No doubt, finding the perfect..

dress is pretty high on your to-do list now that you're sporting some new bling.. am I right?!

So where can you begin the search.. do you jump on the ever-growing online market? make a day plan to visit the best local spots? or search through pre-owned options.. We've photographed over 100 brides & we're here to show you a few of our favorite gowns!

But first, let's talk about HOW to begin the process!

  1. WHEN should you start?! Most likely, you'll be excited to find your gown.. so my advice - do it WHENEVER you want! Big bridal will tell you to purchase 9 months out from the big day but when it comes to weddings.. one size does not fit all. Keep in mind that big bridal shops like David's bridal, will most likely need to order your dress.. so it could take a few months to come in & another month or so for alterations (if needed). If you are able to shop "off the rack", waiting a little while could be fine too!
  2. WHERE to look?! Well lets start by talking about a few local places in Michigan. We suggest creating an appointment for anywhere you choose to shop! It will offer you a more customized experience! (In order of picture sets below!)
  3. Here in Kalamazoo, the most popular shop is Memories Bridal & Evening Wear. They have so many fabulous gowns available for purchase at a great price.. as well as mother of the bride & groom dresses! Two checks off the list! Chloe was a knockout in her gown from Memories.. we loved how perfect it fit her style at Bay Pointe Woods! Tamara chose the absolute perfect gown, with a off the shoulder style matching her fun wedding at Black Sheep Shelter.
  4. Two favorites from brides in Lansing are Fantastic Finds Bridal & Beckers Bridal Outlet. We've seen this shop pop up on planning questionnaires throughout the years and we totally love the styles! Katrina stunned in a gorgeous v-neck, sleeveless lace with a mid length lace veil at The Blue Bridge Event Center. Courtney's beautiful, detailed sleeveless dress made for some beautiful movement in her bridal photos at her wedding on private property this summer.
  5. In Middleville, brides are loving Dearly Loved Bridal, for affordable gorgeous gowns! We are swooning over how stellar Lily's gown was, in all of her bridal formal pictures at New Vintage Place!
  6. If you've followed along with our social media, I'm sure you're dying to know where Mikayla purchased her beautiful ruffled wedding dress! You'll be excited to hear that it was David's Bridal! A popular place for brides to shop. We have a few throughout our state! Mikayla added beading to the back of her dress, to truly make it her own style! The willow trees at Bear Creek Farms paired with the texture of her dress helped create unique beautiful bridal portraits!
  7. One of our most recent brides, Maranda, purchased her ball gown style dress at Bridal by Viper on the East Side. Talk about a gorgeous off the shoulder style matching her elegant wedding at Zuccaros!
  8. And.. last for now, a TON of our brides purchased from Beckers Bridal. Hailey's is one of our favorites, matching her fall wedding perfectly with a long, lace sleeve. We totally loved the vibe at Olde Mill Venue especially when she did a dress change after her first dance to a jumper! We're also loving the beautiful detailing down the sides of Taylors dress! Giving those golden hour glows a punch of detail at Sugared Lavender Barn.
  9. HOW do you find the perfect dress?! My advice, try on as many as you can in as many different styles as you can. Recently, I went dress shopping with my sister in law. We all picked 2-3 styles for her to try on giving her a ton of variety to try - which made the experience super fun for everyone involved! Keep in mind what season you will be getting married in, as a dress with long sleeves in the heat of July, may not be the best idea.
  10. HOW MUCH should I be prepared to spend on a gown? This is a great question - totally one that only you (and your parents) have the answer to. The bridal industry is a whole world of its own, with gowns to fit every budget! Establishing a budget, prior to shopping, will keep you from wasting time trying on a $4,000 gown when you have a $1500 budget. This is a must have conversation!
  11. VEILS are a great addition to most bridal gowns! Trying on a few veils during the gown search will really make you feel like a bride! Veils are a great prop on your wedding day too.. for your formal pictures, as well as for your details! Most likely the shops you try on your gown at, will also offer veils.. but there are alternatives, like using a family keepsake veil or shopping a handmade store on Etsy! Most often brides will keep their veil on through their formal pictures and remove it for the reception (all those hugs can really pull on your hair!)
  12. FITTINGS AND ALTERATIONS will most likely be needed for most brides! Alterations are an added expense so grabbing a quote from your dress shop (for in house) is a good idea to do ahead of time. Compare this price to local alterations shops in your area! During your alterations, you may ask the shop to add a bustle to your dress. When the shop teaches you about your bustle, make sure you record their instructions! Many brides do this on their phone, so they can watch it a couple times with their Maid of Honor and Mom! Knowing how to bustle, ahead of time, means you can get to your party - quicker!
  13. SHARE your dress pictures with your photographer! I personally love it when brides send us a picture of their dress.. not only is it helpful to visualize how you will look on your wedding day - but its one more opportunity for us to connect before your celebration!! (AND, if I didn't love photographing and filming weddings so much - I would totally be a wedding planner! I love ALL things wedding!!)

Love this post?! Tell us in the comments! We want to hear about your dress!

We love sharing tips, tricks, and wedding planning advice with couples on our website.. & stay tuned for our new podcast, releasing in 2023, where we chat all things wedding!