Not everyone finds "the one" on their first shopping trip.
Woman Looking at Wedding Dress Price Tag
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You've heard the stories: While some brides fall head-over-heels for the first wedding dress they ever try on, most women try on several—sometimes dozens—of dresses before they find the one they'll wear down the aisle. That's just one reason you need a lot of time to wedding-dress shop.

Valarie Falvey, owner and event planner at Kirkbrides Weddings in Cleveland, Ohio, says that brides should begin wedding dress shopping as many as 12 to 14 months before their wedding date. "It can take months to find the right dress that is perfect for you," says Falvey. So, she instructs, you should be sure to "give yourself some time to see all the options at a few different stores."

Not only does a year-plus head start give you plenty of time to find the perfect gown, but it also allows for shipping time—which sometimes takes as many as three to four months—and for any needed alterations. This extended wedding-dress shopping timeline "also gives you time to find the right accessories from top to bottom—from the veil to the perfect heels," Falvey points out.

Even if you're an easy-breezy bride who's not particularly picky about what she wears, Falvey encourages you to start early. After all, you never know—even the breeziest of brides can have trouble finding a dress they want to wear for such a special day. "If you rush around to find a wedding dress and feel pressure to find one in a very short period of time, then you may end up with something you don't love a week or months later," Falvey says. Or, "you may end up with a trendy dress that will go out of style as quickly as it came in. It's best to take time to really think about your decision and imagine yourself in the dress before finalizing your purchase," she says.

Once you kick off your wedding-dress search, be prepared to spend as many as three months on the hunt for the right gown, says Falvey. But try not to spend more than that. "Any more time than [three months] may drive you crazy and put too much pressure on you—as well as take away from the rest of the fun planning process," she explains. That's why Falvey recommends that you give yourself time, but also set a deadline to make a decision. "Wedding planning is all about making decisions, and if you can be confident about making informed and researched decisions and stick with them, you will greatly reduce your stress throughout this long process."


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