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Ask the Experts: When Should I Start Shopping for My Wedding Dress?

You might be dying to book your first wedding dress appointment as soon as the ring is on your finger! But if your planning journey lasts anything up to two years, just when is the ideal time to get shopping? We asked the experts – bridal boutiques – when is the best time to start wedding dress shopping and how many people should you bring with you for this fun experience…

Angelo Bridal, Dublin | View Profile

Dress by MGNY

When deciding to go wedding dress shopping, how prepared a bride is can sometimes be more crucial than how early she starts. A bride-to-be needs to have a general idea of the shape and details she wants to wear and also how the dress will tie in with the overall theme of the wedding. It’s important for her to feel comfortable in her skin when starting fitting wedding dresses, because choosing the gown is ultimately based on how beautiful it makes the bride feel. Therefore, the right time to start wedding dress shopping is different for every bride, but the rule of thumb is to allow between 6 and 9 months before the wedding.

Angelo Bridal stock MGNY (Madeline Gardner New York), Eternity Bride, Mark Lesley and Cara Mia. 

Chase Brides, Algrave | View Profile

Wedding Dress by MoriLee

We always recommend to our brides to start shopping 9-12 months before the wedding​​, whether this be in store or getting ideas online before you head to the shops, wedding dresses take around 3-6 months to order therefore you need to shop ahead of time to make sure your perfect dress arrives in plenty of time before your wedding and make sure to leave enough time for any alterations as well.

How many people would you advise to bring with you?

​We advise that you only bring ​2​ to 3 of your closest friends or family​ members with you. When you bring a large entourage with you, there can be too many different opinions which could make your final decision confusing, once you have chosen your dress you can always bring different friends or family members to your alteration fittings to show them the dress before the big day.

Chase Brides, Algarve stock Mori Lee and an exclusive collection by Randy Fenoli, Allure, Cabotine and their Own Brand designed by owner Kristina Louise.

Diamond Bridal, Cork | View Profile

Dress by Nicole Sposa

Our recommendation is 12 months prior to your wedding date. By the time you find ‘the one’, it will take 6/8 months to come in and you need to allow time for alterations at the other end. Once it’s ordered, you can relax and put it in the capable hands of the boutiques and not feel under pressure.

How many people would you advise to bring with you?

We would advise bringing 1 or 2 trusted and honest friends or family members whom you feel most comfortable with to your appointment. From experience we have found that too many opinions can be distracting for the bride. Once you have found ‘the one’, we invite our brides to bring along bridesmaids and whoever else they wish for the ‘say yes to the dress moment’ and a well deserved bottle of bubbles.

Diamond Bridal stock Enzoani, Blue by Enzoani, Beautiful by Enzoani, La Sposa, Callista and Nicole Spose.

MK Bridal Boutique, Meath | View Profile

Dress by Enzoani

You should start shopping for your dress 10-12 months in advance.

How many people would you advise to bring with you?

Bring one or two people who you love and trust i.e close friends and family. They want the best for you and will help you make the right choice. DON’T bring 100’S of people to your appointments!! The more people there are, the more conflicting opinions there will be. Choose your entourage wisely!

You should visit 3-5 shops max.

DON’T confuse yourself by visiting 20 shops, it will take the fun out of the whole experience.

Do listen to your bridal consultant. They might suggest a style that you may not necessarily pick yourself…

Don’t… limit your choice by ruling out particular styles. Stay open minded, very often brides go for the total opposite of what they originally wanted.

MK Bridal Boutique stock Enzoani, Paloma Blanca, Allure, Willowby by Waters, White One San Patrick, Hayley Paige and Lou Lou.

DePaor Designs, Wicklow | View Profile

Dress by DePaor Designs

If you want the experience to be relaxed and enjoyable, you should really start looking for your dress about 9 months before your wedding. Most designers and shops require a booking time of 6 months in order to order fabrics and plan fittings.

How many people would you advise to bring with you?

I would advise a bride not to bring too many people with her in the early stages while she is trying to decide on a style. Too many opinions can confuse, so a few trusted friends or family members who understand your personal taste and style is all that is required. Remember to wear a pale coloured bra for your fittings!

Gay DePaor of DePaor Designs custom makes dresses for brides. The Bridal Designer has three collections – Classic Lace, Timeless and Tea Length Eliza Collection. 

