Your Ultimate Wedding Dress Shopping Timeline

There are few experiences more thrilling than shopping for your wedding gown. You've finally locked down the person of your dreams (which we all know was the hardest part!) so make these moments fun! The more you plan, the easier everything will be. Unexpected things will occur, but if you set a timeline that gives you some flexibility, you'll find the process of finding a wedding dress enjoyable. Here, we break it down starting 12 months prior to the day of your wedding.

10-12 MONTHS


Though you don't need to decide the exact style or silhouette of your dress before you start your search, you do want to figure out a list of things you like and don't like, as well as setting for your ceremony. A fall or winter wedding is the perfect opportunity to wear long-sleeves or a high-neck, while a beach wedding calls for a less of a sleeve billowed gown.

Set your gown and accessories budget.

Perhaps you've budgeted $5,000 for your big day. Well, how much does that leave for your actual gown, veil, jewelry and shoes? You'll also need to account for the price of alterations, shipping (if you're ordering something online) and other fees, such as taxes.

Start your dress search.

Those episodes of Say Yes To The Dress when the bride-to-be, brings her entire girl gang wedding dress shopping looks really fun, but you should really consider limiting the number of people you bring with you. Stick to your mother, grandmother, the person you're closest with on your spouse's side and your most devoted and open-minded best friend. Everyone's viewpoint is not needed and can make the joyous moment even more complicated than it needs to be.


Make the final decision on your dress and buy it.

The time has arrived to actually decide on the perfect dress and put in your order. Upon purchasing your cherished garment, you'll have to put down a deposit, averaging somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of the total cost.


Figure out your hair for the day and shop for any necessary accessories.

The perfect hairstyle can either make or break your bridal look. It's best to know exactly what you want far in advance, especially as you've already selected your dress. Are you opting for a veil and any embellished hair accessories? Will you be donning an updo, sleek chignon or loose curls? There are so many possibilities to consider, but you'll have more than enough time to get everything in order if you plan ahead.

Buy your shoes.

Wedding shoe shopping will definitely be one of the more fun task of the entire process. Perhaps you'll want a custom-made pair from your favorite designer or need to take time deciding whether you'll choose a pointed-toe pump or ankle-strap sandal. You'll also want to have enough time to break those bad boys in before you walk down the aisle. A few days of wearing them in the house will ensure you'll be ready to dance from sundown to sun-up.

Choose your something blue, borrowed, and new.

For your big day, you might want the shoes you're buying at this point to be blue, or you might want to wear your grandmother's vintage clip-on earrings. These are the pieces that will make your wedding ensemble truly special, so you'll want to decide on them early.

Take a trip to an intimates boutique and select the perfect undergarments.

You'll want to have your undergarments with you once you go to your first fitting, so there's no time like the present to order them. You will need to pick up a specific kind of bra based on the style of your dress's back and neckline, as well as choose the proper shapewear for the occasion.


It's time for your first fitting.

Most brides have two to three fittings to make their dress absolutely perfect, so this will be the first of a few! Timing is everything here and bringing your gown in too late may result in having too little time for alterations. Bringing it in too early may put your ideal fit at risk. There are fees for each adjustment, whether it be a flat fee from the boutique or wedding salon. You'll want to bring your jewelry, undergarments, shoes and any other accessories you can to make sure everything will be flawless on your big day.


It's time for your second fitting.

Most of the difficult work is done during your first fitting, thus the second is for more minor revisions to your dress, such as smoothing out the hemline. You'll want to walk around in the salon with your gown on to ensure you are happy with the length, fit and any alterations made.


It's time for your final fitting.

This is where it all comes together! Make sure you wear waterproof mascara because you will shed a few tears seeing yourself so close to absolute bridal perfection. You'll want one person you're incredibly close to by your side, like your mother or maid of honor, to bask in the joy with you and to take a couple of pictures for your scrapbook.

Find a place to store your dress for safe keeping.

You will not only want to keep your dress safe, but you'll also want to hide it from your spouse so it will be a total surprise once you walk down the aisle. Keep in mind that if your dress is embellished, separate your veil so no rips occur. Place it in a bag that will allow for the fabric to breathe and examine it to ensure it's perfect.


Put everything aside in one place to be as prepared as possible.

Your veil, jewelry, dress and shoes should all be in one place so you never lose sight and misplace a piece. You'll also want to have a steamer and a bleach pen on-hand, just in case something unfortunate happens.


Give yourself ample time to get ready.

This is your moment! You'll need at least a half an hour to slip into your dress so add extra time into the day. You should be relaxed and not rush for even a second. Then, it's time to party.

This article was written by Faith Cummings for
Photo: Morgan G Photo

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