When to Buy a Wedding Dress – Your Ultimate Dress Shopping Timeline

Congratulations on getting engaged! By the time you find yourself on this page, it's safe to assume that the initial excitement of the proposal has evolved into the anticipation of planning the wedding – the highlight of which is, of course, your wedding dress.

Did you know that you should start considering your dress a little over a year before your wedding takes place? As the highlight of the most special day of your life, this may come as no surprise. To ensure that you find the dress of your dreams and have enough time to take care of all the little details, you must plan out and follow a wedding dress shopping timeline. Here's all the information you need to get started.

12-14 Months Before the Wedding

The ideal wedding dress shopping timeline will begin 12-14 months before the wedding. This is when you should start hashing out all the details that will make the experience of finding the perfect dress less overwhelming.

Set the Budget

The very first thing you need to consider before anything else is your budget. Fortunately, whether you want to spend a few hundred dollars or a few hundred thousand, you can find a beautiful dress out there to suit your budget. Setting a budget will help narrow your options and ensure that your heart doesn't settle on a dress that your wallet can't afford.

Do Your Research

With so much to consider before you even start shopping, it can be helpful to research various aspects to give you a better idea of what type of dress to buy and from where. Here are some important starting points:

  • Body type – if you don't know your body type, do a little research to figure out which type of body you have so you can look for styles that flatter your figure
  • Colors, fabrics, and other details – depending on the season your wedding is taking place and what type of venue it's being held at, you can research the colors, fabrics, and other details that will best complement the ceremony
  • Prices – do some research to understand basic price information, so you know where and how to find the best deals and make sure you're not getting ripped off

Choose Shopping Buddies

It would be best if you avoid relying on your own opinion alone when choosing your wedding dress. In most cases, you'll be feeling at least a little bit nervous and indecisive about making one of the biggest decisions of your life. Choosing a few close friends and family members to accompany you on your wedding dress shopping journey will provide you with some objective perspective on the look of the dress and can help alleviate anxiety while you shop. 

Begin Shopping

Once you've settled on a budget, have done your research, and have chosen your shopping buddies, it's time for the fun to begin. A helpful tip for anyone who wants to save a little money is to visit local stores to get a good idea of your size and shortlist some gowns you love, but when it comes to making the purchase, check online for the best deals and discounts. Purchasing your dress online can potentially save you hundreds to thousands of dollars.

9-8 Months Before the Wedding

If you started planning and searching for your dress a year or more before the wedding, you should have your heart set on one nine months before the big day. This is the ideal time to make the purchase, so you have plenty of time to make alterations, customizations and purchase all the additional stuff you'll need to wear along with the dress.

5-6 Months Before the Wedding

Speaking of additional stuff you need, six months before the wedding is the perfect time to purchase all that extra jazz. Make sure you get the shoes, accessories, and undergarments to go along with your dress.

3 Months Before the Wedding

Schedule your first fitting a few months before the wedding. If you do this too soon, you might be a different size by the time the wedding happens. If you do it too late, there might not be enough time for alterations. Three months is the sweet spot.

6-8 Weeks Before the Wedding

A couple of months before the wedding, schedule your second fitting to make sure that your size hasn't changed or that any alterations are updated in time if it has.

3 Weeks Before the Wedding

A few weeks before the wedding, schedule your final fitting. This is when all those finishing touches will be made to get the dress in perfect shape for your big day (eek!).

Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping During the Pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, it turned the world as we knew it upside-down. While life is starting to regain a sense of normalcy, some changes will probably be in place indefinitely. Shopping is one experience that won't be the same for a while, so as you get used to the "new normal," here are some essential things to remember while wedding dress shopping during a pandemic.

Call the Store

Call whichever stores you're planning on visiting to see whether they prefer to schedule a visit and what their shopping protocol is concerning social distancing. It will make the experience smoother all-around if everyone knows what to expect.

Wear a Mask

For safety and decency's sake, always wear a mask in the store, whether you're browsing or being fitted. The last thing you would want is for yourself, your friends, or your family to get sick before or during your big day.

Prepare for a Different Experience

Remember that every shopping experience has been different since the pandemic, so be ready to follow whatever rules and procedures each store has put in place. It would be best for you to dedicate some extra time for shopping as well, as things can take a bit longer with such procedures in place.

Ask About Delivery Dates

Whether you're ordering your dress online or having it delivered from a store after customizations have been made, be sure to inquire about delivery as it might be delayed or take longer than it used to.

A lot of consideration and planning goes into shopping for a wedding dress, but it doesn't have to be a stressful or overwhelming experience. Stick to the wedding dress shopping timeline above to make the hunt for your perfect dress a smoother, more enjoyable experience for everyone. Making a plan and timeline will also help you find the dress of your dreams at the most reasonable price. The sooner you start, the better!

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