If you’re planning a wedding during COVID-19, then you know how hard, well, planning a wedding during COVID is! With venues closing and head counts being limited, you may have tied the knot with a small group of friends and family via livestream or postponed your nuptials altogether. Whether you were married on time or pushed your vows out a few months, you’ll still need a wedding dress. But much like venues closing, many dress boutiques and stores are closed, too. Thankfully, the wedding industry is flexible and resilient and has an easy solution to your wedding dress woes: trying on wedding dresses at home.
No, you may not get the Hollywood version of champagne, luxury couches, and your own runway. But you can still find the dress of your dreams with your friends and family safely watching. Under pre-2020 circumstances, we recommended ordering your wedding dress no later than six months before your big day. And that didn’t include shopping—so add on a few months to start your browsing. Now, we recommend 8+ months, depending on how custom your dress is.
If you want a more specific timeline for your area, we suggest calling the nearby shops that you plan to virtually visit. Ask them what their wait times are for both an appointment and delivery. If the wait times are long, you may want to start shopping sooner. And even if they’re not, it’s never too early to try on wedding dresses at home! After all, you’ll need the dress eventually.
1) Get Inspiration Online
The first step to wedding dress shopping is figuring out what your options are. Yes, this is true even if you’re trying on wedding dresses at home! Of course, you don’t have to choose exactly what you want—you might not even know until you try. But it’s important to have a starting point before your virtual appointment. That way, you can give a little direction to your attendants and narrow down your options.
For example, you should know the strap styles, dress color, and type of skirt you’d like to try. Do you want a simple dress will minimal detailing? Or are you drawn to lots of tulle and beading? Will you need long sleeve for a winter wedding or backless for summertime? All these details will help the attendants choose the right dresses from their inventory.
2) Book a Virtual Appointment
Once you have an idea for your dream dress, it’s time to book an appointment. Don’t worry—you can still browse after you’ve booked! But you shouldn’t make an appointment until you know your style. Most virtual appointments start with a chat about the overall vision for your big day. The attendant will want to know the theme of your day and if you’ve chosen a venue. After all, they don’t want to pick out a modern dress for your rustic wedding!
Then, you’ll virtually walk through the store via webcam. Each shop will use their own platform, so be sure to test it out before your appointment! You may be able to have a friend or family member on the call with you—but ask ahead just to be safe. You don’t need to invite all the gal pals to this one, because you won’t be trying anything on. Instead, you’ll just be choosing some dresses for pickup or shipment.
3) Schedule Curbside Pickup
After your virtual appointment, it’s time to get the dresses! If you choose to have them shipped, you’ll have to wait of course. But some boutiques and stores are offering curbside pickup. With this option, you order your items through the store, and those items are either brought to your car or you can pop into the store to pick them up.
Depending on the items and the store, you may have to pay up front or put a deposit down, so be sure to check the policy ahead of time! And if you had them shipped, you’ll likely have to pay for shipping costs. Often, the shipping costs or deposits are applied to any dress that you buy. Again, this will all be covered in your virtual appointment—so bring those questions, too!
4) Invite Your Gal Pals
Once you have the dresses, it’s time to try them on! Of course, you’re trying on wedding dresses at home because you want to be safe, so don’t invite too many people. If you have a bubble of friends and family that you’ve been seeing occasionally, it’s OK to invite some of them. But don’t be afraid to include some people via video chat.
Don’t be afraid to pop some bubbly, either! Maybe you can’t sit on velvet couches or walk down runways, but you can still sip some champagne and make an afternoon of it. For those friends joining via computer, send them a little bubbly or a few dollars to buy a bottle for themselves. (You can’t mail alcohol yourself, but you can order it online and have it shipped to them.) Just make sure everyone introduces themselves before you begin!
5) Ask About Summer Schedules
Trying on wedding dresses at home is great solution when shops are closed and you want to be safe. But many experts are optimistic about the later half of 2021—even as early as late summer. So if you tried dresses at home, but didn’t find the perfect fit, you may want to wait it out. (If you have time!) Some stores may be opening back up later in the year, and in-person appointments may be available again soon-ish.
If you’re eager or open to in-store appointments, give your local boutique a call. You can always schedule a virtual appointment or curbside pickup if they aren’t sure about future plans. One thing is for sure, though: Don’t wait! Plenty of couples are eager to have a more normal wedding planning process, so any in-person appointments will book fast—most likely months out! So, give that store a ring.
6) Consider the Non-Traditional Route
If you’re already planning on trying wedding dresses at home, why not consider a non-traditional route? Buying a secondhand wedding dress or renting a wedding dress are two great ways to save some money—or afford your dream dress. Because you’re not paying top-dollar, your budget goes farther. Plus, you’ll be able to add a sustainable element to your special day. And of course, most companies will let you try on the dresses before committing!
Trying on wedding dresses at home isn’t the traditional way to shop. But right now, it’s the safe and simple way! If you’re unsure, call around your local shops. Ask them what they’re doing and how they can help make your dress shopping experience fun and easy. And if you can manage to wait just a little bit longer, you may even have more freedom later this year!
Have you tried on wedding dresses at home? How was that experience for you?