When do I start shopping for my wedding dress?

First thing to do when getting engaged and planning your wedding is to prepare your budget.  Budget’s are important for almost everyone.  It keeps you organized, it keeps stress down, and it keeps your wedding in perspective for you.  Do some research and see what your area’s averages are for all your vendors, including wedding dresses.

You have no idea?  Today’s Pinterest is so handy to view a variety of designers and dresses.  Look through bridal magazines.  You may discover you start liking a designer.  Find out that designers average price ranges and you will get a good idea on what a dress of your taste costs.  It’s a good starting point.

If it is above your price range, don’t stress.  Trust us, there are gorgeous dresses in lots of other price ranges.  This is just you getting an idea of what you like and what average costs may be.  It is not set in stone.  Plus what’s on a model (maybe even photoshopped) may be very different on you.  So this is just about getting ideas.

One of the best advice we can give is go shopping with an open mind.  Don’t say no to this and that without ever trying them on.  And your prom dress is still very different as wedding dresses are made and altered so much better to fit you perfectly.

Make sure you try on the different shapes, different materials, different colors, and different styles.  This dress is like no other.  It will probably be the most expressive garment you will ever wear, and may surprise you on what it looks like.  It is probably like nothing you have ever worn before.

Once you have a budget you feel comfortable with, are prepared to buy, it’s time to look.  Depending on your designer, average time frame for dresses to be delivered run from 9 months to 10 weeks.  That’s a large time frame.  Obviously buying sooner is better without knowing.  Ideally about 1 year to 9 months out because it allows for a little shopping time, time to order and get the dress in, and then, don’t forget, another 3 months for alterations.  Look to see what bridal stores carry some of the designers you liked.

We see so many brides, first place, even first dress, and they fall in love.  Then they get worried as they just came to try on or play.  They came with friends or by themselves and are torn as their loved one is not there.  Make sure to come shopping with those one to three people who are very important to you and who will love on you.

Wedding dresses are very emotional and important decisions in a persons life.  It is nice to have that someone special there for approval, guidance and support.  Plus, it is a lot more fun as you have them with you to celebrate when you say YES.

And if it is that first store or first dress, it’s OK.  You know what you like and you know what you feel beautiful in.  Trust yourself. You know yourself pretty good!!  Ask yourself in that moment, is it in my budget? Do I feel beautiful in it?  Do I love this dress on me?  Am I comfortable in it?  Yes comfort matters to as you will more-in-likely be in this dress for 12 hours.  If you answer all with a yes and you don’t want to take it off, you probably have a perfect dress for you.

Know the stores policies on payment.  Almost every bridal store is all sales final.  So if you say yes, that is your dress.  And that is perfect.  You loved it, your loved ones loved it, it’s perfect.  No more looking.  Big check on that part of your list.  Now start planning the bridesmaids dresses, flowers, etc.  Many stores require a downpayment to order (between 50% and 75%), then the remainder at delivery.  A few many offer payment/layaway programs, but if time is to short, this option will not be available.

So when you are ready to look and buy, find a store or two you really want to go to.  It is always great to get recommendations from friends who have had great experiences.  Or, check out the local Knot, WeddingWire, Google, and/or Facebook reviews to get a good feel of a store for you.  Gather your loved ones calendars together, and book your appointment.

Come energized, come ready, and come to have fun.  It is fun!  Embrace being the center of attention, embrace feeling beautiful, embrace the entire wedding experience.  Be gentle with yourself, love yourself, be you.