Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Dress

Wedding dress shopping is very exciting, and something you may have been dreaming of since the engagement. It is easy to get swept up in the excitement; a little preparation beforehand can save you making decisions in the heat of the moment. Here are some tips when looking for that perfect gown.

Plan ahead

You will need to book appointments with the salons you plan to shop at; this will help ensure there will be a change room for you and a store attendant to help you. Budget at least 2.5-3 hours per place, especially for the first store. Give yourself lots of time so you are not making decisions in a rush. Bring water for you and your bride tribe. Shopping for the wedding dress 9-12 months before the wedding is common advice; it can take five months to order in your dress and you will need time for alterations.

You will also need to make an appointment for bridesmaid dress shopping. I brought white tanks and little white shorts for my bridesmaids to wear for easy changing when we did not have access to the change room (see the first tip!).

Wear slip on shoes as you will likely have to remove them in the store.

Wear appropriate undergarments, an assistant will likely be helping you a lot in the change room.


The first thing you will be asked when you enter a store is if you have a budget (and a preferred designer, though not required). When determining this value, remember that the cost of the dress is just the beginning.

In 2017, the average spent on bridal attire was $17411.Beyond the dress, there is perhaps also hair accessories, veil, belt, jewelry, shoes, and undergarments: special bra, lingerie, shape wear, crinoline to add volume, slips, garter, etc. At the time of this writing, alterations can easily add another $300-500.  Also, be prepared to pay another $150-350 for dry cleaning after the wedding depending on number of layers and complexity of the dress, and $75 to preserve the gown in a vacuum sealed box (rates of course will vary in your town or city).

Know that you will likely be paying half the price of the gown when you order.

Some stores may offer cheaper dresses, but then pair them with corsets and crinoline under layers to enhance the dress. This may offset any savings, and add extra layers that add warmth or discomfort.

Another option to save money is used dresses:


Think about the time of year you are getting married, especially if the wedding is outdoors. Ask the bridal consultant which materials are lighter and more breathable for summer weddings. Under garments, such as shape wear, slips, and crinoline may add warmth.

Consider hemming generously if you will be dancing all night. Despite meticulous measuring and dancing during my fitting, I still stepped on my dress all night – even though it was properly tied (it likely relaxed over the evening). Looking back, I would have boldly taken another inch off the bottom of my dress. So what if my toes peeped out?

The dress must also be comfortable while you try it on. Any boning that is poking you under your arms, or sequins that are rubbing the wrong way after three minutes is going to be a major pain point after hours of wear (although sequins can probably be easily removed).


Be open minded, you may have your heart set on A-line, and fall in love with mermaid. Some dresses will look limp on the hanger yet stunning on you. Do not forget you can add sequins, beads, etc, to jazz up a gown.

When you find the one, take some pictures in it (that your spouse will not find!). Use these photos when shopping for accessories or to show your florist, hair stylist, and make up artist.

Politely ensure your store orders the correct size. Double check. I hear brides speculate that the wrong size was ordered to scam them into alterations.

Hopefully this post had some helpful pointers, wishing you an amazing shopping experience! Have any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

  1. The Cost of Love in Canada. (Feb 4, 2017). Retrieved Dec 10, 2018 from