Original Drawings by Catie Stricker-Howell (Catie the Sketch Lady)



The KEY to remember: If you plan ahead, you’ll stress less!




The majority of bridal gowns will take at least 4 months to come in after your order is placed IF there are no changes made to the gown (i.e. petite version, 3” or 5” shorter or longer, hollow to hem, and other custom changes). If there will be custom changes you may have to wait at least 6 months before your dress arrives. With that in mind, ideally you should start looking for your gown about 1 year in advance. You need to allow time for alterations, and depending on where you purchase your gown, you could be waiting quite a few months.


Now don’t freak out if you don’t have that kind of time. Many bridal companies are starting to offer their most popular styles with quicker delivery to help out those brides who have less time to plan. You can also ask your bridal shop if they are willing to sell their sample gown if it is the color you want and a size you can work with. Because it is a sample, they may give you a discount on the dress.




Bridesmaid dresses traditionally take 3 months to come in after your order is placed. You must leave yourself time to have the dresses altered so tack on another month. I think it is prudent to order your bridesmaid dresses about 6 months in advance. This will allow you some breathing room in case there is a fly in the ointment and you have to rectify any problems. If, for some reason, you don’t have that amount of time, some companies offer RUSH cuts so you can get the dresses in sooner. The only problem is your maids will have to pay additional Rush fees to get the dresses in.


Read more about bridesmaid dresses by clicking here.




Mothers always seem to take care of everyone except themselves, resulting in a situation where they don’t have a dress for the wedding and they have very little time. Most Mother of the Bride/Groom dresses take 3 months to come in just like the bridesmaids’ dresses, making it important for them to be looking when the bridesmaids are looking. Sometimes the reason for not buying early is that they are trying to lose weight. It is important to know that you can take a dress in easier than letting it out, so companies always recommend that you order the dress you measure for at the time of the order. You may have to take the dress in, but there is not always room to let the dress out if your plans for weight reduction fall through. This does not mean that there are not dresses available off the rack or in a ready to wear department, but searching for what you want at the last minute can be both time consuming and extremely stressful.




Children can grow so quickly that it is hard to plan too far ahead to order a flower girl dress. There are some companies that require 3 months to fill a flower girl order, but there are many others that have immediate shipping, so you can order closer to the wedding date, especially if you anticipate a growth spurt. You could also order a size larger than what she measures for and alter the dress if there was no change in size. The important thought here is to find the style and color you want before the measuring and ordering process so you’re not trying to make a decision so close to the wedding.





Tuxedos are a different kind of animal in the Bridal Kingdom. You could order a wedding party’s tuxes a few weeks before the wedding and still receive tuxes the week of your wedding. The caveat is that tuxedo companies work on a first come first served basis. So, if you have chosen a popular tuxedo and it is a busy wedding weekend, the store that orders first will have their choices filled first. This may leave you with some parts of a groomsman’s tux that may not be the correct size because their size was already fulfilled, and stock was low. Again, I feel that 6 months before the wedding is a good time to order. The groom should make an appointment with the store before he brings his groomsmen in to be measured so that all of the decisions are already made regarding the color and styles and the accessories his wishes his party to wear.


Read more about tuxedos by clicking here.





Save the Date Cards can be sent out as early as a year in advance to give your guests an adequate amount of time to make travel plans and arrange vacation time at work. Your actual invitations can be sent out 3-4 months in advance of the wedding. This will require the couple to choose their invitations and all pertinent information, order them, look at proofs, and then place the final order. This process can often take up to a month so add that to your timeline and then allow time to address the invitations and mail them. I think 6 months in advance is a good timeline to start looking and deciding on your invitations.


By Deidre Torra