Everything You Need To Know About Wedding Dress Shopping At Home

advice wedding dress shopping at home from The Garter Girl

You can’t get to your wedding dress shop in person to try on wedding dresses. What should you do? Maybe you can’t get to the store to try on a wedding dress to see which one (or ones!) you like best. Maybe the dress shop that has the dress that you really want to try on is closed. Maybe your friends and family can’t be there with you, so it is easier to have a video call with them to try on dresses at home. 

Is your wedding dress shop closed, but you need to order your wedding dress sooner rather than later, because your wedding is coming up? If you find yourself in this situation, time is ticking and you need to order your wedding dress, you are in for a treat today because in this wedding planning advice post, I’m giving you my best tips for what to do when the bridal dress boutiques are closed and how to try on wedding dresses at home.

This is hopefully everything you need to know about wedding dress shopping at home. Say yes to the dress at home on your time! 

bride getting dressed - tips about trying wedding dresses on at home from The Garter Girl

Photo credit: Amanda Adams Photography

There are lots of reasons why you can’t get to the store in person to try on wedding dresses to see what styles look good on you, or what you like the best. Maybe you want to make it a fun experience with your bridal party on a video call, because everyone can’t get together.

Don’t worry, I’ve got lots of fun tips for wedding dress shopping at home for you today!

Don’t Buy An Online Knockoff

Before we get into the tips about wedding dress shopping at home, I do need to give you a little PSA about the importance of trying on dresses before you buy and the danger of buying online knockoff wedding dresses. 

I won’t go into it too much here because buying knockoff or fast fashion wedding dresses online is certainly another topic for another day. Just know that it isn’t good. It isn’t good for you or your wallet, it isn’t good for our environment, it isn’t good for the locations and people where these knock off dresses are being made, and it isn’t good for the wedding dress designers and bridal store owners who are mostly small, independent businesses.   

I know it is tempting to buy sight-unseen from the gorgeous pictures online or be tempted by the extremely low price tag of a wedding dress online that you aren’t able to try on. But, this is a mistake. Every bride I’ve talked to, and there have been many, has been extremely disappointed with wedding dresses from fast fashion online and knock off websites. Most have ended up having to purchase another gown that they were able to try on in person. Suffice to say: If it seems too good to be true, it is. Don’t be fooled. 

What Is Wedding Dress Shopping At Home 

Let me be clear. This is not a post about buying a wedding dress online that uses fake photos, or one or two random pictures, or stolen photos and then produces the dress when you order it and you can't return it as I mentioned above.

In today’s post, when I refer to wedding dress shopping at home, I’m talking about ordering several wedding dresses from a physical bridal dress boutique, or a known wedding dress designer. Those dresses are shipped to your house or dropped off at your house, depending on your location. You are trying the dresses on at home when you can’t get to the store or showroom in person. Then you are sending the dresses back to the location after you’ve found the one that you love. 

The Importance Of Trying On Dresses

We all know it’s super important to physically try on clothes before you buy. You want to see it and touch it and feel it. We’ve all ordered a ton of clothes in various sizes or taken armfuls of styles all into the dressing room and tried on 20 different things only to end up with one. (I’m guilty!) The same is true for wedding dresses. You must try it on before you say “yes to the dress” and buy your wedding dress. 

You truly will never know what looks good on your body or feels good to you and makes you feel amazing until you try it on. Every dress designer makes dresses differently and every body type is different. You might be scrolling through wedding dress inspiration on Pinterest or looking at all of the wedding dresses on the Knot and think that you like one style or one designer. 

You search for the shop or the designer who has the dress sample that you want, and you finally get to the store to try it on. And, it looks terrible on you. Or, it doesn’t make you feel good. Maybe the waist is too high or you don’t look good in sleeves, or it is sitting funny and just plain doesn’t look good on you.

It might be a gorgeous dress and you thought it was going to be “the one,” but after you try it on, you realize it just doesn’t work for you. It happens all the time. Trust me.

Yes To The Unexpected Dress

I polled hundreds of brides who said “yes to the dress” on Instagram. (I’m @gartergirl on Instagram BTW if you want to follow along.) Right after they found their dream dress, I asked them if they got the wedding dress they thought they would or something totally different. Over 75% of brides who recently made their wedding dress purchase said that they got something totally different and unexpected. 

They chose a wedding dress that was not what they had in mind when first starting their dress shopping experience. But, of course, they all love their choice and the dress they said “yes” to! Even though they didn’t end up getting the dress they thought they would or the dress they were dreaming about since they were little, they are now obsessed with the wedding dress they did choose and are so glad that they made the change to an unexpected style. 

