Brides have different budgets. The wedding gown market accommodates this reality by selling gowns that run from under $100 to over $50,000. While it never hurts to shop for a good deal, the reality is that more expensive garments are almost always made of finer materials and reflect more careful, and often more artistic, construction.
It takes about the same time and effort to alter an inexpensive gown as a more expensive one. This means that the cost of alterations, relative to the cost of the gown, may be (much) higher for inexpensive gowns. In fact, more expensive wedding gowns can actually be easier to alter, as their designers built them thoughtfully, e.g., with more seam allowance. (And conversely, very high-end gowns, even if bought at a discount, are more intricately constructed and therefore can cost more to alter.)
Brides are sometimes shocked to hear that their inexpensive gown, made in a foreign land by low-paid workers, requires hundreds of dollars of alterations here in California by a skilled craftsperson. Of course, there are alternatives. Many dry cleaners will alter any garment requested, for very little cost. For routine tasks, this may be enough. But for anything more, their efforts can make things worse.
Fitting a wedding gown isn’t easy. It can be complicated and subtle — regardless of the original price of the gown. Whether buying a gown or getting it altered, you get what you pay for.