Everything You Need To Know About Ordering A Wedding Dress During COVID-19

Every bride dreams of the moment she’ll step onto that pedestal at the bridal salon, tears in her eyes, as she tells her friends and family this is the dress. Unfortunately, with everything going on, that’s not a possibility right now—at least not in person. On the bright side, at least we don’t have to go hunting through racks and deal with bridal entourages who feel a little too comfortable speaking their minds, but in all seriousness, it sucks not having the wedding experience you’d been planning out since you were little. But just because you can’t step foot into the bridal boutique you’ve been stalking since before you got engaged, doesn’t mean you’re going to have to get married in your pajamas. (Unless you want to, in which case, respect.) In light of lockdowns and social distancing orders, many bridal companies are now offering virtual bridal appointments. Here’s everything you need to know about ordering a dress during the pandemic.

Speak To A Stylist

At the very least, now you have extra time to scour Pinterest and bridal sites to really pinpoint your preferred style and silhouette. Tara Healy, Co-Founder of LA-based bridal brand Tara Lauren, says brides-to-be should “take advantage of all of the extra downtime at home to sit with a bridal stylist, chat about your personal style and gather ideas on what you’re liking.” She adds, “Even if you’re not 100% comfortable with making your purchase remotely, it will give you a much clearer idea of what you’re leaning towards so that when you’re ready for that in person appointment you have your top picks ready to go and a clear plan.” So don’t worry about your screen time usage increasing 150%, since it’s all in the name of research.

Set Up A Virtual Appointment

wedding dress shopping

If your wedding is coming up later in the year or next year, you can still purchase a dress even though bridal boutiques in your state may not be open, as many shops are offering virtual consultations. Bridal retailer Brideside launched virtual styling appointments for bridal parties, allowing clients to video chat with a stylist to look at swatches, see gowns, go over mood boards, and discuss fit.

At Lovely Bride, a bridal shop open in 18 cities around the country, virtual appointments kick off with a mood board, and although trying on dresses in-person isn’t possible right now, founder Lanie List says, “if a bride is on a tight timeline, we can ship her the #1 pick on her wishlist. That way she can make the decision without the stress of long gown lead-times.” It may not be the picture-perfect moment you had envisioned, but companies are devising ways to find you your dress and retain as much of the in-person experience as possible.

Know Your Options

The biggest overarching theme here is that brands and vendors completely understand that nothing is business as usual anymore, and are adjusting their policies to account for all the chaos. For example, Birdy Grey, a direct-to-customer bridesmaid dress brand, has extended their return policy until the end of May for their brides. They’re also offering free color swatches delivered straight to your door to help choose color palettes. Brideside will also send color swatches to all clients who book a virtual styling appointment at least five days in advance. Lee says that, “Unlike most bridal brands that are made-to-order, we hold inventory, so our dresses are in-stock and ready to ship,” adding, “Thankfully, we haven’t experienced any COVID19-related disruption to our shipping lead times, so all of our bridesmaid dresses deliver in 10 days (or less!) worldwide.” 

Try On At Home

wedding dress

This should come as a surprise to no one, but many bridal brands and stores are now offering try-at-home options. Grace and Ivory, an online ecommerce bridal brand, launched a try-at-home program “so brides have another option when shopping for their wedding dresses,” says Founder and Creative Director Tina Wong Zysk. For $25, you just pick your style and size range and the gown comes with clips, measuring tape, a try-at-home guide, and a prepaid return shipping label when you’re ready to send it back. If you love the dress and decide to purchase it, Zysk says, “we follow up for measurements and custom options and your dress will be crafted and delivered in just 3 to 4 months.” Keep this timeline in mind when ordering your gown. She advises “that you order 5-6 months before your wedding so we can ensure you have the dress 6-8 weeks before your big day.”

If You Already Ordered A Dress Before COVID-19

If your dress is delayed due to COVID-19 and you’re worried it won’t get to you in time for your big day, don’t worry. Bridal companies are going above and beyond to accommodate brides who are in need of wedding attire in the next few months. The first thing you need to do is review the shop’s policies, as many are likely to have systems in place for these types of situations. If not, due to the crisis, bridal companies are more likely to work with each client on a case-by-case basis. If you have a wedding planner, definitely reach out as they are more likely to have the resources and contacts to help you in this scenario.

Jeannette Tavares, Principal and lead wedding planner of premier event planning company EVOKE Design and Creative, says planners are going above and beyond for their brides, working with their industry contacts and “accessing floor samples, rushed alterations, borrowed gowns and more.” If your dress will not be coming in time for your wedding day due to issues caused by COVID-19, Tavares proposes, “Reach out to family and friends that have their wedding dresses in boxes and ask them to pull them out just for you!” It might be even more special that way. She adds, “Once you receive them, set up virtual try-on sessions with everyone (a fun way to include everyone that has come to help you).” If borrowing a dress isn’t something you want for your special day, or none seem to fit, Jeannette recommends getting family and friends together to help you create your own dress. If you have the time during quarantine, how special would that be? Tavares suggests “find[ing] someone who can sew and create your own beautiful gown. There is something pretty special about a ‘something borrowed’ wedding dress.”

wedding dress

If there is no way your dream dress will come to you in time, take the time you need to mourn. While this isn’t ideal and we know you were beyond excited for that dress, there are alternatives you can look into. One option is BHLDN, an online and in-store wedding shop by Anthropologie. For brides in a time crunch and who need their dress ASAP, or their dress is delayed and will not come in time, BHLDN offers an entire collection of last-minute wedding dresses that are ready to be shipped. Each dress offers a detailed style guide as well as an option to speak with a stylist to help find your perfect size. In addition, the site offers a style guide video explaining exactly how to measure yourself for their dresses. All you need is a measuring tape. The dresses are guaranteed to ship to you within 24 hours and they do offer an express overnight option. You can wipe the sweat off your forehead now. Phew. 

Above all, Shelley Brown, Senior Fashion & Beauty editor at The Knot, says, “The most important thing to remember during these unprecedented times is that communication is key. If you’re just beginning the shopping process, contact your local bridal salon to see what options they have available. Local bridal salons are doing everything in their power to continue supporting brides during this time, from hosting virtual consultations to sending dress samples for at-home try ons. If you’ve already ordered your dress, check in with your salon regarding arrival date and inquire about options for alterations during this time.” You’re not going to be left hanging, so just reach out and ask.

Images: Jonathan Borba, Charisse Kenion, Tron Le, James Bold / Unsplash

Claire Brodsky
Claire Brodsky
Claire is a multifaceted creative who combines the best of editorial and visuals to produce engaging content. She has been writing and creating in the fashion and media space since 2019. Previously a digital designer at Cosmopolitan Magazine, she is currently a graphic designer at Coach, content creator, and freelance writer published in Cosmopolitan, Betches, and Byrdie.