Dress Shopping Tips

January 12, 2020

photo: Molly Jo Collection

Contribution by Tie the Knot Bridal Boutique

SHOP EARLY – Shopping for your wedding dress should be 9-12 months in advance.

DON’T WAIT – Do you plan to get in shape or loose a bit of weight before the wedding? Are you holding out on shopping because of this? Since you have to lose inches from your bust, waist and hips to go down a size, order your dress in the recommended timeline. Alterations cost the same whether they take in one inch or two. Waiting to dress shop adds stress and you will most likely incur rush order fees.

GO DURING OFF MONTHS – Peak dress shopping times are December – March. To have a more relaxing shopping experience, think about going during months other than engagement season (holidays).

DON’T BRING TOO MANY PEOPLE – Think hard about who will be a supporter of your opinions when you are trying on dresses and ask those key people to come with you. Too many people bring too many opinions. Keep this key group small, ideally 2-3 people. Most local bridal shops are not that large and cannot accommodate large groups of people sitting comfortably while you try on.

AVOID THE COFFEE – Leave the drinks in the car. We all love our coffee! But white dresses + coffee don’t mix.
Plan for a coffee stop between stores.

SCHEDULE AN APPT – Most bridal stores recommend having appointments if you plan to try on dresses. Walking into bridal stores isn’t frowned upon to look and just get an idea however, don’t expect to have undivided attention from a consultant. Stores plan their scheduling around appointments so they can best service you.

AVOID SATURDAYS – Saturdays are the busiest day of the week for wedding dress shopping. Stores are packed full of appointments, brides & their guests. Consider a night after work, or better yet, cut the crowds and take a day off work.

DRESS OPTIONS AVAILABLE – Keep in mind that boutiques typically have one dress per style (in most cases). If there are four brides trying on dresses at one time on a Saturday, you aren’t seeing the full inventory.

SAYING YES! – Be confident in your wedding dress purchase. If you’re not sure, think about it or visit more bridal stores.
If you know it’s the dress, stop shopping and celebrate.

THE EXPERIENCE – Getting together with the bride and the bridesmaids should be a fun experience. Trying on dresses to see the different styles and
colors on different bodies can be a learning experience for the
bride. The bride may have a vision of the colors and/or styles but in
reality, it may be that they just aren’t the right cut for certain body
types or the color doesn’t look good on everyone’s skin tones. This
is also a great time to get to know the bridal party better.

When you visit your local bridal store, you are dealing with an authorized retailer of the manufacturer. A local store has a relationship with the manufacturer. If something is incorrect, it can usually be resolved with a phone call. The store is in direct contact with the manufacturer versus the consumer having to do that themselves.

A local bridal store will have actual fabric color swatches of the
bridesmaid dress lines they carry. These are true colors. Not a
color you see on a computer or phone. (Colors can look good on one screen and totally different on another screen.) When bridesmaid orders are placed by a local retailer, dresses are ordered at the same time so there isn’t a dye lot color variation. If bridesmaids are ordering online at different times, the color could vary from dress to dress due to the dye lot being off.


Local bridal stores have in-house measuring to ensure the closest possible fit. Dresses aren’t custom ordered to the customer’s measurements but are ordered to the size chart of the manufacturer. Employees of a local store have knowledge of how dresses are constructed and fit.

When purchasing from a local bridal store, you can be assured you are
receiving the original dress from the designer. There are many copies of dresses on counterfeit websites. These are websites that are not authorized by the manufacturer. The consumer may not receive the dress that is shown on the website. The dress may not be made from the same fabric, isn’t the correct color, or have the same beading. The construction of the dress could be of poor quality.

You will typically pay more when purchasing a dress through your local
bridal store. The reason is due to all of the above. To ensure you have a
dress of quality construction and the correct color (without any dye lot
issues), it is most often worth paying a higher price for piece of mind.


Local seamstresses work with local bridal stores. Most often brides-
maids need some alterations. It’s getting harder to find a qualified seamstress. With that being said, many seamstresses won’t perform alterations on a dress that has been purchased online due to poor construction.

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