I just found this fantastic website by a seamstress in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has all kinds of helpful information for brides and bridesmaids. I specifically want to share her Bridal Gown Shopping Rules because she really tells it like it is. One of my favorites is Rule #4:
"Sales people will tell you that any dress can be altered. As you stand there in a dress that can not be zipped up the back because it is 6" too small a sales person will assure you that pieces can be taken off the bottom to be put in the seams to make the dress fit...
Do not let yourself be talked into buying a dress that needs more alterations than you feel comfortable with or that your budget can handle. It's best for the structural integrity of the gown and your nerves to have the least amount of altering as possible - AND that's coming from someone who makes a living altering."
My Number 1 rule of altering is given enough time and money, pretty much anything can be done. BUT, it is always better to find a dress that fits well and needs as little altering as possible. Sometimes circumstances change (I am talking to you, pregnant brides!) and then some custom alterations are required. However, there are thousands of dresses out there and if you can't find the dress of your dreams, order a custom dress from yours truly.