Wedding Dress Shopping & Appointment Tips

Wedding dress shopping can cause a lot of anxiety for brides-to-be. Thinking about squeezing and shimmying into tiny sample sizes in front of wall-length mirrors and an entourage of your friends and family can be less exciting and a little nerve-racking. But it doesn’t have to be. Just do your homework and prepare yourself for the experience.

With these tips, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the ups and downs that wedding dress shopping can bring and spend less time worrying about the process. Let’s have a look, shall we?

24 Wedding Dress Shopping & Appointment Tips

  1. Have a rough idea of what you want
    Pinterest is awesome. Use it to get inspired and at least have a narrowed list of your choices down ahead of time.
  2. If you’re getting a custom design wedding dress, plan 6 to 8 months out. If you’re getting married in the next few months and really want a custom gown, some places will do it, but will charge you a steep rush fee.
  3. Know your budget
    And say it out loud — to yourself, your friends, and the bridal shop associates, so they’re clear about what your boundaries are.
  4. Don’t make bridal salon appointments during the week
    While you might not like fighting the crowds, the best consultants and deals can be found on the weekend. Dive right in!
  5. Try the big guys like J. Crew, Anthropologie and Macy’s
    All these majors have bridal collections and they look pretty amazing.
  6. The easiest way to save big, avoid high-end boutiques
    Sounds obvious but you are never getting a great deal at one of those places.
  7. ​Involve your mom
    Keep it small and don’t involve every female friend you have ever known. Mom, sister and maybe best friend. That’s all you need.
  8. Know the lingo
    Bridal consultants speak a different language. Get to know the terms they use. A quick Google search will do the trick. ​
  9. Bring heels and a strapless bra
    Trust us.
  10.  Do your hair, but don’t do your makeup
    When you’re trying on dresses, do you want your bridal consultant to hate you forever and ever because your smeared lip gloss all over the inside of some fancy gown?
  11. Get your entourage together before you go shopping
    Have your friends, mom, and mother-in-law-to-be together for drinks or dinner. They’ll bond and become friendly, and learn each other’s tastes. ​
  12. Don’t have any more than 5 people come with you
    That’s already a large number for when you’re trying on and feeling vulnerable in front of the mirror.
  13. Expect to spend at least a couple hours at each appointment
    You do not want to make these kinds of decisions while hangry.
  14. Think about your wedding reception venue
    Consider the venue when choosing what kind of style will suit you. Take these things into consideration when choosing your dress fabric, length, and style.
  15. Find out what the return policy is
    You might need it—especially if you’re purchasing online.
  16. There’s no perfect number of dresses to try on
    Don’t get frustrated. It could be your first dress, it could be your 20th dress. There’s no telling when the moment will happen.
  17. Be open-minded
    Don’t just stick to one style, you may be missing out on a more beautiful option.
  18. If you’re buying online, read and research the product descriptions
    Like, really read them. And if you’re not sure what something is, contact the seller.
  19. Don’t forget about the veil
    That goes for shoes and alterations. All those things cost a lot of money so make sure you have room in your budget.
  20. Sleep on it
    Buying a wedding dress is a big commitment, so don’t feel pressured by your friends, family, or a bridal consultant to make a choice before you’re ready.
  21. Focus on how the dress feels
    Not the size (number), it’s doubtful that you’ll be ordering your street clothes size. This is normal. Don’t sweat it!. As you’re standing in the bridal salon, looking at yourself in the mirror, think about how the dress makes you feel. Do you feel great/amazing/beautiful/princess-y? Awesome! If not, maybe this is not your dress.
  22. Get your wedding dress details in writing
    Before you hand over money, make sure you and the bridal consultant are crystal clear on what you’re buying. Make sure you get everything in writing, including the schedule for alterations, the cancellation policy, the manufacturer’s name, the model number, and any other pertinent information.
  23. Don’t try on dresses that aren’t in your budget
    Slipping on a gown out of your price range, falling in love with it, and realizing you cannot afford it will be the worst feeling. And it’s avoidable!
  24. It’s just a dress
    Yes, it’s your dress, but the wedding gown is just one part of the whole shebang, and shouldn’t eclipse the reason for the day.


Your consultant is there to help you so don’t be shy about asking for help. They have seen it all and can really help you navigate the wedding dress shopping experience. Here are the most important questions to ask:

  1. How much are alterations going to cost?
    All dresses need alterations, almost always. Alterations can get expensive very quickly so make you ask straight up what the cost will be. Whoever does your alterations has a good reputation.
  2. What is the turnaround time?
    If you are in a time crunch, this is especially important. Most stores will have a few months for turnaround time. If you need a dress quicker than that, your best bet will be buying off the rack.
  3. Do they offer off the rack or consignment?
    A little known fact is that often, dress stores will mark down dresses if they are bought as-is, right off the rack. Some stores designate certain days each year for these sales, and others have this available at all times. It doesn’t hurt to ask. You can also buy dresses that people have sold back.
  4. Can the dress be ordered?
    You may try on a dress, and love it but may not want to commit at that exact moment. In some cases, that’s okay! It might be one that can be ordered pretty easily. However, that’s not always the case.
  5. Is there an in-house alteration department?
    Sometimes it is easiest just to use the alteration department that a bridal store offers, rather than finding someone yourself. The seamstresses are most likely familiar with the dresses that are in the store.