The Ultimate Wedding Dress Shopping Guide

October 29, 2020

Shopping for your wedding dress may just be the BEST part of wedding planning. The styles, the fits, the shapes, the texture…it’s seriously my heaven! But all those decisions and choices can definitely bring on some anxiety— who knew there were so many options?! Don’t fret, babes. Thanks to our friends over at Something White Bridal Boutique, we’ve put together the must-have, all-inclusive wedding dress shopping guide for all you lovely brides!

Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

1. Budget

First things first– Determine your budget. I know, I know. THE WORST. (Ok, that’s maybe a little dramatic 🤦🏻‍♀️). This truly is the hard-must starting point before you even start looking at that Pinterest board. We’ve even made budgeting simple with this free resource! As a rule of thumb, I recommend not budgeting your wedding dress line item from a simple percentage based from your total wedding budget; Your gown is what makes you feel like YOU on your wedding day, and it’s the one detail you won’t want to be limited on.

TIP: Pull your gown budget out from your total wedding budget. Plan a base, starting amount of $1,500 – $2,000 plus extra room for accessories.

2. Don’t Wait

Start your wedding dress shopping early, babes! After selecting your dream dress, your gown could take anywhere from 4-6 months before it’s ready to be delivered. You’ll also want to plan a few months for alterations, final fittings, and a steaming. In the end, you’ll want to start gown shopping 8-12 months ahead.

Short on time?

Some boutiques offer to sell sample sizes off the rack! If you’re lucky enough to find your dream dress in your size, this could be an option for those brides cutting it close on time. Boutiques can also offer rush shipping for a small fee to ensure your gown is in your hands for the big day!

3. Selecting Your Boutique

When deciding what wedding dress boutiques to visit, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before booking an appointment— these tips will make your dress shopping experience so much easier! Our friends at SWBB are sharing all their inside scoops with us today! Here’s what to consider before selecting your boutique:

Price Point

This is a big piece to consider. Different boutiques cater to different price points. Don’t do yourself a disservice by scheduling appointments at a boutique above your price point. If there is a boutique you love, but that price point doesn’t fit your budget, ask them when their next sample sale or trunk show is scheduled for!

Style + Vibe

This goes hand in hand with the above! Make sure to schedule appointments with boutiques that fit your wedding day style and vibe. For example, if a bride wants a gown that is fitted, satin with a lot of sparkle – we probably wouldn’t have that as it’s not our general vibe. If a bride wants a gown that is crepe, lace, clean with minimal sparkle – we’re the perfect shop to come visit!

Guest Seating

You’ll want to ask your ideal boutiques their seating requirements ahead of time. Smaller boutiques simply don’t have the space to allow for 10 people, where larger gown shops might. If it is important to you to have a large party with you, you’ll want to source boutiques that fit your squad beforehand.


Different designers are housed at different boutiques. This will be a factor in the pricing that we talked about before. Many boutiques try to differentiate their shops by carrying different designers so you shouldn’t find the same dress at every shop in town! Find designers that fit your style and budget!

4. Feel Your Best

I remember being really frustrated with the dress shopping experience on the days where I didn’t get ready and feel at my best. That’s because it was hard for me to envision the full vibe of the dress when I looked like I had just rolled out of bed. 🤣 As much as you might want to throw your hair up and forgo fully getting ready, don’t! Wedding dress shopping isn’t like trying to find an outfit for date night and it tends to be a lot easier to envision what you’ll look like when you’re wearing something cute.

TIP: Make sure to wear or bring the proper undergarments and shoes to your bridal appointments.

5. Be Prepared

Many boutiques are limiting the number of guests allowed during your appointment to best comply with health and safety measures. Even outside of that, though, we recommend limiting the tribe with you to just 2-3. This is such a special moment, and we love seeing that shared with those closest to you.

RELATED: How to Shop for a Wedding Dress During COVID-19

6. Don’t Forget to Make an Appointment

Most bridal boutiques require an appointment ahead of time. Even if you are just looking and not planning on trying anything on, you’ll still need an appointment so a consultant can help you browse through the dresses. They’ll also be able to give you helpful info, like what colors a dress comes in, how it would look bustled, or how you could customize it.

7. Take The Whole Day

Enjoy a morning of brunch and mimosas, head to the spa for a mani + pedi, and then enjoy the afternoon with your babes at your appointment. This is such a special moment, don’t limit yourself by cramming it in to a busy day or scheduling back-to-back appointments.

RELATED: Unique Bridesmaid Gifts Under $50

Wedding Dress Style Tips

1. Know Your Options

There are so many choices when it comes to your wedding dress. Be knowledgeable of the styles and details, but don’t limit yourself! Often, you’ll select a gown completely off the radar from what you thought you’d choose! SWBB is sharing all the behind scenes of top styles, fabrics and options from their 2021 collections.

2. Pick Your Silhouette

Your perfect wedding dress is somewhere in between the style you like, the overall vibe of your wedding, and what flatters your body type the best. For example, if you’re having a boho-ceremony outside, a huge ball gown might feel out of place. If you’re on the curvier side, a mermaid style dress might be too tight in the hip area, making it hard to walk. Those are things to keep in mind as you’re dress shopping.

3. Pick Your Neckline

Whether it’s v-neck, sweetheart, halter, or a long sleeve, the neckline style you choose will highlight different aspects of your face and upper body. It’s also the part of your dress that will appear most in your wedding photos. For those with larger chests, a strapless dress might not be your top choice with the possibility you’ll be pulling it up all night. If you plan to wear your hair down, a dress with buttons detailing the back could tangle in your hair, causing your maid of honor to spend 30 minutes ripping out your extensions just so you could go to the bathroom (true story 🤣).

4. Pay Attention to Fabric

In addition to the different silhouettes and necklines, fabric choice plays a big part in your overall bridal style. Satin fabrics feel modern while lace is traditional and classic and tulle gives off fairytale princess bride vibes (it’s the most common fabric in those big ballgowns you see). Pay attention to the weight of the fabric too. If your wedding is in the middle of summer, you won’t want a thick fabric that will make you hotter.

5. Trust Your Bridal Stylist

These ladies spend 40+ hours a week helping brides try on dresses and they’ve seen every dress in the store on multiple different body types. So it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about what looks best. Make sure to bring a few pictures to show the stylist what you envision and explain how you want to feel on your wedding day. Then let the stylist take it from there and try everything on. You just might be surprised when a dress you didn’t like on the hanger ends up being your favorite!

6. Ignore Bridal Sizing

Bridal sizing is typically 1-2 sizes up from your normal dress size – and sometimes even more than that depending on how the dress was made and what alterations you might need. But before you freak, take a deep breath and remember that the number on that tiny little tag doesn’t matter.

7. Say Yes to The Dress!

It’s ok to say yes to the first dress you try on. Trust your gut, and when you find the one– Just say yes.

Thank you to Something White Bridal Boutique for partnering with us on today’s post and for providing the gorgeous images shot by Alyssa Barletter.

1 Comment

  1. whateverislovely

    Thank you so much! That is so kind!


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