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When is the best time to shop for your Wedding Dress?

When is the best time to shop for your wedding dress?

So, in a world where we are all super used to next-day (or even same-day) delivery from some of the biggest companies in the world, whether it’s a multi-pack of Sellotape or Bunk Beds for the kid’s bedroom. We are used to getting the things we want - quickly! It can, therefore be astonishing for brides to learn about timescales for wedding dress shopping.

Don’t worry though, we’ve got you – Read on whilst we take a deep dive into the different timescales to find your wedding dress and the reasons why we advise the timings that we do to find your dream dress…

Off the shoulder wedding dress
Some of our beautiful Wedding Dresses waiting in-store for you to fall in love with...

12-18 months before the big day...

If you are shopping this far in advance, you have all the choices you could possibly wish for!

Where-ever you are shopping there is ample time to find your dream dress and no matter the designer’s lead-time – the dress you fall in love with can be ordered in time for your big day.

In addition to this, there is time for any custom changes you would like to incorporate into your dress to be made at a designer level.

Maybe you want to add sleeves to a gown you have fallen in love with, or perhaps you want to add a layer of secret sparkle to the gown for that extra special glimmer – no problem, there is time to do this, and this means you will have a one-of-a-kind gown that is unique to you.

Many brides love shopping in advance, which means they are clear on how much their gown costs, which can be included in their overall wedding budget in the earlier days.

Also knowing what the dress is like can be useful for other aspects of your big day planning – such as bridesmaids' dresses, flowers, and venue décor.

Remember, designer dependant it can take between 3-8 months for your dress to be made if you are ordering from a made-to-order collection, we need time here at the boutique to prep your gown when it arrives, and you need to allow time for alterations for that perfect fit for your big day.

If you are keen to have a leisurely run-up to the big day, then shopping for and therefore making sure your dress is here in plenty of time takes the rush out of gown pick up from us, and your alterations process.

Standard alterations, usually include coming in at the side of the bodice to get the perfect fit across the bust, straps, and dress length for you in your wedding shoes.

Brides usually have 2-4 fittings, so having the time and space to allow for this process to happen at a leisurely and natural pace, helps you as the bride have a relaxed few weeks before the big day, rather than feeling frazzled with fittings appointments seeming like they are almost on top of each other as they are being done on a shorter timescale.

If you are dress shopping 12 – 18 months before the big day, you are ensuring that finding your dress is as relaxed and stress-free as possible. If you aren’t naturally a super decisive person, this is a good time for you to be shopping, as currently, you have the time to shop around over a few weeks, and there is no pressure on you at this stage to decide quickly.

Boho Wedding Dress with Sleeves
Wisteria by Millie May - Waiting for you to try at our Boutique

8-12 months before the big day...

If you are shopping in this timescale, you still have oodles of choice and are in time to order dresses with MOST designers, allowing time for dress prep and alterations.

It’s worth remembering, however, that some alterationists like to leave 3-4 months for the alterations process before the big day – so you can see how time starts to slip away.

Bespoke changes to a dress at a designer level may not be possible at this point, designer dependant. So, you may have slightly less choice than if you were shopping sooner.

If you are the kind of person who can make a firm decision quickly, this is still a great time for you to shop. The type of bride who is happy to book their appointment at 1 or 2 selected pre-researched boutiques over a weekend or a few days and is in the right headspace to find their dress, will have a lovely wedding dress journey in this timescale.

But, if in your heart you know you may take a bit more time to decide or want to visit the boutiques over a few weeks or a couple of months, we would recommend you start shopping earlier.

Likewise, it's worth thinking through how it’s going to work on the other end of your journey when your dress arrives. You will have to move quickly as soon as your boutique lets you know the dress has arrived, and work with their availability to collect your dress immediately so you can take your gown straight to alterations.

Again, as you are working on a shorter timescale your alterationist may not be able to be as flexible with the timings of your fittings as if you had a bit more time.

