You’re newly engaged and depending on what type of bride you are you might immediately add it to your to do list to start your wedding dress shopping ASAP, because you just can’t wait to try on and find your perfect wedding dress. We totally don’t blame you.
Some brides are a bit unsure as to where to start – when to start looking, when to buy their wedding dress, how to find the dress and where to find it. What do you need to do before wedding dress shopping? What happens there at the bridal store? Yes, wedding dress shopping can be pretty confusing…a little bit daunting - and it is not uncommon for brides-to-be to become a little overwhelmed by the process.
You can breathe a sigh of relief because we will cover everything that will entail from the first bridal store appointment to the final alterations to the dress. With our complete timeline of the wedding dress shopping journey you will be well informed on when and how to shop for your bridal gown.
Generally speaking, most online advice or bridal stores would recommend you start your wedding dress shopping 12 months prior to your wedding date. Some bridal stores don’t accommodate anything less than 6-7 months before the wear date and if they do, they will charge you a “rush fee” which can be anywhere between 20-30% of the dress price. Yikes!
Let’s start your wedding dress shopping timeline.
12 Months To Go
Set Your Wedding Dress Budget
There’s a few ways you can go about setting a budget for your wedding dress. You can set an amount that you are willing to spend as a percentage of your overall wedding cost; i.e You project an overall wedding cost of $50,000 and you allocate 10% of the budget towards your wedding dress, meaning that $5,000 will be what you would be willing to spend for your own.
Alternatively, you can do a bit of research and see how much the wedding dress styles you like cost on average and you can loosely base your budget around the average market price of those designs.
Whichever way you choose to set your wedding dress budget, it is a very important step in moving forward.
Still a bit unsure? Check out our tips on setting your wedding dress budget.
Do Your Research
If you are the type of bride that knows exactly what she wants and on the hunt to get exactly that, you may need to allow yourself some extra time to do research and go search at the different bridal stores. If you’re more of a chilled, laid back bride, kind of know what you want and you’re happy to find something along as you go, you can afford to not shop so far in advance.
Do some research so you have a basic idea before you head off to your first few bridal appointments. To get you started try to figure out;
What kind of dress style do you like? I.e soft and flowy, fitted, backless etc. What is your body shape? Do you know what silhouettes best suit your shape?Is there a special type of fabric you like?
There are thousands of photos in Google Images and Pinterest so there is no shortage of wedding dress inspiration online - you’re bound to find a few wedding dress styles you would consider.
Lots of research will give you plenty of options but if you still feel a bit unsure, that’s perfectly OK. The bridal consultants that you will meet with at your bridal appointments will be able to help you further by narrowing down dress selections to suit your body shape and price range.
Start Wedding Dress Shopping
Do some research online to the bridal stores that you want to visit. First, check out their range of bridal gowns online to see if they are a good fit for the styles that you like and their range falls within your price bracket. Make the appointments with the bridal shops and ideally, try to cluster the appointments close together so you can make immediate comparisons to the dresses you’ve tried on and whilst the dresses are fresh in your memory (as most bridal stores don’t allow taking photos when trying on their dresses).
Tip: Be selective about your entourage that will be accompanying you to the bridal appointments. Bring only the people whose opinions and support matter the most to you. Ideally, it would be just 2 others – your mother, your maid of honour or your bridesmaid.
Bringing too many people will encourage many different, conflicting and unnecessary confusing opinions. Shopping for your wedding dress is a personal experience and it is already stressful as it is. Keep your support network simple and intimate.
If you have found some styles of wedding gowns that you like, bring them along to the appointments to show them to your bridal consultant, it will help them better help you in finding your perfect wedding dress.
8 Months To Go
Purchase Your Dress
This is the time where most bridal stores would encourage you to finalize your dress selection and decision – and place the order.
You will go through finalizing your order by confirming all the dress details such as colour, sizing and any additional requirements or requests (if it is allowable). You’ll also be required to make a deposit (usually 50% of the dress price) as a confirmation of your order and sign a contract.
Why is the deposit required? Because wedding gowns are expensive. They incur a big up front cost to make in terms of materials and labour. Designers and stores just can’t risk being cancelled on without having some costs covered prior to starting the production process. Your wedding gown will typically arrive to store between 4-5 months from the date of order placement and confirmation.
Read through the contract carefully and ask as many questions as you need to – you know they are a good bridal consultant if they cover all the basics, explain any areas that you will need to pay attention to and make sure that you are signing on the dotted line with absolute certainty.
4 Months To Go
Shop For Your Accessories
Now that you have your dress ordered, you have all the details to shop for your accessories including undergarments, veil, shoes and jewellery.
If you intend to wear shape-wear, it would be a good idea to have it ready and bring it to your first fitting of your wedding dress. If you aren’t opting for shape-wear and just the regular undergarments such as a strapless bra, find one that you would feel comfortable to wear for the entire day. Whatever undergarments you plan to wear under your wedding dress, it will have an impact on the final fit of your dress so make sure to bring it along when you get fitted.
Are you planning on having a veil or just hair accessories? If you want a veil, you can order through the bridal store which you purchased your wedding dress or at another store if you wish to do so.
