Dress Hems: What Some Brides Don't Realize

There are a lot of things to know about bridal gowns before you go shopping. I'm sure you've read blogs about the best gown for your shape, the trendiest necklines and the off-the-runway details. Honestly, you've probably never done this before and it can be very overwhelming. 

I went in thinking I wanted a gigantic, Cinderella-like ball gown only to realize that I hate the way I look in them. With a passion. I thought I wanted lace - turns out I don't like lace on me either. Everything I love to see on other brides, the details that I love to photograph and the shapes that I find most flattering and epic... yeah. I hated all of it. I finally found "the dress" when I through all of my wants out the window and just focused on what made me feel good. 

It doesn't stop with you saying yes to the dress though. The process continues on to the tailoring of your gown. Before you shop for your wedding dress there are a few important things to remember in regards to tailoring: 

  • Budgeting for tailoring is really important. Ask the bridal salon owner, salesperson or the in-house seamster for an estimated cost on the tailoring that you will need to have completed. Rarely do gowns fit correctly off the rack. Whether you want the neckline completely altered or just the hem shortened, it can be important to know the roundabout cost of the tailoring (which can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars). It's also important to remember that different types of dress fabrics can cost more or less to hem and alter. Layers and layers and layers of chiffon are often pricey, smooth silk is often more difficult while lace can be a bit easier to hide alterations and changes in. Make sure you're prepared to budget for the cost of alterations.

  • You also need to know where you will take your gown for those alterations! Often the bridal dress chain stores (you know which one I'm referring to) will charge an astronomical amount for alterations because their gowns are from a lower price point. You can take your dress elsewhere for those needed changes - even to another bridal salon with an in-house tailor. I personally recommend Maridadi Couture in Exton, PA. Rita did a phenomenal job with my gown.

  • THE BUSTLE. If your dress has any kind of train at all, you will need to have a bustle put into the gown. There are many many different ways to bustle a dress and nearly every bride needs a bustle. If you're in love with a dress but unsure of how it will look bustled, ask before you buy! Some gowns need just a single button and some will have 27 ties (no lie). You need to know these things! This will be an alterations charge and you will need to know how to actually complete the bustling on your wedding day. I always have my clients bustle their gowns after the ceremony before reception entrances.


But after all of that, I'm actually here to talk about shoes. Yes, shoes. When you take your wedding gown for alterations, they usually require that you bring your shoes. Why? Because they need to measure the height of your hem. 

If you are wearing heels for any part of your wedding day, your dress will be tailored to hit the floor in those heels. 

See where I'm going with this? 

So many of my brides wear heels for their ceremony and then immediately change to flats for their reception. Many of them are not prepared for how inconvenient and uncomfortable it can be to spend the evening in a dress that is 3"+ too long. 

If you don't think that would bother you at all, then you can stop here. I've had plenty of brides who do this and never once even realize the difference or it doesn't bother them. 


When your dress is hemmed to properly accommodate your heels, once you change into flats, the hem will be too long. Sometimes drastically too long. On a photography note, if a client has chosen not to do a first look and does not have their heels on for portraiture following the ceremony, I will likely not capture many full-body shots because the dress will not fall and lay properly. 

It's when they get into the reception that I've had a few brides totally panic. Their gowns are getting filthy (more than just the bottom of the hem) and torn from getting stepped on. Years ago I had a bride whose hem was so, so long after she took off her heels that someone stepped on the back of her dress while she was dancing and it knocked her to the floor. Ouch. 


Brides have been doing this exact thing for years though. Why is it a problem? In short, it's not. I just want this to serve as a little warning to brides who plan to preserve their gowns or want to be able to very comfortably dance and move at their reception. It's definitely one of those situations that you don't realize would even be an issue until you're in the heat of the moment and it's already too late.  


Let this be my PSA. IT IS OK TO WEAR FLATS ON YOUR WEDDING DAY! I wore a blush and gold pair of Jack Rogers under my wedding dress. I'm not even sure how many people noticed that I was wearing sandals. They were so comfortable and my favorite part is that now I can just wear them as gorgeous everyday sandals! 

Some of my favorite brands for beautiful, swoon-worthy wedding flats and sandals are:

  • Jack Rogers - They offer custom sandals, tons of metallics, monogrammed sandals and even a specific collection for weddings.

  • Tieks - The most comfortable and beautifully made ballet flats ever. I shoot almost every wedding in these! They come in endless colors and patterns + there is a vegan collection as well!

  • BHLDN - BHLDN carries incredible wedding flats from tons of different high end designers like Badgley Mischka, Billy Ella and Harriet Wilde. There are jewel encrusted shoes, ones with lace and even some glitter.

  • Keds - Yep, the sneaker brand. The Keds for Kate Spade New York collection is to die for. I love my pair of champion glitter sneaks and they make them in tons of different colors including white!

  • Badgley Mischka - If you're looking for the flat version of those jeweled heels you see all over bridal blogs, guess what? Badgley Mischka makes flats and sandals that look just the same as those famous heels!

  • Blue by Betsey Johnson - You can find this collection at Macy's and other stores but Betsey Johnson has an adorable and really memorable line of bridal-inspired shoes including flats! I especially love the slingback style of the Mollie Evening Flats.

Go forth with this important knowledge (LOL) and know that it is totally acceptable, understandable and normal to wear flats on your wedding day!