Recently we have see an influx of brides wanting to come in and shop for their dream dress at least a year and half to two years in advance of their wedding day. So we thought to ourselves, maybe this is a new trend.  Some brides have spent their lifetime dreaming about their wedding gown, so shopping for it is sure to be an exhilarating, exciting, and yes, overwhelming experience. When should you start? Where should you go? What happens once you’re there? We want to go over our tips on when you should buy your dress.

12 months to go

Set Your Gown Budget

Maybe you have $2,000 set aside for your look. That doesn’t mean you can buy a $2,000 wedding dress. You’ll need to add on taxes and alterations.  Also, don’t forget to set aside part of that budget (10 to 20 percent) for extras like your shoes, veil and jewelry.

Do Your Research

Before you start shopping, figure out what style you’re looking for. Your venue can help you narrow that down. If you’re having a beachside wedding, you’ll probably want a flowy, unfussy gown. Getting married at an upscale hotel? A formal ball gown could be your dress. Also find out what silhouettes best suit your body shape.

Choose Your Shopping Buddies

Bring either your mom or a trusted friend when you dress shop, but limit your posse to two-four people. Too many opinions can make your dress shopping experience unnecessarily confusing.

Go Wedding Dress Shopping

This is the fun part! Go try on dresses. Try to limit yourself and only go to a total of four bridal salons. More than four can get very overwhelming and confusing, as each bridal salon carries different designers. With Savvy Bridal you can try on high-end designer gowns off the rack and keep it under budget. If you have been dreaming of a Vera Wang ball gown that retails for $5,000 but your budget is only $1,500, then have no fear because we can help. Even better you get to try on your actual gown and take it home that day. No need to wait 6-8 months for it to come in.

But should you decide to order your gown you want to get  a jump-start on your gown search­—if you’re not buying off the rack, your wedding dress is essentially custom made for you. This means it will take months of work to create and a series of alterations to fit your body perfectly.

8 months to go

Buy Your Dress

If you decide to buy off the rack now would be the time to purchase your gown. If you chose to order now is the time to  place the order. You’ll know it’s “the one” when you don’t want to take it off.

5 months to go

Shop for Your Undergarments

Get your under-the-dress essentials before your first fitting. Whether you’re planning on wearing a strapless bra, slipping into a body-slimming shaper or going braless, the slightest switch in your undergarments can change the fit of your dress.

Choose Your Hair Accessories

It’s also time to find your veil, so you can get an idea of your entire look, from head to toe, when you have your gown fitting.

Select Your Shoes

No one needs to tell you to go shoe shopping twice, but this time take the height of your heel into consideration (not just how fabulously stylish those stilettos look). You’ll be on your feet for most of the day, so make sure your toes can handle it.

3 months to go

Have Your First Fitting

You’ll most likely have three fittings to get your dress altered to fit you just right. Most gowns will need at least some sort of alteration. The cost ranges from $200-$400 depending on the scope of work. And remember: Don’t bring just your gown—also take your undergarments, shoes and accessories to your fittings. Your undergarments and shoes will help determine the fit and length of your gown, and trying on your hair accessories or veil with your dress will give you an idea of how you’ll look on the actual day. If you don’t have the exact shoe you’ll be wearing, bring something similar in height. Remember: Your dress should just barely sweep the floor; any longer and you risk tripping on the fabric.

6 to 8 weeks to go

Decide on Your “Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blue”

If you want to include these customs in your ensemble, you may want to have them before your final fitting. For instance, if you’re planning to sew a blue ribbon to the inside of your dress, you can ask your seamstress to do it while she’s making your other alterations.

Have Your Second Fitting

Your first fitting is where the heavy lifting happens: adding sleeves, switching up the neckline and so on. By the time you’re done, you’ll look more like a pincushion than a bride. The second fitting is your chance to make smaller tweaks to your wedding dress, like taking in the bodice a bit or perfecting the hem length. During this fitting, you’ll also want to make sure that there’s no obvious wrinkling, bunching or pulling anywhere. You’ll also want to move around the salon in your gown and practice some dance moves in your shoes. This will help you test that the fit is right and comfortable so you can easily get around (and breathe without feeling like you may split a seam). You’ll be wearing your dress for 8 to 10 hours on your wedding day, so it has to feel good.

2 to 3 weeks to go

Practice Walking in Your Shoes

Strut around in your shoes at home to make sure they aren’t too high or too stiff. This way, you’ll have enough time to break them in, buy a new pair or snag a second, more comfy, pair.

Have Your Final Fitting

You may want to have a box of tissues on hand for this final trip to the seamstress. This is where you’ll get to see your gown the way it will look when you walk down the aisle. Bring at least one family member or friend to share this special moment with, and so you have someone there to learn how to create the bustle.

Now all thats left is to wait for the BIG DAY!! Congratulations on your engagement! Remember to take a deep breath and let it all soak in. YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED!! 🙂