Real life advice and wedding dress shopping tips from brides who know!

Wedding dress shopping is a huge part of every bride’s wedding experience, and it can be a wild one! Regardless of who you are, or what experience you already have with weddings, it can be one of the most exciting moments in your wedding journey, or even one of the most overwhelming tasks.


For me personally, the thought of choosing a wedding dress wasn’t necessarily an exciting idea. As much as I love a good shopping day (and let’s be honest – champagne!), buying a wedding dress somehow felt more daunting than it did exciting. If you’re in the same boat (or even if you’re not and you’re super pumped about the whole process) – rest assured I gotchu boo! I have tons of tips to throw your way.

Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

To give you a little background into who I am, my name is Lauren and I am a wedding photographer. I live and BREATHE weddings. Almost every moment of my workday is consumed by the wedding industry. As a self-proclaimed workaholic, there isn’t much about weddings that I don’t feel knowledgable about or confident in tackling. That is, until I got engaged and was thrust into co-planning my own wedding! 






It has been a humbling process to be on “the other side” of the wedding experience. To fully understand what my clients are going through gives my role as a wedding photographer an entirely new perspective, and in a lot of ways, new meaning.

So when it came time for me to start looking for my own wedding dress, I felt completely lost. I didn’t know where to start. So I turned to my Instagram community for support.


After asking the simple question, “what should I know when shopping for a wedding dress?!” My inbox received dozens upon dozens of answers! I had many of my past, present, and future brides sharing their experiences. I had old acquaintances dishing out their best advice. And I had complete strangers reaching out to share what they had learned. The response was truly staggering. And so incredible!






I felt compelled to share all of the knowledge I received with everyone, in hopes that it might help another bride-to-be in need. And so with that said, I hope the wedding dress shopping tips below can help you. If you have any other tips, advice, or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comment section at the bottom. Enjoy, and happy wedding dress shopping!



things to remember


  • don’t overthink the process
  • decide on your budget before shopping, but still be open to trying on different price points (remember that alterations are usually additional costs and not included in the price of the dress!)
  • try on every style you can
  • be prepared to wear a bigger size than what you think you are (wedding dresses fit small)
  • the style you choose may be very different than the style you expected to wear
  • give yourself plenty of time to shop, and don’t rush yourself!
  • dresses take 3 months to order, so start your search 8-10 months before your wedding
  • if you know you’re a decisive shopper, don’t limit yourself to bridal shops. Checking out trunk shows (collections of a designer’s most recent work) is also a great option if it works with your timeline!
  • most of all: have FUN!



things to keep in mind


Wedding Dress Shopping Tips
  • bring shoes that you might want to wear with it
  • be sure to bring any jewellery or colour palettes with you to match with
  • also bring water (you might get hot and thirsty)
  • be direct about your budget with the consultant
  • an inexpensive gown can look stunning if it fits you properly
  • focus on the silhouette during your first visit to a bridal shop
  • choose something you’ll be comfortable in and love wearing the whole night
  • don’t buy a dress based on anticipated weight loss. Always go one size bigger!
  • wedding separates are often less expensive than a one-piece gown
  • a dress with pockets will SAVE YOUR LIFE



things you should know


Wedding Dress Shopping Tips
Wedding Dress Shopping Tips
Wedding Dress Shopping Tips
  • the more beading on the dress, the more expensive the alterations
  • the longer the train, the bigger the bustle will be
  • don’t forget to consider the timeline to receive the product
  • be prepared to pay between 50% – 100% of the total cost in the store when you buy it!
  • expect to feel a LOT of emotions, it’s a whirlwind!!!
Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

Also, if you have any other tips to add, leave them in the comments below. It might really help another bride out! And if you’re looking for a photographer to capture your wedding, feel free to get in touch!

You can also check out these other weddings I photographed…

  • Heather Huie
    Posted at 20:26h, 05 February Reply

    This is such a helpful article! I had a top on my dress with a TON of beading and no one ever told me beforehand how $$$ it would be to alter!

  • Anna
    Posted at 21:06h, 05 February Reply

    This is such good advice!

  • Naomi Levit
    Posted at 03:49h, 06 February Reply

    Such great advice for wedding dress shopping! Thanks for sharing!

  • Justyna
    Posted at 14:28h, 06 February Reply

    Every bride should read this post! So many great tips how to pick a perfect dress!

  • Rachael Crowe
    Posted at 19:23h, 06 February Reply

    This is awesome advice! Tons of great wedding dress shopping tips I’ll keep in mind when I get to shop for my dress someday 😉

  • Jacquie
    Posted at 20:15h, 06 February Reply

    Ahhh, such wicked advice Lauren! Now if only I had read this sooner.. Hahaha 🙂

  • Tara Lilly Cameron
    Posted at 23:59h, 06 February Reply

    I would love to go wedding dress shopping with you! Maybe when you visit in the spring?

    • lauren
      Posted at 19:16h, 15 February Reply

      Ahhhh yes T, I can’t wait to try on some dresses with you (and mostly drink lots of champagne)!! hahaha xox

  • Kostas Petsas
    Posted at 01:42h, 07 February Reply

    Great tips and advice here for brides to be! I really enjoyed the vintage style bw pictures, and of course the way you share your own experience on wedding dress shopping. Thanks for posting this very helpful guide for future brides.

  • Teresa Woodhull
    Posted at 22:21h, 07 February Reply

    So I actually bought my dress on Etsy from a designer who has since grown into a full blown corporation! It started as a small company when I got it and I was super nervous about it but I loved my dress! My advice would be to not be afraid of buying from a lesser known designer!

    • lauren
      Posted at 19:15h, 15 February Reply

      Ahhh that’s really great advice Teresa, thanks so much for sharing! You’re absolutely right, going with your gut and choosing a dress based on what you love (rather than a big designer label) is great advice!

  • Paige N Weber
    Posted at 16:12h, 12 February Reply

    I am SO glad I’m not the only one who felt overwhelmed when shopping for my own wedding gown. I would also say that you don’t have to order your dress from a local bridal shop, Etsy has some amazing designers that make custom dresses! Reclamation is definitely one of my favorites. One thing I didn’t do is try on a lot of styles… I knew what I wanted and went with it.

    • lauren
      Posted at 19:17h, 15 February Reply

      haha oh girl, you are NOT alone! I’m still super overwhelmed by the whole process! And you are absolutely right, I didn’t even think to check out Etsy, so that’s really great advice! Thanks so so much!!

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