There are a lot of sides to this argument.

By Jenn Sinrich
September 27, 2019
Diane Hu

Whether you've stumbled across the wedding dress of your dreams at a can't-pass-up price or know that your engagement is just weeks away, you might be eager to begin the search for (and lock down) the gown that you'll wear on the most important day of your life. But should you ever go so far as to buy a wedding dress before you actually get engaged? Opinions on this tricky topic vary.

Diane Lloyde Roth, celebrity and wedding stylist and owner of L'Armoire, considers it not only bad luck to purchase the wedding dress before getting engaged, but also just bad form. In addition to being presumptuous, you also don't know where you're going to get married or what time of year, both of which will play a large part in picking a dress. "For example, if you are getting married in the summer, you don't want to be wearing a heavy gown," she says. "Also, the style will reflect the location, whether it be a beach wedding, a formal ceremony in a church, or perhaps a more casual wedding location." Another important factor that she points out is that body size and shape as well as style changes over time, so if you're not getting married in the next calendar year, you might find yourself with a dress that's the right size and/or a style that's no longer "in."

Related: Your Ultimate Wedding Dress Checklist

Jodi R.R. Smith, owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, on the other hand, doesn't think this idea of buying a wedding dress before you get engaged is as crazy as it sounds. "Weddings can be very pricy affairs, so if you're able to find a dress you love even before the engagement is official (or even before you find your significant other!), go for it," she says. "Think about it this way: Brides who wear their mother's wedding dress technically have their dress before they have the ring, so why should this situation be any different?"

Danielle Rothweiler, owner of Rothweiler Event Design, feels that there are a few scenarios that make sense for someone to consider buying a wedding dress pre-engagement—one being if she and her other half are discussing a future engagement that happens to be quite informal, especially if the engagement period is going to be short. "Most wedding dress take nine months to one year to be ordered and then altered for the bride, so if you're talking about getting married and setting up details including the date and have limited time, you should start shopping in advance," she says.

Kimberly Lehman, wedding and event planner at Love, Laughter & Elegance, feels that the decision is really dependent on the bride herself and her unique situation. "A wedding dress is one of the most personal and expensive purchases that someone will ever make, so there are a lot of factors to take into consideration," she says.

Bottom line: What's right for you might not be right for your friend, sister or co-worker, so take the advice you're given lightly and ultimately go with your gut. If it's the dress of your dreams, why let it go to another bride?

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