15 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

15 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

For Your Bridal Appointment

Bridal Stylsts help the bride-to-be try on and fit wedding dresses as she shops for the perfect gown.

Whether you’re a vintage romantic, a boho babe, or a sleek and modern bride, picking out the dress is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning. Before you step foot in the salon and start pulling your favorite styles, however, you need to lay the groundwork for success when it comes to gown shopping. We’ve put together fifteen essential shopping tips, from setting up your appointment to finally saying “YES!,” that will make finding your perfect gown as seamless as possible.

1. Set Your Budget You want to find your dream wedding dress, but you also need to consider the rest of your wedding budget. When setting an allowance for your gown, take note of the cost for shoes, accessories, bridal lingerie, and any alterations that will need to happen before the big day. At your appointment, avoid putting on anything that’s over your budget; you don’t want to fall in love with a gown that’s out of your price range.

2. Start Early: 9-12 Months Before the Wedding While BHLDN has dresses that can be delivered in a matter of days, many made-to-order gowns can take several weeks or even months to arrive! Even though gown shopping is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning (Trying on pretty dresses and drinking champagne? Don’t need to tell us twice!), it can also be the most time-consuming when you factor in delivery time and alterations. The best time to buy a wedding dress is 9 to 12 months before you say ‘I do.’ Starting early helps ensure you’ll have your dress ready for the big day!

3. Set an Appointment Almost all bridal salons require an appointment; you’ll want to call or book an appointment online about 4-6 weeks in advance. Weekends tend to book up quickly, so see if you can take a half day and set aside time to shop on a weekday. Since weekdays are generally calmer than weekend bridal appointments, you can take your time while finding a dress you truly love.

4. Do Your Homework Take the time to learn some common bridal terms, then set aside a few hours to browse gowns and see what really speaks to you. Take note of neckline options, gown styles, and overall aesthetics so you can guide your stylist when your appointment arrives. However, don’t be afraid to try on dresses that aren’t exactly what you envisioned. An unexpected style might surprise you! Researching also helps you establish a budget; you can get a feel for how much the gowns that catch your eye will cost.

5. Choose Your Shopping Squad Stylist Ariel G. says, “Gown shopping is such a special time—bring the people whose opinions you value most.” In general, our stylists recommend bringing no more than 3-4 people who are most in tune with what you want, like your mom or your bridesmaids. Choosing your gown is a big decision and having too many opinions can make the process more difficult. Stylist Cassie B. adds, “While it can certainly be fun to involve the whole bridal party, keeping the outing intimate ensures that you make the most out of your experience!” Worried about not including all your besties? After you’ve found the one, grab some sweet treats and bubbly, and plan a gown reveal at home to include all your lovely ladies!

6. Call the Bridal Salon Ahead Ariel says, “Take a peek at the shop’s assortment before your appointment to get inspired and inquire about whether the gowns you’re loving will be available to try on. This will allow you to set expectations and get excited about your favorites! Make your stylists aware of any unique sizing restrictions or a fast-approaching wedding date. We’ll be sure take a close look at inventory and suggest styles that will accommodate.”

7. Treat Yourself the Morning Of Do you need to go full glam for your appointment? Definitely not, but taking the time to apply some minimal makeup will help you visualize your look for the big day when trying on wedding dresses. (Keep it light to avoid getting any makeup on the gowns!) If you’re planning on an updo, bring a few pins and hair ties, too. Be sure to share any beauty ideas with your stylist during the appointment, so they can factor them into the dress selection.

8. Bring Undergarments & Shoes For a smooth bridal appointment, our stylists recommend bringing shoes with a similar heel height to those you plan to wear on your wedding day. As for what to wear under a wedding dress, you’ll be in and out of gowns so you want to wear something that feels comfortable! “Nude or strapless undergarments for dresses are perfect to avoid distracting from the gown and offer the best idea of how it will look on the big day,” says Cassie.

