Over the last month, we've been putting a big focus on everything you need to know about wedding dress shopping, and making it easy for you to have everything you need to know down, to find your dream wedding dress. Hopefully this is the first and only time you'll be shopping for a wedding dress, and it's probably going to be quite a different experience to anything you've ever shopped for before - forewarned is forearmed.

Whether you know exactly what style you want, or you haven't the faintest idea where to start, we want to make sure the experience isn't at all daunting. To help make the process as easy and fun as possible, and to help you avoid any big mistakes, we've rounded up all our wedding dress shopping tips into one place. We hope it helps!

When should I start wedding dress shopping?

The answer is that that is entirely up to you, but we recommend if you have the time, to start thinking about it around 12 months out, and start going to appointments around nine months out - this should give you enough time for boutiques to order in dresses from any designer you end up loving.

There are plenty of other details to nail down when it comes to your wedding look, so check out our Bridal Dress Shopping Timeline for full details of what you should be doing when. We break it down from 12 months out to 2 weeks out, so you won't miss a thing along the way.

Need to know: Your Bridal Dress Shopping Timeline


wedding dress shopping advice Image: Paula O'Hara

What do I need to shop for, for my wedding?

Behold, your Ultimate Wedding Fashion Checklist - pick what you plan on wearing and tick 'em off one by one as you buy them. You probably won't need everything on this list, but it's no harm having an exhaustive list to rule things out from. Sometimes imagining what you want your wedding look to be is easier when you've ruled out what you really don't want it to be.

Need to know: Your Ultimate Wedding Fashion Checklist


How much do I need to budget for wedding dress shopping?

How long is a piece of string? What you spend entirely depends on what your overall budget looks like - we know there are brides out there buying their wedding dress on the highstreet for €100 and looking incredible, and on the other end, there are brides spending €10k on a fab couture gown. You do you, boo!

The average spend on a wedding dress last year was €1,697, but it really depends on what you want. Check out our Ultimate Irish Wedding Dress Price Guide for a full breakdown of prices whether you plan on wearing a designer gown from a bridal boutique, a couture masterpiece, a highstreet gown, or even something bespoke or vintage.

Need to know: Your ultimate Irish Wedding Dress Price Guide


What should I know about wedding dress boutique appointments?

We always recommend booking no more than three boutique appointments at a time so as to not overwhelm yourself with choice. If you don't find the dream gown in the first three, try another three, but there's no point booking six appointments from the start. Do the research to arrange appointments in order of priority for where you think you'll find 'the one', and don't leave yourself wondering 'What if the next boutique has something nicer?'.

Check out our guide to making the most of your bridal boutique appointments here to give you some top tips on where to start. We've also got a guide to the biggest dress shopping faux pas brides make, so if you're feeling a little nervous about starting, give it a look to avoid the most common mistakes.

Need to know: The Biggest Mistakes Brides Make While Dress Shopping


wedding dress shopping advice Image: Berit Altis

How will I know what kind of wedding dress suits me? And what do all these terms mean?! Agh!

Relax! Most people don't know all the lingo when they start off shopping - you might know you've seen a bride in a real wedding whose dress was amazing and that you want to try on that style, but wedding boutiques won't expect you to know a charmeuse from a chantilly lace. If you want to swot up in advance so you know what you're looking at ahead of time, check out our wedding dress glossary here. We also have a full guide to all the different types of veils there are, so you can swat up if you imagine yourself wearing a headpiece, and our guide to where to shop for wedding veils will give you a roadmap of where to start.

Need to know: Your Complete Guide To All The Different Veil Types


As for what kind of wedding dress will suit you - we have a full guide to what wedding dresses typically suit different body shapes, which will give you a good idea of the most flattering silhouettes for your body type. However, everyone's bodies are different so we say never rule out any particular style. If there's a style you're dying to try, while you're at your dress appointments, give one a whirl. If you expect it to be unflattering and it is, you haven't lost anything but a few minutes of your time. But if it's a shape you love and it ends up looking fabulous on you, that's a major win!

Need to know: What Wedding Dresses Suit My Body Shape?


Which bridal boutiques should I go to? Where do I start wedding dress shopping?

There are tonnes and tonnes of bridal boutiques dotted around Ireland, so it really is up to you what designers you like, and where stocks them. We've put together an A-Z guide to Irish Bridal Boutiques to help make this a little easier - figure out which boutiques are nearest you, and what bridal designers they stock, before you go.

Need to know: A-Z Guide To Irish Bridal Boutiques


I'm looking for a traditional bridal gown, but I don't necessarily fit the sample size gowns. Where should I go?!

Many bridal boutiques only stock sample sizes up to a size 14, meaning plenty of people find themselves in a position where they don't fit into them, making wedding dress shopping a massive stress. Readers often ask us where they can shop for plus size wedding dresses, so we created a plus size bridal boutique guide for Ireland, hand-picking the best in the biz around the country for curvy brides.

