Moms, Dads and Other Family Matters


added January 2010

Hi Leanna,
I found your website this evening and enjoyed it so much that I have stayed up late trying to read every question and answer. Your words make so much sense and I agree with you on just about everything including pregnant bridesmaids. My only daughter is getting married in June and she's chosen to have only unmarried girls for her bridesmaids... as she says, well, why else do you call them maids? I've been having a ball helping my daughter. She is a darling and we are both having lots more fun than we ever expected. You may interested to hear that her bridesmaids will be in pale rainbow colors (I read on one of your pages that style hadn't been in fashion for a while -- well, we're bringing it back.) This is not a question about my daughter's dress as she found one off the rack that is gorgeous and fits her wonderfully well, helped because it is a corset style that ties in back. It will not need any alterations except some hemming and she's waiting for her shoes to arrive before that happens. Her dress is long and decorated with sequins and embroidery... too fancy for her morning rose-garden wedding but we don't mind being a little over-the-top. You are so right that when the bride feels good about her dress, everything else seems to fall into place. In fact, right after she got her dress, I found the perfect one for myself. That's why I'm writing, the dress is almost perfect. It is a size 1X and I'm a short 16, so it's about a size and a half too big but it was the last one at one of my favorite stores and I loved the color and the fabric and (mostly) the style. It is lined but fairly unstructured to the point of being almost shapeless. There are standard darts, but no zipper -- it just pulls over my head. There's a series of three overskirts and an unstructured long jacket with unlined sleeves. I'm describing this just in case the pictures don't come through.

My plan is to shorten the dress about an inch in the shoulder seams as the bust and the armholes are huge. I've pinned that up and it seems to be fine. I thought I'd add some elastic following the lower half of the armholes to further shore them up without having to open any more seams. I also am thinking I'll sew in a new bra with a little padding. All that is pretty straightforward.

Here's where I get iffy. I want to give the dress a little more shape and emphasize my chest. I thought I'd add some elastic in front under the breasts at the bra level and again in back to give it an empire waist look -- maybe one row of elastic, maybe two, probably just between the darts. I'm a little worried about taking the dress in and then having trouble getting it on and off. I'm also thinking of running elastic down the seams of the arms of the jacket to lightly gather the fabric while making the arms about two inches shorter without having to hem them.

The dress length is to my ankles and I want it to be tea length. I could just cut off one of the over skirts and hem up the lining but I have this idea of bustling it to shorten it (which is how I came across your website). I'm leery of cutting the dress, because some day I may want to wear it long. When I pinch the sides for this and tuck the top of the lowest skirt between the top one and lining, I think it makes it look cute -- like a froth of ruffly skirts -- while effectively bringing up the hem four or five inches in front, maybe a little less in back. I think I can do it with two points of bustling on each side (each using a pair of ribbons for a total of eight ribbons). I'm wondering what you think? Have you ever heard of the Mother of the Bride dress getting the bustle treatment just to make the dress shorter? I don't mind being the first one to ever do this but if there is a drawback, I want to know. 

Thanks again for your website. I love you no-nonsense attitude and appreciate how you've so generously helped others.

Kind regards,



























Hi Patricia, 
I love your dress and your idea of sewing elastic to add shape. I think it should look great.
I too try to find ways to do for my own garments that give me options for wearing at some later occasion. I would look at the layers in your skirt and see if a hem can be basted at the layer tops to shorten the dress for the wedding and remove the bastings for your wanting to wear it long at some future occasion. I do this often for slips of wedding gowns because otherwise it's a lot of work to hem the tiered linings. I simply sew a tuck at the tier seam. I can't see inside the dress but this might be a good solution for you.

added May 2006

Hi! I just found your studio pages while looking for some info on sewing rooms.

Both of my older daughters are being married within the next 6 months, and all I can say is, I wish they lived in Cincinnati! I would love to be able to send them to you for their gown alterations---you are knowledgeable, ethical & skilled.

As far as I know, neither of them is having trouble with their gowns. Both have been living on their own for some time & I am merely a guest at these affairs, and have nothing (yet) to do with gowns, wedding preps etc. In a way, a blessing, but I admit I am feeling a little left out of "the fun." As long as it still is fun. I suppose if it stops being fun they will be on the phone to me looking for advice in no time.

God bless you for the wonderful work you do for your customers & also the seamstresses you are advising!


How sweet of you to write. Yes, it's common for Moms to find themselves in your situation now-a-days. Women waiting a little longer than they used to to get married often means that they are well grown and off on their own. Already used to being self sufficient, they often keep all the fun of wedding planning to themselves. They don't often see that their loved ones would like to be envolved. I like to see it as a good thing. It means they are more mature and probably more able to make this big step in life.

I'm sure your girls are doing just fine. There are many great sewing specialists around this nation. Those who go into bridal don't stay long if they don't have their hearts in the right place.

Hi! I opened my email yesterday to find your lovely note! Thank you so much!

I am afraid I have to disagree with you about brides who "don't see that (loved one or whoever) would like to be involved." While it is certainly convenient for parents not to have to run around doing all that prewedding stuff (can't say I dislike that! : -- D ), if girls are unable to see things from another's perspective, or think of others' feelings on something, it is not a sign of maturity. I think if anything, it is a warning that rough times are ahead for them in their new marriages, until they are able to open their eyes & think ahead a little into possible effects on others, of their actions.