9. Forget What You Know About Sizing Wedding dress sizing varies and sample sizes can be limited, so it’s important to focus on the style of the dress rather than a perfect fit or the number on the tag during your appointment. Most wedding dress shops carry 1-2 sample sizes per style, so the stylists will clip and adjust each gown to fit your figure. Use our measuring guide before you go so you have a general idea of your size. After the appointment, you can schedule alterations and have your gown tailored to fit you perfectly.

10. Be Open to Suggestions from Your Bridal Stylist A wedding dress doesn’t need to go with everything else in your closet—be open to trying things that fall outside your comfort zone. If you think you’re a bohemian bride, throw on a ballgown! There’s no harm in trying something new; your appointment is the perfect time to try a variety of styles and have fun!

11. Don’t Be Afraid to Say YES! The shopping experience is different for everyone, but when you slip into a dress that makes you feel like a bride, that’s the one! If it’s the first dress you try on, that’s okay! Don’t feel like you have to consider lots of options if you find your dream dress early in the appointment.

12. Think Practically A dress can look absolutely stunning when you’re standing still, but you should also be sure that you can comfortably walk around, take a seat, and dance the night away in your gown. Also consider how your gown will work with your wedding location. Getting married in a breezy beachfront ceremony? A heavy ballgown may not be the most comfortable choice.

13. Consider Your Finishing Touches If you’re planning to incorporate any must-have accessories—like a piece of heirloom jewelry or your mom’s veil—into your wedding day look, bring them along to ensure that they’ll work with your dress. If you don’t have anything in mind yet, take some time to browse before the appointment and see what catches your eye, whether it’s a veil with coordinating lace or a sparkly belt to offset a clean silhouette.

14. Read the Fine Print Before You Sign Before making your purchase, review the returns and exchanges policy to be sure you won’t run into any hiccups if you need to reconsider your gown selection. You’ll also want to double check with your stylist on which size to order; keep in mind that it’s always easier to take a gown in than it is to let it out, no matter how talented the tailor.

15. Schedule Your Alterations Before Leaving Ariel says, “Keep in mind that most gowns are designed to be altered for a perfect fit.” Don’t forget about alterations as you plan out your overall budget and timeline. It’s best to schedule your first alterations appointment right after the delivery date for your gown. Not sure where to start? Stylists at most bridal dress shops can suggest trusted tailors near you!

1. Set Your Budget You want to find your dream wedding dress, but you also need to consider the rest of your wedding budget. When setting an allowance for your gown, take note of the cost for shoes, accessories, bridal lingerie, and any alterations that will need to happen before the big day. At your appointment, avoid putting on anything that’s over your budget; you don’t want to fall in love with a gown that’s out of your price range.

2. Start Early: 9-12 Months Before the Wedding While BHLDN has dresses that can be delivered in a matter of days, many made-to-order gowns can take several weeks or even months to arrive! Even though gown shopping is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning (Trying on pretty dresses and drinking champagne? Don’t need to tell us twice!), it can also be the most time-consuming when you factor in delivery time and alterations. The best time to buy a wedding dress is 9 to 12 months before you say ‘I do.’ Starting early helps ensure you’ll have your dress ready for the big day!

3. Set an Appointment Almost all bridal salons require an appointment; you’ll want to call or book an appointment online about 4-6 weeks in advance. Weekends tend to book up quickly, so see if you can take a half day and set aside time to shop on a weekday. Since weekdays are generally calmer than weekend bridal appointments, you can take your time while finding a dress you truly love.

4. Do Your Homework Take the time to learn some common bridal terms, then set aside a few hours to browse gowns and see what really speaks to you. Take note of neckline options, gown styles, and overall aesthetics so you can guide your stylist when your appointment arrives. However, don’t be afraid to try on dresses that aren’t exactly what you envisioned. An unexpected style might surprise you! Researching also helps you establish a budget; you can get a feel for how much the gowns that catch your eye will cost.

