Don't Leave Your Bridal Appointment Without Asking These 23 Questions First

Be sure to chat with your wedding dress consultant about these simple but essential questions.
bride laughs with bridesmaids wearing neutral and blush bridesmaid dresses
SoCal Standard,Amy Kuschel
Samantha Iacia - The Knot wedding style expert
Samantha Iacia
  • Samantha writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a speciality in wedding decor, trends, and fashion
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Samantha was a features and weddings contributor for The Baltimore Sun
  • She is based in Washington, D.C. and holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism
Updated Dec 18, 2023

Booking a bridal appointment is an exciting step towards finding the gown of your dreams. So, of course, you want to come well prepared with lots of wedding dress inspiration and a list of wedding dress questions that cover everything from costs to customizations. Not only is it a good idea to familiarize yourself with the general wedding dress shopping timeline, but knowing exactly what to ask your consultant ahead of time will help you feel less stressed in the moment when you're standing in that dressing room. Bookmark this list of wedding dress questions you need to ask before, during and after your bridal appointment to make sure everyone's on the same page and to ensure that you don't forget any important details in your search for the perfect dress. And if you're ready to book your wedding dress appointment, you can find bridal shops near you and browse through any important information the salon offers beforehand to help your prep:

In this article:

Wedding Dress Questions to Ask Before Your Appointment

Ahead of your appointment, be sure to read through any guidelines or frequently asked questions listed on the bridal boutique's website. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, reach out via email or phone to talk to an associate. Include these topics on your wedding dress shopping checklist.

Is there a cost to try on wedding dresses?

Typically, no. Many bridal salons offer free appointments, but we always recommend asking if there are any additional fees you need to be aware of, such as a no-show fee. Some salons also offer premium-paid experiences where you can reserve longer appointment times, private spaces and fun add-ons like additional drinks and snacks for you and your guests. Check out your bridal salon's website or give them a call to find out more information.

Does my wedding date affect my wedding dress shopping timeline?

Before you even set foot in the bridal salon, you should be aware of how your wedding date will affect your gown shopping experience. After you make your purchase, most gowns take four to six months to arrive and require an additional two to three months for alterations. If you're shopping close to your wedding date, you may be limited to samples or off-the-rack gowns (styles that have previously been tried on but can usually be taken home the same day). And while rush deliveries are sometimes available for an additional cost, keep in mind that smaller stores may not be able to put in last-minute orders, and designers may not always be able to accommodate your short timeline. It's always good to know your limitations up front.

Can I request a sample gown if you don't carry it in-store?

Some important backstory: Not every bridal designer's entire collection is available in every store. When a designer releases a new wedding dress collection, salon owners pick and choose the style(s) that they want to sell in their store. They purchase sample gowns of those styles from the designer at wholesale cost and use those dresses for try-ons during bridal appointments. When you find your dress after trying on the sample gowns, the salon places an order for a brand-new version of your dress based on your measurements (this is why it can take months for the dress to actually be ready!).

So why does this matter? If you're looking at a designer's website and you see a wedding dress you love, you'll want to find a salon that has the dress in-store for you to try on. If they don't, they may be able to request a sample specifically for you with enough notice.

Are any trunk shows coming up?

Unlike traditional wedding dress samples, a trunk show gives you the opportunity to try on a designer's entire collection—including dresses that may not regularly be available in the store. These events also often give you a rare opportunity to talk one-on-one with the dress designer. You can personally discuss the gown you like and any changes you may want to make to it. An added bonus: Most bridal salons will discount your purchase if you buy a gown on the spot during a designer trunk show.

What is the typical deposit on a wedding dress?

According to The Knot Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding dress in 2022 was $1,900. Regardless of what you're planning to spend on your dream gown, you can expect to pay a deposit before leaving the bridal salon. The required deposit percentage varies from shop to shop (and the final amount will depend on the price of your chosen dress), so feel free to reach out in advance to ask about their payment plan policies and what to expect when signing your wedding dress contract.

Are alterations included in the cost of my gown, and what do they average?

