top of page

Your Wedding Dress Shopping Timeline

When it comes to finding "the one," timing is essential. These are the wedding dress deadlines you don't want to miss.

Ever since you got engaged, you can’t stop imagining yourself in the perfect wedding gown—so shopping for it is sure to be an exhilarating, exciting and, yes, overwhelming experience. When should you start? Where should you go? What happens once you're there? Well, your worrying is over. From ordering to altering, here's everything you need to know.

12 Months to Go

Set Your Gown Budget

After setting the budget for your wedding, you’ll need to decide how much of that will be spent on your dress. In addition to the cost of the dress, you'll need to add on taxes, alterations and possibly shipping. Don't forget to also set aside part of that budget (10 to 20 percent) for extras like your shoes, veil and jewelry.

Do Your Research

Before you start shopping, figure out what style you're looking for. Your venue can help you narrow that down. If you're having a beach-side wedding, you'll probably want a flowy, unfussy gown. Getting married at an upscale hotel? A formal ball gown could be your dress. Also find out what silhouettes best suit your body shape. Then look through pictures of wedding dresses online and in magazines, and tear out or save your favorite styles. The LookBook by Your Wedding Affair is a great place to begin—you can search our gowns by style, theme and location. Or, browse a wedding dress marketplace for a list of salons in your area.

Editor's note: While plenty of research can help narrow down your options, keep an open mind. An experienced consultant can help you find the right dress for your budget and body type—and the style of dress you end up loving might even surprise you.

Choose Your Shopping Mates

Bring either your mom or a trusted friend when you dress shop, but limit your entourage to two or three people. Too many opinions can make your dress shopping experience unnecessarily confusing.

Go Wedding Dress Shopping

There's a reason why you need to get a jump-start on your gown search—you're not buying off the rack, so your wedding dress is essentially custom made for you. This means it will take months of work to create and a series of alterations to fit your body perfectly. Schedule your appointments early since salons can get booked up fast. When you go for your bridal salon appointment, bring photos of dresses you like so the salesperson will be better equipped to help you. If you know you want to wear a specific designer, see if they're having a trunk show (a traveling show of their entire collection) at a salon near you.

Editor's note: If you determine that you will purchase a bespoke dress or an off-the-rack dress; you can start wedding dress shopping 4-6 months prior to your wedding date.

8 Months to Go

Buy Your Dress

Now it's time to make a final decision and place the order. You'll know it's "the one" when you don't want to take it off. When you buy your gown, you'l