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When to Buy Your Wedding Dress: The Ultimate Guide

bride shopping for wedding dress

The ideal time to buy your wedding dress is typically 6 to 9 months before your wedding date. This allows ample time for browsing, fittings, alterations, and dealing with any potential delays or changes. However, if you’re planning a shorter engagement, many boutiques offer rush orders or off-the-rack options that can accommodate a tighter timeline.

We’ll discuss this topic in more detail in the paragraphs below…

Buying a wedding dress is a significant and exciting milestone in every bride’s journey. However, it’s not as simple as walking into a store and picking out a dress. Timing plays a crucial role in ensuring that you get the dress of your dreams without any last-minute stress. This section will guide you through the optimal timeline for purchasing a wedding dress.

So, You’re Getting Married! WTF Do You Do Now?!: Your Ultimate Guide, Planner & Checklist
  • Carter, Lisa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 107 Pages - 04/06/2024 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

Best Time to Buy Wedding Dress

Timing is crucial when it comes to purchasing a wedding dress. It is recommended that brides start shopping for their wedding dress 9-12 months before their wedding date to allow for ample time for alterations and delivery. However, if time is limited, there are still options available.

For those with a shorter timeline, it is best to shop for a dress that is in stock and does not require a long lead time for production. Some designers offer rush orders, but these may come with additional fees.

Months Before WeddingShopping Timeline
9-12 monthsBegin shopping for wedding dress
6-8 monthsOrder wedding dress
3-5 monthsAlterations and fittings
1-2 monthsSelect and purchase accessories

When purchasing a wedding dress, it is important to consider the time needed for alterations. Alterations can take 2-3 months and may require multiple fittings, so it’s best to factor this into the shopping timeline.

Lastly, brides should consider their budget and the time of year they are getting married. Bridal boutiques often have sales throughout the year, with the largest sales happening in the summer and winter months. This may be a good time to purchase a dress to save money.

When to Start Shopping for Wedding Dress

Once a bride has established her wedding date, it’s essential to start the search for the perfect wedding dress. The ideal time to begin the shopping process depends on various factors, including the designer’s lead time required to create the dress, delivery schedules, and alterations time. However, experts recommend starting your wedding dress search about nine to twelve months before the big day.

Some brides may have a shorter engagement period or decide to have a last-minute wedding, making the recommended timeline unfeasible. In this case, it’s still possible to find the perfect dress within a shorter timeframe, but it may require additional effort and compromise.

Another critical factor to consider when deciding when to start shopping for a wedding dress is the type of dress and the style the bride envisions. If the bride dreams of a custom-made wedding dress, it may take longer than usual to create, requiring several fittings and trials, hence the need to start the shopping process early.

Additionally, some designers may require a more extended lead time than others, so it’s vital to research and understand each designer’s timelines before starting the shopping process. Finally, brides should also consider their wedding dress budget and explore options that fit into their budget constraints early on in the shopping process.

Stunning wedding dress

Factors to Consider When Ordering a Wedding Dress

Ordering a wedding dress is a significant investment and requires careful consideration of several factors to ensure a stress-free experience. When placing an order for a wedding dress, there are a few essential details to keep in mind:

Lead TimeMost wedding dresses are made to order and require an average of 4-6 months lead time. To avoid any rush fees or last-minute stress, it’s recommended to order your dress at least 8-12 months before your wedding day.
Alterations TimeOnce your wedding dress arrives, you will likely need to schedule alterations to ensure a perfect fit. Budget at least 2-3 months for alterations, which can be done closer to your wedding day.
Delivery SchedulesDiscuss delivery schedules with your dress designer or bridal salon to ensure your dress arrives in time for alterations and final fittings. Keep in mind any potential shipping delays or customs holdups if ordering internationally.

It’s important to communicate any deadlines or special requests with your dress designer or bridal salon to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience. A reputable vendor will be happy to work with you to make your wedding dress dreams a reality.

