How Many Months Before Your Wedding Should You Get Your Bridesmaid Dresses?

Navigate the timing of bridesmaid dress selection with ease. This guide covers the key timeline for choosing bridesmaid dresses, factors affecting your choices, and tips for a smooth, stress-free process. Perfect for brides and wedding planners seeking to ensure a harmonious and beautiful wedding day.
white bridesmaid dress
white bridesmaid dress


In the tapestry of wedding planning, each thread – from the choice of venue to the selection of a menu – weaves together to create a day that echoes with personal significance and joy. Among these myriad details, the selection of bridesmaid dresses emerges as a particularly vibrant strand. This choice is more than a mere fashion decision; it’s a celebration of friendship and an integral part of the wedding’s visual narrative. Understanding when and how to choose these dresses is essential in orchestrating a harmonious and stress-free wedding experience.

For many brides, their wedding day is a dream transformed into reality, a moment where every detail reflects their deepest desires and shared love. The bridesmaids, often closest friends or family members, play a pivotal role in this celebration. Their attire, therefore, is not just about matching colors or styles; it’s about making a statement, about unity and individuality dancing hand in hand. This article delves deeply into the journey of selecting bridesmaid dresses, guiding you through the ideal timelines and considerations to ensure that this aspect of your wedding is as joyful and fulfilling as the rest.

Navigating the world of wedding planning can often feel like steering a ship through uncharted waters. Each decision comes with its own set of questions and considerations. When should you start looking for bridesmaid dresses? How do you balance personal taste with the theme of your wedding and the comfort of your bridesmaids? What are the logistical hurdles you need to clear, from dress fitting schedules to accommodating different body types and preferences? This comprehensive guide aims to answer these questions, providing a roadmap to a choice that, while only one part of your wedding, significantly contributes to the day’s success and splendor.

In the journey to your wedding day, where moments are meticulously curated and memories are waiting to be born, the selection of bridesmaid dresses stands as a testament to the bonds you share with your dearest companions. It’s a process filled with laughter, maybe a few tears, and most importantly, shared memories that deepen the bonds you have with each member of your bridal party. This article is crafted to ease your journey through this part of your wedding planning, blending practical advice with insights drawn from real-life experiences, ensuring that your bridesmaids’ attire complements the beauty and significance of your special day.

In the following sections, we will explore the ideal timeline for choosing bridesmaid dresses, factors that influence this timeline, and tips for managing preferences and budgets. Additionally, we’ll provide insights into the selection and fitting process, and how to make the most of the expertise offered by bridal consultants. With this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate this delightful aspect of wedding planning, creating a harmonious and beautiful experience for you and your bridesmaids.

Understanding the Timeline for Wedding Planning

The journey to a wedding is a meticulous orchestration of numerous elements, each requiring attention and time. Understanding this timeline is critical, as it provides a framework for every detail, including the selection of bridesmaid dresses, which must be meticulously planned and executed.

General Wedding Planning Timeline Overview

Wedding planning is typically conceptualized in stages, spanning over several months to a year or more. This journey begins with the broad strokes – setting a date, choosing a venue, and defining the wedding theme and style. As these foundational elements fall into place, the timeline begins to focus on finer details, such as attire, catering, and decorations.

  1. Initial Planning (12-18 months before the wedding): This phase often includes booking the venue, setting a budget, and beginning the guest list. It’s also the ideal time to start thinking about the overall aesthetic and color scheme of the wedding, which will significantly influence the bridesmaid dress choice.
  2. Mid-Stage Planning (9-12 months before): During this stage, key vendors are booked, including photographers, caterers, and florists. The wedding dress is often chosen in this period, setting the tone for the bridesmaid dresses.
  3. Detailing Stage (6-9 months before): Now the focus shifts to the finer details. This is where the selection of bridesmaid dresses ideally fits into the timeline. Coordinating their style and color with the overall theme of the wedding becomes a priority.
halter neck bridesmaid dress
halter neck bridesmaid dress

Integrating Bridesmaid Dresses into the Planning Timeline

Bridesmaid dresses are a significant part of the wedding’s visual aesthetic and should be harmonized with the overall theme and color palette. Their selection, therefore, is intrinsically linked to earlier decisions made about the wedding’s style and colors.

  1. Consideration of Wedding Style and Theme: The theme of your wedding (rustic, classic, modern, etc.) will significantly influence the style of bridesmaid dresses. The formality of the venue and the season also play crucial roles. For instance, a beach wedding might call for lighter, more flowing dresses, while a formal ballroom would suit elegant, structured gowns.
  2. Coordination with Wedding Dress: The bride’s gown sets a precedent for the level of formality and style of the bridesmaid dresses. A highly embellished bridal gown may call for simpler bridesmaid styles to balance the overall look.
  3. Time for Custom Orders and Alterations: Considering the time required for custom orders and alterations is crucial. Many bridesmaid dresses are made-to-order, and this process can take several months, followed by additional time for alterations.
  4. Buffer for Unexpected Delays: It’s wise to build a buffer for unforeseen delays or changes. This extra time can be invaluable for addressing any last-minute adjustments or alterations.

Integrating the selection of bridesmaid dresses into the broader wedding planning timeline ensures a cohesive and well-coordinated aesthetic for your wedding. This careful planning also alleviates the stress of last-minute rushing, allowing you and your bridesmaids to enjoy the preparatory journey as much as the wedding day itself.

sling bridesmaid dress
sling bridesmaid dress

The Ideal Time Frame for Bridesmaid Dresses

The recommended time to begin shopping for bridesmaid dresses is typically six to eight months before the wedding. This timeline might seem extensive, but it is designed to accommodate various factors, including dress manufacturing, shipping, fittings, and potential alterations.

