There is something exciting and fantasy about the concept of wedding dress shopping — yet it’s as difficult as it seems. Most fashionistas fantasize of this moment, but it’s a whole other universe, more labor-intensive and complex than online shopping, and unlike anything you’ll experience in a brick-and-mortar store. Therefore, getting started can be challenging, and the process is (admittedly) not always glamorous.

Taking on this endeavor requires expert advice. To help you seamlessly navigate the shopping process, we’re breaking down where to start, when to buy a wedding dress, are reviewing important aspects of wedding dress planning and highlighting all the mistakes brides make when searching for their bridal gown.

Make Sure You Do Your Research

Those brides at the back: Do not go into this process blindly! Doing your research is incredibly important during your wedding planning. Spend your weekends reading designer websites, online magazines, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

Identify the elements of the garment that you love, such as the neckline, the silhouette, the fabric, the beadwork, and so on. Knowing which brands, gowns, and styles you like the most is extremely helpful when trying to narrow down your options before your first appointment. Moreover, it provides your consultant with a road map to decide what to try first.

Obviously, you do not have to know exactly what you wish to wear beforehand, but make sure you take into consideration the venue, dress code, season, number of guests, and your preferred style so that you have a place to start and build from.

If you are a fashionista with a vision in your head of the perfect wedding dress, be sure to manage your expectations. Though you might have an idea of what a gown might look like in your head, it may not exist in real life exactly as you imagine. Keep an open mind when shopping. If you’ve got your eye on a specific brand or dress, contact the store ahead of time to ensure it will be available at the time of your appointment.

Give Yourself A Runway To Make Decisions

Lead time is key. The bridal gown is a custom piece that is not always made to measure. In other words, the process of making your wedding dress cannot begin until your measurements are taken and the deposit has been received. Once the deposit is received and any and all design specifications are outlined and signed off on by both you, the client, and the store or design house, all fabrics and embroidery/beading needed are secured. Logistics are then put in place in the designer’s atelier to produce your gown over the course of a few months, to reach you in time for three fittings prior to the wedding date.

As each brand and dress have different timelines, it’s best to avoid shopping too late (which might result in rush fees or unavailable options) or too early (to avoid missing out on styles that are going to be released between now and the deadline to place your order).

Remember About Production Delays

On average, we recommend allowing six to eight months for bridal gown production. You should also allow yourself a couple of months to complete the alteration process before your wedding. However, with the supply chain delays that every industry, not just bridal, is suffering, things have altered, and manufacturing timelines have evolved. Fabric suppliers and bridal gown makers are all running late. We strongly advise buying your wedding gown at least one year before your wedding date to guarantee it arrives in time for you to get alterations done and avoid stress when the big day comes.

Wedding gowns are taking an average of nine to ten months to manufacture in this environment due to lack of inventory, shipping problems, and manufacturing and supply chain delays, so putting your wedding dress order at least a year in advance of your wedding will ensure your wedding dress comes with plenty of time to spare.

While it’s essential for every bride who is planning a wedding to start looking for her wedding gown as soon as possible, it’s equally important not to start shopping too early, as you may end up disappointed. A two-year search, for instance, is too long unless you can settle on the dress you fell in love with once and for all.

On the positive side, you have plenty of time to conduct research on wedding dress planning.

Budget Realistically

Go into appointments with a game plan: Stay. On. Budget! While there’s no reason you can’t be flexible with your spendings, having a top-line number in mind will allow you to stay within budget and allow for other looks you’ll need around the ceremony. In case you’re still uncertain about where to cap your spending, ask yourself at what price point your “dream dress” becomes an uncomfortable gown.

Remember that alterations, accessories, your veil, shipping, sales tax, and any dry cleaning or preservation after the wedding aren’t included in the gown price. Don’t forget to take all expenses into account when deciding how much you are comfortable spending on a wedding dress.

Limit Your Entourage

You should keep your crew small and intimate, one to two people maximum when you’re shopping, no matter where you go. The more people there are, the more opinions there are, and the worse things will be. Furthermore, it only takes one negative voice or a little spat to derail the pleasant tone of an appointment. Be honest with yourself about who in your close circle lifts you up and who might make you feel uneasy.

 

Attend A Trunk Show

If you already know which designer you want to wear and want to focus on a specific wedding fashion aesthetic, attend a designer trunk show by visiting the brand’s website and searching for future events. There, you will most likely find a considerably greater variety of a designer’s most recent works, and you may even have the opportunity to meet a company representative or the designers themselves. Trunk shows frequently provide pricing incentives for going. So, while the price is the price—bridal salons are not places to bargain or barter—you might be able to cut 10% off your purchase. It will considerably lower costs associated with wedding planning.

 

Is Custom The Right Fit For You?

Customizations and their fees are at the discretion of each individual company and designer. It never hurts to inquire if you want a modification made to a gown but be prepared for the adjustments you want to make to render the gown a custom-made piece, which instantly raises the price by a notch, or ten.

The process of designing a personalized wedding gown is time-consuming and involves vision, patience, and a deep knowledge of what you want—as well as plenty of creativity. Since you will most likely not see your final wedding gown until your first fitting, you must have faith in your selected designer. A bride who has a clear vision and has engaged the assistance of a stylist is often most prepared for this approach. The bride who is indecisive or impetuous when it comes to fashion is not a good fit for the custom design process—and that’s alright.

Embrace Your Body

Purchasing a gown based on how you believe your body will look on your wedding day is a mistake. While your adjustments may become more intensive if you meet your fitness objectives in the run-up to your wedding, buying dresses that don’t fit you now in the hopes that they will later is a risky fashion strategy.

We often discourage the idea of shedding for the wedding. The man you’re marrying proposes to you exactly as you are. There may be a desire to improve one’s health and wellness, but don’t get too focused on weight and size. Instead, concentrate on your present body type and how you feel in your chosen gown right now.

Wedding planning is, in many cases, once a lifetime experience. We recommend you enjoy every step of the process and prepare ahead to avoid stressing out about delays and other issues that may arise. And if you are still unsure when to buy a wedding dress for your special day, you can always ask for our professional advice