When Andrew and I got engaged, I couldn’t wait to go wedding dress shopping right away. You, too? Have you been to any bridal shops yet? Or have you started shopping for your wedding dress online? Before you start, be sure to read these wedding dress shopping tips so you can avoid making some classic mistakes. We’ll also scatter some gorgeous wedding dresses throughout this post, so you’ll get a head-start on wedding dress shopping before you even leave the house! We’re also answering this wedding advice question we received last week from bride-to-be, Britney. She asks,
“I got engaged recently and we are planning a January 2018 wedding. When should I start looking for a wedding dress? It feels far away right now but my friend said you are supposed to have at least a year and I’m already past that, so I’m freaking out about waiting too long. Any advice appreciated.”
Wedding Dress Shopping Tips
When to Start Wedding Dress Shopping
That’s a good question, Britney. The date may seem far away now, but it will be here sooner than you think — weddings seem to sneak up quickly, especially once you are to the 3-month mark. The reason why it is advised to shop at least one year in advance (or, really, anywhere from 9 to 12 months before the big day) is because you’ll have enough time to browse, try on different styles, finalize the dress, have measurements, get it custom-made, fitted, fitted again, and still have time to go in for the final try-on with your bridal shoes and accessories. Ideally, of course. But that’s not always how things go, and that’s okay. Some brides wait awhile until they find the perfect dress; others are eager to start looking for a wedding dress because they’re nervous they won’t find one in time.
In your case, I’d recommend you start looking for a wedding dress as soon as possible. You don’t have to have one picked out or purchased yet (but you should ideally by early May or June), but you should start browsing. Get a feel for the style you like; try on different silhouettes; examine your budget; decide what style and formality you’d like to have. Don’t feel rushed. Take your time. And, of course, check out our wedding dress shopping tips, below, to give you some assistance when you do try on dresses for the first time. Hope it helps!
7 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips to Remember
Start shopping for your wedding dress as soon as you’re ready to! Don’t go too early or you’ll be unsure of your wedding theme, location, time of year, etc. that may be important when deciding on your dress style. Don’t go too late or you’ll feel rushed, and you don’t want to settle on any dress you kind of, sort of like, just to cross it off the list.
Mistake #2 – Bringing everyone you know
You may think it would be fun to have the entire bridal party in tow, but it may add frustration. Opinions from a handful of people may make it more difficult to narrow down a dress. Also, bridal shops can be pretty small and, a crew of ten following you around might not make for the most comfortable Saturday afternoon. Instead, or at least for the first shopping trip, bring your mom with you. Or bring your mom and your Maid of Honor. Some brides find it fun to go alone just to look — totally down with that, too! It’s totally up to you. (Alternatively, you can get started by browsing at home on your laptop, in your pjs! You’ll love these trending wedding dresses, and these surprisingly affordable wedding dresses.)
I think many brides-to-be (at least, I know I did this, as did many of my friends) assume you’ll go into a bridal shop and start trying on dresses, request your size, try it on, and it’s perfect. Even if it’s not the dress, at least you get a pretty good visual of how it will look – right? Wrong! Many of the sample sizes are either way too small or way to big, or the one you want is only available in a petite (hello, 5’11” here!) or is too big and you’re swimming in it, or it’s so small you can’t even get your arms inside. I’ve been there. The thing is when you’re shopping for wedding dresses, you’re almost always going to be trying on a sample size that is too big or too small for you. That’s okay. Work with it. Try your best to imagine how it will look once it is custom made to suit your shape. And remember, too, that a size is nothing but a number. The way the dress will conform to your individual shape and accentuate your own curves is a whole different story; you’ll really love the dress once it is tailored just for you.
Also, don’t try on too many dresses at once. Stick to no more than ten dresses per visit; otherwise, you may get overwhelmed or confused.
Sleep on it. Wait at least three days. If, after this amount of time, you still can’t get the dress out of your head, you’ve probably found the perfect one. Until then, keep shopping until the one finds you because you’ll know when it does.
Similarly to the above, don’t let anyone rush you. I went to a couple bridal shops and one of them was very adamant about my dress being gone if I didn’t buy it because someone else “showed interest” and that I should put a deposit on it right away, yada yada yada. I get it, I really do, but a wedding dress is expensive and you should definitely wait and give yourself time to think about it unless you are absolutely sure it is THE DRESS for you. Otherwise, don’t worry about it; the dress probably will be available, and if not, it wasn’t meant to be anyway. P.S. Not all salespeople or bridal shops are like this either, so don’t worry.
You may have your heart set on a wedding dress with lace sleeves and open back, but don’t be afraid to try a few different styles outside of your comfort zone. You may just find a dress you weren’t even expecting to like — and it will probably look amazing on you.
Before you go, make sure you call ahead and see if you need an appointment, or double-check the store’s hours to ensure you have ample time to browse and try on wedding dresses comfortably. Many bridal shops require an appointment, some weeks ahead of time, so please plan ahead for this. And you may want to check out sample sales, too, which is a great way to see some different silhouettes from designers and get a handle on favorites early in the dress shopping game.
BONUS: Don’t forget to bring these!
When you go wedding dress shopping, be sure to wear one of these (it will give you a better idea of how the dress will look with no straps in the way); these are helpful for a seamless fit; heels, even if you bring a pair in a tote bag, so you can see how it looks when you walk down the aisle; and a ponytail holder, so you can see your hair in a mock updo or worn down with the dress. You may also want to bring your phone or a small camera so your mom or MOH can snap a photo. Having a picture at your fingertips will help you remember which dresses you tried on, see which wedding dress silhouettes flatter your figure best, and will help you decide.
I hope you enjoyed these wedding dress shopping tips. Wedding dress shopping is one of the best parts of planning your wedding. It was a very memorable experience for me. I went with my mom a few times and, each time we had an absolute blast. If you bring your mom or your Maid of Honor, go to lunch afterward or grab coffee and make a day of it; you’ll be glad you did!
I wish I could see all of the pretty dresses you decide to buy! Feel free to tag us (#EmmalineBride) on Instagram if/when you find it. :)
Need more wedding dres shopping tips?
Have a specific wedding dress question, need wedding advice, or have some shopping tips of your own to share? Please leave a comment below or Ask Emmaline and we’ll swoop in to help!
Happy Dress Shopping!