(Closed) Seamstress botched my wedding dress and it broke on my wedding day

posted 10 months ago in Dress
Post # 3
9940 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

Go for broke, worst that happens is you don’t win. 

Post # 4
270 posts
Helper bee

Wow what a nightmare. My friend had a similar experience with an in house seamstress last year, however she was able to get her dress fixed the week before her wedding by another seamstress fortunately. I would try to get compensated for photography costs, the dress literally falling apart at your wedding is extreme and not just a small imperfection. 

Post # 5
208 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2019 - Mountains

Hi bee,

For starters, not sure if your name is Sarah or if you just love the Sarah Smiles song by Hall & Oates but either way . I know I would be upset if I didn’t feel ‘pretty’ on my wedding day.

I’m probably not going to help you feel much better. As someone who has dealt with possibly taking someone(s) to small claims court, but fortunately have not had to I can tell you that it is an uphill battle.

For starters, what would your claim be? We use the word ‘sue’ very liberally, at least in the U.S., but what would you sue for? That they didn’t perform their services? That would be hard to prove as they actually did do work but the fact that you were unhappy with it is the subjective part that you would have to prove in court to the judge. I believe that you did lose the weight but I’m not sure how the zipper broke? Either way, I don’t blame the alterations shop for wanting to be paid before they gave you their dress- they did render services.

What to do now… I strongly suggest that you go through the photos, receipts and any evidence you have and ask yourself, do I have a case here? If you feel you do, write a letter to the alternations company, make it very formal get some help from a friend if you need to, and state your case and your demand- my suggestion would be for the services paid to them as I don’t think the total cost of the dress would work and certainly not photography etc. Do not show them all the evidence you have but allude to some of it- keep your smoking gun(s) in the event you go to the courtroom. But make your demand clear to them and give them a deadline. You must hold them to a deadline!

It will cost money to take someone to small claims court, and in some states even if you win your case you will not get those administration fees back. I’m very sorry this happened to you, I have won situations like this because of keeping records, etc and have a good track record of working out something without needing to go to court, but you need to have your ducks in a row here.

Post # 7
1901 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

You can claim anything you reasonably think you’re entitled to recover, but be prepared not to win the video and photography.

Can you can find out how qualified she was? You might have better luck with a deceptive trade practices claim (if it’s a thing where you’re at), if you could prove she wasn’t qualified or experienced. 

Do you have any pictures to share? 

If you do go to small claims, take a record of every call and visit. What was advertised, agreed. Pictures before alterations ( when it zipped). And pictures after in the shop and then ugly pics from the wedding. 

Post # 8
1901 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2019

Just wanted to add that in my region a small claims court filing fees would be maybe a couple hundred… not to mention time off work to file and go to court. 

I agree with Pp that all you may recover is just the part of the fees paid for the work that was not performed well ( excluding shortening the dress etc). If you win. 

To win, you’d have to prove via pictures that they ruined your dress… it’s need to be pretty blatant to overcome the assumption that you didn’t just have a bad case of cake bloat that popped the zipper. 

Post # 9
8681 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: Dorset, UK

sarahsmiles2018 :  Oh bee, I am so heartbroken for you. My sister had the same drama with an in house seamstress in May this year but luckily my seamstress managed to squeeze her in with days to spare, so I understand how upset you must have been as my sister was in pieces. I am sorry you felt like a slob I am sure everyone else thought you were beautiful though. I would personally go for broke like slomotion : said, it can’t hurt right? 

Post # 10
1028 posts
Bumble bee


Edit:  Oh, poor OP!

Post # 11
2238 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2019 - Chateau Lake Louise

sarahsmiles2018 :  So I just want to be sure I am clear; your dress AND alterations were $1000 total? I’m a bit surprised; usually a good seamstress doing bridal alterations will charge $100 an hour an up. Considering how much time she spent ruining your dress, I’d have thought they would have charged even more…

I digress

I think you might have a claim for that amount. If she damagaed the dress to the point that it was essentially ruined – falling off of you at your wedding seems like a pretty clear indication – you should be compensated for the cost of the gown AND her services, since they were what caused the damage.

However, I don’t think there’s sufficient cause to argue for reimbursement of your photography or video services. At some point, you still made the decision to wear the dress. While not ideal, you still could have purchased a different dress elsewhere, and opted to wear something that wasn’t so severely damaged. 

All that being said, you might want to think carefully about how to approach this. As others have pointed out, it can be hard to prove damages in small claims court. Unless you have photo evidence of the condition of the dress at each stage of alterations, the shop will likely dispute your version of events. The burden is on you to prove damages, so if you don’t have that kind of evidence, you are unlikely to prevail. Considering the filing fees, time, and hassle, it might not be worth the effort. 

Have you called the shop owner at all? Have you shown her photos of the dress and explained to her how the dress broke during your wedding? If not, I would start there.

Approach her as though it’s a situation where “We both know this was your fault so…” Don’t try to convince her she’s responsible, conduct yourself as though you have both already agreed that’s true and you’re just trying to decide what she can do to make it better. Simply ask her what she feels would be appropriate compensation for the damage to your gown. If she admits they made some mistakes and offers to refund some of your costs, then you might be able to settle this more directly.

If not, post about your experience on every available platform where brides might be looking for a review of this shop. Yelp, Google, The Knot.  These days, people almost always look for reviews of shops before making a large purchase like a wedding gown and a bad one can definitely make an impact. Be as neutral as possible and include photos. Make sure that other brides are warned about their treatment of you, and your gown. People DO pay attention to those things, and it will hit her in the pocketbook if she refuses to try to make things right. 

I am so sorry this happened to you. You must have been so upset. I know there’s really no way to make it right, but hopefully when confronted with photos, she will admit their wrongdoing and try to make it better. 

Post # 12
1749 posts
Bumble bee

I honestly think a judge would laugh at you if you tried to get money for photography and video. No one forced you to wear that particular dress on your wedding day. I think you’ll have a better chance at just the price of the dress and the alterations. The filing fee for small claims in my area is $35 so it would be worth it.

Post # 13
4963 posts
Honey bee

Check out the filing fees for small claims filing in my area and the filing fee is $181. There’s other fees for filing an amendment cross complaint,  or answer. So I’d say if you’re ok with the fees (I am not sure if they are recoverable or not) go for it. They royally screwed you over.  Likely you xsn only file for the dress. But I’m not a lawyer. 

Post # 14
5 posts

Like Mr. Wonderful would say: Sue them into the Stone age!

As for the photography claim: since those bride dress shops KNOW that the bride will be photographed in that dress and that those pictures (and the husband) are the only thing that will remind the bride of her “happiest day in her life”… So In My Humble Opinion if u are someone who sells wedding stuff u should know that “perfect” is where u start, not where u finish… 

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