The point of this story is to remind you that you must try on your wedding dress before you purchase. You never know what you are going to love and not love. The only way to know for sure is to try on the dress. 

hanging wedding dress - tips about trying wedding dresses on at home from The Garter Girl

Photo credit: Amanda Adams Photography

Samples & Ready-To-Wear

First things first, when you are wedding dress shopping at home, make sure that you check the policies and procedures of dress shop that you are working with. Make sure that you fully understand the type and style dresses that are being sent to you and you understand how their system works.

What are the dresses that they are sending you? Are they the off-the-rack, ready-to-wear dresses and if you find one that you like, you can keep it (after you pay for it, of course!)? If you find the one that you love, do you keep that exact dress? Or, are these “sample” dresses, so if you find the one that you love, you send all of the dresses back that you tried on, and then you place an order for the style that you want and a new dress will be made just for you. 

Every wedding dress shop is different and has different policies about how they do their at-home wedding dress services. Make sure that you are clear on their policies and the types of dresses that you are getting.

Be Clear On The Fees

What are the costs associated with wedding dress shopping at home? Most times the dresses will be shipped to you, if so how much is shipping? If the shop is local do you and the dresses will be dropped off, is there a delivery fee? How much is return shipping when you are done with the dresses? Is there a security deposit that you need to pay? Will the deposit be returned if the dresses are unharmed? Is there a fee for the service in general?

Make sure that you are crystal clear on the fees associated with wedding dress shopping at home before you make that order to have the dresses sent to you. The last thing you want is to not budget for the fees and then be over budget and upset.

bride putting on garter - tips about trying wedding dresses on at home from The Garter Girl

Photo credit: Amanda Adams Photography

Trust Your Stylist 

You need to have an open mind about the dresses that you try on, because as I've said before, you never know what looks good on your body. However, you will need to give your bridal dress shop stylist or consultant some guidance before they send the dresses to you. Most dress shops have a limit to the number of dresses that they can send to you to try on at home at one time. Maybe it is 3, maybe it is 5 - each shop is different. 

Ask your dress shop for their recommendations for dresses that they would suggest for you. Tell them what you like and don’t like, tell them your size (Not the size you hope to be on your wedding day. Tell them the size you are right now), tell them what designs and styles tend to look the best on you everyday, tell them the wedding dresses that you’ve seen online that you think you like. 

Most of all, be open to their suggestions. They are experts and they know these wedding dresses and the dress designers. They know how the dresses fit a body and how a dress looks on a real person and what designers are good for certain body types.

A wedding dress hanging on a hanger or on a model on Pinterest, looks quite different when you put it on a real person, like you. And, no one knows this better than a dress shop stylist or consultant. So, trust their experience.

VIDEO:  Dress Shopping At Home Tips 

Some of you like to watch your advice rather than read it, I understand! On my YouTube channel, I made a video for how to shop for your wedding dress at home. Here it is...

If this video doesn't show up, click here

Get Prepped & Ready

Make sure that you get prepped and ready to try the dresses on at home. I'd recommend that you block out at least an hour, or more, if you can spare the time. It takes more time than you think to get in and out of those dresses! Plus, you'll need some time to prep and then get cleaned up with your done. Most in-store dress shopping experiences are an hour, so you should plan for that amount of time at home when you are trying on the dresses too.

If you have friends that are video calling, set a time with them and get that all set up and logged on and ready. If you need a glass of bubbles, get that popped and poured. If you have any bridal accessories already, get those and have them ready. 

I highly recommend that you save the snacks and the red wine for after you are done and the dresses are safely put away. You don’t want to risk spilling anything on the dresses or making a mess. 

If you don’t have a full length mirror or one that is easy to get to, get one and move it to where it needs to be so that you can get a good look at the dress. If you can get a second mirror or a hand held mirror, get that too so that you can see the back of the dress. 

Most times the dress shop will include little items in the box to help you try on dresses such as clips to hold the dress up. Make sure that you ask if clips are included in the box. If not, you might need to get your own clips to hold the dress up so you can get a good send of how the dress will fit you. 

You’ll want to try on dresses where there is the most possible room to move around. Wedding dresses can be bulky and awkward to get in and out of. Consider setting up a mini dressing area in your house in your living room or your bedroom where there is the most open space possible. 

When you are in the bridal dress shop, you’ll be in a cramped, tiny dressing room sometimes and then you’ll walk out into the open space with light, and the dress looks completely different in the open space.

What About Accessories

When you are trying wedding dresses on at home, you might want to have a few accessories on hand to help you complete your look. Ask the shop that you are ordering from if they also include accessory options, such as veils and sashes or belts.

