Wedding Dress Shopping in 2021: What You Need to Know

Wedding Dress Shopping in 2021: What You Need to Know

Debbie Elisa Photography

Wedding dress shopping is overwhelming and can be confusing, but it should be fun! Wondering what to wear to your appointments? Or how many people you should take with you? What about actually choosing “the one” dress?

It’s important to keep in mind that traditions aren’t laws – they’re peer pressure from dead people. And… there are no rules. If you don’t want to wear a gown, that’s ok! If you don’t want to wear white, then don’t! You are the one wearing whatever you choose, so make sure it’s exactly what you want. If everyone you take with you agrees, that’s great. If they don’t, oh well! They’re not the ones wearing your outfit.

Covid 19 Updates – Wedding Dress Shopping in 2021

As if wedding planning isn’t difficult enough, Covid has made things even trickier. Due to the ever-changing data and differing mandates and guidelines from state to state, be sure you’re aware of what will or won’t be required/suggested when & where you plan to shop.

Things to ask when you book your appointment

  • What policies does the store have? They will have to follow nation and state-wide mandates, but they may be even more strict in regards to physical spacing, the number of guests you can bring, masks, etc. It’s also probably a good idea to see if they require a negative Covid test within a certain amount of days before your appointment.
  • Will there be wifi for your guest(s) to use? This is important, especially if you’re limited with how many people you can take with you. Having wifi available, one of the guests who can come could video call anyone who wasn’t able to make it.
  • How are delivery and alteration timelines being affected? It may take longer for dresses to be made, shipped, and altered due to any number of things that are happening right now. Being aware of timelines upfront will help you keep things on track.
  • Will the dresses be sanitized or cleaned between appointments? If so, how? Keep in mind that lots of people will likely be trying on the very same dresses that you will be wearing.

Read on to see my top, general tips for making wedding dress shopping as easy & pain-free as possible.

Before you go dress shopping

Blonde bride in a long-sleeved, black gown and a crown, leaning against a tree.Southern and Grace Photography

Eat something

Dress shopping can take a long time, and you’ll be standing and moving for a lot of it, so be sure to eat something before you go. Try not to eat too much, but definitely don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. Call and check if the shop(s) you’ll be visiting allow snacks.

Do your research

Spend some time online, looking at all sorts of dresses. All colors, cuts, lengths, styles, etc. Going into shopping with an idea of what you like most will be extremely helpful when talking with consultants and looking at gowns.

Establish your budget

Wedding dresses are notoriously expensive, but you don’t have to break the bank. Shopping sales and looking outside of dresses specifically listed as wedding gowns can lead to fantastic finds. Also keep your venue and overall wedding aesthetic in mind. You never know – a special occasion dress, bridesmaid dress, or even a prom dress might end up being absolutely perfect for your big day.

Wear/bring the right undergarments

A strapless bra similar to your skin tone and well-fitting undies are typically best. Remember that you’ll probably be dressing and undressing in front of at least one consultant, so wear something you’ll be comfortable in, modesty-wise.

White wedding dress on a customized hanger, in bride's family dining room.Joshua Michael Johnson

Wear minimal makeup

If you wear make up every day, your daily look is fine for wedding dress shopping. If you don’t normally wear make up, don’t feel like you have to just to shop.

Don’t bring a big group of people

In Ladylike’s YouTube video “We Try On Wedding Dresses,” Susie, the owner and operator of Pebbles Bridal in Woodland Hills says, “if it’s somebody you wouldn’t want in the delivery room with you, when you’re delivering a baby, perhaps they can stay home…” and suggests that you should limit your entourage selection to people like parents, future in-laws, siblings, and best friends – but only if they’ll really have your best interest in mind!

I don’t know if being that exclusive is always necessary, but do try to choose people who will support you and guide you, rather than pressuring you into making decisions you may not feel comfortable with.


While you’re dress shopping

Bride wearing black wedding dress with a large train, holding a bouquet of wood flowers.Jessica Plasha Photography

Speak your mind.

Don’t sugarcoat your feelings. If you hate something, say so. It will help your consultant direct your attention to, and away from, certain styles or designers. If you don’t love something, move on. Ending up with a pile of “maybe” dresses helps no one.

Remember who is wearing the dress.

Yes, your entourage will & should have opinions, but in the end, it’s YOU wearing the dress. If everyone else loves it, but you aren’t feeling it, move on! Alternatively, if you love it and everyone else hates it – that shouldn’t be an immediate dismissal. You are going to be looking at your photos for years to come, they won’t.

Have an open mind.

You have your entourage, and probably at least one consultant – take advantage of them! Dresses look entirely different on a hanger vs on a body. Consider having each person you bring pick a dress and then try on each one for them to see. This is where the previous two tips really come into play.

Back detailing of a white wedding dress, on the bride.Joshua Michael Johnson

Don’t feel obligated to choose.

Many, many people need multiple appointments at multiple shops before finding “the one.” And know that, sometimes, no matter how many dress you’ve tried on, you may not get a magical moment where the universe aligns and you get all tingly. That’s ok, too! In the end, it’s a dress. As long as you feel comfortable and confident, all is good!

Alterations can make your dreams come true.

Find a gorgeous strapless dress but want straps added? Or the perfect floor-length gown but you’ve always wanted a tea-length dress? Whatever it takes to get a dress from a 9 to a 10 – to be perfect for you is likely possible with alterations. Just remember to factor them into your budget!

Ask about discounts.

You may be able to take advantage of a sale that’s coming up by buying your dress in a few days, or maybe save a little if you’re able to wait longer for shipping.


And there you have it – everything you need to know when shopping for your wedding dress.
Go forth and conquer dress shopping like the badass you are!

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