What to Expect When Wedding Dress Shopping

You’re engaged! Yay! This is such an exciting time in your life and as you embark on the journey of planning your wedding, you will probably have a few (or more than a few) questions. Finding the dress can be a pretty important aspect of the wedding planning process + whether you’ve been dreaming of this day since you were a little girl or the idea of trying on a bunch of white dresses is less than your cup of tea, we want to support you to make this experience as happy and non-overwhelming as possible + celebrate alongside you.

Here are answers to some of the biggest questions we get asked about shopping for your wedding dress to help de-mystify the process:

When to start wedding dress shopping + why?

Industry-wide, dresses take approximately 4-6 months to be made and arrive at our shop, then there is the additional time that needs to be allotted for alterations – typically two to three months.

We recommend that brides shop and purchase their gown a minimum of 8 months before their wedding date. 

BUT more time is almost always better – shopping and purchasing your dress a year to a year and a half out allows for buffer time  (in case of wedding dates that get moved up or shipping delays due to, oh you know, a global pandemic perhaps 🙁 )  We can’t tell you how many times we’ve had brides have to move up their wedding dates + need their dress sooner than originally planned. If you do buy early, you can rest easy knowing your dress is here and ready for you. We also offer storage so you won’t need to worry about what to DO with your wedding dress until it’s time to start alterations.

If you have more than a year and a half to your wedding, you might want to wait a bit to shop for your dress.

We know it sounds exciting and official to start trying on dresses as soon as you’re engaged, even if the wedding is two years away, but it’s also important that you are emotionally ready to purchase a dress before you begin trying on. Sometimes shopping too early can cause confusion and stress. There is a high chance  the styles you try on two years before your wedding won’t be around if you aren’t ready to purchase a dress until much closer to your wedding date + nothing breaks our heart more than a bride falling in love with a dress before being ready to purchase + then that dress not being available later. So if you want to shop early, we’re here for it, just know there’s a very strong possibility you’re going to fall in love with one – so we suggest being open to finding (+ purchasing) THE dress before you shop.

What if I have less than 8 months until the wedding?

We can still absolutely find you the perfect dress, we just gotta get a little more creative. Most designers offer a rush, cutting production time down to 6-16 weeks depending on the designer, for a fee (typically around $100-$500 depending on how quick the rush is). Many of our designers stock dresses too, so we can get them in a much shorter time frame, and choosing an in stock dress doesn’t cost extra. BUT  not all designers do and those that do, don’t stock every dress in every size, so your selection will be more limited (your stylist will help you find dresses that work with your timeline!). You can also look at off the rack dresses – buying a showroom sample directly off the sales floor. These will usually be discounted for wear and tear so it’s a great way to get a deal, but you need to make sure the sample is within alterable range for your size (your stylist will help with this too!).

How much can I expect to spend? 

We have special order dresses from $1400 to $6000 and everywhere in between, but the majority of our dresses will fall between$1800 and $3500. We hand select each dress in our stores for quality, fit, style + value. Alterations will typically cost between $300-$700 depending on the style and fabric of your dress.

Where to shop for my wedding dress + why? 

Shopping for a wedding dress, and planning a wedding as a whole, can be an emotional and vulnerable experience. You are trusting individuals to guide you through a very memorable part of your life, so make sure that you like them and trust their expertise. Research bridal shops to see if you like their space and can see yourself finding your dress within it. Make sure the shop you choose carries styles that you like and do some research on the designers that they carry to see if they match your personal style. Also, make sure their dresses are at a comfortable price point for you.

We also get asked a ton whether or not it’s important to buy a dress in your home town.

The answer is – not really. Our showroom is smack dab in the middle of one of the biggest tourist destinations on the West Coast so we get tons of brides from out of town, out of state + even out of country! We carry the same designers as big cities but without the big city pricing + Oregon has no sales tax which can save you even more. If you don’t live in the area, we ship your dress as soon as it’s arrived + we’ve inspected it and we can help you vet local seamstresses in your area if coming back to Bend isn’t in your plans.

Who should I bring with me wedding dress shopping?

Not too many and not too few.

To elaborate, you don’t want to bring so many people that all of their opinions drown out yours, causing you to be overwhelmed + often times leaving confused + without a dress. For this reason, we usually recommend bringing 4-5 people maximum, but it varies person to person. On the flip side, make sure the people who are important to your bridal shopping purchasing decisions are with you.

Those people who you can’t say yes without should be there to provide support, clarity + excitement.

