Shopping for a wedding dress is SO exciting, but can also be a little daunting. Don’t worry though; we’ve compiled our top tips to shop for your dream dress!

Start Early

Depending on the designer, wedding gowns can take anywhere from 6-8 months to come in after you order. This timeframe doesn’t include the time it takes to find your dress and time for alterations; therefore you’ll want to start looking for a dress 10-12 months before your big day.

Have a Budget

Before you step foot in a bridal shop, you’ll want to have a budget in mind. When figuring out your budget you want to remember that on top of the price of the gown, you’ll need to factor in tax, shipping and alterations. Having a budget before you go into a shop will save you time trying on dresses and will help keep you from falling in love with a dress that is outside of your budget.

Call in Advance

While some shops do accept walk ins, you’ll want to schedule an appointment ahead of time to guarantee they’ll have a space for you to try dresses on and a bridal consultant available to assist you. Calling ahead of time will also allow you to ask any questions you have about the appointment. If you’re eyeing up a certain wedding dress, you’ll want to ask if they have a sample dress in store for you to try on. Just because a bridal shop sells a certain designer does not mean that they will have every dress from the designer.

Figure Out Your Dress Code

If you’re getting married at a religious venue you’ll want to check if there are any restrictions on what you can wear (ex: low back, strapless, etc.). You’ll also want to take cues from your venue and the time of year you’re getting married to figure out what kind of gown you’re looking for. If you’re getting married on the beach in July, you probably don’t want to wear a heavy ball gown.

Invite a Small Group

Wedding dress shopping is so exciting and you’ll want to invite all your close friends and family! While that sounds like fun, it can also change how your appointment goes. Having too many opinions when you’re trying on wedding gowns can confuse and overwhelm you. Try to keep your group small and filled with respectful people you love and who will be honest!

Get Ready for the Appointment

When you’re trying on wedding dresses, you’ll want to wear or bring along a pair of nude underwear and a nude strapless bra. You’ll most likely be changing in front of your bridal consultant and you don’t want to see your undergarments when you’re trying on the gowns. It’s also beneficial to get ready and look your best for your appointment! Feeling your best and looking gorgeous while trying on gowns will help you envision how you’ll look on the big day and improve your experience. Be cautious of wearing jewelry that can catch on the gowns or wearing makeup that can get on the gowns!

Be Open to Try Anything

Many brides go into their first appointment set on getting a specific style dress and end up buying a dress that is the complete opposite. This is because you don’t actually know what looks good on you and what you like until you try it on! Your bridal consultant will pull dresses that they think you will like. Try them on! Dresses can look completely different on than on a hanger. Lastly, pick one dress each time you go to a shop that is completely out of your comfort zone, because like we’ve said before… you won’t know if you like it until you try it on!

Take Lots of Pictures

All you’ll have to remember your big day is pictures! Many brides will love a dress when looking in the mirror, but dislike how it looks in pictures. Taking lots of pictures will also help you if you’re having a hard time deciding between a few gowns. However, some shops don’t allow you to take pictures of dresses until you purchase; this can be a question you ask when you call in advance.

Move Around in Your Dress

When you go to a bridal shop, they’ll have you try the dress on and stand on a pedestal in front of the mirror. However, before you commit to buying a dress make sure you sit down and move around in it. You won’t be standing still on your wedding day; you’ll be out there dancing the night away! You want to be able to do that comfortably as you’re in your dress for hours.

Buy a Dress That Fits Now

Many brides want to slim down for their wedding day and bridal consultants are constantly told that the customer is going to lose weight and they need to order a smaller size. However, your body is not going to completely change. It’s also easier to take a dress in than to let it out if it is too small. Do yourself a favor and order a dress that fits now!

Read the Contract

Before you sign on the dotted line make sure you read the entire contract (including the fine print!). It’s standard for a bridal shop not to accept returns or give refunds. So if you’re unclear on anything in the contract make sure to ask questions before signing.

Trust Your Gut

You always hear that “you’ll just know” when you try the dress on. That’s not always the case, so don’t stress if you don’t have that moment right when you put the dress on. If you’re unsure about a dress or you would need to make large changes to the dress, it’s probably not your dress. On the other hand though, if the day after your appointment you can’t get a specific dress out of your head, it may just be the one! At the end of the day though, you will look beautiful in whatever dress you choose!