You’re recently engaged and excited to get started planning your big day. You may be wondering how to start the process of wedding dress shopping and how long it takes. It seems a while off but there are many stages to consider when it comes to wedding gowns. To help we’re talking through the shopping timeline involved in finding the dress of your dreams.

Woman sat on wall next to the beach wearing wedding gown with high, halter neckline and floral applique detailing

Made -to-order, designer wedding dresses typically take about 6-9 months to create so it’s best to start looking sooner rather than later. You will want to leave some time to consider your options and choose the one.

We recommend starting the search after you have picked and confirmed your venue. The venue will give you indications of what styles you might want to choose and what will be practical, for example you will want a lightweight gown for a destination or beach wedding.

 Experience tells us that brides will often choose a style completely opposite to what they first imagined, so try different silhouettes, fabrics and consider the advice of the in-store bridal consultants – after all they have lots of experience in bridal style for a variety of different bride’s body shapes.

Lady standing on beach next to the sea wearing ballgown wedding dress with lace straps and plunging illusion neckline detail

9 months before the wedding

It is advisable that 9 months before the wedding you will have selected the dress you wish to wear and placed your order. This will leave plenty of time for the dress to be made and delivered to the store for you to collect.

5 months before the wedding

At this time, we would recommend that you find the accessories that you would like to compliment your dress. This includes most importantly the shoes you wish to wear on the wedding day. These will be vital at the following alterations appointments to ensure the correct length of the gown. You will also need to find a tailor or seamstress to help with the alterations you may need. Most stockists will have an in-house seamstress, although this is not a given and at busy periods they may not be available. It is extremely important that you find someone who is experienced in altering wedding gowns to ensure the dress is tailored to the best quality.

3 months before the wedding

At this point in the timeline your dress will arrive at the store, if you are getting, your alterations done in store they will likely contact you to make a fitting appointment. If your alterations are being completed by an independent seamstress, you will need to collect your dress from the boutique to take to your chosen tailor.

Woman sat on wooden chair next to the sea wearing strapless lace wedding gown with sweetheart neckline


You’ll need to allocate time for three dress fittings. These appointments will allow for any customs alterations to be made and to ensure your dream gown is well-tailored.

6-8 weeks before the wedding it will be time for your first fitting. Remember to take your wedding shoes and the underwear you intend to wear on the wedding day so you can get an idea of exactly what it will look like on the special day. You should schedule your second fitting 4 weeks before your wedding and the final one 2 weeks before the big day.

Finally, if you have had your alterations done at the bridal boutique you will want to schedule for the collection of your dress one week before the wedding.

It’s important to note that as the wedding industry has evolved in recent years this timeline does offer some flexibility if you are a bride on a tight schedule. Additionally, Ronald Joyce has a selection of dresses that are available for quick delivery for brides who are pressed for time.

We hope you have found this blog both interesting and informative.

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