However, we know sometimes it’s just not possible for some family members to make it in to the shop (hello again, COVID), which is why we are so grateful to have access to technology that allows those far-away friends and family members to be a part of this experience. FaceTime is your friend. Something else that we love to do when a certain important family member (like mom) can’t make it in that day but can come another time, is to set up a private try on for you + that family member where we get you back in the dress you bought so they can see it, help pick out accessories + still be a part of the experience. This way brides don’t have to miss out on sales or first appointment discounts if they’re available but can still make sure their family member feels loved + part of the process.

What to bring wedding dress shopping?

There are some things that can make the bridal shopping experience even better, but some things just aren’t necessary. We are here to help you sort which is which.

  • Underwear: Bring! You are trying on clothing which other people have put on and will continue to put on. 
  • Bra: Not necessary! Most of our dresses are designed to be worn without a bra in order to see the full effect of the gown. However, if you feel more comfortable with a bra on, feel free to wear it!
  • Shoes: Not necessary! You’ll be up on our pedestal for height but you typically won’t need to know what shoes you’re wearing until you begin alterations.
  • Spanx: Not necessary! Only bring spanx if they will enhance your confidence and you know that you will be wearing them the day of the wedding. We’d say 90+% of our brides that plan to wear Spanx pre-shopping, end up not wearing them with their dress!
  • Spray Tan: Please, no. We are all for faux glow the day of your wedding instead of tanning beds but please don’t come with a fresh spray tan to your appointment. It will transfer onto the dress + then the next bride also gets to try on your spray tan.
  • Hair + Makeup: If you know how you’d like to wear your hair and makeup on your wedding, many of our brides find it helpful to come to their appointment with similar hair + makeup to help envision the whole look while trying on dresses.
  • Special items: Bring! If there are items that you know you will be wearing on the wedding day for sentimental reasons  or otherwise (an heirloom necklace or kickass leather jacket), bring them with you so you can make sure you love them with the dress you choose!
  • Champagne + Snacks: We have appointments that offer complimentary champagne, but if you are booking a classic appointment and you still want to pop some bubbly, feel free to bring it! Snacks are welcome too, but we ask that all foods and liquids are white dress friendly.

What if the sample size doesn’t fit?

Our samples range from size 8 to size 26! Whether a dress is too big or too small we have magic bridal clips (glorified chip clips) we use to help us fit the dress on you. If a sample is too small to try on or too big to really envision what it would look like in your size, your stylist can help pull similar styles so you can see what the fit will be like.

What happens when you find the dress?

First off, we want to address the fact that not everyone cries. In fact, most of our brides don’t cry, despite what you see on TLC. If you do cry, chances are we’ll cry right along with you + if you don’t that’s totally normal too – we promise. The most important thing is that you feel like YOU, but like –  next level you.

Once you’ve said yes, we take a few easy measurements + compare to the designer size chart. The dress won’t be made to your measurements. Instead, we match your measurements as close as we can to a designer size. Your stylist will advise you based on the style of dress + your measurements what size to order but ultimately it’s your decision.

Next is payment! Typically 50% of the dress cost is paid as a deposit the day you find the dress and the other 50% is paid when the dress arrives. If that DOESN’T work for some reason, talk to us – we know this is a big purchase + you’ll more than likely have other deposits being paid to other wedding vendors. We can usually work out a custom payment plan that works for you! Something else to think about is what card you want to use. This is the perfect time to rack up some rewards points or miles so if you’ve got a card with good perks – bring it!

Once the dress is ordered, it typically takes 4-6 months to arrive (or longer, due to COVID). This is honestly probably the hardest part of wedding dress shopping – WAITING. . .SO. MUCH. ANTICIPATION. Some brides start to forget what their dress even looked like as the months go by + sometimes this can cause a bit of bridal anxiety. This is normal. We repeat – this is NORMAL. You made a big decision and then don’t get to see that big decision again until almost half a year later. If you start to feel this way, let us know. Most of the time all it takes is looking back at pictures or getting you in to try on our sample while you wait to reassure you it’s still the one.

Once it’s in we’ll set up a try on appointment (NOT an alterations appointment) within a week of arrival. We’ll see how it’s fitting and what you might need to do for alterations + make sure everything is correct! Our designers give us a short window of time after it arrives to tell them about any production errors so it’s important you don’t miss this. If you’re an out of town bride, don’t worry we’ll inspect the gown before shipping it to you and just ask that you try it on as soon as it arrives to you! After that, you’ll just need to meet with a seamstress for any adjustments to make sure it’s completely custom fitted for you on your day. We have an in house seamstress available or can help you find a seamstress close to you.

Last but certainly not least, tag us in allll the pics from your day. We literally live to see them.

xx, The Bespoke Team

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