You’re ready to find the dress of your dreams. Yay! But how do you get ready to shop? Our Bridal Prep Guide is here to help!

1. Set Your Budget

It can be hard to know how much to budget for the dress of your dreams, but before you start trying gowns on, decide what price range you are comfortable spending. This will not only help your stylist, but it will help make sure you don’t fall in love with a gown that is out of your price-range!

2. Plan to Buy 9-12 Months Ahead (If You Can)

If you are planning to special order your gown, you’ll want to order at least 9 months before your big day! Gowns can take 4-6 months to arrive once ordered and you will want to give yourself another 3 months for alterations.

Tying the knot in a shorter time frame? No worries! Many designers have quicker shipping options, including rush production (for an additional fee) or gowns available “in-stock.” Lots of brides also fall in love with and take home their gown the same day- so you may not even need to order your gown.

3. Pre-shop with Social Media

Pinterest and Instagram are great places to get inspiration and a feel for the styles and silhouettes you are loving. Bring any ideas and inspiration you have to your appointment so your stylist can get a feel for what you are looking for!

Our LookBook is also super helpful for brides- you can browse the selection of gowns Vera’s actually has in store and favorite the ones you want to try on in person! You can even sort by price, shop our Designer Sample Sale, and make notes on specific styles (your stylist can see this too so she can better understand your style)!

4. Choose Your Guests Wisely

We know brides want to include everyone on such a special day, but when it comes to choosing who to bring to your bridal appointments, more isn’t always merrier. Most brides bring 3-5 of their closest friends and family- those whose opinions are the most important. We find that brides who bring a large entourage with them can feel overwhelmed by all of the voices. Remember, this day is about you and finding your dream dress, so you want your guests to be supportive and positive.

Can’t imagine saying “yes” to your dress without all of your friends and family? You can still include them with a big dress reveal at your try-on appointment!

 5. Don’t Be Surprised if You Find Your Dress Quickly

While every bride has her own journey to finding her dress, you’d be surprised how often a bride finds “the one” within the first 5 gowns that she tries on. Especially if you have a clear vision for your dress (or if you’ve had your eye on a specific gown), your stylist will pull gowns that you might really love right away! We hear all the time that a bride didn’t expect to find her dress so quickly, but your stylist is doing a good job if she makes finding your dress feel easy. Don’t worry, she will still show you plenty more styles until you are confident you’ve found your dress! Buying your wedding gown is a big decision, but when you know, you know. It’ll feel right!

6. Bring Undergarments (If You Want)

Brides ask all the time about what they should wear to their appointment. Our best advice is to wear something you will be comfortable in! Keep in mind, your bridal stylist will be helping you in and out of the gowns, so most brides wear nude underwear and a strapless bra.

Don’t have a strapless bra (or don’t want to bring one)? No problem! Most bridal gowns have built-in cups and are more supportive than normal clothing, so many brides don’t actually wear a bra on their big day! Shapewear can also be helpful to bring if you are considering wearing it on your wedding day.

7. Understand Bridal Sizing is Weird

Wedding dress sizes are wildly different than the clothing we normally wear, and they vary drastically from designer to designer. Be prepared for dress sizes not to fit how you’d expect! For example, if you normally wear a size 6, you could be anywhere from a 2 to a 12 in bridal (see, we said it was weird).

Try not to fixate on the size of the gown that you are in, a dress fitting well is so much more important the number on the tag! Remember, almost everyone needs alterations to achieve a perfect, custom fit in your gown, so resist the urge to order a smaller size: taking in a gown is easy; letting it out is difficult.

8. Be Open to Wildcards

Over the years we’ve noticed a trend: the majority of brides fall in love with something that surprises them. Even if you are a bridal expert, it can still be hard to predict what you are going to love until you start trying dresses on. It’s great to have an idea of what you are looking for in your dress but try to be open to trying on something totally different too! Your stylist may show you things you didn’t think you’d like (or maybe something you hadn’t considered). When it comes to color, fabric, or even the fit, be open to trying on different things!

9. Know the Next Steps

So, you found your dress (yay!), now it’s time to decide what size will fit best and get your gown ordered! Don’t worry, we will take your measurements and will walk you through your gown’s size chart so you can be sure we are ordering the size that will fit best. Once you have chosen your size, you will pay and get your items ordered. Then, before you know it, your gorgeous gown will arrive!

10. Have fun!

Finding your dress is such a special part the wedding planning (we’d argue it’s the best part, but we are a little biased). Get ready to surround yourself with friends and family and try on gowns that make you feel like the beautiful bride that you are. You are going to have so much fun- we can’t wait to help you make an amazing memory and find the perfect dress.