Gown Shopping: When, Where, Who, What, and Why?

Shopping for “the dress” is often one of the most, if not the most, memorable aspect of the entire planning process. Wearing the perfect dress is something a lot of brides have dreamt about more than anything about their wedding day (long before they even knew who the groom would be!). Others have hardly thought about it, if at all. Neither is right or wrong!

When it comes to searching for the perfect wedding dress, every bride is different. If you’re feeling at all nervous about finding your dress, take a deep breath – it’s out there, just waiting for you to find it. Whether you’re bursting with excitement or kind of dreading it (or a little bit of both), here are the most important things you need to know to have the best dress shopping experience.


The sweet spot for scheduling appointments at dress boutiques is about 9-12 months out, and ideally no later than 6-7 months from the big day. This way, you have plenty of time to order the dress according to your measurements, avoid paying rush delivery fees, and can have any additional alterations done once your dress is ready to take home (including the bustle). 


There are so many bridal stores to choose from. Some brides prefer to shop locally, and others use dress shopping as a fabulous excuse to travel with friends and family somewhere out of town. Either way, it’s important do your homework ahead of time. It’s important to try on dresses at a store whose brand aligns with your own personality and style because then their dresses will too. 

Before scheduling an appointment, do some research. Stalk them online – check each one out on on Instagram, Yelp, and their website. Ask around – find out if friends or family have been there and what their experience was like. Also, check out which designers they carry which will give you a sense of the store’s price range which will allow you to confirm whether it fits into your budget. Doing this ensures you have realistic options to choose from and avoid any disappointment when you arrive.

We suggest narrowing your searches down to three stores you love the most. You want to visit a store you feel a connection to. Then, schedule your first appointment at your earliest convenience. Try only making one appointment at a time (unless you are traveling out of town where two stores you love happen to be located.) Here’s why: if you’re at one store and fall in love with a dress but feel like you can’t say yes because you have another appointment in an hour, you may end up making yourself more confused and feel held back even when your heart is telling you “this is the one.”

We know how fun it can be to try on dresses with all your friends, buuuut the more dresses you’re considering, the more uncertain you’re probably going to end up. As fun as shopping for the dress may be, the goal is to find the dress, so set yourself up for success.


All of your friends and family are going to want to be one of the lucky few that get to be there when you “say yes to the dress.” You may want them all there, but this is a big decision and your experience probably won’t be what you see in reality shows (unless you will be on one – you do you!). The more people you bring to your appointment, the more opinions there will be, and the more overwhelmed you’ll likely feel. 

We suggest choosing up to 2-3 people and making sure they’re the right people. We’re talking about the ones who have your absolute best interest at heart, who you feel happiest with, and who want to see you glowing with excitement when the dressing room curtains open and your eyes fill with joy knowing you found your wedding dress. Your gown shopping experience is one you’ll remember forever – spending it with those people will help ensure it’s a positive one.

There are so many styles of wedding gowns out there today. Translation: your mom and grandma will be blown away by how many choices you have compared to when they got married. Remember, it is your day and you are allowed to wear anything that makes you feel beautiful and feels most like you


Some popular styles of wedding gowns today are A-line, ballgown, fit to flare, trumpet, or fitted. Browse photos of each one to decide which one you think you’d prefer and let your stylist know which one you’re leaning towards.

It’s sooo easy to fall down that 4-hour rabbit hole on Pinterest and save 50 different dresses you want to try on, but don’t do it! It’s also easy to fall in love with one dress online before you’ve tried on a single gown and without knowing what look really suits you best. Do your best to identify a few of your top picks to give your stylist a starting point, and then trust the process and their expertise from there.

An experienced stylist will be able to get a feel for what you’re looking for, start pulling dresses, guide you along during your appointment, and pay attention to which styles you’re gravitating towards. Keep an open mind, be honest with your stylist about which aspects of the dresses you like and dislike, and they’ll help you to find “the one.”


So much of the wedding planning process is incredibly emotional – overwhelmingly so, in fact. For a lot of brides, wedding dress shopping is one of the most emotional parts. Finding the right store, having your most trusted ladies by your side, and trusting the process will hopefully leave you overwhelmed with joy and excitement rather than stress and confusion. We believe every bride deserves that and hope these tips allow you to have it.

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