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Where to Shop for the Perfect Wedding Gown

Your wedding dress is probably the most important part of your wedding—besides the groom. You have dreamed about the perfect wedding dress since you were probably about 3 and now it is finally time to pick the perfect dress that compliments your figure while fulfilling a lifelong dream. How will you find the perfect dress?

Flipping through a magazine and drooling over the gorgeous dresses the models are wearing is fun and inspiring, but it simply will not do when it comes to actually choosing the gown you want for your big day. You need to see the gown in person, with your own two eyes. You need to examine every stitch and pour over every detail. And most importantly, you NEED to try it on. We all know that sometimes dresses look great on the rack, but our body shapes are not all that of a supermodel. Absolutely try a dress on before buying. Your dress will need alterations. Rarely, if EVER, will you walk into a store and buy a gown ready for you to wear.

Wedding Shops

Your first stop should be the local wedding shops in your area. This is your best bet for finding the perfect dress. In most stores, you will be able to try on dresses and take your time browsing. You can visit every day for a week if you choose. Your friends and family in the area will be able to go with you to give you their opinions and advice. You may need to expand your search by driving to the next city to check out the selection there. If you have a particular dress and style in mind, ask the clerk if it is possible to order it. Buying locally makes fittings a lot easier. You will probably need at least 3 fittings before your dress is finished and ready for your big day. It helps to make an appointment to ensure you have an attentive associate to help you find the style of dress you are really looking for.

Wedding Shows

Wedding shows are a great place to see everything you need for your wedding in one stop. The shows are an excellent way to spend time with your bridesmaids and mother as you identify the dresses that appeal to you the most. If you are on the fence about the style of dress you want, a wedding show is a great place to start. You will be able to see all of the dresses “in action” and won’t have to rifle through crowded racks of dresses covered by plastic bags.

Department Stores

Many women don’t even realize places like Macy’s and JC Penny’s actually sell wedding dresses. They do and actually have some pretty great deals. If you are on a budget, don’t be afraid to browse the online websites of department stores to find a dress. Many of the styles are designed to mimic the big name designers. You can get a fabulous dress without the massive price tag. However, expect to pay a bit more for alterations from a local seamstress.

Warehouse Stores

Every future bride has heard of the massive warehouse stores like David’s Bridal. If you have the strength to fight your way through a crowd on one of their major sale days, you can get a real steal. Even if you don’t attend one of the sales, you will still have the luxury of browsing through hundreds of dresses. They offer dresses for every budget. Keep in mind; you may not find the perfect dress in your size. Alterations are possible, but ask the sales associate how much would be needed to make a particular dress fit you.

Rental Stores

If you are not the girl who plans on keeping her dress in her closet for the next 30 years or wants to pass the dress down to future generations, you can certainly rent a gown. This is an affordable option that many brides opt for. You get great pictures and memories in a fantastic gown without spending thousands of dollars. When you think about it, the groom rents his tux so why not rent a gown?


While this is certainly an option and you will find hundreds of bargains from disgruntled, jilted or broke brides, this is probably the riskiest option. Pictures are not enough to go on when you are buying a wedding gown. You need to see it in person. If it is so cheap you can afford to buy a second gown if the original one doesn’t work, that is your choice. Only buy from reputable sellers and just be very careful!

Secondhand/Vintage Stores

If you love all things vintage, you will want to visit your local secondhand and vintage stores. If you like the thought of wearing a piece of history on your big day, this is for you. Prices range from really cheap to more money than a designer gown. This will require a lot of legwork as most vintage stores only have a couple of gowns in stock at any given time. It helps to give your name to the clerk and ask to be called the moment a new gown comes in.

These places are just a starting point for you. Expect to spend several weeks, if not months looking for the perfect dress. Don’t get discouraged and don’t “settle” for a dress you don’t love because you can’t find the one. Keep looking and you will find it!