Scratch that. The title should actually read, 6 Tips for Finding a Wedding Dress YOU LOVE in 6 Months or Less. You heard it here first, ladies. Planning a wedding in 6 months or less doesn't mean that you have to settle for a wedding gown that's just so-so.
Although "traditional" wedding planning guides typically encourage brides to start shopping for gowns up to 9 months (!!) in advance of their wedding date, that timeframe clearly doesn't work for those who have said "I do" to a 4.5-month engagement (like yours truly).
photos: Suggs Photography | gown: David's Bridal | belt: Enzoani
To keep the words “wedding gown” from turning your smile upside down throughout your speedy wedding planning process, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
1. “IT’S JUST A DRESS”
Yes, you are shopping for your wedding dress. And yes, it will commonly be referred to as the Gown of All Gowns. But you’ve seen your mother’s wedding portraits, right? Chances are, you wouldn’t wear her circa 1980-something dress today without some serious sleeve de-puffing and the removal of at least half of those lacy layers. Her dress wasn’t magical and yours won’t be sprinkled with fairy dust, either. So lose the stress and say goodbye to all that pressure to find something “perfect.” If it makes you feel beautiful and like the best version of yourself, it's a winner in my book!
2. LIMIT YOUR SEARCH
Here’s a handy rule of thumb: Don’t spend more than 10 percent of your engagement searching for your dress. Planning on a 3-month engagement? That means you shouldn't spend more than 9 days searching for your wedding dress. You've got this!
3. KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR SAMPLE SALES
Most bridal boutiques and salons will post information about upcoming sample sales on their Instagram accounts, but if you don’t have time to sit around and wait for an update, make a proactive phone call to four or five salons in your area and ask if they’ll be hosting a sample sale at any point in the near future.
4. DON’T SNUB LARGE CHAIN RETAILERS
I say this because, um, I did. Although I did not speak the words out loud, in my mind, I said “no way” to David’s Bridal without ever actually setting foot inside of a David’s Bridal location. Frankly, I just assumed that since some of their gowns were cheap, they would look cheap. I’m not too proud to admit that I was wrong! Many top designers have partnered with David’s Bridal to produce lines that combine high quality with reasonable price tags. I personally walked away with a White by Vera Wang gown (with pockets!) that cost around $600, but made me feel like the proverbial million bucks. Even better: since David’s Bridal is such a large chain, they have a lot of buying power. Whereas associates at other boutiques had quite literally taken a step backward when I told them I needed my gown within six weeks (rather than six months), my timeline wasn’t a problem for David’s Bridal. Moral of the story? Don’t knock big retailers before you try them. (This is a totally unsponsored plug for David’s Bridal, by the way. Just thought you should know!)
5. CONSIDER AN ONLINE RETAILER OR RENTAL COMPANY
Brides today have more choices than ever before thanks to the fact that online gown providers have seriously stepped up their game. Australian brand Grace Loves Lace comes to mind—if you’re a fan of boho weddings and beachy vibes and you’re not already following them on Instagram, I suggest changing that right now! GLL and other gown retailers who primarily sell online do an excellent job of providing detailed size and fit information; some can even connect you with a virtual stylist to ensure that all of your questions are answered and your order is perfectly placed.
Alternately, if you aren’t planning to professionally preserve your wedding gown, or you’re just not overly sentimental about the idea of a wedding gown in general, then borrowing or renting might be for you. Rent the Runway has a beautiful selection of evening wear to choose from that could work for both the wedding day and the entire wedding weekend, while other sites like Borrowing Magnolia boast collections of rental wedding gowns exclusively catered toward brides-to-be (as well as fitting and try-on methods that are pure genius).
6. BUY OFF THE RACK.
There’s NO shame in buying a ready-to-wear gown off the rack from a department store. If your engagement falls around prom season (March-May), you have an extra high chance of scoring a white gown at a decent price while shopping at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, et al. Don’t forget to check out the selection offered by discount chains like Saks Off Fifth, too!
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