Just got engaged? Congratulations! This is such an amazing time knowing you’re starting the process of being married to the love of your life. Wedding planning can be some of the most fun and exciting times for future brides. Picking a date, venue, or color scheme is all a part of this long process. Now is the time to start searching for what many brides think is the most important part of any wedding; the dress!
How Long Before Your Wedding Should You Buy Your Wedding Dress?
A good rule of thumb for when to buy your wedding dress is to shop between 6 to 12 months before the wedding. A year before your wedding is a good time to begin looking for a dress; you should already have a date set and venue booked, so you know when and where the wedding will take place. With that information, you can consider the season and popular styles for wedding dresses.
It’s important to allow enough time between choosing a dress and the big day. Wedding dress shopping is fun, but it can be stressful if you’re on a time crunch. Your shopping timeline needs to consider the time it will take to find the perfect dress, plus time to place an order and get alterations completed in time for the wedding day.
On the other hand, you also don’t want to buy your dress too early. If you have a longer engagement, it may be tempting to go wedding dress shopping early. Buying a wedding dress too early, however, can lead to buyers remorse. You may see a dress you like more in the time before the wedding, your body may change, or your style tastes may change in that time. While wedding dress shopping is exciting for many brides, don’t go too early.
Best Time of Year to Buy Your Wedding Dress
When to buy a wedding dress depends on when you’re wedding is scheduled, of course, as you need time for fittings and alterations. But many brides are on a tight budget and want to know what the best time of year is to buy wedding dresses. Different seasons may bring different pricing, new styles, bargains, and more.
Wedding industry experts largely agree that January is the best time of year to buy a wedding dress. There are a few reasons for this trend.
Many couples get engaged around the holiday season, so January is a popular time for newly engaged couples. The wedding industry knows this, so January is also the month when designers often drop new collections and offer discounted pricing on their previous collections. There is plenty of new inventory in January to choose from, meaning sample sales and discounts galore.
Another reason that January is a great time to shop for your wedding dress is that it might fit into your wedding timeline. Summer and fall are extremely popular wedding seasons.
For summer brides, January is crunch time for wedding dress shopping, as you’ll still have roughly 6 months until your summer wedding. For autumn brides, January is right on schedule to start shopping – and you might find amazing deals!
Wedding Dress Shopping Timeline
Wedding planning is all about timing – to reduce stress, it’s best to plan out what tasks need to get done in what order. A wedding dress shopping timeline can help ensure that you’re on track. Enjoy your shopping experience and avoid dress stress with this timeline!
After your partner slips that beautiful ring on your finger, you can feel like you’re on cloud nine! Wedding dress shopping can be some of the most fun yet overwhelming for future brides. I’m sure you already have a few dream gowns saved on your Pinterest board or camera roll but now is the time to start really doing your homework.
Begin flipping through as many bridal magazines as you can get your hands on. It’s important to know what you want and don’t want in a gown, which designs or styles strike your fancy, or any specific designers you want to stick with.
It’s extremely important to pick a date and a wedding venue before you start the long search for your wedding gown. Will you need a warmer dress for the winter months? A light and flowy one for the spring/summer seasons? Or one that will shock everyone as you walk down the aisle?
Nothing would be worse than choosing a heavy silk dress and have your big day in the middle of July or wearing a light lacey gown in the midst of a snowstorm.
It’s also very important to set a budget for your wedding, especially for your dress. Nothing is worse than falling in love with a dress and almost having a heart attack because of what’s on the price tag. Know whether you want to get a custom wedding dress or if you plan to save money by buying something off the rack or through a sale.
Keep in mind extra expenses such as alteration fees and accessories like shoes, jewelry, and a veil. Whatever you choose to do, all of these things should factor into when you need to buy your dream wedding dress.
Sample Sale Season is a Great Time to Purchase Your Wedding Gown
Weddings are expensive (duh). So, in order to potentially save some money, you may want to take an opportunity to look at some wedding dress sample sales. Many bridal retailers in major cities present two sample sales per year, most commonly in the summer and around January in the early winter.
Wedding stores are trying clear out last season’s inventory to replace it with the new fashion for the upcoming year. You can potentially score your dream gown for up to 90% off!
If you plan to attend one of these sample sales, do some research on the wedding retailers you want to check out, for some may have specific sale dates and appointment requirements. Although this seems like the ultimate way to go, here are some things to be mindful of.
Most of these sample sales are typically final sale, often have little to no sales associates to help you, and tend to be very crowded.
Also, make sure you figure out the correct size for wedding dresses. They tend to be slightly different than normal clothing sizes from the department store.
This is on a first come first serve basis, so be prepared with certain designers or styles of dress in mind. If you find your dream gown, great! Just know that all of these purchases are nonrefundable.
1 Year Out
In order to start enjoying your engagement and keep stress to a minimum, start with casual wedding dress shopping. If you start shopping for your dream dress too early, this will give you too much time to second guess your decision.
By starting slow, it will allow you to see what type of gowns are out there, what you like and don’t like, and how different dresses fit your body. Typically during bridal markets, new dresses are released around every six months. So make sure to keep up with what’s on trend to find the perfect one for your special day!
Do some research on some bridal salons you want to check out. Some places might be in a different city or state! You might need to plan out a few days to travel to your favorite shop with your bridal entourage in tow. Also, it’s important you don’t bring too many friends with you while shopping. Too many differing opinions may be overwhelming. Remember, it’s your day and your dress!
While shopping, it’s important to keep an open mind. Try on some dresses you normally wouldn’t pick out! You never know, your dream gown could be lurking in the shadows.
Buy Your Wedding Dress 6-9 Months Out
Keep in mind that the dresses displayed in bridal salons are not for sale. They are merely there for you to try on. Once you say yes to the dress, leave around 4-6 months that is needed for your custom dress to be designed. There also need to be time for shipping. After your first fitting, you’ll need time for any needed alterations.
It may seem like a long time, but looking gorgeous on your wedding day is going to make the wait so worth it! For your first fitting with your new dress, a good rule of thumb is to bring all your necessary accessories. The veil, jewelry, and other adornments to give you a short glimpse of what you will look like at your wedding.
Weeks Before the Big Day
Now, this the time to make your final adjustments to your dress. Any minor changes like a change in the neckline or a slight trim of the train can be made now. It’s important that you don’t make any drastic changes to your weight, as well. Don’t freak, a few pounds gained or lost won’t ruin your gown. There is still time to let in or let out the dress if needed.
At this point, it’s essentially crunch time. Once you finally obtain your perfectly altered and fitted gown, keep the dress in a safe and secure place (especially out of sight from impatient fiancees.)
On a Time Crunch
Many brides don’t have the luxury of time when planning their wedding, and that’s ok! If you are scrambling to find a wedding dress, no worries! There are plenty of options to buy or rent a wedding gown weeks before your wedding day.
Many websites offer a plethora of wedding dress options that can be shipped to your home within a few weeks. Sizing is a gamble, but this is a good option for brides who don’t have time to wait for a custom dress to be made. You may also be able to rush order a dress, which could take around 2 months. Although you may miss out on specific tailoring and fittings, it’s a good option for brides with time constraints.
Another option might be to buy a pre-owned gown. Typically, wedding dresses are only worn once and then put in a closet to never be seen again. Brides who need a dress ASAP could definitely benefit from taking it off the hands of a former bride; and usually at a great price, too!
Tips to Remember When Buying Your Wedding Gown
- Pick your date and venue first
- Set a budget
- Window shop
- Keep an open mind
- Search for sales
- Have fun!
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