5 Must-Have Rules for Wedding Dress Shopping

Discover the steps for making sure your shopping trip goes smoothly.

You said yes to the proposal, and now it’s time to say yes to the dress!

Photo: Vue Photography

You said yes to the proposal, and now it’s time to say yes to the dress! But before you start shopping for the perfect bridal gown, it’s important to go over some ground rules. After all, for many brides this is one of the most important parts of the celebration and you’ll want to make sure that the shopping experience itself and the dress you choose are both as wonderful as you’ve imagined. There is a chance that if the process of finding the gown is unpleasant, you won’t feel the same glow of happiness when you put it on for your big day. Here are some guidelines to follow: 

rules for wedding dress shopping, how to shop for a bridal gown

Photo by Dmitri and Sandra; Planning & Design by Unveiled Hawaii

- Research first. It’s always possible that the dress you wind up with is a completely different shape than you imagined, but it’s still helpful to have a rough idea of what you’d like to see. Going into a bridal salon with zero ideas can make for a hectic appointment. 

- Start early. The turnaround from ordering a gown to receiving it can be at least six months or more, and that’s even before alterations. This is one item on your to-do list that you definitely don’t want to procrastinate on.  

- Schedule appointments. Most salons require advance notice, so you’ll need to call ahead to book a time slot. If loved ones such as your mom and/or bridesmaids are traveling to shop with you, it’s better to schedule sooner rather than later because desirable weekend appointments can fill up fast. 

- Limit your entourage. It can be difficult if you have an especially large family or bridal party, but a crowded appointment with too many opinions can lead to drama and indecision. You might even want to consider shopping for your dress alone. 

- Be open-minded. Pardon the pun, but you don’t want to be married to one style – especially if you can’t seem to find the right dress. It’s possible you’ve been drawn to the wrong style for your body type. Let the consultant do their job and consider a pick that looks different from your Pinterest board. If you hate it, then take it right back off!

Get tips from a bridal stylist, learn why you might need a reception dress, and view answers to common wedding-dress shopping questions.