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Depending on what month you get engaged and what month you’d like to get married, it’s easy to feel intense pressure right from the get-go to check certain things off your wedding planning to do list. Aside from the biggies like booking a venue, “order a wedding dress” is usually high on the list of priorities (and sometimes anxiety triggers, too). There’s a reason experts urge you to make a quick decision, but if you’re working with a shorter timeline, don’t lose hope! Read on for our thoughts when you should order your wedding dress.

A designer gown (think Amsale, Anne Barge, or Monique Lhuillier) will generally take 5-8 months to arrive at your bridal shop after you’ve placed your order.

A gown from a larger retailer/label (think David’s Bridal or Alfred Angelo) will often arrive at the shop more quickly, usually in 1-2 months.

An off-the-rack gown (think BHLDN or J.Crew) can be shipped as quickly as overnight! Likewise, if you purchase a sample gown at a salon (the dresses brides try on – usually retired once that gown’s season has passed), you can take home your dress with you the same day. Of course, buying a non-bridal gown (like from Shopbop or Nordstrom) generally means a quicker or even same day turnaround, too.

Of course, the most reliable estimate will come from the salon where you purchase your gown – they are very familiar with each designer and can help you know what to expect! With any of these options, plan to leave 6-8 weeks for alterations after your dress arrives (usually 2-3 appointments).

Taking all of that into account, we recommend starting the dress shopping search as early as 15-10 months before your wedding date, but only after you’ve determined your location, venue, and the time of year of your wedding, as each of these factors will have a big impact on what type of gown feels appropriate.

I’d love to hear: How far in advance of your wedding did you order your dress? I started looking for a gown in August and purchased mine in November, nine months before my September wedding!

P.S. Ready for more dress shopping tips? Check out our YouTube channel, where we have a series of four videos to take you from inspiration to purchase!

We’ll be sharing a quick and simple piece of wedding planning advice based on our most frequently asked questions once a week! Feel free to email us with your own question, or pick up a copy of the Southern Weddings Planner for all of our best resources in one place!

emily Written with love by Emily
6 Comments
  1. avatar Jasmine reply

    I ordered my dress this past January for my wedding in October 2015. But, I started trying on dresses in August 2014

    • avatar Emily reply

      I’ll bet it’s beautiful! That sounds like a perfect amount of time for shopping!

  2. avatar Bethany H. reply

    I started looking for a dress in February and purchased mine in April, 11 months out from my May wedding!

  3. avatar Abby reply

    I got engaged in July, ordered my dress in August after shopping for a few days and visiting about 4 stores. The dress (Watters) came in late December. Luckily I didn’t need many alterations, just cups put in so I didn’t wear a bra and it was ready the week of my wedding February 7! So it can be done in a shorter amount of time. I didn’t want to wait to get married just to wait on the dress and luckily it came in time! :) House of White in Newburgh, IN is phenomenal. Worth a trip!

    • avatar Emily reply

      That sounds perfect! I think the whole process can often take less time than the usually-quoted advice, but experts err on the side of caution because a no-show wedding dress is much worse than a wedding dress sitting in your closet for a few months!!

  4. avatar Takita Mason reply

    How can I purchase a Southern bride binder

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