10 Best Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping

1. When in doubt, order a size up.

It is easier and less expensive to take your dress a size down than it is to take it a size up. Taking it a size up may mean paying for more fabric, and in some cases such as lace, it may mean spending a lot more money.

2. Get a great seamstress.

They say that you should wear the dress, not the dress wear you, for a reason. If your dress doesn’t fit or suit you, it will not look good no matter how much you spent on it. A great seamstress will know how to make the dress work for you.

3. Wear something you’re typically comfortable with in terms of fabric, shape, color and length.

You feel your best and most confident when you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing. This is true in everyday life so why should it be any different on your special day?

4. Bring undergarments, shoes and accessories that you would wear on the wedding day to the dress fitting.

To help with altering your dress to perfection, the seamstress should know how tall you will be on your wedding day. In other words, it is helpful for them to see you in the shoes you plan to wear to determine the perfect length for your dress.

The same concept applies to your undergarments such as a bra or underwear. Depending on the style of your dress, your seamstress may decide to add additional fabric around the chest or back area in order to hide your undergarments (or private areas), if you know what we mean.

Again, if there is a special piece of jewelry that you would like to wear on your wedding day, knowing that will be helpful to the seamstress or yourself when deciding the perfect style for your dress. For example, wearing a necklace may look best with a strapless dress or a dress with less fabric in the front. This is good to know for your fitting.

5. Do your hair in a style you will wear on the wedding day to the dress fitting.

Hairdo is a key component of your wedding look. In a way, it brings everything together, from the dress to the jewelry. It completes the look. Just like jewelry should complement the dress, so should your hair. If a particular hair style suits the shape of your face best, then find a dress that suits that hair style.

6. Know your timing.

  • It takes 6-12 months to ship a dress, so go back from the traveling date (if you’re doing a destination wedding), not wedding date.
  • It takes about 4 months for a manufacturer to make a dress and about 3 months for alterations.
  • Made to order dresses can take up to 18 months.
  • The first fitting is usually 2-4 months before the wedding.
  • The last fitting is usually 1-2 weeks before the wedding.

7. Ask a lot of questions.

8. Avoid scams.

Never pay with check, wired money, money order or cashier check. Also, do not shop at sites you never heard of, not mentioned in a popular magazine, that does not accept returns, or that doesn’t have contact information on website.

A wedding dress can be a significant investment or part of your budget, so be extra prudent when shopping online or anywhere for one. Look for vendors or online marketplaces with a strong reputation or store policies. Also look for vendors with a reputable and secure payment processing system because oftentimes the payment processing companies themselves will act as a second line of defense.

9. Wedding attire (including veil, undergarments, accessories, etc.) should be roughly 10-15% of the total budget.

Use this as a general framework and to help you stay within the budget.

10. Take photos and notes during your fittings.

If you’re shopping at multiple retailers, this will help you remember the differences between each dress. It will also help you remember what you liked and disliked about each one. Also, during your fitting with the seamstress, this will help you both keep track of all the alterations to which you both agreed.