Your wedding dress must fit to perfection – so when to comes down to it, alterations are everything.

No matter how perfect or expensive the dress was, if it doesn’t fit you properly, it won’t look any better than a cheaper dress.

The truth is, most wedding dresses do need some sort of alteration, even if they’re just simple ones. Here are five tips to keep in mind when altering your wedding gown.

1. PROPER TIMING IS EVERYTHING

To take the stress out of wedding-dress alterations, it’s best to buy your dress early. And we mean, quite early – about 10 months before the ceremony. While for some brides-to-be this may seem a bit of a shock, the reason behind it is very simple: it allows you to have plenty of time for fittings and tailoring. Sometimes, it can take up to five months from the time you order it to arrive in the bridal shop.

When it comes to the fittings, schedule the last two fittings two months before the wedding, and a final fitting no later than two weeks before your wedding. If you’re making major changes to the design, such as reworking the corset or cups, add a few extra weeks to the mix. It’s crucial to time your alterations right, so always speak to the person doing your alterations if you’re unsure.

2. BUDGET FOR ALTERATIONS

Despite planning everything else to a t, many brides don’t consider the cost for alterations when purchasing their wedding dress. If there are extensive changes needed to your dress, make sure you factor it in to your allocated budget for your dress.

3. BRING ALL YOUR ACCESSORIES

When showing up for fittings to alter your dress, don’t just bring your gown – bring everything you plan to wear on the wedding day. Bring the undies, spanx or shapewear, and bra that you want to wear. Your shoes are also crucial, as they define the length to which the gown should be altered. If you don’t have the shoes ready for the first fitting, consider bringing similar height ones. Bring your hair accessories, jewelry and veil too, as these will help you maintain the right overall balance. With all the accessories in place, it’ll be much easier to alter your dress correctly and get a feel for the complete, overall final look.

4. BRING A FRIEND OF FAMILY MEMBER

It’s best to take a couple of people close to you and that you really trust so they can give you honest opinions on how you’re looking. But before you think about bringing all of your bridesmaids – let us stop you right there. It may not be such a good idea to bring a tonne of people to such an important fitting; too many opinions and different personalities flying around may overwhelm you, and do more harm than good. Pick someone close to you who always tells you the hard truths.

5. BUY THE SIZE YOU NEED, NOT THE SIZE YOU WANT

Wedding dresses usually run small. If you’re usually a 10 or a 12, your wedding gown will most likely be a 14 or even a 16. Even if you’re trying to lose weight for the wedding, try to step away from being fixated on a certain size and concentrate on finding the right fit for the present you. Some brides buy a smaller-sized dress 10 months before the wedding thinking they’ll lose weight, and when that doesn’t happen, they’re stuck with an ill-fitting dress. Don’t make that mistake and get hung up on the size number. Really, that’s all it is – just a number.

GET YOUR ALTERATIONS RIGHT

The day of your dreams can only have a dreamy dress to go with it – and while you may have found and purchased it, it doesn’t end there. Alterations are an important part of finding the perfect fit for every wedding gown.

Looking for someone who will help you look your best on your big day? Find your nearest Looksmart Alterations store here.