Bridal gown appointments and timeline of gown shopping

Every week we schedule several brides to come in to help them find their dream wedding gown and one of the most common questions we hear is “Exactly how does a bridal appointment work?”. It is perfectly okay to ask this question, we hear this question all the time. It’s perfectly understandable that you would ask this question, it’s not everyday you go shopping for a wedding gown.  A lot of bridal boutiques operate differently when it comes to helping brides find their wedding gown.

Some stores are a full service salon, meaning that the boutique offers not just bridal gowns, but bridesmaids dresses, mother of the bride dresses, flower girl dresses, accessories, gown preservation,  and alterations. Prices and designers in the store may vary from moderately affordable to high end couture.  Some stores might just offer off the rack gowns or once worn bridal gowns. Even department stores are now offering bridal gowns at affordable prices. It is always good to do your research on the different bridal shops in the area before you make your appointment. We will break down the bridal gown shopping experience for you here in a few steps:

9 to 12 months before your wedding:

  • First do your research on what type of gown you envision yourself wearing on your wedding day. A good place to start is buying wedding magazines and exploring wedding websites, such as and By knowing what type of gown you envision yourself wearing, will help your bridal consultant and will keep you from becoming overwhelmed by trying on too many styles.
  • Also decide if you are going to have a formal setting at your wedding or an informal style.
  • Start making a list of dress styles you like and don’t like. For example you might write “Love fitted mermaid dress with ruching, a little bead work and maybe some lace. Do not like sleeves, ball gowns, taffeta, and ruffles.” If it seems that you like everything and want to keep an open mind that is ok too, but be sure to narrow down your choices to at most 3 styles to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
  • The next important step is determining a gown budget. Be sure to be absolutely honest and realistic with yourself on this one. You may love that $9,000 Vera Wang, but now you’ve blown through half your wedding budget. Knowing your budget will also determine which shops you should make appointments with. Don’t make an appointment at a higher end shop if your budget doesn’t allow it. You will only become disappointed when you fall in love with a dress that is out of your price range. There are several gorgeous gowns that look expensive, but are a fraction of the cost of a high end designer.

8 months before your wedding:

  • Do your research on your local bridal boutiques and see the designers they carry. Ask your friends where they got their wedding gown and check out reviews on wedding websites.
  • Decide who will be coming with you to your appointments. A good rule of thumb to follow when bringing people along is no more than 3 people. Any more than 3 and you will be flooded with opinions and comments and this is almost always a recipe for becoming overwhelmed with the whole process.
  • Call the boutique to schedule your appointment. Appointments usually take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half.
  • Boutiques usually carry bustiers, shoes, and slips for you to wear as you try on sample gowns. If you feel more comfortable in your own bra and shoes, be sure to bring those. If you want to wear spanx underneath, be sure to wear it to your appointment.
  • Most shops can only carry a limited range of sizes. Sample bridal gowns in a store can run anywhere from a size 8 to a size 14. Also keep in mind that bridal gown sizes do run smaller than the size that they state they are. Most shops do carry a line of full figured gowns, be sure to call ahead to the store and ask if they carry full figured sizes.
  • Most stores will interview you at your appointment about your wedding and what dresses you like most. Based on the criteria you give them, they will select gowns from their selection. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t like a gown that is pulled for you.
  • Next a consultant will bring you into a dressing room and help you in and out of the gowns. The consultant’s reason for doing this is that they know how the gowns should go on and are able to handle gowns with delicate bead work or fabric. If you feel uncomfortable about getting undressed in front of a stranger, it is ok to wear a slip and a nude colored tube top. Most bridal fitting rooms are designed for two people and a ball gown, so let your family and friends kick up their heels and let the consultant do all the work 🙂

Before we move on to 7 months before your wedding, we want to note that there are a lot of brides who find their gown on the first visit and there are many brides who have been to every bridal boutique in a 50 mile radius. Neither of these is a wrong way to decide on your gown. Some brides know right way and some brides need to see it all. Also be sure that if you do find your dream gown, to have at least 50% of the final price of your attire to put down as a deposit on the dress and any accessories. We see a lot of brides who found their dream gown and aren’t ready to purchase it. This is ok to do, but keep in mind that the dress you fell in love with might be gone when you come back.


7 months before your wedding

  • If you don’t find your gown on the first shopping trip, be sure to narrow down your top choices. Schedule a second appointment with the boutiques where your top choices are.
  • Keep in mind that bridal gowns can take an average of 4 to 6 months to be made and shipped to the store. So don’t put off making a decision too long or you may run into hefty rush order charges. Also allow 1 to 1.5 months before your wedding for any alterations that are needed.
  • Try on any accessories such as veils, earrings, necklaces, or hair accessories that might go with your gown that you’ve chosen.
  • Once you have chosen your dream gown, the store will take your measurements and compare them to the designer’s size chart. Be sure that you ask to look at the designer’s size chart and your measurements. You should feel comfortable with the size being ordered. Keep in mind that wedding gowns are very rarely ever made to fit your exact measurements. Almost always alterations will be needed and you should always err on the size of a little bit larger than too small. It is always easier to bring in a dress then to let it out.

1 month before your wedding date

  • Schedule your first pin fitting with the store’s seamstress or a seamstress of your choice. Be sure to have all of the necessary undergarments you will be wearing and very importantly, the shoes you will be wearing on your wedding day.

4 to 5 weeks before your wedding

  • Schedule your second fitting to try on your dress to see all of the changes made. This is also a good time to address any minor changes that need to be made. This will be the last time to make them before your final fitting.
  • At this fitting you will want to bring someone like your maid of honor or your mom to have them learn how to get you into the dress and how to bustle the gown.

1  weeks to a few days before your wedding date

  • Schedule an appointment to stop by the store to pick up your gown. Be sure when you get your gown home or to the venue to take it out of the bag carefully and hang it up high so that the skirt and train do not get dirty from touching the floor. By hanging it up in a secure place, it keeps the dress from becoming wrinkled in the bag.
  • Be sure ask any last minute questions that you may have thought of.

To schedule your personalized gown appointment with us, please contact us or your can use our online appointment feature. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see what the girls at the store are up to. The White Closet also has a newsletter so you can keep up to date on everything going on at the store.




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