Is it too early to shop?

Like so many things that are different to each bride, so is the dress buying experience. The Knot might start barraging you with emails at the 9 month mark that you're now late picking your dress (along with the 157 other things on your list!) or maybe you're looking at 2013 or even 2014 for your wedding date. So, how do you know when it's time to start shopping?

For the standard full turn around time from try on to wear down the aisle, we recommend about 7-9 months. This includes the dress arriving, alterations, travel, and all the other little things that eat up time. So, if you fall inside that category, you're "right on schedule". But what if we've still got 2 years, or only 2 months? There are always options for a short turn around, samples, designers who can rush your dress, etc. And if you have more time than necessary, don't start shopping 'til you're ready to buy. Looking at wedding dresses for 8 months is exhausting and usually not very fun. If you're making appointments, plan on making a decision within 30 days. That should give you time to shop around, process, and go back to favorites if you need to.

So how do you know it's "too soon" to make your appointment. In general, you should be able to answer the following three questions:

1. When is your wedding? You should know what month it will be in, or at very least the season

2. Where is your wedding? Have at least a state/region in mind; "Sonoma" or "New England" is specific enough, "the Western hemisphere" still needs refining

3. What's your dress budget? If you haven't thought about/talked about what you can afford with your dress, you run the risk of falling in love with something you find out later you can't have....bad idea!

If you still have over a year, but you've got the "this is my dress feeling" by all means, check that off your list! There will be lots of other details to obsess over later. And if you've got less time than usual, don't pick a dress just because you feel pressure, there will be shorter timeline options that will always work. In general, you have to do what's right for you, but by knowing how long the process takes, being prepared with the right info, and having a goal in mind to prevent compulsive over-shopping, you'll put yourself in the best possible place to make your decision!