When Should I Start Shopping For My Wedding Dress?

When Should I Start Shopping For My Wedding Dress?

People will get pretty nosy about your dress. Of course they’re trying to be nice, they want to show an interest in your wedding planning – and let’s be honest, your dress is probably one of the more interesting things about wedding planning (besides the whole committing-to-one-another-for-life thing, the dress part is just fun.).

Or at least it’s supposed to be. It’s supposed to be fun. But, as brides, we just have to make everything complicated, don’t we?

I was flabbergasted the first time someone ‘shamed me’ because I hadn’t started dress shopping nine months before my wedding. (I mean, not actually shamed me – it was more of a ‘tsk tsk’ sort of shaming, but still. NINE months? That’s how long it would take to grow a human being inside of me. You’re telling me that someone can’t make a wedding dress in nine months?)

“It takes a loooooong time,” this person told me. (This person was my hair dresser. I was dress-shamed by my hair dresser. The same lady who carried a Louis Vuitton Never Full bag to work and seemed to assume that everyone who buys a wedding dress is buying them from some fancy-pants couture shop in Downtown Chicago. I don’t know why, because this salon that she works at is not exactly ‘fancy-pants couture’, nor is it in Downtown Chicago. But whatever.)

“My daughter’s dress didn’t come in, for like, eight months.” She told me. “And then they still had to do alterations.”

Eight months?” Was her dress hand-stitched by blind nuns? Seriously – eight months? I made pajama pants faster than that in Home Ec class.

So I decided to heed the words of my annoying hair dresser and started dress shopping in early February, eight months before the wedding. I don’t know if this was the ‘right’ time to start shopping, but it worked out for me. My dress came in by June, I had alterations done in September, and my dress was ready to roll for our wedding in late October.

But in case you still aren’t sure when you should start dress shopping – don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a cheat sheet.

According to wedding professionals (WEDDING professionals – not suburban hair dressers), the best time to start “looking” at wedding dresses is one year before your wedding.
This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to buy anything – just browse and get an idea of your style and what you want. Any more time than that, you’ll second guess your decision. And if your engagement period is going to last less than a year, start looking as soon as you can (but don’t feel pressure to let it ruin that whole ‘basking in the glow of just getting engaged’ time).

You should buy your dress six to nine months before your wedding.
Six to nine. SIX to nine, hair dresser lady. Factor in about two weeks for shipping and two-four weeks for alterations, on top of the four-six months it usually takes to make the dress. I know it seems like a lot, but remember – as long as you buy the dress at least six months out, you should be fine. Depending on how long you wait, not all of the same options may be available to you in comparison to those who started earlier, but you’ll still have plenty to choose from.

You need to make an appointment first.
It doesn’t matter where you go. It turns out you can’t just walk into a store and start trying on dresses ‘for fun’. (That’s probably why they have this rule. Because they don’t want bridal consultants wasting their time on girls who are trying to dresses ‘just for fun’.) So even if you buy your dress at a chain like David’s Bridal, they will still require you to make an appointment if you want to try anything.

The majority of sample sizes are sized 8-12.
This is what the stores carry and allow you to try on. Keep in mind that even if you lose a dress size between ‘ordering the dress’ and ‘wedding day’, they can alter it (honestly, they’re probably going to alter it anyway. They usually do). So don’t let the idea of “I need to lose weight first” deter you from a fun day of dress shopping.

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