Wedding dress alterations are usually not included in the cost of the wedding dress, so it's important to leave some wiggle room for them when creating your wedding dress budget. This is because the cost of wedding dress alterations can vary depending on what you specifically need but they seem to run anywhere from $150 to $700 on average.

How many dress fittings can I expect before I can take my dress home?

Most custom gowns require multiple rounds of alterations, so it's important to know if your salon offers alterations in-house and if your gown will require additional fittings. This is especially true if your body changes between the time you first tried on and purchased the dress and when it arrives at the store.

Your first fitting typically takes place about two or three months before your wedding day. This is when the seamstress will handle any major alterations, like fixing the length, adjusting straps, sewing the bustle or adding hidden bra cups. You'll need one or two follow-up fittings, depending on how much you change. Your final dress fitting should take place about two weeks before your wedding—this gives you the most accurate fit while still leaving time for professional steaming or last-minute changes.

If your bridal salon doesn't offer in-house alterations, your consultant can help you locate a trusty tailor who has experience working with wedding dresses.

Wedding Dress Questions to Ask During Your Appointment

Trying on wedding dresses is an incredibly exciting experience, but it's also a major decision. Use this wedding dress questions checklist to stay calm, cool and collected while chatting with your bridal stylist during try-ons.

What dress styles do you recommend for me?

You might already have an idea of the wedding dress silhouette you want (if not, that's okay too!), but it's important to also be open to your stylist's suggestions. At the start of the appointment, your consultant will ask you about the kind of dress you're looking for, but you can also ask for their recommendations based on your dress aesthetic and wedding theme. Remember: the "best wedding dress for your body type" is a myth. So try on the different silhouettes, fabrics and styles that your stylist suggests; you never know what you might fall in love with.

Is this dress practical for my wedding?

You want your dress to look perfect, but before making your final decision, we recommend taking a few practical details into account. Ask your consultant how a potential style will affect your ability to sit, walk and use the restroom throughout the wedding day. For example, if the stylist says the gown could be restricting and you're planning to be partying on the dance floor all night long, you might want to reconsider. Other things that can influence the practicality of a certain style are the wedding dress fabric, the train length and where you're getting married.

Does this dress have a bustle or detachable elements I should know about?

It's important to know if your dress has any detachable elements, such as a cape or skirt, and if it has a bustle. A bustle helps to lift and secure your train for easier movement during the reception. This is particularly important because you will want someone to show you how to properly add or remove these elements so you can comfortably make adjustments throughout your day. If you do have detachable wedding dress elements or a bustle, we highly recommend bringing a parent, bridesmaid or trusted friend to your fittings so the stylist can show both of you how to properly take it on and off.

Can this dress be customized?

Before you make a final decision about a gown, you should know if you can change its construction, color or fabric. Case in point: Blush-colored dresses usually also come in white, so if your consultant walks into the fitting room carrying a pink ball gown that you definitely didn't ask for, don't panic. If you really don't like something about a gown, the good news is that it can probably be changed, and it doesn't hurt to ask. At the very least, it will help point the stylist in the right direction. You may be describing another dress they have in the showroom that would be perfect for you.

Can I buy the sample?

If you're on a budget and have an open mind, buying a sample dress could be a great deal. While it's true that sample wedding dresses are usually heavily discounted (giving you the chance to buy a style that would normally be out of the question), this is often because of wear and tear from people previously trying on the dress—and it may not be your exact size. Minor stains, snags and missing embellishments can often be repaired during alterations, so if the sample is in fairly good shape and fits you within three sizes, it's worth considering.

If I don't buy this dress today, how long will it be available?

After you've found "the one," you really should stop looking. But if you need some time to sleep on your decision, that's completely normal—just make sure your dress will still be available in the future. Designers discontinue styles all the time, and salons usually have very little notice. Some salons also offer incentives if you buy on your first visit. It never hurts to ask, and it might help you make up your mind by realizing that you don't want to miss out on a specific dress style.

What undergarments do you recommend with this dress?

After you've found your dress, you'll need to consider what goes under it, which can impact the overall look just as much as the gown itself. Depending on the construction of your dress, you may be able to add bra cups and boning during your fittings. What is the benefit of these alterations? They'll save you the time spent searching for the right shapewear, strapless bra or nude undergarments. You also don't need the heat or bulk of extra garments if you can avoid it.

