Wedding Dress Shopping: A Complete Guide

You’ve been dreaming of your wedding for decades now. In that vision, you can’t get past your dress: It’s perfect.

Though elevating reality so it measures up to your dreams may seem far-fetched, it is possible. To ensure you look (and more importantly, feel!) like an absolute vision on your big day, we’ve put together this complete guide. 

An all-encompassing approach to wedding dress shopping.

The perfect dress is out there, waiting. We’re going to make sure you find it.

Establish A Budget

Before beginning your search, establish a budget. The average bride in the USA spends between $1,800 and $2,400 on her wedding gown but you can find dresses priced lower and higher, depending on your budget.

Keep in mind that the amount you spend on a wedding dress in no way correlates to how incredible you’re going to look.

Start Looking for your Wedding Dress ASAP

When should you begin looking for your wedding dress?

As soon as you’ve got that engagement ring slipped on your finger.

Of course, the beginning stages of your search for the perfect gown involves more than trying dresses on. It includes things like gathering inspiration from bridal magazines, Pinterest, your own personal style, and any other place you turn for style advice. 

Consider Two Wedding Dresses

If you think about it, two wedding dresses give you the best of both worlds! 

You get the incredibly breathtakingly beautiful gown with the long train and lace corset to wear for the ceremony, and then an adorable midi dress that shows off your heels to rock during the reception. 

That way you can dance and move freely to those upbeat songs with your bridesmaids—without your long train becoming a tripping hazard to yourself or anyone else.

The ceremony and the reception have somewhat different vibes, and two wedding gowns let you take full-advantage of each one.

Consider the Venue and Season

The season, climate, and venue all play a part in the type of dress you choose. For example, a tropical destination wedding gown would likely be vastly different from what you’d wear getting married at a beautifully restored papermill in Vermont, during the fall.

Carefully consider the season and region where you’ll be tying the knot.

Find a Flattering Fit

Wedding dresses come in all sorts of cuts and styles. You’ve got A-line, mermaid, drop waist, and more. Getting on a “first-name basis” with each dress silhouette ensures you can search and ask for exactly what you want.

You can either choose the style that’s most flattering for your particular body type, or try them all and choose the one that feels the best.

Book Appointments to Try on Dresses

This is truly the best way to find the perfect dress.

Most of us have experienced dismay when stepping into something we’ve ordered online and zipping it up, only to discover that it looks waaaaay better on the model.

Trying on dresses allows you to see first-hand how the different styles look and feel. You can examine the fabric, and make sure it doesn’t itch or irritate your skin.

Be open to suggestions when trying on dresses—even if they might not be what you’d gravitate towards. You never know…

Wear the appropriate undergarments when trying on gowns since you’re going to be in and out of quite a few, and will more than likely require assistance from the clerk and your besties as you go try on different options.

While it’s important—obviously—to check out your appearance in each dress, don’t forget to pay attention to how each one makes you feel.

You still want to feel like yourself—albeit a red carpet version of you—but yourself nonetheless.

Bring a supportive group that includes family and your best friends. You’re going to need their honest feedback—just remember you have the final word.

Encourage them to snap pics and short video clips so you can review your options afterwards, checking out each dress from all angles.

The perfect gown is a gown that takes your breath away—and not because it’s too tight. Comfort is really important. You don’t want an ill-fitting dress or something that makes you feel insecure. 

Otherwise, those unpleasant thoughts and feelings will dominate, distracting you from the joy of experiencing your own wedding day.

Don’t Forget Accessories

Accessories are all really important aspects of your wedding day look. Your shoes, earrings, and veil (if you choose to wear one) all work together to pull it all together.

Just like opting for two dresses, you can select two sets of shoes. Freeing up your range of motion, and letting you step into your new life with confidence and comfort.


There’s no need to rush your wedding dress decision. When you find the dress, you’ll know.

All you need are some ideas of what you’re looking for, and the ability to articulate your vision. 

Then, you’ll be there before you know it: Standing at the altar. Looking absolutely stunning in the gown of your dreams.

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