How to Buy a Wedding Dress Online

A wedding dress hanging in a window of a bridal suite.

You can buy virtually anything on the web these days. Yes, even a wedding gown! At first, you might think that it’s a risky business, but you’ll be surprised how many brides are turning to online retailers for their dream dress. Although there are both pros and cons to doing so, it can be done successfully. So if there’s a look you’ve been eyeing that happens to only be found on the web, don’t disregard it right off the bat. With these helpful tips, you’ll find your perfect wedding dress on your doorstep in no time.

Do Your Homework

Before you start filling the online shopping cart, you should know not only what style of dress you want, but also what looks good on you. Don’t just rely on the photos provided on the website. We all come in different shapes and sizes, so what looks good on one model might not look the same on you. It’s a good idea to first go shopping in person and try on a variety of dresses—and they don’t necessarily have to be bridal ones! Even if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you’ll at least get an idea for what you’re not looking for. Aside from the shape of the dress, also note which fabrics you like and dislike, how sheer you want the dress to be, whether you need built-in bust support, and if you’re comfortable donning a petticoat.

Check the Sizing

A bride wearing a long-sleeved lace dress.

First of all, you should know how to take your measurements correctly. Even if you think you know your size, spend a few minutes to check them again. Ask a friend to help you or go to a professional to get it right. Measurements are sometimes done differently depending on the type of clothing. Then, double-check the sizing chart of the retailer. Designers often disagree on what a size 8 or XS means. And with bridalwear, sizing is completely different from normal clothes altogether. When in doubt, always go with a size up, as it’s easy to make a dress smaller, but it can be a challenge to do the reverse. However, don’t buy a dress that’s dramatically larger than your actual size. Either the tailoring costs will be exuberant or the dress design might be ruined in the process.

Look for Legit Retailers

Buyer beware! Make sure the company you’re buying from is trustworthy. Research reviews for any shops you’re not familiar with. If things seem too good to be true, at least be aware of how much money you’re risking should things go sour. It might also be smart to use a credit card with purchase protection. With the rapid growth of cyber shopping, more popular online retailers are offering bridalwear. So if you need a place to get started, check out these websites:

  • ASOS
  • BHLDN
  • Fame & Partners
  • Flovavere
  • Grace Loves Lace
  • Nearly Newlywed
  • Net-a-Porter
  • Nordstroms
  • The Outnet
  • Reformation
  • Sézane
  • Torrid (plus sizes only)

You can also check out marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Facebook, or even Craigslist. (Just be extra cautious before betting big bucks on auction sites like eBay.)

Take a Trip to the Tailor

A tailor working on a lace wedding dress.

Unless you’re incredibly lucky, most likely you’ll need to get your bridal dress tailored. This is true even if you buy it in person. Unfortunately, that means extra costs. Depending on the complexity of the dress, the bill can run up several hundred dollars. So if you’re shopping online as a means of saving money, account tailoring into your budget first. Also, know that tailoring a dress can take a while, so it’s always advised to buy it as many months ahead of time as possible.

Plan Ahead

Always check the return policy before you buy. Don’t be shy; email or call the shop if you have any questions about their terms, or about the sizing or design of their dresses. When buying a wedding dress online, always leave a little more room for error just in case the dress doesn’t work out and you have to start over. On the other hand, if there is a reasonable return policy, consider buying several dresses to sample at home. (Just don’t forget to ship the unwanted ones back before the deadline!)

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Part of the wedding planning experience is spending a few hours at the bridal shop while your squad sips some celebratory bubbly and you get to sample exquisite dresses, but just because you’re shopping online doesn’t mean you have to miss out on this moment. Have a viewing party at your home, instead! You can even ask your bridesmaids to bring their dresses to try on, too.

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