Dress Shopping 101

You’re newly engaged! Congratulations! Amidst all the excitement, you’re probably ready to go dress shopping. While your wedding date (if you’ve even set one) may seem like it’s ages away, an important, early on planning task is buying your wedding dress.

Aside from the fact that it may take you some time to find the one, you’ll need to perfectly time your dress fittings  – allowing for custom alterations and then some. This dress shopping itinerary is hardly set in stone, but here’s the timeline we recommend:

After You Get Engaged

If you don’t already have a vision of your ideal gown, now’s the time to do your homework. Start by ripping pages out of bridal magazines & scrolling Pinterest. Whatever the theme, hold onto it and bring visuals for your first bridal salon appointment. Ultimately, though, maintain an open mind—you may fall in love with something that was never even on your radar.

After You Pick The Venue

We advise going dress shopping only after you’ve pegged your wedding venue – considering you want to wear something that stays true to venue aesthetic & season. Now it’s really important to start thinking about your dress & nailing it down 9-12 months before the wedding.

Try to cap your wedding dress shopping crew to three close, supportive (major emphasis) friends or relatives whose opinions you value most.

Stay on track by booking appointments well in advance, since spots at bridal salons fill up quickly. Do your research, too—look into each salon’s designer selection, price point & trunk show schedule.


9 Months 

Narrow down your final dress of choice at a bridal salon, and say ‘yes!’ Pinpoint any desired customizations, pay a deposit, and allot six to nine months for the bespoke creation to come in. 

5 Months

While you wait for your lovely gown to come in, cross a few things off your wedding checklist. For starters, have an alterations specialist lined up. We have an entire alterations department in-house here at Kleinfeld. 

Next, let’s talk accessories — it’s a good rule of thumb to have your veil, jewelry, and other adornments picked out before your first fitting to get an early glimpse of the full look. Explore our vast & thoughtfully curated selection of bridal accessories in our bridal lounge – or at an accessory trunk show!

3 Months

Ta-da! Your patience has finally been rewarded. The dress should be finished and at the salon. Just in case it’s not, you have a bit of wiggle room before the first fitting.

6 to 8 Weeks

First fitting time. Your fitter will pin the dress in all of the right places, so our seamstresses can make it perfect. This is where the customized Kleinfeld Sculpted Fit™ process begins!

4 Weeks 

Undergo the second fitting. By now, most of the heavy lifting should be out of the way, so you’ll have a better visual of how the dress will look. If you haven’t already, choose the final headpiece, veil & accessories. Come armed with your lingerie; and consider bringing a bridesmaid or two along to demonstrate the bustle.

2 Weeks

Some dresses only require two fittings – but a third, final round of alterations may be necessary. The gown should be almost flawless. Try on your entire wedding ensemble—veil, shoes, and all—and prepare for a tearful first full look.

1 Week Before Your Wedding

By this point, you’ll pick up your finished gown & pay the remaining balance, including alteration fees. We’ll send you home with a protective garment bag to keep the precious cargo safely stored until the big day.

Before walking down the aisle, unpack the gown, hang it up to air out, then steam away any wrinkles for the finishing, picture-perfect touch. If you’re hesitant to handle your dress on wedding day, please inquire about bridal styling services, if the budget allows.

Working on a time crunch? 

Not all brides have this much leeway—in fact, given the circumstances, some may need their gowns in as quickly as a week. If you’re wondering when to buy your wedding dress but the above timeline doesn’t apply to you, there are options. 


Ready to say ‘yes!’ to your dream wedding dress? Make an appointment!

Need bridal advice? Read our blog.

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