Wedding Dress Shopping Timeline

Are you engaged? Planning your wedding? Congratulations! One of the most exciting yet daunting tasks is picking out your perfect wedding dress. It can feel like there’s so much to do in so little time, but don’t worry—we’re here to help! We’ve channelled our inner wedding planner and put together a timeline for shopping for your wedding dress. So, now you can make the most of your time and find that gown you’ve always dreamt of. Enjoy!

12+ months before the wedding

Establish a budget

The first thing you’ll want to establish when planning your wedding is the budget. Budgets will vary from couple to couple, but on average, brides will allocate six per cent of the budget to their dress. The final allocation should account for associated taxes (especially if you’re buying from overseas!), shipping, alterations (if necessary), and rush fees (if applicable). You should also factor shoes, jewellery, and the veil—should you want to wear one—into the final price.

Do your research

If like us, you’ve dreamt of your wedding since you were a little girl, you’ll have an advantage here. Before you commence operation: dress shopping, you should determine what you want—and what you don’t want—out of your dress. If weddings weren’t your childhood dream, don’t worry, as with a bit of inspiration it shouldn’t take you long to catch up. Narrow the field by deciphering your favourite necklines, fabrics, and silhouettes.

Images: Alamour The Label

When selecting your favourite features, factor in the venue. As the backdrop of your wedding, you’ll want the scenery to work with your dress in thematic harmony. Beachy brides may wish for a no-fuss gown in a lightweight material such as chiffon. Brides taking the traditional route may prefer a more classic ensemble consisting of longer skirts and lacey veils.

All that said, don’t hem yourself in too much. Do plenty of research, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, speak to a bridal consultant. Their ideas may differ from your original thoughts, so keep an open mind and be willing to take on expert advice.

Book your first appointment

The first sign it’s becoming real is when you book your first wedding dress shopping appointment. Choose a bridal boutique that offers your favourite designs within your allocated price range. Before picking up the phone, you should research local boutiques. Hit up some websites or social media platforms to get a feel for each one.

There’s no obligation to stick with the one boutique. Make appointments at a few shops! We wouldn’t recommend any more than two at this timeline stage, lest you become too overwhelmed. Ideally, your selected bridal shop will feature work from your favourite designer. Scope out if your designer of choice is hosting any trunk shows—aka travelling showcases of their whole collection.

Gather the girls
You’ve seen this in movies, and if you have a few married friends, you may have been on the other side of this process. Whilst some prefer to fly solo, many brides desire a girl posse to accompany them for their wedding dress fitting. Some brides bring along their bridesmaids and their mum, whilst others prefer to limit it to just their maid of honour. However you play it, don’t exceed three or four gal pals. Too many opinions can muddy the waters.

8–10 months before the wedding

Buy the dress!

Lock in your wedding dress around eight months before the big day. Many brides talk of that moment when they ‘know’ which dress is ‘the one’. Perhaps your breath will catch in your throat, or perhaps the dress will fit like a glove and you’ll never want to take it off. Once you’ve had your princess moment, lock down the dress by signing a contract and placing a deposit. On average, you’ll need to pay 50 per cent upfront.

Images: Alamour The Label

If you’re as bright as you are beautiful, you’ll know to confirm some final details before picking up that pen. So ask those niggling questions, cross-check the details for accuracy, request an ETA (your dress should arrive in 16 to 20 weeks, on average), and confirm they will call when it comes and if any issues arise.

5–6 months before the wedding

Take care of the underwear

This step doesn’t require the same forward-thinking as purchasing the dress, but you also don’t want to leave it too long. You’ll need it handy when you’re having your alterations fitting! What you choose is entirely up to you, but you may want to consider a strapless bra, nude-coloured underwear, or bridal shapewear.

Select your accessories

Accessories are those finishing touches that complement and frame themselves around the main event. Not unlike your underwear and shapewear, you’ll want your shoes, jewellery, and veil ready for your first alterations fitting. The most critical of these three is shoes, which the seamstress will use to determine the length of your hem. The second most vital is the veil, should you choose to wear one. This addition will give a holistic idea of your beautiful bridal gown.

Image: Alamour The Label

Book a hair and makeup trial

The most significant task is over by this stage of the wedding preparation game. All that’s left to do is complete the look! Five months before the wedding, you should book a hair and makeup trial to establish what will work best with your gorgeous gown. The dress is the centre of the look, so ensure that everything serves and revolves around it.

3–4 months before the wedding

Pick up the dress

After months, the dress materialises (squee!). Most likely, you’ll need to pay the outstanding balance to the store or supplier, so keep some cash aside. If you haven’t contacted a seamstress regarding alterations, now would be your last chance to do so. Choose someone experienced in formal wear and wedding dresses!

Book an alterations fitting

Our bodies change daily, so you will likely require three alterations fittings before the wedding. It’s certainly nothing to stress about! If you’re going to fret about anything, worry about the timing. The dress may not sit right on the big day if you alter it too far in advance. On the other hand, if you change too close to the date, you may be flying by the seat of your gown to get it done.

Images: Alamour The Label

You should make your first appointment three months before the wedding. The seamstress will complete the bulk of the work in this first appointment by amending sleeves, altering the neckline, adjusting the hem, or implementing your custom requests, such as beaded detailing. You will see your baby with enough pins to rival a porcupine, but it will all work out.

6–8 weeks before the wedding

Book your subsequent alterations fitting

Your second alterations fitting will be about ironing out the kinks. This session will be the time to take in the bodice or alter the hem length to perfection. You’ll want to eliminate pulling, punching, and  any discomfort. Sit, stand, walk around the store, and practice some moves from your first dance. If anything is feeling off, now would be the time to bring it up. Wedding dresses aren’t exactly the epitome of comfort, so you’ll want to ensure you can bear to spend half a day in this gorgeous garment.

Image: Alamour The Label

While you’re there, you may wish to incorporate something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Bring these along to the fitting and see what your seamstress can do.

2–3 weeks before the wedding

Book the last alterations fitting

Even if you’re an independent gal, you may want your mum or a gal pal on hand for this appointment. This appointment is where your seamstress will set your dress in stone. Seeing your dream dress come to life may be emotional, so have a friend handy to lend you a tissue, learn how to lace up the corset, or help you handle the train.

Pick up the dress from your seamstress

After the final fitting, the rest is up to you! Your only challenge now is to hide it where your partner won’t see it. And if you live together, this may prove difficult! Your best bet is a spare, empty wardrobe devoid of items or garments that may compromise the dress. Otherwise, ask if the boutique offers wedding dress storage.

Images: Alamour The Label

Give your dress a final once-over. Ensure it’s devoid of snags, damage, or discolouration. We recommend storing it in an opaque garment bag (just in case your partner stumbles upon it) or a protective pouch if you’re keeping your veil in there too.

We now pronounce the shopping timeline complete
Now that you know when to start shopping for your wedding dress, it’s time to get excited! Your wedding will be one of the most memorable days of your life, and you want to look your best. So start browsing the Wedding Dress collection from Alamour The Label and enjoy the process of finding the perfect dress for your big day.