I am the owner of Corwin’s Bridal in Chico, California and think I have the perfect answer to your question. Do NOT order a hollow to hem if the dress can be shortened. Although I think $150 is a VERY HIGH charge to have your dress shortened, you are really talking about a difference of $50. The math is simple: $100 for Hollow to Hem and $150 to have it shortened. That $50 difference can easily be erased if you shop for a seamstress.
Many brides assume the place where the gown was purchased is the place that must complete the alteration. That is a myth and a common assumption made by brides. Alterations are a big source of income for some bridal shops. Most professional bridal shops will tell you that you are free to take your gown any place you like. My store, for instance, has a list of vendors in our area that are experienced in bridal alterations. I will not give you a specific shop because if something were to go wrong, I would share in the liability. IYour bridal gown is important, but don’t stress alterations. Typical alterations are not difficult. We have altered close to 1,000 gowns and have never ruined a dress. Don’t assume that someone who charges 3 times more is 3 times better.
In my experience, 99% of gowns need some type of alteration. The most common ones are: length adjustment, and a pinch in the fabric just under the arms. (This allows the gown to lay correctly over the breasts and not pucker) Don’t forget to allocate a little money for your bustle. If any brides, other than the person with the hollow to hem question, are reading this post please DO NOT BUY your gown before asking what that particular store will charge for the alteration. There is a bridal chain that is notorious in our industry for their greed;to charge brides an average of $400 in alterations is just not fair. So, remember that you can get your alterations done in another bridal shop or by a recommended seamstress. Is it insulting for me if a bride asks me to alter a gown she bought elsewhere? Not at all. It gives me the opportunity to perhaps sell her a veil, introudces her to my shop and my inventory, and, by showing her what a great job we do, she is likely to send her friends to my store. So, ladies, remember that you are powerful and exercise that power!
Secondly, based on the charge of $100 for a Hollow to Hem, I am guessing that your gown comes from one of the top most popular designers. I am going to venture a guess that you paid between $800 and $1,100 for your gown.
Another option for you is to ask the store where you purchased your gown to work with you in these financially challenging times. It is standard in the industry to charge $100 for a Hollow to Hem. The manufacturer of your gown is charging the store $50 for this custom change. The store marks it up because it does take them a little extra time to measure you, send the new paperwork with the measurements for a HtH to the manufacturer, etc. etc. It also adds a bit of a liability to the store because if the dress is still a little too long, they have to alter it to your satisfaction and they are now investing time without receiving any monies for their time investment. Why not consider asking the store to work with you and waive their markup on the HtH.
Finally, your other option is to decide on a heel height and order your HtH. (I am not suggesting that is your best option–based on your love of heels) You do not have to have the actual shoe now, just the height of the heel you will wear on your wedding day. I can guarantee that if you shop around you can save that $50 many times over and in a multitude of ways. Should you want some tips on how you can save on your wedding, just send me a private message and I will call you or gladly give you my phone number. I am glad to help.
After having spent a “little” time with brides, I have a feeling that you would not be happy with a pair of flat shoes. However, if you search the internet, you will find some really cute beaded flip flops, sneakers and regular flat shoes that are very pretty. A great compromise would be a shoe that has a small heel that is not skinny. Keep in mind that no one really sees your shoes!