What to Know Before You Go Wedding Dress Shopping

Image of a rack of wedding dresses with a banner that reads what to know before you go wedding dress shopping.

Shopping for your wedding dress can be one of the most amazing–and stressful–parts of planning a wedding. Here are some tips on shopping for a wedding dress that can help to make the process easier and more fun.

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This post is about things to consider before shopping for a wedding dress.

It can be one of the most exciting times of your life. The question has been popped, you’ve said yes, and now it’s time to plan your wedding.

Finding the perfect wedding dress is one of the most important parts of planning a wedding.

While it’s not impossible to plan a last minute wedding, in general, the earlier you start to plan before the big day, the better.

There are some important things to know—like the fact that many wedding dress salons require an appointment for you to be able to visit and shop for dresses there. Some bridal salons also limit the number of people that you can bring with you when you try on dresses.

Tips like these can be helpful to know as you prepare for and plan your wedding. Here are some tips that can help make shopping for a wedding dress less stressful and more fun as you plan for your big day.

What to Know Before You Go Wedding Dress Shopping

Here are some tips on shopping for a wedding dress.

1–Set a budget.

One of the most important things to do when planning a wedding is to set a budget. Finding a venue, catering, and wedding photography will likely be some of your biggest budget items, as will buying a wedding dress. Have a wedding dress budget in mind before you start shopping, and be honest and firm about your budget when shopping for a wedding dress.

2–Check out social media for dress ideas.

Social media can be a great place to get ideas about wedding dress styles and trends that can help make shopping for a wedding dress easier. Consider setting up a Pinterest board to collect pins on things like wedding dresses, wedding hairstyles, and more. Instagram can be another good source for finding wedding ideas.

3–Make a list of bridal shops to visit.

Do your research on wedding shops in your area, and also consider traveling to wedding dress shops if there are none in your area. Some things to consider about each shop includes: whether the bridal salon has the dress styles and designers that you like, whether the atmosphere is one that makes you comfortable and relaxed, and whether the bridal salon has wedding dresses that fit your price range.

Ask about shop policies, payment plans, and other important details before your visit. You can also call and ask if you can stop by and visit the shop to get a feel for things before setting an appointment.

4–Ask for recommendations.

You may already have your dream wedding shop in mind, but in case you don’t, friends and family can be a great source for finding out about the best bridal shops to look for wedding dresses.

5–Get your friends and family involved.

It goes without saying that a lot of planning goes into putting together even a smaller wedding. Trusted family and friends can be a great resource for wedding advice and tips, and for giving you honest opinions on things like choosing a wedding dress. Plus, it can be a great way to spend quality time together doing fun things like shopping, getting your nails done, and eating at your favorite restaurants.

6–Know how many people you can bring.

Find out if the shop you plan to visit to look for dresses has a person limit. Some wedding dress shops have a 3 to 4 person limit per party per visit. Some shops allow you to bring more people for an additional fee. It’s important to know this before your visit so that you can plan ahead, especially if you or family and friends have to travel for the appointment.

7–Book appointments early.

Many popular wedding dress shops are available by appointment only. This means that you need to book an appointment ahead of time to visit the shop and meet with a consultant to try on dresses. Plan to book appointments up to 6 months ahead of time for some of the more well-known or popular bridal shops, especially those in major cities.

8–Get some sleep the night before.

In some ways, shopping for a wedding dress is like running a marathon. It can make you feel both exhilarated and exhausted at the same time. Get the best sleep that you can the night before going shopping for wedding dresses. Practice a self care routine if it helps you to relax and relieve some of the strain of shopping and planning a wedding.

9–Be on time.

It’s good wedding etiquette to be on time for appointments. In big cities and at popular bridal salons, being prompt is almost always the thing to do. Keep in mind that stylists may have several appointments each day. Bridal salons can be very busy places and you want to make sure you have as much time as possible to work with your stylist and try on dresses.

10–Plan for meals.

Not only can shopping for a wedding dress make you tired, it can also make you hungry. Make reservations to eat at your favorite restaurant(s) in-between appointments. It’s a good way to relax and reward yourself, plus you can use the time to debrief with your wedding party to discuss how you feel about different dresses that you have seen or tried on.

11–Wear comfortable clothing.

You’ll spend a lot of time changing out of clothes and into dresses. Wear clothes that are comfortable and easy to change into and out of. (You may also want to take care when it comes to wearing makeup or self-tanner that may rub off on the dresses.) You’ll spend a lot of time out of clothes, so wear great underwear and have any modesty pieces that you might need ready.

This is a great time to invest in a cute “Bride” bag to carry all your things—like different types of bras and underwear, modesty pieces, flip flops, snacks, your hydration bottle, and so on—while you shop and run errands related to planning your wedding.

12–Style your hair.

Style your hair similar to how you would like to wear it on your wedding day. This can help you imagine a complete look for each dress that you try on. Getting a manicure and pedicure can also be a great way to plan your look, and bond with the members of your wedding party.

13–Bring a test bouquet.

Bring a bouquet of flowers to hold while trying on different dresses. Holding a bridal bouquet with each dress is a great way to imagine how you will look walking down the aisle.

A bouquet of flowers picked from your local grocery store or farmer’s market works well for the task. Or, use a faux flower bouquet. Faux floral arrangements are easy to care for and you don’t have to worry about the flowers going bad.

14–Consider your shoes and accessories.

Wearing shoes and accessories that are similar to those that you plan to wear on your wedding day gives you an idea of what your whole outfit will look like on the big day. This doesn’t mean that you have to wear the same accessories when you finally pick a dress, but it can help you to put together your overall look for a wedding outfit.

15–Be prepared to wait.

Once you pick out a wedding dress, don’t be surprised to learn that you have to wait months for the dress to arrive in your size and with any fit, size, or design customizations that you need. Sometimes the process can take 6 months or longer, especially for custom made dresses.

You’ll also need to allow time for making alterations to the dress, and for shopping for shoes and accessories to match your wedding dress. This is one of the reasons that it is a good idea to start planning your wedding as soon as possible after you become engaged. It can also be a good idea to have an alternative wedding dress in mind in case your first choice doesn’t work out.

This post was about things to consider before shopping for a wedding dress.

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  • Photo by Charisse Kenion / Unsplash
  • Photos are for illustrative purposes only.

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