I'm sure you see plenty of this, in your business--brides who want all the maids in the same dress, including the heavy girls, or an expensive model dress & some of the girls must stretch way too far to buy it, etc etc.

We Moms all know that it won't be long before the brides are doing nothing all day & night long except thinking of others' needs---babies & toddlers can't live into childhood unless their parents are always anticipating possible consequences of some choice on the part of the parent, like leaving the back door unlocked, answering the phone while child is in tub, etc etc. Babies can't say in words their tummy hurts, or there is a rash, or there is a thread wrapped around their toe from the sleepsuit; all they can do is cry. Their Moms will get their training in sensitivity to others' needs, feelings, health problems, etc, in spades, before long!

I am seriously thinking of strongly encouraging the third child to take a year between high school & college to work---half the year for pay (needed for college!) and half as a volunteer, to give her eyes into lives & situations other than her own little orbit. Whatever college she gets into won't care---they will probably be delighted to be getting a more mature & thoughtful freshman a year later.

God bless!

You make a lot of excellent points. Yes, I do meet some girls that I wish I could tell to not do this. Most are great ladies who are ready, but now and then I get one who so obviously isn't it makes me want to cry.

I get the goofiest questions from the site too. One bride asked me how to decide which co-maid of honor to demote because she realized they didn't get along and she didn't want any tension on her special day. She explained that the 2 girls were her bestest friends and she couldn't decided which to have as maid of honor so she asked both and now she needed to get rid of one. I told her no matter what she did she would be loosing both as friends.

Another bride asked me how to tell her guests in the invitation that she wanted to have a money tree (You know - a stick type thing that people tie money wrapped in tin foil onto) at the reception and she didn't want any gifts. I didn't even try to answer that one.

It's so interesting the people who write me. I learn a lot from them, even if it's what NOT to do.

Thank you for writing and please do let me know how your daughters weddings turn out.

added May 2006

Thanks for putting up this site. It has a lot of helpful information.

I also have a questions. My daughters have been invited to be in two weddings this Fall about two months apart. Both are for family members and one has even offered to use the same flower girl dress. But, the dresses one bride selected has a sash/tie on it which of course, matches her brides' maid dresses. What's the possibility that the sashes/ties could be removed and switched to match the color of the other bride?

Thanks, allison

This is very common. I've done it many times for flower girls in more than one wedding. It's a great way to save on buying 2 dresses.

added May 2004

I must tell you that your website information related to the costs of wedding gown alterations saved a marriage. My wife called me from the bridal shop and in an "oh by the way fashion" told me that the bridal gown alterations are $340 which included $50 for pressing. The wedding dress cost $750. She also informed me that the veil selected is $199 (and this is a waist length veil.) I felt we were being taken advantage of considering the wedding is next month and they knew we had little or no options at this point.
Thinking I was really being ripped off, I went on the Internet and came up with your website. It was most informative and I realized that for the alterations, considering the type of dress, was in the price range that you indicated on your webpage.

That said I still think I am being ripped off for a $199 waist length veil , not the mention they had the audacity to charge me for shipping insurance ($40) for the dress. Have you ever heard of that??

Thanx from Oakton, VA.

$340 sounds like a lot to me. I don't get many that go over $200. But most of my customers lately need only hemming. The simpler gowns these days are easier to get a right fit on in the ordering I guess. But wedding gowns are not like normal clothing to work on. Let's face it - it's only a white dress when you get down to it, but it is so very important that the fear factor for working on one is enormous. I once altered a gown worth $10,000. Ugliest thing I've ever seen, but built like a mac truck! The more expensive ones are not constructed to be altered easily. And sometimes the fine fabrics need extra care in taking out the seams. Then if there is beading to replace, you are talking lots of extra hours hand sewing them back on one-by-one.

No, I haven't heard of the shipping insurance, but I haven't worked directly in a Salon in many years. That used to be figured in the main price of the gown. Maybe they are adding it on now. And yah, veil prices are outrageous. Especially when you go to your local fabric store and find the bridal illusion tulle for $2.00 a yard and realize there is only 2 yards in the $199 veil you just bought. It's a racket, but if it makes you feel any better the neat edging that goes on these veils is a maga-pain to sew on. And working with that fine netting is not easy in the first place.

Weddings are expensive no matter how you cut it. I do think though, that spending what you need to on the gown has benefits. If your budget forces you to be frugal in places, it's wise to find something else to skimp on. The gown is so very connect to who the bride is and how she feels about herself. I've found that when the gown is perfect, everything else just seems to fall into place and the stress level for everyone involved is lowered. A very good thing to strive for.

Dads are all to often the forgotten person at weddings. You pay all the bills and get no glory. You get to walk the bride down the isle sure, but you also get to realize that no one is looking at you. It's not an easy job for sure. But someone has to do it and I'm sure you love your daughter very much and want to do what it takes to make her day special.

Thanks for writing and I'm very glad my site was valuable to you. I'm still working on it. There is so very much I want to say, but don't have much time to write and get it posted. I'm planning on trying to do instructional videos, but it's a lot of work and I don't want to take too much time from my brides.

I wish you and your daughter the very best!

added June 2003






I don't know about proper, but I think it's a wonderful idea. You, as Mother of the bride can really wear whatever you please. Most Mom's try to pick something discrete and elegant, befitting their station. But really you can pick anything, and I've seen some really odd choices. And I love your idea. As long as your daughter loves it too, I'd say go for it.


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