Your Guide to Effortless Wedding Dress Shopping: Find Your Perfect Bridal Gown

Take the style quiz to get personalized content.
Wedding dress shopping is an exciting part of the wedding planning process, where brides-to-be embark on a journey to find their dream gown. With countless styles, designers, and price ranges to choose from, it can be both thrilling and overwhelming. In this updated article, we will explore the latest trends in wedding dress shopping, provide expert tips, and shed light on the average cost of wedding dresses to help you navigate this important decision.

Consider Current Wedding Dress Trends

Wedding dress styles are constantly evolving, reflecting the changing fashion landscape. In recent years, we have seen a shift towards individuality and personalization. Brides are embracing a wide range of silhouettes, from classic ballgowns to sleek sheaths and bohemian-inspired designs. Ethereal lace, romantic floral appliqués, and intricate beadwork are popular embellishments adding a touch of luxury and femininity to modern gowns. Off-the-shoulder, illusion necklines, and deep V-necklines continue to dominate the bridal runways, offering various options to showcase their personal style.

Set a Budget Before You Go Shopping

The moment you step foot inside a wedding dress shop, you’re probably going to be overwhelmed by all of the amazing options. One way to narrow them down? Go into your first appointment with a number in mind. Be upfront and honest with the salesperson about your price point so he/she doesn’t bring you a $10,000 to-die-for dress to try on when you can only realistically afford a $2,000 gown. It’s easy to fall in love with something that’s out of your price range, but if you don’t have the space for it in your budget, don’t even tempt yourself.

 Tips For Setting Your Wedding Dress Budget

When determining your dress budget, consider factors such as the level of detailing and craftsmanship you desire, the reputation of the designer or brand, and the type of fabric you prefer. Intricate lace, delicate beadwork, and luxurious fabrics tend to come with higher price tags. Additionally, customization options, such as alterations or added embellishments, can also impact the overall cost.
It's important to keep in mind that the average cost of a wedding dress is just a guideline, and brides should tailor their budget to fit their individual circumstances. Some may choose to allocate more funds towards their dream dress, while others may prioritize other aspects of their wedding.
Luckily, there are options available for brides with a range of budgets. Many bridal retailers offer a variety of collections, ensuring there's something for every price point. Additionally, sample sales and trunk shows provide opportunities to score stunning gowns at discounted prices.

Average Wedding Dress Cost

When it comes to wedding dress shopping in the United States, brides-to-be are often faced with the burning question: how much should I budget for my dream gown? While the answer may vary depending on various factors, the average cost of a wedding dress in the US typically falls between $1,500 and $3,500.
Of course, it's essential to keep in mind that this is just an average, and the actual price range can be quite extensive. Luxury designer labels and custom-made gowns can easily reach higher price points, while budget-friendly options and sample sales offer opportunities to snag a beautiful dress at a more affordable cost.
From the moment a bride walks down the aisle, all eyes are on her, and her dress serves as the centerpiece of the entire event. With this level of attention, it's no wonder that many brides are willing to invest a significant portion of their wedding budget into finding the perfect gown.

When You Should Buy Your Wedding Dress

To make the hunt for the dress as enjoyable as possible, start shopping early. If you don’t really know what you want, make an appointment 8 to 10 months out from your wedding. That will give you enough time to try on ALL of the dresses you desire while factoring in the time it takes to make a dress, handle any necessary alterations, and get it delivered. When it comes to your wedding dress, you don’t want to feel rushed or like you made a split-second decision that you’ll end up regretting.

Who To Bring To Your Dress Appointment

While having all your besties by your side as you try on dresses sounds like a great idea, do you really want to have six different people influencing your decision? Sometimes having too many cooks in the kitchen can be a total buzzkill. You will need someone to give you advice and snap some photos for you, however, so consider inviting one or two people whose opinions you REALLY trust, like your mom, your sister, or your BFF. But cap it at those essential shopping partners to help keep the process manageable. If after you’ve narrowed down the options to two or three you still need some help deciding, widen your inner circle to your bridesmaids to get their valuable input!

Consider Your Overall Wedding Style 

Even if you haven’t picked a venue yet, you probably have an idea about your desired wedding style. It’s good to have an idea of the bigger picture so you can try on dresses that will match the vibe you’re hoping to create. A rustic wedding in an old barn requires a verydifferent dress than a big bash in an opulent ballroom, after all. Also consider if you’re exchanging vows in a house of worship, as some have strict dress codes (like your shoulder MUST be covered). These broad strokes will help shape your search.

 Consider Your Personal Style & Body Type

If you’ve been dreaming of rocking a mermaid gown on your wedding day since before you even met your partner, you might be blindsided when that particular style isn’t particularly flattering when you finally try it on. Go into your first dress appointment with an open mind. You should definitely try on the dress you’ve been envisioning for your walk down the aisle, but also be willing to consider some other styles. Ask the salesperson to make a few recommendations…he/she does know a thing or two about what works on various figures! It’s quite possible that you may end up going with a dress you didn’t think you’d ever like or want!

Understanding Wedding Dress Sizing 

Wedding dress sizing is weird. Your size in clothing might be very different than your size in gowns (or it might be exactly the same). If the salesperson suggest that you go up or down a size or two, don’t fixate on what that means. Sizes can vary from shop to shop, designer to designer, and style to style. Put the number out of your mind and get your dream dress in whatever the recommended size is…at the end of the day everyone (your salesperson included) wants you to look and feel your best! And, even if you’re planning on losing some weight before the big day, buy a dress that fits you at your current weight. It’s easier (and more cost efficient) to take a dress in than to squeeze into something that’s too small.

The Fine Print

Once you find THE dress, you’re going to be pretty excited. But before you sign on the dotted line, read the contract carefully from start to finish. Then read it again. You don’t want to end up experiencing buyer’s remorse because your dream dress arrives in the wrong color, fabric or size. Be sure to write down the price and delivery date, the dress designer and style number, your measurements, and any other important information.

Making The Final Decision: Take Your Time

The salesperson helping you pick out a dress has seen what works on women of all shapes and sizes, so he/she probably has some opinions to share. And for the most part, they really do want you to find a dress that makes you look and feel like a rockstar. But, if you encounter someone who is really pushing something on you, be polite, but firm. It’s okay to ask what alterations can be made to a dress, to change your mind completely, and to leave without buying anything even if you spent an hour trying dresses on.

Final Thoughts...

When it comes down to it, what truly matters is how the dress makes the bride feel on her special day. Whether it's a designer masterpiece or a budget-friendly find, the perfect wedding dress should embody the bride's unique style, personality, and love story.
So, as you embark on the exciting journey of wedding dress shopping, keep your budget in mind, but don't let it restrict your dreams. With careful planning, research, and an open mind, you can find a dress that not only fits your budget but also makes you feel like the radiant bride you've always envisioned.

Browse Dress Designers

Wedding Dress Designers
Maggie Sottero
Wedding Dress Designers
Julie Vino
Wedding Dress Designers
Zuhair Murad
Paris, France
Wedding Dress Designers
Melbourne, Australia
Pnina Tornai
Wedding Dress Designers
Berta Bridal
Wedding Dress Designers
Galia Lahav Haute Couture
Wedding Dress Designers
Kinsley James Couture Bridal
Kellee Khalil
About The Author
Kellee Khalil is the Founder & CEO of Loverly. She lives in upstate NY with her fiancé and two dogs.
More like this
Plan your wedding like a pro.
Join our newsletter: