the top of the dress wrinkle and pucker because the bra is not there to fill it out? If you want the dress to fit perfectly, you will have to take the bra off for fittings. This does not mean you will be "Nude". You will have the dress on.

You need to understand that your fitter is not going to be looking at you in the way you are thinking. Yes, she has to look at your body to fit your dress. She has to pin in places you would normally not let a stranger get near, but you have to readjust your thinking in order for her to do a good job for you. You wouldn't tell your doctor that he can't look at your body to fix something that may be wrong with it. This is the same thing. It is not an easy thing to do for someone who is normally shy. If your fitter is any good she will understand your discomfort and will do her best to make the experience less difficult for you, but there is little she can do if you aren't making an effort too.

Just relax. It's really not that bad. The fitter is there to help you look great for your special day. Concentrate on that and you should do just fine.

added September 2003

Hi, I just came across your website and I have a question about french bustles. I bought my dress at a boutique and the saleswoman said that my dress is supposed to have a french bustle. But the lady that is altering my dress doesn't know how to put in the ties and ribbons underneath for the french bustle. She's a very good seamstress from my church, but she's not familiar with this. Could you direct me to a place online or somewhere to obtain specific instructions to make it? Or do you know? I really appreciate your help!

Thanks! Claire

I don't know any place to get the information. I want to include how to do this on the bustle page, but I haven't gotten a gown to photograph yet. It would be really hard for me to describe how in an e-mail and not being able to see the dress too.

It's basically the same as a over bustle but you sew the ribbons underneath. You position them the same as a regular bustle only not at the waist. I usually have them hang from the bottom of the zipper.

And actually you do not HAVE to have it bustled that way just because the store said so. If it was "supposed to have a french bustle" the ties would already be there in the gown.


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