Bridal Gown Timeline Demystified

Aug 23, 2012 by

Now that we have a location, I feel like I can finally release my inner diva and truly contemplate my bridal gown. Some people don’t know this about me, but I have a deep love for fashion – like coveting issues of Vogue when I studied abroad in France. If I had the budget, I would be fiercely dressed every day. However, I live in a more practical realm where I penny pinch and dare-I-say sometimes let fashion slip to the wayside in favor of adding to my savings. The one expense I plan to be a tad more liberal with for our wedding day is my dress. Now, I don’t mean crazy liberal, but I do mean increasing my practical dress budget just slightly.




All my pinning has left me in a tizzy regarding what exact style and feel I want out of a dress. The only reasonable thing to do is try some on. Like many brides-to-be, I don’t feel I’m quite in wedding dress shape – more on this topic later. For now, let’s talk about the extremely confusing world of bridal gowns, and how soon you really need to be trying on dresses. One of the most common questions I’ve gotten since this ring arrived on my finger: “have you found your DRESS?” The world makes it seem like you should have your dress a year in advance, but that’s not necessarily the case. Here’s the breakdown as I’ve found it:

Ready-To-Wear Stores

These stores offer brides the convenience of trying on dresses in their size, and the ability to take home a dress on the spot. You don’t need to imagine what a dress will look like on you, because you very clearly can see what it will look like on you. This option seems appealing from a budget stand-point not only because dresses can be lower in price, but also because you will know what kind of alterations you need before purchasing. Some of the downfalls include: falling in love with a style that’s not in stock and the added stress of needing THE dress right away.




Quick Turn Around Chain Stores

Stores such as David’s Bridal fall under this category. It is recommended that dresses are ordered 6-8+ weeks before your wedding. So, with this option you can wait until your deeper into the planning process to pick a dress. In addition, these stores are no strangers to sales and are rather transparent on their websites about when they’re taking place. Oftentimes a variety of sizes are available to order, which is comforting for any bride! They do offer many styles, but sometimes the quality may not be what you’re looking for – which I think is a category I fall into. Even on a budget, I want my dress to feel nice against my skin. :)


Designer Bridal Stores & Boutiques

These stores make my heart go a-flutter. Bridal boutiques – whether high end designer or not, may carry a large variety of dresses and styles. Also, they have the most budget disparity, so it’s good to research what designer(s) a store offers, and how much their dresses typically cost. Depending how elaborate the gowns are that you’re interested in, you may need to order 9-12 months in advance. After contacting a few of these stores, it seems that 6-8 months in advance is a safe window to shop and still be able to get something in time for your wedding.


Honorable Mentions: Pre-Owned Stores

I haven’t found many local pre-owned shops, but there are a number of websites that receive rave reviews from brides who shop and sell on them. Personally, I am not above a pre-owned dress if it means good quality and fit…or Monique Lhuillier or Vera Wang. 😉



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