Top Things to Do for Wedding Dress Shopping

Shopping for the wedding dress is an exciting experience. There are a few key items that need to be addressed before your say “yes” to the dress. We’ve outlined them for you to keep as a guide. Read on!

1. Create a style vision board.

Grab photos from popular wedding magazines and/or Pinterest, gather color swatches you love, and compile everything in one single book for easy access. During your appointments with bridal stylists, you’ll have a very clear vision of how you want to look on your wedding day, and–more importably–you will be able to communicate your vision clearly.

2. Establish your budget.

Before you even step foot into a bridal salon, know how much money you are willing to spend on a gown. Your magic number does not include the cost of alterations and accessories–you’ll want to budget those items separately.

3. Determine the wedding location.

I always suggest that couples find the wedding planner first and then the venue–the dress comes next. Different venues inspired special attire. So decide where you want to tie the knot first, and then consider if the gown you’ve been dreaming about will fit the overall vision. Also, some religious ceremony location may not approve of less modest wedding dresses. So just be mindful of how your venue might impact style options.

4. Consider the weather.

Have you set a wedding date for the colder months? If so, then maybe a gown with sleeves or a chic wedding shall should be factored into your style requirements. For the hotter months, a heavy gown with lots of fabric could be quite uncomfortable in 90 degree weather.

5. Make a list of retail stores and/or bridal salons that interest you.

Do a search of the best salons in your area as well as nearby areas, and look for salons with great customer reviews from real brides. If you have a tight budget, consider finding a wedding dress at a retail store (e.g., Nordstrom, J. Crew, or Anne Taylor).

6. Or locate a custom dress designer. 

Be sure to ask questions to understand your dressmaker’s policies, production methods and requirements, timeline for production, materials needed, number of fittings, and delivery date. Also, be sure to view a portfolio of previous work before making a final decision. If you need to, create a wedding planning checklist of all the questions you want to ask!

7. Purchase your gown 8-9 months before the wedding day.

This will be the requirement for most special wedding dress orders at bridal salons everywhere–though some stores may have longer or shorter timeframes depending on inventory and the dress manufacturer’s demand. This period also gives you enough time to schedule multiple dress fittings and account for any possible delays. Use this wedding planning checklist to mark off the important items as you get closer to your deadline.

8. Purchase undergarments.

You will be asked to bring necessary undergarments with you to your first alterations appointment. If you know you’re going to need Spanx, a strapless bra, or the like; be sure to have those items with you so your alterations specialist can accurately pin your dress and gauge necessary adjustments.

9. Purchase Bridal Accessories.

Once you have the dress and you know your overall style vision, plan out your accessories to really complete the bridal look.–this includes shoes, a veil or headpiece (if desired), jewelry, and a wrap of shrug for cooler locations.

Top Cover Image Wedding Dress: Hayley Paige

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