The New Norm of Shopping for Your Dream Wedding Dress

The new normal of social distancing, isolation, inconvenience and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic have ushered into plans for the future as couples reconsider their wedding plans: how to coordinate, downsize considerations, and plans for postponing.

As brides reschedule their weddings for 2021 (and even into 2022), shopping for and fitting their wedding dress is another challenge they face. Unlike ring shopping, where you can check ring size charts online, in-store appointments and hands-on fittings are the norms of bridal gown shopping – which is limited now due to social distancing measures.

Navigating these challenges, both logistical and emotional, only adds to the anxiety and stress brides-to-be feel when planning for their special (and fashion-forward) day.

If you are a bride-to-be during COVID-19 and planning for your dream dress, think of the time you spend at home as the space needed to strategically organize. Whether you’re looking to fit a gown, adjust your wedding looks to a newly postponed date or postpone a fitting to a later date, planning is still essential.

2020 Wedding: Now is the Time to Decide

COVID-19’s isolation measures hit just as the window for a bridal dress fitting and shopping for September and October 2020 was starting to close. Prior to the pandemic, ordering your gown no later than six to seven months (before your wedding date) was the industry-standard process. Naturally, the pre-pandemic timeline was flexible and there are always exceptions to the rule.

Some gowns could skirt rush fees if you order within five months, while some overseas designers required more time to meet their deadlines.

Also, haute couture and custom bridal gowns required more time, given the number of style decisions and the multiple trips brides had to make to the atelier.

The current health crisis, however, has thrown a wrench into the norm of wedding gown shopping and fitting. Appointments are on hold and so are gown productions nationwide. Bridal stores are planning for their re-openings with social distancing in mind and designers are planning for the coming months and the year ahead.

Since stores are reopening, now is the time to do your research and make a decision. Use your time in quarantine to reflect and determine what you’re looking for in a wedding gown. Whose opinions matter in this process? Try to trim your entourage as a way to avoid confusion during shopping; fewer people in your wedding party also means keeping to social distancing measures.

How to Decide On Your Own

A good way to choose the perfect dress is to sometimes trust yourself.

When deciding on your dress, think of a time when you dressed up and felt your best. Understand why you felt that way and apply those notes to your shopping process. Also, welcome the idea that what you love in your wedding dress may be drastically different from your everyday style preferences.

Self-assurance will serve you well once stores and ateliers welcome you to their shop again. Given social distancing measures, however, expect the shopping process to change. So you’ll want to simplify your choice and shorten your shopping; go for a simpler gown.

Simpler gowns reflect the high-end style. Shop for dresses with dramatic draping, details, structure, interesting silhouettes and necklines. Focus less on lace, beading and embroideries. No matter what you decide, one thing is for sure: decisive women will win in the game of shopping for their wedding dress in the midst of COVID-19.

Gone are the days of trying more than a hundred dresses before you find the one, as is revisiting your favorite shops to see your top choices. All you can do right now is to stay home and decide on your dress.

Virtual is the New Normal, for Now

If you’ve already shopped aroundfor dresses, have your measurements on hand and are ready to make a purchase, get in touch with your designer or consultant whether your timeline is feasible for them to accommodate. Remember: labor and time, not money, are the common reasons for delays. Budgeting, however, comes into play when you work with brands that are in other countries.

American shops and labels are adapting to social distancing measures by offering virtual try-on sessions. Some boutiques also allow their brides to shop at home with wedding gown experts, guiding them via Zoom or Skype.

The pandemic may have put your wedding planning on hold, but it should not stop you from shopping for your dream dress. Use this season to weigh your optionsand relax as you plan for your wedding day while in quarantine.