Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Dress Shopping

May 20, 2019 | riley

Whether you’ve dreamed about your wedding gown for years or you’ve got no clue where to start, wedding dress shopping can be a tulle-filled maze that can leave you overwhelmed, frustrated, and ultimately unhappy with your final purchase. That’s why we’re here to help ensure you’re equipped with everything you need to know to find your dress without the stress.

Finding your dream wedding-day outfit, even if it’s not a dress–hello, jumpsuits–doesn’t have to be so draining. These tips will keep you sane and organized as you navigate the world of boutiques, online retailers, and dress designers. Shopping for your dress is a balancing act–style, budget, time, and a certain magical feeling all have to perfectly align for you to find the one. Keep these wedding dress shopping tips in mind when you begin the dress shopping process, and you’ll find the dress of your dreams. Trust us.

Timing Your Wedding Dress Shopping

You’ll want to start your dress search early because shipping dates for wedding dresses can take up to 6-8 months. We know, it sounds crazy. Most designers typically don’t have a warehouse full of gowns. Unless you’re ordering from online retailers, most designers don’t begin construction until the order is placed.

Some brides–though this is not common, so don’t let it scare you–also run into the issue of ordering what they think is their dream dress, only to realize that their wedding style has shifted slightly since they began shopping. If this happens, you may have time to get a second dress before the big day. Overall, there is no downside to getting started early.

If you’re in a pinch and you need a gown ASAP, these 30 ready-to-ship gowns that you can buy right now may be the perfect option for you.

Wedding Dress Budgets

According to a study done by The Knot, the average wedding dress cost is $1,500 to $2,500. However, it’s not far fetched to see gowns at your local boutique creeping closer to $10,000 to $15,000. To avoid spending more than you want, make your budget clear with your bridal consultant, and don’t pull styles that are over–even if you just want to see how it looks.

If you’re on a budget, keep in mind that there are resale options available to you, such as Nearly Newlywed or Once Wed. Many boutiques also have off the rack sales where you can buy discontinued samples off of the floor. You can also try your hand at finding a non-traditional dress via shops like ASOS, Lulu’s, or Show Me Your Mumu.

Image by MC Weddings

Wedding Dress Styles

One of the best wedding planning tips we can give to any newly engaged person is to have fun when it comes to your wedding-day look! Even if you’ve always dreamt of yourself in a princess ball gown silhouette, try on different styles, just in case. We often hear from brides that they ended up choosing a dress that wasn’t at all what they had in mind, so keep your mind open and have fun with it.

We believe that every body can wear every dress, so we’re not going to tell you what dress style fits your body best. The only way to figure out what works for you is to try on a wide variety of dresses and determine what makes you feel most confident. And if you’re nervous about going into your first bridal appointment, check out our guide on body positivity in wedding dress shopping and prep!

The Sizing Dilemma Of Wedding Dress Shopping

When you first start trying on wedding dresses, you might be shocked to learn that sizing is all over the place. These sizes aren’t anything remotely close to what you wear in your everyday clothes. Wedding dresses typically run one to two sizes smaller than your street size. After finding your dream dress, your consultant will take your measurements and recommend a size based on the designer’s size chart. It’s wise to go with the size that fits you now rather than go smaller because you believe you will lose weight. It’s easier to take a dress in than it is to let it out. No matter what, remember that size is just a number. What matters most is how the dress makes you feel.

Be Prepared For Limited Availability

Another thing to keep in mind is that most boutiques only carry one or two sizes of a gown–typically in the 10 to 14 range–which means you’ll be trying on gowns that might not fit you. Your consultant will add clips to the back of the gown so that you can see what the gown would look like with the correct fit. Go into the experience knowing that the dresses you try on will look different from the final version you wear on your big day.

If you’re searching for a plus size gown, you may want to call ahead and make sure that the boutique you’re visiting carries both the designers and sizing that you need. While this is an unfortunate flaw in the wedding industry, times are changing and designers and boutiques are working hard to accommodate every body shape and size. If you want some curvy-friendly inspo, check out our round-up of stunning plus size wedding dresses.

Image by Golden Days

 7 Tips To Remember When You’re At A Bridal Boutique

  1. Limit your crew – The more people you bring, the more opinions you’ll have. Only bring your closest friends and family members who will uplift you and help you feel confident
  2. Don’t try on too many dresses in one day – Work with your consultant to pick 5-10 dresses. Too many dresses can lead to confusion and stress
  3. Eat beforehand – Shopping for gowns takes a lot of energy, so properly fuel yourself beforehand
  4. Be ready to walk away – A bridal boutique’s mission is to sell you a gown. While most consultants have your interests at heart, remember their job is to get you to select one of their dresses. If at any point you begin to feel uncomfortable, walk away. The right boutique won’t make you feel pressured
  5. Listen to your gut – You might not fall in love at first sight. Listen to your gut feelings when trying dresses on—especially if you can’t pinpoint why you’re feeling that way
  6. Take advice with a grain of salt – While your mom, sister, and best friend love you, they might not love the style of dress you choose. It may be difficult for them to put aside their biases to help you find your dress
  7. Don’t overdo it – If you get stuck in a rut of gown shopping, take a break. It’s easy to overthink this decision and get overwhelmed searching for the “perfect” gown. The more stressed you are about deciding, the less likely you’ll be able to

While dress shopping can seem overwhelming, our advice is to have fun. It’s easy to feel stressed, but don’t forget that this experience should be exciting and joyous. While a little stress is normal, don’t let it ruin the experience for you. Remember that your dress is just one small factor when looking at the bigger picture that is your wedding day!

