Wedding dress shopping can be so fun! Most little girls dream about the gown they will walk down the aisle in for years! Will it be a ball gown? A boho beauty? A two piece? Today it is so easy to get overwhelmed with wedding dress shopping. Between all the different types of social media it’s difficult to not get serious dress envy. It’s also difficult to not get serious wedding dress blues when you look at real world price tags. Hint: Most of the dresses that you drool over on Pinterest are serious designer gowns that cost as much as your ENTIRE wedding budget. So what gives? How do you find the perfect gown that is a little more down to earth? I have 5 tips to set you straight.

A Real Bride’s Guide to: Wedding Dress Shopping

Wedding Dress Shopping: 5 Steps To Help You Find the Perfect Gown

Call Your Local Bridal Boutiques

For your first step, research is key. Do you know your local bridal boutiques? It’s important to know exactly where you will be shopping at, and what type of bride each place caters to. Do a quick search online for local bridal boutiques and start calling. Here is a list of questions to help you get started:

  • What are your hours?
  • Are you only available with an appointment?
    • Some places won’t let you try anything on if you don’t have an appointment so make sure you know before showing up.
  • Do you have a price range? 
    • Some boutiques won’t allow brides to try on anything that is not within their prices range. Ask right off the bat if they carry gowns in your budget, or else you will be wasting your time.
  • How many guests do you prefer?
    • Some boutiques don’t want 10 people in their show room when you’re trying on dresses.
  • Do you carry a particular style? 
    • If you have your heart set on a particular style be sure to ask if they care it before wasting your time!

Plan Your Attack

Once you have spoken with your local boutiques plan your attack for trying on the dresses. Some brides like to make a day of it. If you want to try on dresses for an entire day, then plan you appointments accordingly. Be sure to add time for lunch too! You don’t want low blood sugar on a day like this! Make sure to give yourself at least 2 hours at each boutique, you don’t want to be crunched for time when your putting on gorgeous gowns.

Pick Your Entourage

I say this with caution, because I truly believe brides are over doing it now days…pick who you want to go dress shopping with you carefully! This is an important time in your life, and having a supportive crew with you is a must, but don’t invite people just because you feel you should. Remember, the more people that come with the more opinions you will be given, which isn’t always a good thing and can cause doubt and frustration.

Here are some tips for narrowing down your dress shopping guest list:

  • Does this person really have my best interest at heart? 
    • Inviting your crabby cousin Sarah because you feel obligated to isn’t a good idea, she might not have anything productive to add to the conversation.
  • Do I really care what this person thinks? 
    • Maybe the approval of your mom is #1 on your list, if you don’t really care what aunt betty thinks about your dress, she can probably stay home.
  • Does this person truly support what is happening?
    • If you future SIL doesn’t want you to marry your fiance, it’s best to let it rest and enjoy your dress shopping without her.

Find Out Lead Time

One crucial piece of wedding dress shopping that I always hear is surprising to brides is the dress ordering lead time. A bridal boutique has to order each dress in, and getting the dresses back from the manufacture usually takes months…normally 8 months to be exact. Keep in mind your wedding date and how much lead time you have to get the dress of your dreams. You don’t want to cram all alternations into a few weeks before your big day because you’re waiting on your dress to arrive. It can be extremely stressful.

If you’re on a tight timeline, one way around a long order time is buying off the rack. If you are willing and able ask about dresses that can be taken home that day, sometimes they have older sample gowns that can be purchased and taken right out of the store, no ordering necessary.

Take Cash With You

This was a huge help when I was personally went dress shopping. Take cash with you on your shopping day. Sometimes, depending on the boutique, they are willing to give a discount for cash purchases. My wedding dress was a sample, that we paid cash for…We got it for 75% OFF! It was a huge score!

I hope that these tips help you enjoy your wedding dress shopping even more and make the day much less stressful!

A Real Bride’s Guide to: Wedding Dress Shopping


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