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The Ultimate Bridesmaid Dress Timeline

Bridesmaids in black dresses

Photo: Bella DC / Anna Smith

You’ve locked down your wedding date, secured your venue, and chosen your band. Congratulations! Some of the most important parts of wedding planning are behind you! 

But, as you already know, there’s still a lot to do, including bridesmaid dress shopping! 

And one of the many details that can sneak up on you is shopping for and ordering your bridesmaid dresses on time.

Not sure when to start shopping? Wondering when you need to place your dress orders?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with our ultimate bridesmaid dress timeline.

Order Your Wedding Dress First

Bridesmaids in blue dresses with bride in white dressPhoto: Bella NOLA / The Rylands Photo Co.

The first thing that most brides do when wedding planning is to go on the hunt for THE DRESS. And with so many wedding gowns to choose from, you have to get that ball rolling early in the process. 

Before you even start thinking about bridesmaid dresses, you need to order your own bridal gown. You can start shopping as early as you want, but to be safe, it’s best to order your wedding gown at least nine months in advance of the big day. If you’re having a custom gown made for you, order it a year ahead of time.

This is super important because you’ll need to know what you’re going to wear so that you can choose bridesmaid dresses to complement your look. Your wedding dress will set the tone and the vibe for the entire celebration, and you’ll want your bridesmaids dresses to give off a similar vibe and sense of formality.

Talk to Your Bridesmaids About Their Budget

After you wrap up your bridal gown decision, have a conversation with your besties so that you can all agree on a fair price point for their dresses. If you intend to have flower girls in your wedding party, have a similar conversation with their moms or dads so you’re all on the same page. 

There are dozens of bridal designers that make both affordable dresses and more extravagant designs. You can save yourself some stress by knowing how much your bridesmaids are willing to spend before you set your heart on any specific dresses.

When to Start Shopping for Bridesmaid Dresses

Bridesmaids in mauve dressesPhoto: Bella Memphis / Taylor Square Photography

With your gown ordered, it’s time to start shopping for bridesmaid dresses. About eight months before the wedding, start gathering inspiration, browsing bridal shops in person and online, and narrowing down the dress styles you like.

Whether you want your girls to channel romantic vibes in chiffon or go super glam in sequins, this is the time to hone in on your official wedding style. It’s also the time to decide if you want your girls to wear the same look or if you want each one to wear a different dress.

The more bridesmaids you intend to have, the more complicated the shopping process can be. Whether you’re having four or fourteen girls walk down the aisle, it’s best to start shopping with one or two key decision makers to help you narrow down your vision.

Once you’ve chosen a few potential styles that you love, gather all of your girls together for a fun shopping experience followed by a mid-day brunch or a night out on the town!

Choosing a Dress for Out of Town Bridesmaids 

Have a bridesmaid out of town that can’t be with you to shop in person? 

Bella Bridesmaids shops are located around the country, so send your out-of-state ‘maid to her local Bella shop for a complimentary fitting.

If any of your bridesmaids don’t live near a Bella, don’t worry! They can have their measurements taken by a local tailor or dry cleaner, then you can connect them with your Bella stylist for a virtual fitting.

And if they can’t get to a local tailor or dry cleaner, they can take their own measurements. It’s a lot easier than it sounds — just send them our How to Take Your Measurements video!

When to Order Bridesmaid Dresses

Bridesmaids in emerald dressesPhoto: Bella Philly / Stephania Campos

About six months before the wedding, you’ll need to make a final decision on the bridesmaid dress (or dresses) that you want your girls to wear. It usually takes between two and three months for dresses to arrive, so you need to leave enough time for alterations.

Whether they’re wearing the same dress or different styles in the same color palette, be sure to order all of your bridesmaid dresses at the same time. That way, you’ll know that all of the fabric for all of your dresses will be in the same dye lot. If you order your dresses at different times, you run the risk of colors not being a perfect match.

Shop our bridesmaid dress collection online:

Bridesmaid Dresses | Junior Bridesmaid Dresses | Flower Girl Dresses

When to Order Your Shoes and Undergarments

Bridesmaids in tan dressesPhoto: Bella Greenville / Gabrielle Grace

About four to six weeks after ordering your dresses, make sure your bridesmaids order their shoes and undergarments as well. This is usually plenty of time to receive those items in advance of the first fitting.

Why is this so important?

Because they’ll need their shoes, bra, and undies for their first fitting in order to get the bust measurements and hem length just right.

If you’re having your bridesmaids wear strapless necklines, stress that they need to wear strapless bras. Those bras with clear straps just don’t cut it for a wedding!

When to Have Your First Fitting

Regardless of their body types, all of your bridesmaids should expect to have alterations (and to pay for those alterations). No matter shape or body type, almost every dress will require alterations to some extent.

We recommend trying the dress on as soon as it arrives to be sure there are no major surprises. If you need standard alterations, schedule your first fitting at least four to six weeks before the wedding.

If you need more complicated alterations, book your first fitting even further in advance. Be sure to call ahead and make sure that your timeline fits with your tailor’s schedule!

Further Reading: Bridesmaid Shopping Etiquette Guide

When to Have Your Final Fitting

Bridesmaids in light pink dressesPhoto: Bella Atlanta / Joel + Sammy Kuhn

Set up your final fitting about one month before the wedding. Do not wait until the last minute! 

This is even more important if you’re getting married during the height of wedding and prom season. Seamstresses are super busy and tend to book appointments far in advance from late spring to October.

The only exception to this step in the timeline is if you have a pregnant bridesmaid. If her belly is still growing, she’ll want to do her final fitting as close to the wedding day as possible. 

Check out our selection of maternity bridesmaid dresses!

Try on Your Dress a Few Days Before the Wedding

It’s always a good idea to try on the dress a few days before the wedding. Do not wait until the morning of! With a few days advance notice, you can rush to a seamstress for some last-minute alterations if absolutely necessary. 

Shopping for bridesmaid dresses should be a fun, memorable experience!

If you stick to this timeline, you’ll give yourself plenty of wiggle room for delays in shipping and other unforeseen circumstances. With proper planning, shopping for and buying bridesmaid dresses can be totally stress free.

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