Image by Salt Atelier

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  1. A very informative blog post. Thanks

  2. Pretty wedding dresses. Finding that perfect dress isn’t easy. But this burden can be eased to a great extent if one chooses event stylist and there’s no dearth of good wedding event stylists in Sydney.

  3. Wonderful dresses and she looking awesome.

  4. I prefer the second dress! The first one is slightly too lacy and feels too thick in terms of the materials.. Grandeur Wedding

  5. Thank you for the important information you have shared with us, it is really worthy to me and I just want to see such wonderful blogs again so keep writing such blogs.

  6. The dress is obviously a very important part of the whole wedding – if you can get that right, everything will follow. Love these vintage style dresses with the off white colour. Absolutely gorgeous.

  7. Because wedding is the day of woman, I guess wedding dress must be treated important as well. Might be better if it is designer wedding dress. Yes, it can be expensive yet might be memorable.

  8. She looks very nice in these wedding dress. Thanks a lot for sharing these with us.

  9. Thank you for sharing the whole information. The bridal dress is the most important part of the wedding and I am thinking of getting my dress too from the Unbridaled. They have a wonderful collection. Thanks for the post.

  10. nice information to get thanks for sharing this

  11. Every girl dreams of a fairy tale wedding where she wishes to be best dressed person in the event and wants every pair of eyes to be one her. Getting the wedding dress right is the first step towards achieving that result and your tips on how to shop for the prefect wedding dress is certainly helpful.

  12. I am an Indian girl so we did wear gown, but after reading this blog I really just want to buy a bridal gown for my after party.

  13. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post. l love your blog.!! bridesmaid dresses

  14. WOW this Article was really helpful i am looking for this kind of article. many many thanks for sharing

  15. Many thanks for sharing with us the awesome article. It is really helpful for me.

  16. it’s really a good post. Love this post. It’s such a realistic look at what is involved with picking out your dress. I love to reiterate that just because you see it hanging on a rack or a mannequin and “YOU” think it doesn’t look right or won’t look good on you.

  17. Great tips for bride wedding shopping. hanks for sharing it. I’ll be sharing it on our Facebook wedding gown page too!

  18. Marvelous! What do you think about the dress with open back? is it fashionable currently?

  19. My sister is getting married soon, and she asked me to help find her the perfect gown. Your article had some great tips for choosing a good wedding dress, and I liked how you said to tackle dress shopping early in the wedding planning process, as gowns take several months to arrive and my sister doesn’t want to be on a time crunch. Thanks; I’ll share this with my sister to help her choose the best wedding dress.

  20. wonderfull post thanks for giving this information.

  21. thanks for sharing this wonderfull post loved it!

  22. Since I’m a Wedding Planner this blog is really going to help me.I’m definitely going to try this.

  23. lovely post!! thank you!!

  24. thanks for sharing this wonderfull post loved the dresses

  25. Thanks for sharing this blog. It is very helpful for choosing right dress for wedding.

  26. You made an interesting point when you mentioned that it is important to listen to your gut while shopping for a wedding dress. My best friend is getting married soon, and he and his fiance have been stressing out about finding the right dress. I’ll have to share your advice with them so that they lower their stress levels.

  27. I am thankful that your article mentions the importance of listening to your gut when selecting a wedding dress for the special day. My daughter is going to be married so I am looking into the sort of etiquette she may need to keep in mind. I’ll be sure to send your article so the two of us will be knowledgeable when the time comes.

  28. Thanks for the advice to only try on about 5-10 dresses per day so you don’t get overwhelmed or confused. My wedding is coming up in about 4 months, so I need to get serious about choosing a dress. As I’m shopping with my sisters this weekend, I will keep in mind to stick to 5-10 dresses in total.

  29. Thanks for your helpful guide for wedding dress shopping. After hearing that my friend is engaged to her boyfriend of five years, I thought about helping her find wedding dresses for sale. I like your advice about listening to your own gut when choosing a dress that you think looks good on you. Perhaps, I shall then tell this to my friend so she wouldn’t be stressed in finding a gown.

  30. The dress is obviously a very important part of the whole wedding – if you can get that right, everything will follow. Love these vintage style dresses with the off white colour.

  31. Thanks for sharing such a nice blog. It is very helpful for choosing right dress for wedding.
    Amazing tips.

  32. A very informative blog. Helpful tips!

  33. Thanks for the information your article brings. I see the novelty of your writing, I will share it for everyone to read together. I look forward to reading many articles from you.

  34. Beautiful shots! Incredible styling

  35. Awesome stuff! Thanks for sharing

  36. Beautiful dress!

  37. That’s a really informative article, I am very much inspired. Your tutorial helps me as like my mentor, i am looking forward to more informative article form you.

  38. I think short clothes make the whole celebration feel relaxed. Wonderful dresses and she looks awesome. Your blog is very nice and impressive.

  39. I’m looking for a wedding dress myself, so this has been super helpful :)

  40. Such beautiful wedding dresses. I really like the second rose gold one.

  41. My sister is getting married this winter, and I’m helping her find a wedding dress to wear for the ceremony this weekend. I appreciate you letting me know that most boutiques usually only carry one or two sizes of a gown so it would be best that you’re prepared for limited availability when choosing the perfect wedding dress for you. I’ll keep this in mind when I accompany my sister with her wedding dress shopping tomorrow.

  42. My sister is getting married in April next year, so I’m helping her find the perfect wedding gown for the occasion. I appreciate you informing us that it takes up to 6-8 months for most to find the right wedding dress since most designers won’t begin construction until an order has been placed. I’ll be sure to share this with my sister so we can start looking for a bridal salon for her wedding gown soon.

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