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6 Steps to Say HECK YES To the Dress!

O-M-G… You just got engaged?? Congrats, girlfriend—or, should we say, fiancée! You just answered a big question, and now you’re thinking about answering another one: Are you saying HECK YES to the dress?

Before you answer that, though, you may be asking something like this: How—and when—do I start wedding dress shopping?

We know our brides love a how-to. You’ve got lots to think about when it comes to your wedding—so let us help! We've outlined 6 important steps to take to say Heck Yes to the dress.

Read on to learn more about the how and why of each step of the list.

Bride holding a sign that says "Heck Yes" in front of a rack of bridal dresses.

1. Decide upon a wedding venue and date

  • Venues are vital for understanding your wedding vision and aesthetic; however, solidifying a venue is important for wedding dress shopping because venues and dates walk hand-in-hand. If you have a venue, you have a date… and you need a date to buy a wedding dress! Different bridal designers work within different time frames, so it is important to understand the amount of time until your wedding so your stylist can suggest appropriate designers and purchase options.

2. Plan for your time-frame

  • A good rule of thumb is to start shopping 9 to 12 months before your wedding. It may sound crazy, but some designers take up to 8 months to create and send your gown. Generally, however, a wedding dress can be in your hands 6 months after you said HECK YES—but remember that you’ll need to factor in time for alterations! Alterations begin three months before your wedding, with one appointment each month leading up to your big day.

3. Define a budget

  • Ideally, if you’ve already picked a venue and a date, you already have a budget set for your entire wedding. If not, now is the time to set one. Wedding dresses are available in a wide range of price points, and it is necessary to pinpoint what range will be most comfortable for you. We suggest you communicate this range to the group you bring shopping with you. This way, everyone is on the same page when it comes to realistic options for the dress of your dreams.

4. Answer: Who needs to come along?

  • Most bridal stores have room for you to bring along 3 to 5 guests. Before you go shopping, consider who you absolutely need to be with you to say HECK YES! Oftentimes, when it comes to your entourage, less is more. Remember, you can always bring others to your dress pick-up appointments and dress fittings, or FaceTime friends and family who can’t come in-person.

5. Pre-shop on local bridal stores’ websites

  • When deciding where you want to shop, it is important to do your research. Most brides start on Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok, and then translate that inspiration to local stores. Different bridal stores carry different designers with different aesthetics. To make your bridal shopping experience as fun and easy-breezy as possible, make sure you’ve browsed stores’ selections ahead of time to be sure they carry styles you’re looking for.

6. Book your bridal appointment

  • Now, after all that, you’re ready to schedule your bridal appointment and find the dress of your dreams! Some brides plan a big bridal weekend and set up appointments back-to-back. Oftentimes, this can lead to a high-energy morning… and then hungry, tired, and overstimulated brides and groups by the afternoon. Most brides find their dream dress within the first dozen they try on. That means that most brides fall in love with a gown within the first two stores they go to. Our suggestion? Slow down the process, and enjoy each moment. This is a once in a lifetime experience—make sure you’re ready to fall in love, even when you least expect it.

Floral lace bridal gown featured in front of a rack of other bridal gowns

Knowing the ins and outs of the wedding world is so helpful when it comes to planning your big day. Finished with steps 1 through 5? Book your appointment here at Ivory Rose! Not quite ready just yet? Screenshot or save dress photos to reference as you prepare to find your perfect wedding dress.

Cheers to you!


Ivory Rose Bridal Boutique is Appleton, Wisconsin’s ONLY exclusively bridal store. We have made it our mission to bring our brides the best & latest wedding dresses, veils and other accessories from our favorite bridal designers. Every bit of what you experience with Ivory Rose has been intentionally curated to make you feel empowered & comfortable while saying Heck Yes! to your dream dress. Our passionate stylists support and uplift and are dedicated to creating your beautiful bridal experience. Book your bridal appointment today and let's find your dream wedding dress together!

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