Choosing a wedding gown is one of the most important decisions a bride will make. Every bride wants the dress that is perfect for her. A wedding dress is also expensive and should be a carefully considered purchase. When planning when to buy your gown, think about how far in advance you are planning your wedding, what time of year the wedding will take place, and how extensive the alterations are likely to be. A bride should look for her gown at least six months before the wedding.
If the wedding date is more than 12 months in the future, you have plenty of time to shop. A wedding that is scheduled in less than six months means that you need to start looking seriously immediately. Unless you are a perfect size, the dress will likely need alterations, in length if nothing else, and this takes time because wedding dresses are often quite complicated. The sooner the gown is fitted and sent for alterations, the better. You do not want to spend the week before the wedding waiting for your gown to be finished.
The time of year of the wedding is also important. Wedding gowns tend to anticipate the coming seasons, so looking for a winter dress in January is probably counter-productive; the spring dresses are out by then. Shopping at the very end of the season is not a bad idea, however, as many bridal salons bring in the new year's fashions in December and January and last year's gowns may be greatly discounted. Styles do not change so much in eight or ten months that wearing last year's style will look too unfashionable at the wedding.
Alterations also dictate when you'll need to buy your gown. If you are very short or very tall, for instance, the alterations may take longer. Some brides whose hips and bustlines are not proportional may also need extensive alterations in their dresses, which also takes time. Wedding gowns are often quite complicated and are made of expensive delicate materials like silk and lace. Hemming a dress can be time consuming, for example, since it can't just be measured, cut, and sewn quickly with a sewing machine.
Bridal salons are particularly busy in the late spring and summer — to serve all those June brides — and this extends to their alterations departments. Buying a wedding gown for a June wedding in January and having it altered immediately can save the bride a lot of headaches down the road. She will know that her dress is ready and needs only to be pressed or steamed a day or so before in order to be ready to wear.
It's best then, to buy the dress at least six months before the big day, but the bride should start looking as soon as possible. An earlier purchase gives the salon time to have it perfect and gives the bride peace of mind.