Tips for a Successful Wedding Dress Shopping Experience

Shopping for a wedding dress can be overwhelming, but with a few helpful tips, brides can make the experience enjoyable and stress-free. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Research styles beforehand: Before heading to a bridal salon or browsing online, take some time to research different dress styles to determine what you like and what will flatter your body type.
  2. Set a budget: Determine how much you can afford to spend on a wedding dress and stick to it. Remember to factor in alterations and accessories.
  3. Schedule appointments: Make appointments at bridal salons in advance to ensure personalized attention from a consultant and access to a wide range of dresses.
  4. Bring the right undergarments: Wear undergarments similar to what you will wear on your wedding day to get an accurate idea of how the dress will fit.
  5. Bring a trusted opinion: Bring a family member or friend whose opinion you trust to offer feedback and support.
  6. Be open-minded: Try on different styles, even ones you may not have considered before. You may be surprised at what looks best on you.
  7. Plan for alterations: Keep in mind that most wedding dresses require alterations, so make sure to factor in extra time and cost for this important step.

Following these tips can make the wedding dress shopping experience a memorable and enjoyable one, leading to the perfect dress for your special day.

Exploring Different Wedding Dress Styles

Choosing the perfect wedding dress style can be a daunting task, but knowing your body type and personal preferences can help narrow down the options. Here are some of the most popular wedding dress styles to consider:

Ball GownA classic style characterized by a fitted bodice and a full, dramatic skirt that flares out from the waistline, typically made with tulle or satin.
MermaidA form-fitting silhouette that hugs the body from the chest to the knee then flares out at the bottom, creating a graceful and elegant look.
A-LineA versatile style, fitted at the top and gradually flares out from the waist to the ground, creating an “A” shape. Suitable for most body types and wedding styles.
SheathA slim and form-fitting style that hugs the body from top to bottom, perfect for a more casual or beach wedding.
Empire WaistA high waistline that falls just below the bust, with a flowing and relaxed skirt, perfect for a bohemian or vintage-inspired wedding.

Remember that while it’s important to consider your body type and personal style, ultimately the most important factor is how you feel in the dress. Don’t be afraid to try on different styles and step out of your comfort zone to find the perfect fit for your special day.

beautiful bride

Considering Your Budget for a Wedding Dress

One of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a wedding dress is your budget. It’s essential to set a realistic budget before you start shopping to avoid overspending and to ensure that you have enough funds left to cover other wedding expenses.

Wedding dress prices can vary widely, with designer gowns costing several thousand dollars. However, there are also many affordable options available that don’t compromise on quality or style.

When setting your budget, consider your overall wedding budget, what you can afford to spend, and whether you’ll be paying for the dress yourself or receiving financial assistance from family members.

It’s worth noting that some bridal salons offer financing options, allowing you to pay for your dress in installments rather than all at once. However, be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before committing to any financing agreements.

When shopping for a wedding dress, keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to explore different options. You may be surprised at how many beautiful gowns are available at a range of price points.

  • Start by looking at dresses within your budget range.
  • Be upfront with your consultant about your budget, so they can help you find suitable options.
  • Avoid trying on dresses that are significantly over budget, as falling in love with an unaffordable gown can lead to disappointment.
  • Consider purchasing a sample gown, which is a dress that has been used for display purposes and may be discounted.

Ultimately, the key to finding an affordable wedding dress is to plan ahead, shop around, and stay true to your personal style and preferences.