Depending on your wedding dress, there are different types of veils that you can choose from to compliment your overall look. If your wedding dress and overall wedding theme is more casual, you can go with a cage or blusher veil. If your dress is more dramatic, you can opt for a chapel or cathedral length veil that sets off the look beautifully.
You will almost definitely need hemming of your wedding dress to make the length fit perfectly. If you are planning on wear heels, make sure it is something that you will be comfortable to wear for the entire day as you will be on your feet for the most of it.
Jewellery items such as earrings or bracelets will be determined by your dress style, depending if your dress is minimalistic or more dramatic and detailed. Crystal earrings in a stud or dainty drop style will always work with whatever style dress.
3 Months To Go
Your dress would have arrived to store and you would be required to pay the balance of your dress. Inspect the dress to ensure all the order details have been fulfilled such as extra fabric, extra beading etc.
If it is all good, you are now ready for your first fitting.
Almost every bride would need some alteration to their wedding gown to achieve a perfect fit. Depending if you have had much weight fluctuations since you ordered the dress, you may need anywhere between 1-3 fittings. It is important to get the timing right for the alterations. Having your fittings too early may end up costing you more due to weight loss or gain. Getting your gown in for alterations too late may mean there isn’t enough time for all the alterations – especially if your dress has a lot of beading, embellishments, delicate fabric or is difficult to work with.
The lead time taken to complete your alterations will vary from store to store but generally speaking, the store would require up to 60 days – again, the time required depends on the complexity of the job.
Side note – our turnaround time for alterations for wedding dresses are super quick – without any additional charges or fees. What’s more, our alteration prices are extremely competitive. We’ve been told by our customers they’ve been quoted 2-3 times the price we have charged them for the alterations of their bridal gowns!
When you come for your first fitting, remember to also bring all the undergarments that you will be wearing on the day as well as your shoes. The undergarments will help determine the right fit and length of your dress to make the most appropriate adjustments. If you don’t have your shoes yet – just bring along something similar in heel height.
4-6 Weeks To Go
Your Second Fitting
Beside the fit of your wedding dress that needs to be perfected, if you want other modifications to be done to your dress such as design tweaks – adjusting the neckline, sleeves, adding a bustle, now would be the time.
Pay attention to any bunching or pulling of your dress and note this to the tailors so they can make the fit right for you. Move around so you have a good idea as to what the dress feels like with movement as this is how it will feel like on your big day. Make sure you are comfortable from every aspect because now would be the crucial time to make any changes.
2 - 3 Weeks To Go
Your Final Fitting
You should make sure one last time that your wedding gown fits like a glove and comfortable. By this time if you have not/are not participating in any crash dieting since the last fitting, your weight will likely remain quite stable from now up until the wedding day. Check one last time at your final fitting to ensure you’re happy with how the dress sits and fits on you.
At this final fitting it is also a good idea to bring along at least one person from your bridal party or a family member that will be present at your wedding to learn how to properly get you into the dress, button or zip you up and handle the bustle.
Storing Your Wedding Dress
Ensure your wedding gown is stored and on a hanger in a breathable, opaque protective garment bag and keep your dress out from direct sunlight. Keep the dress in an upright position and don’t try to fold some layers or sleeves as it may snag on the dress’s embellishments. If you plan to keep your veil with your wedding dress, also make sure to keep the veil in it’s own protective bag in case of being caught on any beading.
1 Day To Go
Put together an emergency kit containing safety pins, fashion tape, scissors, band aids (god forbid…blisters!) etc. It may sound like preparation overkill but it’s better to be over prepared than being stuck in an absolute dilemma on the day with no solve.
Go to bed early, unwind and relax…you surely don’t want any under eye bags!
On The Wedding Day
The day you have been waiting for! Do any final steaming of your dress if required and allow yourself about 30 minutes to get into your undergarments and get dressed. Assign someone from your bridal party to help you into your dress and any buttoning or finishes. Then…time to seize the day and have the most amazing time on the most special day of your life!
After The Wedding
To Keep Or To Pass On The Dress?
This special dress got to see you through on a magical day. Now it’s time to decide whether you will hold onto the dress as a keepsake or pass it on to someone else to make their dream wedding dress a reality. If you decide to keep your dress, you can try a wedding dress preservation service that will dry-clean and store your dress in a preservation box.
If you are saying good-bye to your dress, you can opt to sell it online via pre-loved wedding dress sites such as Stillwhite, wedding forums, Facebook Wedding Dress Buy & Sell pages, Facebook Marketplace or you can even consign your wedding dress with a consignment bridal store.
What this means is that the store will sell the wedding dress on your behalf and they take a commission percentage of the selling price of the dress. Typically, the commission rate is anywhere between 30-50%.
Whether you’re after an off the rack, made to order or custom made bridal gown, it is all achievable with us. We’re even able to accommodate tight time frames if you’re in a pinch for time to get a wedding dress. p you every step of the way in your wedding dress search.
Whether you’re after an off the rack, made to order or custom made bridal gown, it is all achievable with us. We’re even able to accommodate tight time-frames if you’re in a pinch for time to get a wedding dress.
We also provide in house alteration services for wedding dresses, so another thing that will save you a lot of time and money!
Get in touch with us now so we can get you started in your wedding dress shopping journey.