Countdown to Your Dress

A Fashion Timeline

Countdown to your dress.
Mark Edward Atkinson/Tetra Images/Corbis

How many months ahead should you shop for your wedding dress? Is it normal to have five or more fittings? Find out the answers to these questions and more...

We probably don't need to tell you this, but timing is everything, especially when planning a wedding. Follow these simple guidelines for gown shopping and you'll be anxiety-free (well, almost) when it comes to putting your wedding day look together.


Begin your gown research. Buy loads of bridal magazines and spend time on your favorite wedding sites (like this one). Download dress photos and inspirational images from websites and collect tear sheets. When you start shopping, bring these with you.


Start shopping. We recommend you visit at least three bridal salons before you make your final choice. Try on lots of gowns in different shapes to see what looks good on your frame (you might be surprised). Many brides pick the opposite style dress they imagined would be for them. 

Try to make your purchase no closer than six months to the wedding date if you can. This way, you'll have ample time for fittings and putting your look together. Once your dress is ordered, you can set your fitting dates as well.


Your bridesmaids should order their dresses and decide on their accessories… shoes, jewelry, bags and any special hair accessories.

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If you have a special order veil or headpiece in mind, it's best to order it during this period.


Your dress has arrived! Now it's time for your first fitting. All of your major alterations (if you have any) should take place in this fitting. It's normal to have 1-3 fittings. Make sure you have your lingerie and shoes with you at this fitting, and every other fitting that follows.

For your second, and possibly third, fitting you should also bring your veil and other accessories so you can see your look together and decide if it's perfection or if you need to make any styling changes.

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