Not all seamstresses are created equal. Some are great at garment alterations, keepsake quilting, custom children's clothing or men's tailoring. However, when it comes to your wedding dress, you want a seamstress who is an expert in bridal and formal wear alterations. Your bridal shop may offer in house alterations or they may recommend a local seamstress. Your best bet, is to ask your friends who have recently gotten married, who they recommend. The following are questions to ask, or at the least, points to consider.
What type of experience do they have? Just because they can sew, or work at a bridal shop, doesn't mean they are experts altering wedding gowns or formal wear.
Do they listen to what you want? A good seamstress will not only listen, but will be honest about what will work and what won't. They will also be able to state their limitations. For instance, I love to alter wedding gowns, but if your groom's coat needs to be altered, you can leave it at my shop, but I will send it to another qualified seamstress! (Don't worry, I will be completely up front about this, lol!)
Are you comfortable with her? I often tell my ladies we will become close friends. Your seamstress will know some of your most well kept feelings about your body - you need to feel at ease with her. My dressing room has never had a person look in the mirror and say they are perfect! I know, I've gotten dressed in there, too!
When you leave your first fitting, you should know your return fitting date and an estimate of your costs. I can not stress this enough - so many brides find out the alterations are much higher than expected!
Your wedding is your special day, and your gown is your investment. A professional seamstress is not defined by her rates, but by her experience, satisfied customers and the love of her work. Do your research and find the one you are comfortable with. Rates can vary greatly (expect to pay more if you get your alterations done at a bridal shop as compared to an experienced seamstress). Most of all, find one you are comfortable becoming close friends with!