The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Wedding Dress Online

Ten Tips for Buying a Wedding Dress Online

There’s a lot of errands involved in wedding planning—visiting potential venues, meeting with caterers, florists, and more. If you’re looking for ways to cut down the time you need to spend visiting shops, consider buying your wedding dress online. It’s possible to find the perfect dress and have it delivered right to your door.

You may have seen the hype: brides-to-be finding their dream gowns online at the last minute, for an unbelievably low price. Maybe you think it’s too good to be true. Well, of course it’s easy to find disaster stories too, but with the right strategy, you too can find a great dress for a great price.

Finding the right bridal shop for you can be difficult, especially when you see a variety of reviews from previous customers that run the gamut. Remember that people are dealing with a lot as they prepare for their wedding and consider your specific needs and desires first and foremost.

With that said, here are ten tips for buying a wedding dress online that will help save you time and money as you prepare for your big day.

1. Set a Realistic Budget

You may not have a specific budget in mind before you start shopping, but once you do, be sure to consider that you’ll likely have to pay for shipping, possibly tax, and you may also need alterations. Consider the extras as you begin your browsing, and set your budget accordingly. If you have a firm $500 to spend, look for dresses under that price point so that you can factor in any extras and avoid falling for a dress that’s outside of your price range.

2. Read Verified Reviews

Online wedding boutiques, like any other shop, will of course boast that they’re the best and that their customers love them. But it’s always important to check for yourself and be cautious about a shop you haven’t patronized. Reading reviews, especially from verified buyers, will help you get a feel for the shop. Customers who had any problems will likely be vocal about them, so be sure to check out the reviews.

If customers have been scammed, they’ll post about it. Be wary of designer dresses at bargain basement prices—you may find customers have received dresses that not only aren’t designer but look nothing like the picture on the site.

On the other hand, if most reviews are positive, you’re likely to end up having a good experience. Paying attention to reviews will help you choose a reliable shop.

3. Avoid the Unknown

Stick with sites that are popular, such as ones that have been featured in major magazines. See what sites professionals are recommending. For example, Emily Newman of Once Wed Vendors recommends eBay and Craigslist, as well as the specialty sites Preowned Wedding Dresses and Weddingbee. These are places where it’s possible to find designer wedding dresses at great prices. Newman also recommends starting your shopping with an idea about the design you’re looking for, which will make it easier to narrow down the range of options and find something that suits your tastes.

Another thing to pay attention to is the payment options. If a shop requires a wire transfer or payment through a person-to-person payment service, it’s best to steer clear. Paying by credit card gives you a clear record of the payment and the fraud protection offered by your card provider. Finally, make sure there’s a contact option on the site so that you can reach them, ideally by phone or at least email.

4. Super-Cheap is Too Cheap

If you’re seeing super-cheap prices on designer dresses, you’ll probably end up being disappointed in the quality you’ll get. There are great deals out there, but you’ll be much more likely to be satisfied with your purchase if you stick with reliable sites. Don’t believe the unbelievable.

5. Check the Shop’s Policies

Make sure that the online shop you’re considering purchasing from will allow you to return the dress if necessary. You’ll also want to check their shipping policies, both to make sure the rates are reasonable and make sure that your dress will arrive in time for you to make any alterations if needed. Finally, keep in mind that sellers generally charge a restocking fee of about five percent.

6. Check Fabrics First

When you find a dress you like, be sure to check the description to see what fabrics it’s made of. If you’re not sure about the fabric listed, or even if you think you are, reach out to the shop and ask for them to send you a swatch.

Clothes often look amazing in photos but disappoint in person, so seeing and feeling the fabric can really help you make a decision. Not only do you want to look great but you want to be comfortable too. A beautiful gown that is too warm or itchy will ruin your day.

7. Take Your Time

Now is not the time for an impulse buy! Even if you love the first dress you see when you begin your search, take your time, look around, and sleep on it. Maybe you’ll still be in love with that first dress the next day—in that case, go ahead and buy it, but if you’re not sure, you’ll be glad you didn’t make that purchase right away.

8. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

Sometimes shipping can take quite a while. Be sure to check the boutique’s shipping policies and place your order with plenty of time, especially if you expect to have to have some alterations made. Buying wedding dresses online is becoming popular, so if you see the dress you know you want, it may not be available for long, so buying it as soon as you know it’s the one you want is a good idea.

9. Check Sizes Carefully

Pay attention to the size guide and measurements. While it’s possible to take in a dress that’s too big in one or more places, there’s no way to alter a dress that’s too small. If there are measurements listed, you’ll be more likely to get a good fit, but if you’re not sure, order a size up and find a good tailor. Keep in mind the shoes you’ll be wearing as well—a dress can be shortened but not lengthened.

10. Ask Questions

A wedding dress is a big purchase, and you want to be sure of what you’re getting. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the shop with any questions you have. This is especially important if you’ll be ordering a custom dress. Communication is key if you want to get the dress you’re dreaming of.

If you’re made to feel that you’re being unreasonable or it seems like no one wants to help you, it’s probably not where you want to make this important purchase.


Buying a wedding dress online is a way to get a good deal and save some time. If you do some research and make sure that you choose a reliable website with sensible shipping and return policies, as well as good customer service, you’ll be able to find something that suits your tastes and meets your budget.