The search for the perfect wedding gown is equally exciting and daunting. For most of us this is the first and only time we’ll be looking for a wedding gown, and it’s certainly not the same as choosing an outfit for a night out on the town. Shopping for a wedding gown is one of the most important and memorable purchasing decisions you will ever make; on one hand, the process can be an amazing and exciting experience; on the other hand, it may also be a little stressful for obvious reasons. Most brides don’t have a clue that they need to order their special dress far in advance of the big day! Here are a few helpful shopping tips to avoid undue stress:



How far in advance of my wedding should I order my gown?

You should order your wedding gown between six and nine months before your wedding. It is not unusual for some brides to order their wedding gown a whole year in advance—this gives you ample time to make all the other selections that revolve around the wedding gown.


How long does it actually take for a wedding gown to arrive from designer/manufacturer to salon?

The normal period for a wedding gown to arrive in the salon is twelve to sixteen weeks. Most often, gowns take the full sixteen weeks to actually be made. Therefore, you must allow time on top of that for shipping and for alterations. The actual length of time it takes depends on the designer. If they have your size in stock, the manufacturer usually ships the dress within four weeks. If there is a special request involved, such as changes to a couture gown, this process could take up to six months to a year.



How long does it take for my wedding gown alterations?

Typical wedding gown alterations take between six and eight weeks. You should allow a minimum of eight weeks during the busy summer months when the seamstresses are working on a number of gowns. Ultimately, you may be able to have your gown altered in less time but you should always allow six to eight weeks as a minimum.

My wedding is in four months and I was offered a “rush cut”.  What is a ‘rush’ cut?

A “rush” cut means that your wedding gown will be manufactured in a shorter time frame than a normal wedding gown. The manufacturer prioritizes your gown ahead of general deliveries to get it to you on time. Typically, you will pay a premium for a “rush” cut and you are paying it as a penalty payment in order for the manufacturer to rush your dress through as a priority. It will vary from one designer to another, but depends on how quickly your dress needs to be made. Fabrics are not typically affected, but some features like beading and embroidery may be limited.

What are the benefits of ordering my wedding dress so far in advance?

There are many advantages in ordering your gown far in advance of your wedding. Typically, the gown is the most important item that you have to purchase for your wedding and may be the focal point of your big day—apart from your venue. It may help you make a lot of other decisions including the rest of your bridal party, your tuxedos, your bridesmaids, the mothers and groom’s outfits—as these can all revolve around the wedding gown. It will also help you choose your flowers and your linens.



Why is the size of my wedding dress bigger than my regular dress size?

Once the gown is selected, measurements are taken and the size closest to your measurements based on the size chart provided by the manufacturer is ordered. If you are a size ten bust and a size six waist, generally the store will order a size ten and take in the waist during alterations. Since bridal gowns tend to run small in general, taking your measurements is the most accurate way to ensure the best possible fit. In most cases, alterations will be necessary.



Can you buy gowns off the rack?

Absolutely. Ask the salon if they have any “Sample sale” gown available for sale. Most brides special order their gown because shop inventory consists of sample dresses. Size options may be limited and gowns are sold “as is” when purchasing a sample sale gown!

Finally, be prepared, give yourself time, educate yourself on the process and you will be saved from spending unnecessary dollars and best of all spared from unnecessary stress! No matter what, never settle for less than the best; remember that you have options. No matter what your budget or your time constraints, you deserve the best on this special day where everyone that knows you and loves you will see you while you are alive! Have a fantastic wedding day!

Paulette Cleghorn

Principal, Designer Loft Productions
Partner, Designer Loft Bridal Salon, NYC
Creative Director, North America – Yumi Katsura Couture
Creative Director, Disney Forever Enchanted, Disney Royal Ball

Paulette Cleghorn is a co-founder/partner of Designer Loft: A bustling New York City Bridal salon featuring today’s top and emerging bridal designers with gowns reflecting a variety of tastes, sizes and styles, created to celebrate the diversity of every bride. She also serves as the founder and CEO of Designer Loft Productions – a NYC based brand building, product development and strategic alliance business. Ms. Cleghorn also serves in the capacity of creative director for Disney Forever Enchanted Special occasions collection as well as Disney Royal Ball – a princess inspired collection designed for young Latinas celebrating their Quinceañera. In addition, she is the current creative director for Yumi Katsura Couture since 2010 and previously as Head of Strategic Alliances and North American expansion to the legendary designer since 2007. Katsura is one of Japan’s and the world’s most prolific design houses, whose wedding dresses and couture creations are considered modern masterpieces.

Successfully launching over 350 products to the North American market – from cosmetics and electronics to jewelry, dolls and denim, Cleghorn is known for her no-nonsense approach, as well as her expert execution and ability to effectively assess, direct and build brands. Charged with creating and marketing the first bridal collection for the Disney brand, she was able to break industry sales, brand expansion and product placement records in one season.

For the past eight years, DLPR has showcased Paulette’s unique brand of high-energy personality, charisma and image. With a background that spans the range of cosmetics, fashion, governmental, non-profit work, and public relations, Paulette has created a niche for herself and her respective companies that is founded on her ability to set and seek industry trends, combined with an acute sense of how to communicate them, market them and sell them. Before entering the world of fashion, Ms. Cleghorn served as Director of Product and Media Relations for the British based billion dollar cosmetics company –The Body Shop and was the US spokesperson for dynamic company founder, Anita Roddick.

Ms. Cleghorn has also served as guest lecturer on topics from advertising to body image and skin care at prestigious institutions such as Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and FIT/Fashion Institute of Technology. DLPR brands have been featured in all major publications globally, as well as on mainstream media and a wide array of television programs. Ms. Cleghorn has been interviewed extensively and has appeared on many shows on such networks as NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News.

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