5. Choose Your Shopping Squad Stylist Ariel G. says, “Gown shopping is such a special time—bring the people whose opinions you value most.” In general, our stylists recommend bringing no more than 3-4 people who are most in tune with what you want, like your mom or your bridesmaids. Choosing your gown is a big decision and having too many opinions can make the process more difficult. Stylist Cassie B. adds, “While it can certainly be fun to involve the whole bridal party, keeping the outing intimate ensures that you make the most out of your experience!” Worried about not including all your besties? After you’ve found the one, grab some sweet treats and bubbly, and plan a gown reveal at home to include all your lovely ladies!

6. Call the Bridal Salon Ahead Ariel says, “Take a peek at the shop’s assortment before your appointment to get inspired and inquire about whether the gowns you’re loving will be available to try on. This will allow you to set expectations and get excited about your favorites! Make your stylists aware of any unique sizing restrictions or a fast-approaching wedding date. We’ll be sure take a close look at inventory and suggest styles that will accommodate.”

7. Treat Yourself the Morning Of Do you need to go full glam for your appointment? Definitely not, but taking the time to apply some minimal makeup will help you visualize your look for the big day when trying on wedding dresses. (Keep it light to avoid getting any makeup on the gowns!) If you’re planning on an updo, bring a few pins and hair ties, too. Be sure to share any beauty ideas with your stylist during the appointment, so they can factor them into the dress selection.

8. Bring Undergarments & Shoes For a smooth bridal appointment, our stylists recommend bringing shoes with a similar heel height to those you plan to wear on your wedding day. As for what to wear under a wedding dress, you’ll be in and out of gowns so you want to wear something that feels comfortable! “Nude or strapless undergarments for dresses are perfect to avoid distracting from the gown and offer the best idea of how it will look on the big day,” says Cassie.

9. Forget What You Know About Sizing Wedding dress sizing varies and sample sizes can be limited, so it’s important to focus on the style of the dress rather than a perfect fit or the number on the tag during your appointment. Most wedding dress shops carry 1-2 sample sizes per style, so the stylists will clip and adjust each gown to fit your figure. Use our measuring guide before you go so you have a general idea of your size. After the appointment, you can schedule alterations and have your gown tailored to fit you perfectly.

10. Be Open to Suggestions from Your Bridal Stylist A wedding dress doesn’t need to go with everything else in your closet—be open to trying things that fall outside your comfort zone. If you think you’re a bohemian bride, throw on a ballgown! There’s no harm in trying something new; your appointment is the perfect time to try a variety of styles and have fun!

11. Don’t Be Afraid to Say YES! The shopping experience is different for everyone, but when you slip into a dress that makes you feel like a bride, that’s the one! If it’s the first dress you try on, that’s okay! Don’t feel like you have to consider lots of options if you find your dream dress early in the appointment.

12. Think Practically A dress can look absolutely stunning when you’re standing still, but you should also be sure that you can comfortably walk around, take a seat, and dance the night away in your gown. Also consider how your gown will work with your wedding location. Getting married in a breezy beachfront ceremony? A heavy ballgown may not be the most comfortable choice.

13. Consider Your Finishing Touches If you’re planning to incorporate any must-have accessories—like a piece of heirloom jewelry or your mom’s veil—into your wedding day look, bring them along to ensure that they’ll work with your dress. If you don’t have anything in mind yet, take some time to browse before the appointment and see what catches your eye, whether it’s a veil with coordinating lace or a sparkly belt to offset a clean silhouette.

14. Read the Fine Print Before You Sign Before making your purchase, review the returns and exchanges policy to be sure you won’t run into any hiccups if you need to reconsider your gown selection. You’ll also want to double check with your stylist on which size to order; keep in mind that it’s always easier to take a gown in than it is to let it out, no matter how talented the tailor.

15. Schedule Your Alterations Before Leaving Ariel says, “Keep in mind that most gowns are designed to be altered for a perfect fit.” Don’t forget about alterations as you plan out your overall budget and timeline. It’s best to schedule your first alterations appointment right after the delivery date for your gown. Not sure where to start? Stylists at most bridal dress shops can suggest trusted tailors near you!

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