Shopping for Wedding Dresses at Bridal Salons

For many brides, shopping for a wedding dress is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While online shopping can be convenient, there are several advantages to visiting a bridal salon in person. Bridal salons allow brides to try on dresses, receive expert advice, and create a memorable experience with family and friends. Here are some tips for making the most of your visit to a bridal salon:

  • Do your research: Before your appointment, research the bridal salon to ensure they carry the styles and designers you are interested in. You can also look for customer reviews to get an idea of their service and experience.
  • Book in advance: Bridal salons can be busy, especially during peak wedding season. To avoid disappointment, book your appointment well in advance.
  • Bring a support team: Bring a trusted friend or family member with you who knows your style and can offer honest feedback. Avoid bringing a large group as too many opinions can become overwhelming.
  • Be open-minded: While it’s good to have an idea of what you want, be open to trying on a variety of styles. You may be surprised by what looks best on you.
  • Communicate with your consultant: Tell your consultant your budget, style preferences, and any ideas you have for your wedding. They can help guide you towards dresses that meet your needs.
  • Bring the right undergarments: Wear undergarments that are comfortable and provide the support you need. A strapless bra is recommended for trying on strapless dresses.

Visiting a bridal salon is a great way to make the wedding dress shopping experience a fun and memorable event. Remember to keep an open mind, communicate with your consultant, and enjoy the process!

Online Options for Purchasing Wedding Dresses

Shopping for a wedding dress online has become increasingly popular due to its convenience and cost savings. While many brides may be hesitant to buy such an important garment without trying it on first, there are several advantages to shopping online.

One major benefit of shopping for a wedding dress online is the wide range of options available. Brides can browse through countless styles and designers from the comfort of their own home, without the need to visit multiple boutiques. Many online retailers also offer customization options, allowing brides to personalize their dress to their specific preferences.

Another advantage of online shopping is the potential cost savings. Without the overhead expenses of a physical storefront, online retailers can offer lower prices on their dresses. In addition, many online wedding dress retailers offer frequent discounts and promotional deals.

However, it is important to consider certain factors when buying a wedding dress online. One key concern is ensuring accurate measurements. Brides should carefully follow the retailer’s sizing chart and instructions to ensure a proper fit. Some online retailers also offer virtual fitting tools to help with this process.

It is also important to carefully review the retailer’s return and exchange policies before making a purchase. While many online wedding dress retailers offer flexible return policies, it is important to be aware of any potential fees and restrictions.

Overall, shopping for a wedding dress online can be a convenient and cost-effective option for many brides, but it is important to carefully consider all factors before making a purchase.

Finalizing the Purchase: Alterations and Accessories

Once a bride has found the perfect wedding dress, the next step is to ensure that it fits her body perfectly. This is where alterations come in. Alterations are an integral part of the wedding dress shopping experience as they ensure that the dress is tailored to fit the bride’s body comfortably.

It is crucial to leave enough time for alterations to be completed as they can take several weeks, or even months, depending on the complexity of the changes needed. This is another reason why it is important to start shopping for a wedding dress early to allow ample time for alterations.

In addition to alterations, brides need to consider accessories to complete their bridal look. Accessories such as veils, jewelry, and shoes can enhance the overall appearance of the dress and help the bride feel confident on her special day.

When shopping for accessories, it’s essential to keep the wedding dress style and personal taste in mind. Accessories should complement the dress and not overpower it. For example, if the dress has intricate beading, the bride should opt for simpler jewelry to avoid a cluttered look.

Fittings are the final step in the wedding dress buying process. Brides typically have two to three fittings before the dress is ready for the big day. During these fittings, the dress is adjusted to ensure that it fits to perfection.

Overall, the finalizing stage of purchasing a wedding dress is just as crucial as the initial stages. Paying attention to alterations and accessories can make all the difference in creating the perfect bridal look for the special day.


Buying a wedding dress is an exciting but complex process that requires careful planning and consideration. To ensure a successful shopping experience, brides should follow a timeline that considers their wedding date, designer lead times, alterations, and delivery schedules. It’s important to set a budget to avoid overspending, and to research different styles to find the one that suits your body type and personal preferences.

Shopping for a wedding dress can be done at bridal salons or online, and both options have their advantages and considerations. At the final stages of the purchase, it’s important to schedule fittings, select accessories, and ensure proper alterations have been made.

By following these tips and remaining organized, brides can confidently find the perfect wedding dress for their special day and ensure a memorable shopping experience.

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