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Top 5 Things a Bride Should Be Prepared for When Going Wedding Dress Shopping

Wedding dress shopping is one of the most exciting parts of planning a wedding. It’s a day many brides have dreamed about for years, imagining themselves in the perfect gown walking down the aisle. However, the process can also be overwhelming if you’re not prepared. To help make your experience enjoyable and stress-free, here are the top five things a bride should be prepared for when going wedding dress shopping.

plus size wedding dresses
New Ivory Bridal | East Aurora, NY

1. Know Your Budget

Before you start shopping, it's crucial to establish a clear budget for your wedding dress. This budget should include not only the cost of the dress itself but also alterations, accessories (like veils, shoes, and jewelry), and any additional costs such as cleaning and preservation.

Tips for Budgeting:

  • Do Your Research: The average cost of a wedding dress in the Western New York area is approximately $2,000, which does not include alterations and and accessories.

  • Be Honest with Your Consultant: Let your bridal consultant know your budget from the outset to avoid falling in love with a dress that's out of your price range.

  • Consider Sales and Trunk Shows: Keep an eye out for sales, sample sales, and trunk shows where you can find designer dresses at a fraction of the cost.

2. Start Early but Not Too Early

Timing is key when it comes to wedding dress shopping. Starting too late can limit your options, while starting too early can lead to indecision as new styles come out.

Optimal Timeline:

  • Begin Shopping 8-12 Months Before the Wedding: This allows ample time for ordering and alterations, which can take several months.

  • Final Fittings Closer to the Wedding: Schedule your final fittings about a month before the wedding to ensure a perfect fit.


  • Research Beforehand: Look at bridal magazines, websites (like Upstate Indie Weddings :) and social media (like @upstateindieweddings) to get an idea of what styles you like before you start shopping. Trends are always fun, but make sure that you look for something that makes YOU feel beautiful.

  • Be Decisive: Once you find a dress you love, stop shopping. Continuing to look can lead to second-guessing and unnecessary stress.

wedding dress
Bridal Chateau | Williamsville, NY

3. Dress for the Occasion

When you go wedding dress shopping, it’s important to wear the right undergarments and bring accessories that will help you get a true sense of how the dress will look on your big day.

What to Wear:

  • Proper Undergarments: Wear a nude, strapless bra and seamless underwear to avoid visible lines and to accommodate different dress styles.

  • Bring Shoes with a Similar Heel Height: This will help you get a sense of how the dress will fall and ensure you get the right length.

  • Minimal Makeup: Wear minimal makeup to avoid staining the dresses and to keep the focus on the gowns.


  • Hair and Accessories: Consider how you plan to wear your hair on your wedding day and bring any accessories you already have to see how they complement the dresses.

  • Comfort: Wear comfortable clothing and bring a hair tie and water bottle to stay comfortable during a potentially long day.

4. Be Open-Minded

While it's great to have an idea of what you want, it's also important to stay open-minded. Many brides end up choosing a dress that’s completely different from what they initially envisioned.

Why Be Open-Minded:

  • Different Styles May Surprise You: Dresses often look different on your body than they do on the hanger or in pictures. Be willing to try on a variety of styles.

  • Trust Your Consultant: Bridal consultants are experienced in finding the right dress for each bride. Be open to their suggestions.


  • Try on Different Silhouettes: Even if you think you know what you want, trying on different silhouettes can confirm your choice or lead you to a new favorite.

  • Listen to Your Gut: While it’s important to consider feedback from friends and family, ultimately, the decision should be yours. Choose the dress that makes you feel the most beautiful and confident.

5. Bring the Right People

Who you bring with you to your dress appointments can significantly impact your experience. Too many opinions can be overwhelming, while the right support can make the experience enjoyable.

wedding dress
Made by Anatomy

Choosing Your Entourage:

  • Limit Your Group: Bring a small group of trusted friends or family members whose opinions you value. A group of 2-3 people is ideal.

  • Consider Their Role: Choose people who will be supportive, honest, and who understand your style and preferences.


  • Communicate Expectations: Let your entourage know what kind of feedback you’re looking for and encourage constructive comments.

  • Be True to Yourself: Remember, while it’s great to have feedback, the final decision is yours. Choose the dress that feels right for you.

wedding dresses
Bridal Chateau | Made by Anatomy

Wedding dress shopping is a memorable part of your wedding planning journey

By being prepared with these tips, you can make the experience enjoyable and stress-free. Remember to set a budget, start shopping at the right time, dress appropriately for fittings, keep an open mind, and bring a supportive group with you. Most importantly, choose the dress that makes you feel confident and beautiful, and enjoy every moment of finding your dream gown.

Check out our favorite wedding dress boutiques HERE!

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