How to Shop for a Wedding Dress

What you need to know before saying yes to the dress.

Shopping for your wedding dress should be an exciting time, but we know it can be stressful as well.

Photo: Painted Peacock Photography

wedding dress shopping tips, how to shop for a wedding dress
Photo by Erika Delgado

Shopping for your wedding dress should be an exciting time, but we know it can be stressful as well. After all, it’s arguably the most important outfit you’ll ever wear, and there is a lot of pressure for it to be perfect. As you’ll want to enjoy the engagement process as much as possible, we hope to help make shopping for your bridal gown a painless experience. The below tips should help make your search more efficient and allow for certainty when you find “the one.”

- Plan ahead. It can take around six months (or more) for a wedding dress to arrive after being ordered, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to find the gown. 

- Book appointments. Most salons require advance notice, so don’t forget to make an appointment. If you have family and friends coming to visit, make sure to schedule as soon as possible, as desirable appointments (such as weekends) tend to fill up fast. 

- Research styles. While you never truly know until you try something on, it will save you and your bridal consultant time if you already have a rough idea of what you’re interested in. 

- Be open-minded. That said, if a loved one or the consultant pulls a wild card for you to try it on, give it a shot! If you hate the dress, you can always take it off or not even show it to your entourage. You may even end up loving it!

- Don’t worry about the size. While it’s not true of every designer, the majority of bridal gowns use a different sizing chart than you will experience at most retail stores. As a result, your dress will likely be several sizes bigger than you’re used to buying – this says nothing about your body!

- Bring accessories. You don’t have to bring the exact shoes you’ll use, but heels (or flats!) can make a difference in the look, so it’ll help to complete the picture. Undergarments that don’t distract by showing through are also useful. If you'll be wearing jewelry from your mom and grandmother, get the pieces for your appointment so you can make sure the gown you choose complements the accessories.

For more tips, learn how to find the perfect mother of the bride dress and how to make sure the groomsmen look their best. Discover expert advice on frequently asked questions when shopping for a wedding gown and discover tips on attending a trunk show. Be sure to sign up for the Inside Weddings newsletter to get the latest trunk show events in your inbox every Tuesday!