The earlier, the better—just not too early.
karolina sorab wedding bride dress getting ready

Here's a question nearly every engaged woman faces: When should you start shopping for your wedding dress? If you shop too early, your size may change when you get closer to the wedding; shop too late and you risk not being able to find a gown and get it altered in time for the big day. To that end, we asked industry insiders to help us figure out the right time to start shopping for a wedding dress.

If you have a clear picture of what you want to wear on your big day, you can likely get away with less time than a bride who is starting from scratch and needs to try on a lot of styles. The more options you want at your bridal appointment, the earlier you should shop. Some brides find their gown in the first visit while others make several appointments and try different bridal shops before finding the winner.

Anna Walsh, owner of anna bé bridal boutique in Denver, Colorado, recommends that brides make their decision seven to nine months before the wedding. "The general rule is that the gown will take three to four months production time, but some designers can take as many as six months," she says. "Plus, you'll need to throw in time for shipping and alterations."

Are you looking for something custom? If that's the case, start your process even earlier. Getting a custom wedding dress made is a process that requires more time and multiple meetings with the designer. Lanie List, Founder at Lovely Bride, suggests shopping a year in advance when you want to go this route. "That gives you a few weeks to do your research, find the right shop for you, and order your dress with plenty of time for production," she says. For a custom dress that's made just for you, it can take three to six months to produce it and ship it out to you.

If you have less time, there are still plenty of ways to find the perfect gown in time for your wedding day. Consider asking designers to rush a gown or whether they have select styles in stock or as sample styles.


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