If you are still looking for your bridal accessories, you might like these posts that we wrote:

Sometimes they can send you a veil that matches with the dress styles or their most popular style veils. Including those accessories will help you get a sense of how the dress will look all put together and might help you to make your decision one way or the other.

Accessories aren't a make or break for dress shopping at home. So, if you don't have them, don't stress. It's a nice to have, but not a necessity. 

Let There Be Light

It is best if you can find an open space in your house with lots of natural light to try on the wedding dresses. Maybe that’s your living room or your bedroom.

Open the windows, if you can, and look for that natural light during the day. Just having the sunshine will make such a big difference than trying the dresses in a dark room, at night or when it is rainy and cloudy. 

Ask About A Video Call Or Pictures

Some dress shops will set a time to video conference call with you during your trying on experience. If you can't video call with them, maybe you can text them pictures of how the dresses look on you.

Just like when you are in the shop for that in-person experience, they will be able to talk to you over video about the dresses, see what looks good on you and show you how to properly get the dress on and off. They know the dress styles inside and out. They will be able to guide you about how the dress fits and what can and can't be altered. 

They will be able to see what you like and don't like, so that if you need to do a second round of dresses to try on, they will have a better idea of what to send for the next try on session at home.

Be sure to ask your dress shop if they offer a time to video call with them. Your bridal shop consultant is your best resource for finding a perfect wedding dress.

How Long Can You Keep The Dresses

I know, it's sad, but you will have to return the wedding dresses. No, you can't keep them all forever and just wear them around the house or your nexy video happy hour with your girlfriends!

Depending on the dress shop that you order from, there will be differences in how long you can keep the dresses. Sometimes they will give you a week or 10 days to try them on at home and then the dresses have to go back to the store or showroom.

You can’t keep them forever.

Make sure that you order the dresses to arrive for a time that you know you are going to be home and able to find a time to try on and make a decision. 

And, when the time is up and you have to send them back, send them back. You might be charged a fee if the dresses aren’t postmarked by a certain date. 

bride w spring bridal bouquet - tips about trying wedding dresses on at home from The Garter Girl

Photo credit: Amanda Adams Photography

The Alterations

For most brides, your wedding dress will need to be altered to fit you. This is true if you purchase the exact dress that they send to you, or if you place an order for a dress after trying on a sample at home. Either way, your wedding dress will most likely need to be altered. Maybe it will need to be shortened or have the sides taken in or out, or you want to add or take away straps. There are so many ways that a wedding dress can be altered to fit you exactly as you are.

Great alterations at the key to wedding dress perfection! Do not skip or skimp on the alterations!

Most dress shops have an alterations person in-house that will work with you. Will this person come to your house after you've made your selection? Or, will you have to make a separate appointment at their location? If they don’t have an alteration expert that works at the shop, they can usually give you a list of alteration locations and you will be responsible for making your own appointment an taking care of your alterations on your own.

But, don’t forget about the wedding dress alterations. Alterations can make or break an amazing wedding dress!! 

Make It Fun

Trying wedding dresses on at home is so fun! You are comfortable in your own space and can do your own thing on your own time at your own pace. No pressure, no drama, no stress! Make the most of it and really try to enjoy it!

You might be sad because your wedding dress shop is closed and you won’t have that “yes to the dress” moment that you thought you’d have, but even at home it will still be amazing! You will still feel so excited and happy and giddy that you found your dream dress. You’ll just be less stressed, because you didn’t have to leave your house! 

If your bridal party can't come to your house in person to try on the dresses with you, consider setting up a video call (like FaceTime, Google Hangout or Zoom) with your friends and family. Set up a time to try on the dresses and let your friends and family join in the fun and give their opinion.

Make sure they get and print out my free wedding dress shopping voting cards so they can hold up their vote during the video call. Click here to get the signs for free.

Pop the bubbles and put on some music and have a good time! Take lots of selfies and boomerangs of you twirling!  Really make the effort to make it an experience for yourself. Turn off the distractions like the TV or the social media and have a good time just being in the moment right where you are. 

If you live with your fiance and you don’t want him or her to see the dress before your wedding day, send them out or or into another room. Have them put on some headphones and watch a show or something, so they can’t hear the screams of excitement when you find “the one.”


So that's it! That's everything you need to know about trying on wedding dress at home! Don't worry, saying "yes to the dress" of your dreams is easier than you think when you can't get into a dress shop in person. In no time at all, you'll be walking down the aisle in the most gorgeous wedding dress!

Remember, you can shop for bluevintageclassic and modern garter heirlooms anytime in my garter shop or get in touch with me at info@thegartergirl.com for information on custom designing a garter just for you!

If you have any more garter questions, check out my garter 101 blog series or find all of my wedding planning advice here on my blog.