You’re engaged, now what? Time to begin wedding dress shopping of course! When it comes to shopping for your wedding dress, timing is everything, and we’re here to help with that. Below we created a timeline that details when to begin shopping for your wedding dress, when to order, and when to seek out alterations. This is an ideal timeline for brides who want to avoid the stress of wedding dress shopping and avoid any rush fees. 


12 Months BEFORE “I DO!”

Set Your Wedding Dress Budget

Having a wedding dress budget in mind before booking an appointment is very important! Once a bridal consultant knows your budget, she can pull dresses that are only within that budget. Weddings with Joy carries wedding dresses in a wide range of prices, beginning with off-the-rack samples priced at $300 to special order dresses up to $3,000. Take into account your budget for the dress, and an additional amount for any possible alterations costs. 

Do Your Research

This is the fun part! (Besides trying on dresses of course.) Create a Pinterest Account and begin saving the dress styles that make your heart sing. Don’t know where to begin? Think about your venue: Planning an outdoor barn wedding? An A-line or ballgown would be perfect. Are you getting married indoors in a ballroom? A fit-and-flare or sheath dress would be wonderful.  Most of all, keep an open mind when you arrive at your appointment. Our trained bridal consultants will take the time to get to know you and the details of your wedding, and will help with the dress selection. 

Go Wedding Dress Shopping

You might be thinking to yourself that wedding dress shopping a year in advance is too early, but it’s actually the perfect time to shop! Being an early bird during this process sets you up for success because you’ll avoid paying any rush fees, and you’ll have peace of mind — which is priceless. Our special order wedding dresses take about 3-5 months to be made and delivered, and alterations could take another 2-3 months, so having some extra time on your side will only work in your favor. Your wedding date is crucial to have scheduled before you book an appointment with a bridal boutique, so book your venue early! 

Begin researching what boutiques you’re interested in and call or email them about available appointment times. At Weddings with Joy, we offer special after-hour appointments for those brides who want to turn a regular bridal appointment into a special and memorable experience. Have saved pictures of what wedding dresses inspire you ready to share on your phone, and wear comfortable undergarments to the appointment. Will your bridesmaids be joining you for the appointment? Great! The wedding dress you choose sets the mood for the whole bridal parties style, so be sure to pick your dress before the bridesmaid’s dresses. Once you’ve said yes to the dress, we will gladly help you select your bridesmaid’s dresses (which are $25-off each when you’re a Weddings with Joy bride!)




9 Months BEFORE “I DO!”

Order your dress

Woohoo! You said yes to the dress! Now what? After deciding on a dress, you will now have to sign a special order contract, and either pay in full or put down a 50% deposit. At least half is required for us to place the order for your dress, and the other half can be paid between the time of purchase and when your dress arrives in store. Typically, our gowns take about 16 to 20 weeks to arrive (depending on the dress designer) from the time you placed your order. We will call you as soon as your dress arrives in store. 

*We believe in pulling the trigger as soon as you know it’s “the one,” despite popular advice that says you have to go to 2-3 boutiques to know what you’re looking for. Once you know, you know, and that’s that! Remember that this moment is about YOU and no else! Not your bridesmaids, not your weddings guests, and not us. So don’t stress about the “right way” to say yes to dress. 

5 Months before “I DO!”

Your dress has arrived! 

It’s a good idea to schedule a second “try-on” appointment when your dress has arrived at the boutique. A Weddings with Joy consultant can help zip you up into the dress to make sure it properly fits and has no damage. Bring proper undergarments to the appointment, and any jewelry you’re planning to wear at the wedding. This is also the time to pay the remainder of your 50% deposit on the wedding dress.

Choose Your Accessories

Shopping for accessories, such as veils, headpieces, and jewelry is best once your dress has arrived. We’d be happy to schedule a second appointment for you to try on your dress and try on the accessories available at Weddings with Joy. On average, they take about 4 to 6 weeks to arrive, making them available to bring in when you begin the alterations process. 

4 Months BEFORE “I DO!”

Begin Alterations

We do not have an in-house seamstress at Weddings with Joy, but we do have a list of wonderful referrals that have satisfied our brides for years. Once you’ve decided who you would like to work with, call and schedule a consultation. Together you can work on what changes you would like to make to the dress, and any extra customization you would like to make. Be sure to bring proper undergarments, and the shoes you plan to wear to your wedding (or shoes of a similar heel height). 


0 Months

Just kidding! Keep calm and don’t panic! 

Did you wait too long to order your dress and your wedding date is coming up quickly? That’s okay, we can rush your dress for an additional fee. If a new dress still won’t arrive on time for your wedding (budgeting time for alterations as well) we can take a look at our off-the-rack samples! We have many gorgeous wedding dresses available as-is for discounted deals. Some of them may have a little wear and tear, but it’s nothing that a trip to a trusty seamstress can’t solve. Is your wedding coming up in a matter of days or weeks? That’s okay! We have a wonderful selection of white bridesmaid dresses available off-the-rack! These dresses come in a standard length, but for some petite brides might need a hem. If you can’t have it hemmed by a seamstress, you can have it shortened with hem tape!