A timeline on bridal gown shopping

If you’re wondering when to buy your wedding dress then it’s likely that you’re newly engaged – we send our heartfelt congratulations to you and your partner lovely! When you start to plan your wedding it can become very overwhelming. There’s so much to do, but what order should you organise it in, and when? Well, when it comes to bridal gown shopping, we’ve got all the answers. We’re on hand to impart our knowledge and to hopefully take the stress away, so take note…

You’re probably eager to start shopping for your wedding dress straight away – but hold fire lovelies! The first important step in your bridal gown shopping timeline is to ensure you have your date and venue set as they will be key influential factors for your choice of dress. For example, a beautifully embroidered ball gown might not suit a rustic barn wedding – just as a laid back floaty boho silk style gown might not fit a modern, slick hotel wedding. Plus, the date is always worth considering when it comes to styling up your gown. A winter wedding needs very different accessories to a height of summer bash. Read more about how to match your dress to your venue here. 

12 – 18 months prior to your nuptials

They say the average time a couple are engaged is now 20 months. So, as long as you have your venue and date picked, about 12-18 months before your scheduled wedding date is the ideal time to head to the bridal boutique and say yes to the dress! This timescale will allow you time to research and find your ideal boutique and order your dress completely stress free. You may be eyeing up an embellished, luxe bridal gown from the likes of Jane Hill, or perhaps something more classic, charming and timeless like Rosa Clara. Whichever bridal style is ticking your boxes, all of our wedding dresses are made to order with a lead time of around 4-6 months. Naturally, timescales differ with each designer we stock, but this is the generalised rule and most designers are working to 6 months post-pandemic.

Top tip: don’t forget to factor in alterations! They may take longer than you’d originally imagined, and we want your dress to hug you in all the perfect places and for you to feel a million dollars. Therefore, allow at least 2-3 months for any amendments to be made to your bridal gown. Remember, you can’t rush perfection!

Eden - Jane Hill | Hannah Elizabeth Bridal
Eden - Jane Hill | Hannah Elizabeth Bridal
Eden - Jane Hill | Hannah Elizabeth Bridal

8 – 12 months before the big day

Some of you may have a shorter engagement, which is also wonderful! But with this in mind, you may be on a shorter timeframe. If you start to approach the 8-12 months before you say ‘I do’, you’re definitely going to need to make dress shopping a priority. You won’t have any excess time to play with and you will need to start your fittings with your seamstress as soon as your dress arrives. To ensure a quicker delivery, rush fees may apply to prioritise your gown and ensure your dress is made, allowing time for alterations to be carried out ahead of your big day.

We advise that you plan ahead and get in touch with your seamstress to discuss provisionally booking your first fitting in to ensure your date is secured. If you haven’t yet made your appointment with us then get your diary out and get ready to say yes to your dress! For a team with wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as access to a wide range of designers to answer all your bridal dreams, book your appointment at Hannah Elizabeth Bridal today.

Olive - Jane Hill | Hannah Elizabeth Bridal
Olive - Jane Hill | Hannah Elizabeth Bridal
Olive - Jane Hill | Hannah Elizabeth Bridal

2 – 6 months before you say ‘I do’ 

If it’s 2-6 months before your wedding day and you haven’t already got your dress, you will likely need to purchase one of our sample dresses off-the-peg which you can take the same day ready to be altered by a seamstress! (FYI – we have a gorgeous selection available!)

We are occasionally able to access pieces of stock from some of our designers if they have the item available, such as Catherine Deane, but this is not always guaranteed. Rush orders may be possible but will be designer dependant and will come at a high fee. Even if you are buying off-the-peg you will need to allow the seamstress as much time as possible to carry out your alterations to ensure you feel your best self on your big day.

Alternatively, if have already purchased your wedding dress, now is the time to complete your bridal look with accessories. If you’ve opted for a minimalistic gown, you can always dress it up with a standout headpiece or some classic jewellery. Similarly, if you’ve selected a dress with heavy embellishment, you may wish to add something more delicate and minimal.

We hope we supported you in making your journey to becoming a newlywed an easy one. If you’re getting married in 2023 or 2024, now is the perfect time to start looking for your gown. If you wish to book a bespoke appointment with us, you can do so by clicking here. Wishing you the best of luck in your search for your wedding dress!


Your bridal appointment

Our award winning bridal boutique is located in the Hampshire village of Botley, home to our carefully curated collection of modern luxe wedding gowns. From the streets of Paris, to the beaches of Australia, and the hustle and bustle of NYC – we’ve selected the finest bridal designers from across the globe, all specialising in exquisite designs, classic couture and exclusive styles. Your bespoke experience starts the moment you make contact with us. From our first phone consultation to your exciting and luxurious bridal boutique appointment. We lead you with our expertise and guide you through our extraordinary array of designers, their exquisite fabrics and mesmerising designs. We passionately provide an unparalleled, inspirational and high-end bridal shopping experience.


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5 High Street, Botley,
Southampton, Hampshire,
SO30 2EA