Need to know: Our Plus Size Irish Bridal Boutique Guide 


We also sometimes get asked what you should do if you're pregnant and planning a wedding. With your body rapidly changing, it can be hard to decide what to do about a wedding dress - you can't predict the future after all. We've got our top tips and tricks for shopping for maternity wedding dresses, as well as a few suggestions on where to start shopping.

Don't forget, our Instagram DM inbox is always open if you're looking for advice on where to shop or if you've got specific bridal dilemmas.

Need to know: Top tips and tricks for shopping for maternity wedding dresses


I'm not sure a bridal boutique dress is for me. What are my other options?

Irish bridal boutiques stock some of the nicest designers from around the globe, but if you're not seeing something you're loving while wedding dress shopping, you're not out of luck. There are tonnes of other options out there than a designer bridal gown!

Firstly, if you're looking for something special but just not as traditional as many bridal gowns are, you should check out our guide to shopping for an alternative wedding dress. You may just find that something different you've been searching for!

Got a specific idea of what you'd like your wedding dress to be, but just can't seem to find it? Going bespoke may be the best option for you, but it's something some brides find very intimidating. We talked to the experts to get their tips, tricks and things to know about getting a custom wedding dress designed.

Need to know: Our guide to where to shop for an alternative wedding dress


Vintage wedding dress shopping can be a bit of a minefield, but if you want a more vintage look for your wedding day, it's worth investing the time to find the real deal. We chatted to the experts to demystify the process and answer some vintage wedding dress FAQs.

Finally, we're aware that buying one really incredible dress to wear only once is not super environmentally friendly or sustainable, and that this is becoming increasingly important to brides. Buying vintage is of course one eco-friendly way to shop, but what are your other options? Check out our guide to ethical, sustainable bridal fashion is this is an issue close to your heart.

Need to know: Everything you need to know about getting a bespoke wedding dress made


What if I'm not sure a dress is 'the one'?

TV and movies have us only dying to say yes to the dress and to have a big massive emotional ~moment~ when you try on 'the one' during your wedding dress shopping adventures, but plenty of brides don't! They just pick a dress they think they love, and there's no massive wave of feelings - and that's okay! But there are some signs to look out for that maybe a dress isn't perfect for you - take a look at our guide to the five big reasons you might need to say 'no' to a dress to make sure they don't apply to your dream gown!

Need to know: The Reasons You Might Need To Say 'No' To A Dress


Should I be concerned by trends when wedding dress shopping?

Yes, and no! If you've got a good idea of the style of dress you want, or if you're hoping to wear a super traditional wedding dress, trends might not be of any interest to you. A classic silhouette is a classic for a reason!

However, if you're looking for something a bit different, or something up and coming, trends are a good place to start. If you've been to a lot of weddings over the last year or so, you've probably seen some of the same styles of wedding dress cropping up again and again, so it makes sense you might want to see what's new. You have to remember that wedding dress trends move more slowly than normal fashion trends, simply because it takes a long time to plan a wedding. This means you don't have to worry about your dress going out of style before you've even gotten a chance to wear it!

We've picked five wedding dress trends we're loving at the minute, and you can see our archive of wedding dress trends here, if you want to take a look to see if anything tickles your fancy.

Need to know: Five Wedding Dress Trends We're Loving Right Now


What on earth do I do about wedding dress alterations?

After spending a fortune on your wedding dress, you don't want any old pair of hands altering it. It's worth investing in decent, trusted alterations so you know it'll fit you like a glove by the time your last fitting rolls around. Check out our ultimate guide to wedding dress alterations - what to expect and where to go to get them done, to send you on the right path.

Need to know: Our ultimate guide to wedding dress alterations


What about my wedding shoes? And my accessories? And underwear! Help!

Completing your wedding outfit takes some careful consideration, and choosing the perfect pair of wedding shoes is a ~process~. You want something comfortable, but also a pair that makes you feel like Cinderella, and who knows, you may not even want them to be white! We put together a guide of where to shop for your wedding shoes, whether you're looking for beautiful designer shoes, or you're hoping for a more affordable (but still stunning!) wedding shoe option.

We also have guides to where to shop for wedding bags, and a separate guide for accessories, headpieces, jewellery and the like, which should start your search off right.

Need to know: Where to shop for beautiful wedding shoes in Ireland - the ultimate guide

Don't forget about your wedding underwear either - many a beautiful wedding dress has been let down by poor shapewear choices. No matter what kind of dress you have, let our guide give you a steer on which underwear and shapewear might suit you best.

Need to know: Wedding underwear and lingerie - where to shop for bridal shapewear in Ireland


wedding dress shopping advice Image: Bruno Rosa

Still need some inspiration? We got you!

We rounded up the gorgeous wedding dresses 33 real Irish brides chose for their big day, to inspire you! How amazing do they all look?

You can also check out our bridal shoots, which often feature some of the latest dresses coming into Irish bridal boutiques.

And don't forget - we're constantly updating our fashion section, so check back regularly for more wedding dress inspiration, tips and advice.


You might also like: 33 Gorgeous Wedding Dresses Irish Brides Chose