Courtney knows that no dress fits perfectly off the rack -- 90 percent of the time, it will need alterations.

Image courtesy DCL

Understanding Why Your Dress Needs to Be Altered

"I don't care what your body looks like," Courtney says. "I guarantee that 90 percent of the time, you'll have to get the dress altered to fit better."

The most common alterations in the bridesmaid department are raising a hem, taking in a dress on the sides or adjusting a strap. Even if you're measured perfectly, you'll likely need one or more of these basic alterations.

It's always better to order bigger than smaller. It's far easier to take in a dress than to let it out. Even if the style is form-fitting or a little slinky, never have the dress altered too tightly. You're going to be sitting and getting in and out of cars, and the fabric will wrinkle. Think about celebrities you've seen on the red carpet with creases across their laps -- not a good look, and it can be easily avoided!

In some special cases, you might want a few custom alterations. Maybe you're adding straps to a strapless dress to support your bust, or you might be adding cups to a dress that's impossible to pair with a bra. Some brides request belts or brooches sewn onto the dress. And some bridesmaids like to order matching shawls at an additional cost or request a jacket, shawl or bolero from the alterations specialist. "Remember, these cost extra for supplies and labor," Krystle says.

"More than anything," she adds, "alterations is a labor cost. People think it takes two minutes to take in a dress. But a seamstress actually has to take apart a dress and put it back together. "

Speaking of labor, the consultants explain bump-friendly bridesmaid dresses next.