When it comes to shopping for a bridal gown, today’s brides can do quite a bit of research up front before ever stepping foot in a bridal shop to see or try on a gown in person.
Doing your wedding dress research online before trying on the dresses in person at a brick-and-mortar bridal store often helps brides feel prepared before their appointment.
Where to Start in Searching for Your Dream Wedding Dress
Below are a few tips brides can keep in mind when starting their online wedding dress shopping research.
- Do Your Research on Social Media: When starting your wedding planning process, follow some accounts on TikTok, Instagram or Facebook that provide bridal inspiration, such as Martina Liana’s, Stella York’s or Essense of Australia’s and save the wedding dress inspiration that catches your eye.
- Create a Pinterest Board: Pinterest is the easiest way to organize your wedding dress inspiration and, quite frankly, many other aspects of your wedding planning process, too. Start a Pinterest board to pin the online wedding dresses that grab your attention. You can “pin” dresses from your social media, websites and online blogs, and we also encourage you to utilize Pinterest’s convenient search tool to expand your selection.
- Narrow your Selection: Once you have enough bridal gown inspiration and ideas, narrow down your collection to the top gowns. Pay attention to what trends and features these gowns have in common and what you specifically like about each of them. You might also see trends in liking certain bridal designers more than others.
- Research The Bridal Shop: Not all wedding dress retailers are created equal. Some have a better selection of designers, sizes and styles than others and others may be more reputable. It’s important to research your bridal shop online and read reviews from sources you trust, such as Google, Yelp, Wedding Wire or The Knot, before you book an appointment.
How to Actually Find Your Dream Wedding Dress
- Time to Shop: After you have a better idea of what you like, it’s time to shop. Bring your online wedding dress inspiration to your local bridal salon and share with your bridal stylist your top inspiration ideas, as well as your favorite dress features. Walking in armed with trends and features you like vs. those you don’t, helps make your bridal dress shopping experience a more fun process.
- Have an Open Mind: If you aren’t sure what silhouettes you prefer, try on different styles of dresses. You may be surprised at what looks good on you. Sometimes the dresses you liked in a photo, don’t look as you imagined in person. It is OK if your online “dream dress” isn’t “the one,” the route to any dream dress has many paths!
- Take Your Time: Visit at least two bridal shops and be patient with your bridal dress shopping experience. Don’t feel like you must buy a dress as soon as you find one you like. Shop around until you have no doubt you have found “the one.”
Why to Wedding Dress Shop in Store
There are many advantages of shopping in-person at you’re a local bridal store, below are just a few of them:
- While shopping for a wedding dress online can seem convenient, there are many advantages to shopping in-person. Wedding gowns are often a more expensive purchase, trying on the dresses before buying it gives you peace of mind that you have found your dream dress, lets you picture yourself on the big day and allows you to try on the accessories with your gown that best complement your bridal look.
- Shopping in person gives you the opportunity to feel and see the dress’s texture, weight and fabric, allowing you to identify if the gown works for the weather and location of your wedding day.
- Alterations can run smoother when shopping at a brick-and-mortar shop. Some local bridal salons have an in-store alterations team with experienced seamstresses, while others can give you recommendations on local tailors who are experienced working with wedding dresses.
- Bridal shops work directly with manufacturers and designers on special orders in sizes and styles not available in their inventory, opening the possibilities for finding your dream wedding dress. They take care of the shipping and quality, assuring your dream dress will be stunning and on time for the big day.
- Trained bridal stylists can offer tips, tricks and advice collected during their time working with brides-to-be. During your in-person bridal consultation, you can bring your entourage to the store to support and celebrate when you find your dream dress. Most shops offer amazing bridal experiences for you and your loved ones. In some cases, champagne, confetti and even swag are involved, as well as memory-making photo opportunities.
- When shopping for a wedding dress, it’s important to keep in mind that wedding dress sizing is different from regular clothing sizing. At a bridal salon, a stylist will take your measurements before ordering your dress and can sometimes assist with any customizations or alterations. We highly recommend you visit bridal shops and try on dresses before making any purchase.
Have a Set Timeline
One of the most crucial factors when starting the wedding planning process is having a timeline in mind, specifically when starting to do your research and shop for a wedding dress. Wedding dresses can take several months to arrive, so you’ll want to make sure you give yourself enough time with both your research AND to shop in person. Here is a general timeline for ordering a wedding dress:
- Start researching and shopping 9-12 months before the wedding
- Order the dress 6-9 months before the wedding
- Receive the dress 3-6 months before the wedding
- Final alterations 2-3 months before the wedding
However, for brides who don’t have time to order a dress 9-12 months in advance, there are many off-the-rack options available to take home the day-of at local bridal shops. Size and styles might be limited due to availability, but bridal salons are experts at finding beautiful quick-wear options for their brides, so don’t be afraid to ask!
What to Avoid When Online Shopping
One downside of doing research online for your wedding dress is that there are so many opinions and websites – it’s sometimes hard to know which to trust and which are reputable.
Looks Can be Deceiving
When you’re looking at pictures of wedding dresses online, it’s important to remember that looks can be deceiving. The dress may look different in person than it does online. So, don’t get too attached to a dress based on how it looks in the picture.
You can always use online wedding dresses as inspiration while shopping locally. The best way to guarantee the gown is everything you imagine is to see it in person and try it on at the bridal shop.
Be Aware of Counterfeits
Be wary of stores promising designer gowns for unbelievably low prices. Take notice of the URL and overall appearance and feel of the online shop. Are the photos grainy? Is there anything wrong with the product descriptions or writing? You might be visiting a counterfeit website. It is always safest to search on the designer’s page for authorized retailers in your area.
Read Product Descriptions
When shopping for a wedding dress online, it’s essential to read the product descriptions carefully. Product descriptions will help you understand what material the dress is made of; how heavy and thick the fabric is and so much more.
For the best in-person wedding dress shopping experience, find a store near you and book your appointment today!