What shoes and accessories would complement this dress?

This question gives your consultant an opportunity to style your dress in ways you might not have considered. Even if you're set against wearing a certain accessory, like a veil, it never hurts to try it on just to see how it makes you feel. They can also share ways that past brides have styled the same dress, such as wearing a certain type of wedding shoes or hairstyle, which could spark inspiration for your own big day. Our tip: The earlier you ask about accessories, the better, since more elaborate orders, like custom headpieces or sashes, take longer to arrive.

Am I missing anything?

Once you have the dress and the accessories nailed down, there might be other items you haven't thought of. Ask your consultant if you're missing any necessities, like crochet hooks for those tiny buttons down the back of the dress, or if they would recommend any fun extras that will make your wedding day even more memorable. (Who knew you'd need that monogrammed hanger for prewedding detail photos?)

Wedding Dress Questions to Ask After Your Appointment

Now, this is what they don't show you on TV. Once you've celebrated finding your dress, there are a few logistical loose ends you need to address before you sign the dotted line and hand over your credit card. These questions not only help you understand the bridal salon's payment policy but also set expectations for what you can expect when your dress arrives in the store and if anything were to change. Trust us, you'll want to screenshot these questions for later:

What if I change my mind about my dress?

If you change your mind about your dress after you place your order, it's important to know what the return policies are, if any. Wedding gowns are usually custom orders, so most stores won't give you a refund, but it's good to check. You may be able to recoup some of the cost or work out another option.

When is my balance due? Do you offer payment plans?

Each salon has a different expectation when it comes to payment, so you'll need to be clear on when the full balance of your dress is due. Some stores require a total payment up front, while others expect a deposit at the end of your appointment, with the remaining balance due when your dress arrives. Make sure you know all the details to avoid confusion—and so you can budget accordingly.

What is the expected turnaround time for my wedding dress?

The turnaround time for your dress refers to the timeframe between your bridal appointment and when you can expect to receive your gown. This timeframe can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of alterations and the availability of materials. Asking the salon about the estimated turnaround time will help you plan your wedding-related tasks, including scheduling additional fittings or alterations. As a friendly reminder, keep in mind that bridal salons generally recommend allowing ample time for the dress to be ordered, any necessary alterations to be made, and final fittings to be completed. It's important to factor in these timelines when planning your wedding timeline and ensure that you have enough time for any unforeseen delays.

How do I put on my wedding dress?

It may sound like a silly question, but if you have a dress with interior buttons, a lace-up back or an elaborate skirt that needs a bustle, you'll want to ask how to put it on properly to save time and frustration when it's showtime. Have someone who will be getting ready with you on the wedding day (like a relative or bridesmaid) with you during the fittings to take notes on how to help you get dressed.

Will the dress be steamed at pick-up?

It's an easy step to forget, but trust us, you don't want to walk down the aisle in a wrinkled gown. If your dress won't be steamed when it's ready for pick-up, bring a steamer on your wedding day or ask if your venue is able to provide one (they might have a steamer on hand in the dressing suites). If you're having the dress altered by a seamstress who operates separately from your bridal salon, you should also ask if your dress will be steamed or pressed ahead of time.

What's the best way for me to transport and store my gown?

Your dress will most likely be pressed and packed when you pick it up, either from your salon or the seamstress. Once it's in your possession, you should know how to store it and transport it to your venue. If you're storing it outside of the salon, keep it in a protective opaque garment bag—not only to avoid your partner from sneaking a peek, but also to protect it from sunlight and discoloration. If you're having a destination wedding, travel with your dress in a garment bag (preferably as a carry-on, so you have it in your sight) and steam it once you arrive.

Do you offer wedding dress preservation services?

Many bridal salons offer wedding dress preservation services, which can help you keep your gown in pristine condition for years to come. Wedding dress preservation involves professionally cleaning and packaging your dress to protect it from yellowing, stains, and other damage. It's a great way to safeguard your cherished memories. Ask the salon if they provide this service or if they can recommend a trusted preservation specialist.

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