If you’re wondering how far in advance should you buy a wedding dress, you’ve come to the right blog! If you hadn’t heard, I purchased a bridal boutique in San Diego. I’ve learned so much about the ins and outs of gowns and below I’m sharing my knowledge on dress timing.

How Far in Advance Should You Buy a Wedding Dress? When to go wedding gown shopping and get your alterations. 

Buying a Gown Made Just for You

For special order gowns, purchase your dress no closer than 7 months to your wedding date. Most designers take about 4-6 months to send the gown to the boutique. It’s currently January and designers are charging rush fees for brides who order their dress for a July wedding (or sooner). Rush fees can be anywhere from $150-400 depending on the designer, boutique, and how close your wedding date is. Some designers will offer an extreme rush that can get your gown to you in 2-4 weeks, but this is rare and will be costly.

Simply put, order your gown at least 8 months before your wedding to be on the safe side. You also need to consider alterations. At The White Flower, the head seamstress Mary, who does the best wedding dress alterations in San Diego (totally not biased), prefers to begin alterations 6-8 weeks before the wedding date. Booking your first fitting within this timeframe ensures you’ll be as close to your wedding day weight as possible.

Watters lace sweetheart neckline wedding gown on a custom hanger adorned with pink flowers. Miramonte Resort wedding. Film photography by Cavin Elizabeth. 

Buying Off the Rack (Sample Gowns)

For brides whose wedding date is within 6 months, especially within 2-3 months, sample gowns are available off the rack at a discounted rate. Most of the time, sample gowns are a street size 6/8. If you’re a size 0/2, you’ll need to choose a sample gown that can actually be altered multiple sizes to fit you. Some shops might have a few smaller sample sizes and perhaps a few plus size samples in stock, so be sure to call the store to inquire about their samples.

Boutiques typically sell sample gowns as-is and you can take them home once you purchase it. You’ll still want to start your alterations 6-8 weeks before your wedding date.

Mikaella Bridal scoop neck wedding dress hanging from a tree on film. Full Belly Farm on Martha Stewart Weddings by Cavin Elizabeth Photography

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