Photo by: Kirstie Kelly
Wedding Fashion & Beauty

Wedding Dress Basics

We’ve rounded up useful advice to get you on your way to walking down the aisle in the wedding gown of your dreams.

An Overview on Wedding Dresses

Chances are, your wedding dress will be the most important clothing purchase of your life. Yes, you will only wear it once – but, will you ever wear another dress more anticipated and more talked about? And while this is indeed an important clothing decision, you have probably never gone through the process of purchasing a wedding gown until now. As your devoted wedding experts, we have rounded up useful advice to get you started on your way to walking down the aisle in the dress of your dreams. If you have any questions not answered here, ask us.

Start Shopping For Your Wedding Dress Early

Time is of the essence. Most likely, you did not get engaged after a week of dating, so why would you want to rush such an important shopping decision? Planning a wedding is stressful, and the last thing you want to add to your worries is dress shopping. You need time. Not only do you need time to shop, but keep in mind that you will also need time to wait for your dress to arrive and time for fittings. Try to start looking for your perfect wedding dress right after you are engaged. Browse our gallery of designer wedding dresses for inspiration. You should aim to purchase your wedding gown at least six months before your wedding date, as this will ensure enough time to wait for your gown to arrive and have it tailored. 

Wedding only six months away, and you haven’t even tried on your first dress? Don’t panic. While shopping early is preferred, you can always buy a dress off the rack, and many bridal salons can turn a dress around more quickly if necessary. You just may have to be a little more flexible in your dress choice.

Educate Yourself on Wedding Dresses

Wedding dresses come with their own unique glossary of terms (or jargon, as you may want to call it). Before stepping foot into a bridal salon, try to brush up on your vocabulary. There are terms for gown silhouette (the basic shape of the gown), neckline, bodice, sleeves, trains, etc. Learn the basics and try to narrow down which options you prefer and which ones best suit your figure. Overwhelmed? No problem; we’ve done a lot of the research for you. View our Wedding Dress Styles guide for more detailed descriptions.

Envision Your Perfect Wedding Dress

Many bridal salons do not allow you to simply browse through all their wedding dresses. They first ask you a few questions about your wedding and your overall style and bring dresses that reflect your vision to you; therefore, it’s best to have an idea of what you want before you shop. After you have educated yourself on the various parts of a dress, think about what wedding dress style suits you. Always dreamed of being a princess? A ball gown silhouette is probably your best bet. Dream of showing off a figure sculpted by hard work at the gym? A sheath dress may be perfect for you. For more information, browse our wedding dresses styles guide. Keep in mind that your dress, while suiting your personal style, should also suit your wedding venue. A formal ball gown is probably not appropriate for a beach wedding in the sand, while a sundress may not work in a cathedral.

Know Where To Shop for Wedding Dresses

The most popular choice is the bridal salon, known for a high level of customer service. Bridal salons exist almost everywhere; you can search our local wedding services section for ones nearest you. Of course, all bridal salons are not the same. Some feature wedding gowns from multiple designers, others feature only gowns from one specific designer custom for their particular store. Price ranges vary as well. While many bridal salons offer gowns starting as low as $300, prices at other stores can start as high as $4,000. Call and inquire before choosing a store. Brides on a tighter budget can try an outlet. Bridal outlets offer hundreds of dresses, often from past seasons, at a discounted price.  

Determine your wedding gown budget

It’s best to have an idea of what you would like to spend before stepping into a bridal salon. This will save you the hassle of going to salons out of your price range or allowing the sales clerk to bring you dresses you cannot afford. The average cost of a wedding dress is around $800. Shop around online and in magazines to get an idea of how much wedding dresses cost and how much you want to spend. In general, your wedding gown shouldn’t exceed 10 percent of the cost of the wedding reception.  Our Wedding Dress Savings Guide offers tons of budget-saving tips.

Wedding Fashion & Beauty