For those of you who thrive on being busy and efficient – you will take this in your stride, but for the lovelies who feel a bit of anxiety rising in themselves just THINKING about it all being a bit of a rush come the end – we would strongly recommend you come in earlier and save the stress!

Simple wedding dress with back detail
Saffy by Millie May - Instore now - available made-to-order or off-the-rail

6-8 months before the big day...

So, this is where choices can start to become more limited, we can still order with MOST designers, however, at this point, there may be rush charges to get the gown made on a quick timescale ready for your big day.

Off-the-Rail or Ready to Wed collections start to come into their own at this point, this is where you buy the dress sample that is in the Boutique, meaning the dress is here ready and waiting for you to take away when you find her. If you pick a dress from these collections, you are back to a more leisurely alterations process, as described above as you have the dress immediately and can get booked in with your alterationist and work with their timeline.

We have crafted an extensive collection of Off-the-Rail dresses to make sure we have the flexibility to work with our bride's timescales.

Tulle Wedding Dress with Keyhole back
Starla by Millie May - Instore now - available made-to-order or off-the-rail

Less than 6 months before the big day...

For made-to-order gowns – with the designers, we are still able to order with – rush charges normally will be charged in this timescale to have the dress made in time for your big day.

(We work to avoid rush charges wherever we can – but we must get your gown here to allow for alterations for your big day, and if we are charged to make that happen, we have to pass that on ☹)

So, if you are shopping in this timescale and are set on a made-to-order gown you need to be prepared that your dream dress may cost more than if you had been shopping earlier for your gown.

The Off-the-Rail/ Ready to Wed collections are key for brides shopping at this time, and most brides shopping at this time will actively be looking for an Off-the-Rail dress. We are proud of the sheer scale and general deliciousness of dresses that are available to takeaway straight away – with dresses in every size from 8 -36 available at our boutique.

We just want you to have all the choices you can possibly have, not everyone knows they are getting married a year or more in advance, but if you do, shopping early means we can give you the full run of the boutique, with no caveats on what we can order for you, or extra costs we have to pass on to you for getting the dress made in a rush. We want to be able to say Yes to everything you want and are looking for, and the earlier you come out shopping, the more we can do this for you! x x

Now all of that said above, we know that not everyone knows they are getting married super far in advance, we have had brides come in who were getting married in 2 - 6 weeks because of a range of personal circumstances, and we found all of them their dream dress. We will use our expertise, advice and work with you to find your dress in whatever timescale you come in with - but we want this to be the chilled and wonderful experience you deserve, so if you know sooner, we would love you to shop as soon as you can. x x

Iris by GAIA Bridal
The beautiful Iris by GAIA Bridal - In our boutique for the GAIA Trunk Weekend (21st - 22nd October) and arriving to add to our sample collection early next year.

Here is a little sneak peek at the inside of our gorgeous bridal rooms. We keep everything fun and relaxed and make sure our number 1 focus is on the Bride. We spoil you and your guests with refreshments and snacks, and really listen to your big day plans. We lock the shop door and pop some music on - you will be our only guests for your two-hour long appointment. Check out our availability through the live booking system on our website and get your desired slot snapped up xx

Inside Pretty Smithy Bridal Boutique
Inside our Boutique...

Hope to see you soon - you can book your appointment through our website by clicking through to our online booking page below: We offer exclusive Wedding Dress Appointments where you and your party have full use of our gorgeous boutique, with no interruptions (we literally lock the door!) With Complimentary Drinks and Snacks, a warm and friendly approach you will be thoroughly spoilt in our luxurious bridal rooms and be given our full and expert attention together with access to our extensive wedding dress collection of over 200 dresses from our exclusive designers. We charge £19 for our Wedding Dress Appointments which are for two hours, for the bride and we would recommend up to 3 guests - this fee is then redeemed back off your wedding dress purchase with us... We can't wait to meet you xxx


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