Alice May Bridal, Dublin | View Profile

Dress by Anna Georgina

As soon as the bride likes! Our dresses take about 6-8 months to arrive from ordering time so as soon as the bride can come in the better! It’s such a lovely experience, why not start as soon as you can!

How many people would you advise to bring with you?

It’s best to bring your closest friends and family, there is lots of details to go through so having people there that know the vision you have for your day is most important. We think 2 or 3 is the perfect size.

Alice May Bridal stock Willowby by Watters, Catherine Deane, Anna Georgina, Savin London, Nicola Anne, Tara Keely, Raimon Bundo, Alena Leena and Beside Couture.

Bridal by Nikki Kavanagh, Meath | View Profile

Dress by Dando London

We recommend the ideal time is approximately one year to be sur​e you are not under any pressure, a little earlier if you find ‘the one’ is no harm and if you are prepared to buy ‘off the peg’ then nearer to the time. It all boils down to personal preference.

How many people would you advise to bring with you?

We suggest 2-4 maximum, too many people, too many opinions. It’s nice to get validation but leave the over opinionated ones at home so you can have a clear head. ​

Bridal by Nikki Kavanagh stock Dando London, La Sposa, MGNY, White One, Dessy, Annylinn and Nicole Spose.

Memories – The Bridal Boutique (Dublin & Cork) | View Profile

Dress by Cabotine Novias

Most brides start seriously shopping about a year ahead of their day. That gives them time to visit a few shops if needed and to go back to their favourites.

How many people would you advise to bring with you?

We advise a maximum of 3 trusted people plus yourself. It gets overwhelming otherwise.

Memories – The Bridal Boutique (located in Dublin and Cork) stock Watters Wtoo, Willowby, Cabotine, Ti Adora, Modeca, and Chic Nostalgia, San Patrick and Ashley and Justin are arriving in the summer.

Myrtle Ivory – Bridal Couture, Dublin | View Profile

Dress by Stephanie Allin

We would always recommend starting the hunt approx. 12 months prior to your wedding, this way you are seeing all the most recent collections, allowing yourself ample time to do the search, narrow down the find and buy your gown 9-6 months prior to your wedding date.

How many people would you advise to bring with you?

We allow a maximum of 3 guests per bride – we really think it’s important to bring valued opinions. Brides who bring girl gangs with them tend to end up confused by all the opinions, and it’s nice to surprise people on the day. We are finding more and more brides are coming in on their own, narrowing down their search with us, and then bringing in their Mom/Sister/Aunt to show them their favourite, and we always toast it with a glass of bubbly – these moments in life must be celebrated.

Myrtle Ivory exclusively stock Stephanie Allin, David Fielden, Amanda Wakeley, Patrick Casey, Anna Kara, Claire Pettibone and Watters Couture.

Sharon Gregory Design Studio, Cork | View Profile

Dress by Ronald Joyce

Everyone is different – some brides will want to be organised, some not so, 12-18 months beforehand for the organised bride, 8-12 months for the not so organised but do remember different designers have different lead times on their orders. The average lead time is 5 months to order a dress.

How many people would you advise to bring with you?

I don’t recommend a large group, it can be daunting and you don’t want 10 different opinions being thrown at you, bring your mam, sisters, maid of honour to begin with or for a more relaxed visit, just your mam. When you find the dress then bring the rest, it’s your dress and it’s how you feel in it.

Sharon Gregory Design Studio design and make wedding dresses in house. They also stock Ronald Joyce, Victoria Jayne, Art Couture and Special Day.

Aideen Cross – Award Winning Bridal Designer | View Profile

Dress by Aideen Cross

How many people would you advise to bring with you?

The question is not how many people to bring with you bridal dress shopping, is how many not to bring? One good friend or sister can be all you need for that honest opinion and support. You are the best judge of all, you know what doesn’t suit you so start there and then go with what feels comfortable too. It’ll be a long day.

Aideen Cross is a bridal designer that specialises in bespoke wedding dresses, designed to each bride’s specific requirements.

Main photo by Greg Finck Photography

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Pamela enjoys writing about all things decor (she loves buying it too) and has a not so secret addiction to stationery.

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