Wedding Dress Shopping Timeline

Posted on 25/10/2016. Written by Jana Svalbe.

You’ve met the man of your dreams, accepted his proposal and set a date for your wedding; so now it’s time to start planning the perfect wedding. In this article we’ll talk you through the wedding dress shopping experience and tell you everything you’ll need to know. From when you should start to what accessories you’ll need, we’ll give you the advice you need to make your dress shopping an experience to remember.

18 - 12 months to go

Do your research

Once you have chosen your dream venue, worked out your budget and sent out your save the dates it’s time to begin searching for the dress. At this stage don’t focus too much on the style or silhouette of a dress but look at designers and details that you like. The time of year that you will be getting married will also play an important part in dress that you choose.

16 – 12 months to go

Start wedding dress shopping

It’s never too early to start shopping for your dream wedding dress. Whether you have a dress made to your measurements or pick the closest match from the designer’s chart, the average dress takes months of hard work to create.

Book your appointments at local bridal salons nice and early as weekend appointments in particular will get booked up fast. Make sure you take photos of and dresses and details you like to your appointment to help give the assistant an idea of which designers and styles you like.

12 - 9 months to go

Shop for your undergarments

The style of your dress will dictate what you can and can’t wear so bear that in mind when you go to your favorite lingerie boutique. You’ll also want to make sure you have your undergarments ready for your first dress fitting and if you are planning on ordering a dress to your measurements then you will need to make sure you get your undergarments before buying your dress. If you need any advice don’t forget to ask the assistant in your bridal salon as they’ll give you advice on what undergarments will be suitable for your dress choice.

Buy your dress

Between 12 and 9 months to go it’s decision time. Whether you are having your dress made to your measurements or picking the dress based on designer guidelines, make sure you bring the right undergarments with you as well as the height of shoe that you intend wearing on the day. This is the time when you can start getting excited when you pick “the one” that’s right for you.

When you buy your dress you’ll need to sign a contract as well as put down a deposit which is normally around 50% of the price of the dress. As wedding dresses are made to order designers need a down payment to start making your dress. Make sure that all the information is correct before signing your contract and check when the salon expects your dress to arrive.

6 months to go

Hair and accessories

Now’s the time to start trying out different hairstyles and shopping for hair accessories. If you’ll be wearing a veil not is also the time to pick this so you can try it out with the hairstyle you want. As well as trying out different styles you will also be able to pick your hair stylist and make sure they are available on your wedding day.

Pick your wedding shoes

Whether you’re going for a full length princess style dress or a shorter drop-waist dress, going shoe shopping is something that every girl loves. Get your close friends and bridesmaids together and turn it into a fun girls’ day out with plenty of treats.

5 - 4 months to go

First dress fitting

Once your dress arrives in your chosen bridal salon you’ll be contacted to arrange your first dress fitting. It’s common to have three fittings and the first fitting is all about identifying any alterations that need to be made. Make sure you take your undergarments, shoes and accessories to the fitting so you can determine the fit and length of your dress.

3 months to go

Something blue, borrowed and new

It’s time to start picking your something new, something borrowed and something blue. From blue shoes and borrowed jewellery to new undergarments, put together the items that you want to help to make your outfit special.

Second dress fitting

With just 6 weeks until your big day the first set of alterations will have been made to your dress and it will be time for your second fitting. Any big changes should have been made by now so any changes at this stage are likely to be either cosmetic or small changes e.g. smoothing out the hemline. During the second fitting you’ll also be able to move about in your dress and try some dance moves to check that the fit is right.

4 to 3 weeks to go

Final fitting

The moment you have been waiting for, all your alterations have been made to your dress and it is time for your final fitting. At this point you’ll want to make sure that you have your mum and either best friend or maid of honor with you. This is where everything will come together and you’ll be able to see your full outfit the way it will look on your wedding day. Make sure you wear some waterproof mascara and bring plenty of tissues with you.

The day before

Get everything ready

From unpacking your dress to putting your veil, accessories and shoes all in one place, make sure you have everything ready the day before your wedding. Get a handheld steamer and emergency kit including safety pins and fashion tape ready for any last minute emergency.

The wedding day

Enjoy it

Make sure you give yourself at least half an hour to slip into your dress and enjoy the experience in a relaxed and unrushed environment. One of your bridesmaids should be on hand to help with putting the dress on and helping with your jewellery. Now it is time to relax and enjoy your day.


Jana Svalbe
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