Wedding Dress Timeline: What to Expect When Purchasing Your Gown


Brides are often shocked by just how long it takes to say yes to the dress. With customization and alterations in play, the wedding dress purchasing process takes longer than other typical garments. While everyone’s wedding planning timeline is different, when it comes to purchasing a dress, it is a good idea to start earlier rather than later to make sure you aren’t cutting it dangerously close to the big day. This timeline will help you get a better general idea of when you should expect to get everything done in the wedding dress shopping process.


12+ Months Before the Wedding

  • Set your dress budget: The very first step you should take in your wedding dress shopping process is setting your budget. You don’t want to spend time admiring dresses in store or online that simply don’t fit in with your budget. Keep in mind that this budget should include a cushion for alterations, tax, and potentially shipping, as well as accessories.
  • Start thinking of dress ideas: Maybe you’ve been dreaming of your wedding dress since you were a little girl – or maybe you haven’t put any thought to it until now! Either way, now that you are engaged, it is time to start thinking of what style you are looking for. Look online or in bridal magazines, and make a note of any designers you like that are in your budget. You’ll want to do this once you have your venue picked out, because it can affect the style you go for. Keep the season in mind as well. You’ll want something that is appropriate for the time of the year, and a dress that you’ll be comfortable in.
  • Find bridal boutiques to check out: Start getting an idea of what bridal boutiques are in your area. Take a look at their website and online reviews to learn more about what designers they carry, what their price range is, and what previous customers have to say. Once you’ve found a boutique (or multiple boutiques) that’d you’d like to visit, check how far out they schedule bridal appointments so that you can book it in a timely manner.


9-12 Months Before the Wedding

  • Decide who will be joining you: Some brides choose to bring their entire bridal party and some family members, while others prefer to have a select few join them. Whatever your style is, be sure to decide as soon as you can so that you can extend invitations at least a few weeks before your appointment.
  • Go to your bridal appointment(s): Now the real fun begins! It is time to visit these bridal boutiques in person so that you can try on some dresses. You may decide on the spot, or may need to sleep on it to decide on your perfect choice. Be sure to take photos of your top choices so that you can refer back to them and don’t have to rely on your memory. This is particularly useful if you are doing multiple appointments at different boutiques.


8-9 Months Before the Wedding

  • Finalize your purchase: If you haven’t already done so, it is time to make the big purchase! You’ll sign a contract with the salon and likely put down a deposit. Be sure to confirm the final details on your dress, such as size and any elements you are adding or taking out for your custom look. Also confirm that they have the correct contact information for you, and see when they expect it to arrive.


5-8 Months Before the Wedding

  • Get your accessories: The waiting game begins! As you wait for your gorgeous dress to come in, start gathering the accessories you’ll need for your look. This includes a veil or hairpiece, jewelry, and shoes.
  • Line up the alteration service: Even a gown that was created for you will most likely require some sort of alterations. If the bridal boutique where you bought your dress doesn’t offer alterations, you’ll need to find a local professional. Talk to some businesses in town to see who is available to take on your job.


2-3 Months Before the Wedding

  • Do your first fitting: Around this point, your dress will arrive at the store! It is time to do your first fitting to see if there are any adjustments that need to be made, such as taking in at a certain place, taking off some length, or adding small design elements.
  • Buy your undergarments: It is a good idea to buy your undergarments after you’ve done your first fitting. That way, you’ll know exactly what you need.


4-8 Weeks Before the Wedding

  • Do your second fitting: The wedding is getting closer, and it is time for your second fitting! Here, you’ll see the changes that were made and do any small final adjustments that might be needed. Be sure to bring all of your accessories to see how the final look ties together.


2 Weeks Before the Wedding

  • Do your third fitting (if necessary): If there were any alterations that were needed after the second fitting, this is the time to make sure everything is perfect! Like with the second fitting, bring your accessories.


1-2 Weeks Before the Wedding

  • Pick up the dress: Finally – you get to take your dress home! Pay any remaining fees, and store your gown in a safe place at your house. You’ll be provided with a garment bag to keep the dress protected.


The Day of the Wedding

  • Put it on and get ready to celebrate: The dress is ready, so now it is time to get married! Be sure to bring a steamer to get rid of any wrinkles before putting it on.

If you are in the process of planning your wedding, come to the next Georgia Bridal Show near you. You will have the chance to meet with professional wedding vendors of all talents who can help bring your vision to life!


Georgia wedding vendors, as well as other wedding professionals across the Southeast, can contact us about opportunities for exhibition and online marketing with Georgia Bridal Show.