Factors Influencing the Timeline

  1. Dress Style and Complexity: Some dresses, especially those with intricate designs or custom details, take longer to create and deliver. If you’re eyeing a particularly elaborate style, starting earlier is prudent.
  2. Season of the Wedding: The time of year can impact your dress choices. Heavier fabrics for winter weddings or lighter materials for summer events need to be considered, along with their availability.
  3. Customization and Alterations: Custom-made dresses or those requiring significant alterations need a longer lead time. This also includes accommodating the varying body types and sizes of your bridesmaids, ensuring each one feels comfortable and confident in their dress.
  4. Size and Composition of the Bridal Party: A larger bridal party means more coordination and potentially more time for individual fittings and alterations.
  5. Geographic Location and Logistics: If your bridesmaids are spread out geographically, extra time is needed for shipping dresses, coordinating fittings, and allowing for travel if necessary.

Managing Bridesmaid Preferences and Budget

Selecting bridesmaid dresses is more than a matter of style; it’s also about managing preferences and budgets. A good practice is to have an open discussion with your bridesmaids about their budgets early in the process. This conversation can guide your selection, ensuring the dresses are affordable for everyone involved. Additionally, consider the varied body types and personal styles of your bridesmaids. A trend gaining popularity is choosing a color palette and allowing each bridesmaid to select a dress that suits her style and body type within that palette.

Green Bridesmaid Dress

The Process of Selection and Fitting

The journey of selecting bridesmaid dresses is not just a shopping trip; it’s a cherished part of the wedding story, a chapter filled with excitement, bonding, and shared visions. This process, when approached thoughtfully, not only ensures a visually cohesive bridal party but also strengthens the bonds between the bride and her bridesmaids.

The adventure begins with inspiration. Brides often start with a vision – a color scheme, a style, or a theme that resonates with the overall aesthetic of the wedding. Gathering ideas from bridal magazines, Pinterest, and wedding blogs can spark creativity. It’s important to keep an open mind during this phase, as you may find styles or colors that you hadn’t initially considered.

Involving the Bridesmaids

Once you have a broad idea of what you’re looking for, involve your bridesmaids in the process. This can be done through a group meeting, a shared Pinterest board, or a discussion group. Remember, each bridesmaid is unique, in her style, preferences, and body type. Taking their opinions into account not only makes them feel valued but also ensures they are comfortable and confident in their dresses.

Scheduling Shopping and Fittings

Organize a shopping day or a series of days to try on dresses. This can be a wonderful bonding experience for the entire bridal party. Many bridal shops offer group appointments, making it a special and memorable outing. During these sessions, encourage your bridesmaids to try on various styles and shades. Seeing the dresses in person and on different body types can significantly influence your final decision.

When the dresses are chosen, the next step is to schedule fittings. The first fitting should be about four to five months before the wedding, especially if substantial alterations are needed. This timing allows for careful tailoring and any unexpected adjustments.

Alterations are a critical part of the fitting process. Even off-the-rack dresses often require some tweaks to achieve the perfect fit. It’s advisable to use a professional seamstress familiar with altering formalwear. They can make adjustments such as hemming the length, taking in or letting out sides, and adjusting straps.

The Final Fitting

The final fitting, ideally scheduled about one month before the wedding, is crucial. This is when bridesmaids try on their fully altered dresses to ensure a perfect fit. It’s also an opportunity to finalize the details: choosing the right undergarments, accessories, and shoes, and making sure each bridesmaid is comfortable with her look.

Dealing with Last-Minute Challenges

Despite the best planning, last-minute challenges can arise. A bridesmaid might need an unexpected alteration, or there could be a minor dress mishap. It’s important to stay calm and solution-focused. Having a trusted seamstress on standby or a bridal emergency kit can be a lifesaver in these situations.

Creating Lasting Memories

Throughout the selection and fitting process, remember to capture these moments. Taking photos, celebrating each step, and sharing in the excitement builds memories that extend far beyond the wedding day. This journey is about celebrating friendships and the role your bridesmaids play in your life.

The Role of Professional Consultants

Leveraging the expertise of bridal consultants can significantly ease the process. These professionals can offer valuable advice on styles, fits, and coordination with the wedding theme. They can also help manage the ordering process, ensuring dresses arrive and are altered on time.


In summary, the journey of selecting bridesmaid dresses is an integral and delightful part of wedding planning. Starting the process six to eight months before your wedding allows ample time for choosing the perfect dresses, accommodating alterations, and ensuring that each bridesmaid feels comfortable and beautiful. This timeline respects the myriad of factors influencing dress selection – from the style and complexity of the dresses to the logistics of coordinating with a potentially diverse bridal party. Most importantly, it ensures that these cherished members of your wedding party are adorned in a way that complements your vision for the day.

Remember, the process of choosing bridesmaid dresses is more than a task to be checked off; it’s an opportunity to create lasting memories with your closest friends and family. By planning thoughtfully and starting early, you can navigate this aspect of wedding preparation with joy and ease, contributing to the creation of a day that is as seamless as it is memorable.

In the end, each decision you make in planning your wedding, including the choice of bridesmaid dresses, weaves together to create a celebration that reflects your love, your dreams, and the shared joy of those who surround you on this special day.

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