5 Tips for Buying a Wedding Dress Online

Hello, loves! When buying a wedding dress, today’s bride-to-be is not limited to local wedding shops alone. Buying a wedding dress online has become increasingly popular for three reasons: first, buying online gives the bride-to-be freedom to shop anywhere in the world. Secondly, it requires no appointment (and can be done in your pj’s). Third, buying a wedding dress online makes comparison shopping easy – and can even save you a little money. Why, then, does the idea of buying a wedding dress online still sound a wee-bit frightening to brides? The answer: the wedding dress is one of the most important (maybe even most expensive) wedding day purchases a bride will make… and it’s totally normal to want your dress to be absolutely perfect. That’s why we’re showing you five tips for buying a wedding dress online to make buying handmade dresses more accessible – and, a little less scary. So, without further adieu, grab that measuring tape and let’s get to work!

buying a wedding dress online

dress by pure magnolia couture, photo by simply rose photography

Debunking a Common Wedding Myth

Before we get started, let’s debunk one common myth. Buying a wedding dress online doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the shopping experience with your mom, sister, or best friend. Even if you’re leaning towards buying online, don’t miss out on the opportunity to try on a few dresses at a few stores. It’ll give you insight into your favorite neckline style… and will be a fun memory to remember.

Tips for Buying a Wedding Dress Online

1. Seek recommendations, feedback, and positive reviews.

Before buying online, ALWAYS check recommendations and reviews of the shop where you’d like to buy. Two huge benefits to buying a wedding dress online (specifically from an independent handmade artisan) is the ability to a) speak directly to the designer, and b) read reviews before you buy. Most designers are happy to work with you on custom orders. Before paying that deposit, though, trust your gut: if you receive poor customer service from the beginning, move on – there are plenty of trustworthy artisans happy to help you and provide excellent customer service.

2. Have measurements taken by a friend.

Buying a wedding dress online only works if you’re willing to do your part, and that means giving the designer specific measurements. Ask your mom, sister, best friend, or honey to take your measurements – or, find a tailor or seamstress who can do it for you. Your dress designer will rely heavily on these measurements, so this tip is especially important. (All you’ll need? A simple measuring tape.)

3. Read shop policies carefully.

Read, understand, and follow the shop’s policies carefully, as all shops’ policies may differ. Most shops require a non-refundable deposit to start, so don’t agree unless you’re sure it’s the gown you love – and you’re ready with the cash to get started. Note: most dresses are non-returnable, due to their custom nature.

4. Give yourself plenty of time.

Independent gown designers are often one-person businesses, so keep that in mind when planning to order. Give yourself plenty of time to decide and place your order far in advance to fit into their timeline. Also, it’s key to expect an adjustment (or two) after you receive the gown. Find a local seamstress who can make any adjustments, as needed. Finally, if you give yourself a little extra time, in a worst case scenario situation (which most likely won’t happen) you’ll have a little time to correct any issues before the big day.

5. Don’t buy accessories until you have the dress.

Until you have the wedding dress at home and hanging in your closet, refrain from buying any bridal accessories. This is because you won’t know exactly how the accessories will look until you can try them on with the dress (like a veil, for instance). Of course, if you find an accessory you just know you’re going to love, hang on to the receipt and find out about a return policy, just in case.

buying a wedding dress online

wedding dress by joan shum, photo by kim hayes photography

Important Tips: Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations. If you are buying a wedding dress online made by a well-known designer and the price sounds too good to be true – it probably is. Also, please don’t ask anyone to ‘replicate’ (copy!) an exact gown (or any handmade item for that matter) to save you money. It doesn’t seem fair to the original designer.

Where to Buy?

We recommend buying handmade! Check out our featured handmade designers in The Marketplace for everything you need for your wedding from wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, sashes, clutch purses, and other handmade wedding finds!

Joan Shum and Pure Magnolia Couture are proud Featured Artisans of Emmaline Bride and sponsors of the site. To be honest? We love their work regardless and wouldn’t recommend them unless they were awesome. So, be sure to check out their collections (see Joan Shum and Pure Magnolia Couture) if you’re thinking about buying a wedding dress online and tell ‘Em Emmaline Bride sent you!

Happy Planning!


Are you buying a wedding dress online?

Or, did you have an experience? Share your comments, questions, or insight below!

This post may contain affiliate and/or sponsorship links. See our disclosure page for details.
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3 Comments on "5 Tips for Buying a Wedding Dress Online"

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September 26, 2014 1:50 am

It can also pay to add an inch to all the measurements you take. Remember, it’s easier to take a dress in that let one out. Sometimes they can’t be let out because there’s no extra fabric in the seams.

October 17, 2012 6:45 am

Hello! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the great info you have here on this post. Searching for wedding dress online is not a pieces of cake. Really i have my wasted my 100 hrs for such a wedding dress but the tips from your blog give me basic understanding.

September 12, 2012 6:49 pm

Thank you so much for these tips!

I went and tried dresses on in a boutique, but it just made me cry – I’m too curvy and too non-traditional for all the dresses they had. I searched around online and found a dress that seemed perfect, but the reviews of the vendor were horrible – they were in china, had a no-return policy, and lots of people said the dress they received was totally different from the one ordered. I was terrified of the idea of ordering online! Like your advice says, I decided not to go with… Read more »

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