I usually answer this question with a question, "why would you want to wait until the last possible moment?"
The answer to that is typically either because the bride wants to lose weight before getting measured for her dress, because she is having trouble financially, because she cannot commit to a style and wants to look further or because she may be pregnant at the wedding.
Pregnancy and wedding gowns, once a taboo, are now much more accepted. Brides are embracing their status of being with child, most choosing an empire style that flows around the belly, but some choosing to highlight their baby bump with a fitted gown. When a bride knows before she orders her dress, either because she is already pregnant or because she is hoping to be, options abound. An expectant bride does not need to feel any less beautiful on her wedding day than her more traditional counterpart.
But what if you ordered your gown before you knew you'd be pregnant at the wedding? I have had a number of these situations arise throughout my years of selling gowns. My advice here is as follows:
Begin by calling the store where you bought your gown. Let them know your new status. They deal with this all the time, and there will be no one judging you. (Whenever I get the "I am pregnant!" call from one of my brides, my first words are ALWAYS, "Congratulations! You must be so excited!" The common response is a pause, sometimes with tears, because this unplanned pregnancy has changed everything from plans to do a champagne toast at the wedding to where the couple can honeymoon.) Be prepared to answer questions regarding your due date, whether this is your first pregnancy, if not, how did your body change during your previous pregnancy. Armed with this information, your consultant will give you your options which may include:
- If this is your first pregnancy, your wedding is only a few months away, and your dress is an empire, A line or princess cut, especially if it has a lace-up back, your consultant may tell you that you will likely still be able to wear your dress with minor alterations. Rejoice!
- If you just recently ordered your dress and your wedding is months away, chances are you will be too big by then to wear it. Talk to your consultant about whether you have the option to order a different size, or switch to a different style. Do not expect the answer to be yes, in most cases once you order a dress the store is committed to the manufacturer for that gown in that size, but it is worth a shot. I have had circumstances in which a manufacturer agreed to swap a smaller size for a larger one, so there may be the off-chance that you'll get lucky!
- If you have a style with seaming and construction conducive to certain alterations, you may be able to wear your original gown, but with major work. Have a long talk with your consultant and seamstress about the estimated cost, what will need to be done, and how the dress will look in the end. Usually this will be cheaper and faster than ordering a whole new dress, but generally only works if a.) you have an empire or natural waist seam as well as extra length on the bottom so that the entire skirt can be lifted up for more fullness through the belly or b.) you have access to additional fabric (with embellishments, if any) in the same dye lot so that gussets (extra panels) can be sewn into the sides.
- If the previous scenarios will not work, it may be time to consider a new dress. Talk to the store where you bought the first gown. They'll let you know about your time frame and whether you have time to order something new. See if you can negotiate a deal with them, for example, they might agree to forgive your balance on the original dress if you buy another dress with them, or they may give you a flat discount on the second dress. Or they may agree to swap a sample off the floor for no additional money and keep the dress you ordered as a new sample. All possibilities, but dependent upon manufacturer's rules for discounting as well as the saleability of your ordered gown.
Be joyful! A new life is a blessing! Things may be a little complicated right now as you sort it all out. Take it from me, a mother of two, that this is only the beginning of how wonderfully complicated every mundane task will be for the next few years!