I want to buy my dream wedding dress before I’m even engaged

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By: lovemaegan – CC BY 2.0
Photo by lovemaegan – Used by CC BY 2.0

I am in a very loving, long-term relationship with my partner, and marriage is most definitely on the cards in the near future. In fact, we talk about the “big party” we'll have sometime fairly frequently. We both still live with our parents (but have had some experience living together) and he plans on proposing once we buy our own house later this year, once we are officially “adults” (if there's ever such a time!).

But this isn't a story about the “if” and the “when” — I know there's no “if,” and I know the “when” is coming. We both do. This is about one of my passions — wedding planning. Particularly, the wedding dress…

I found my dream wedding dress… but I'm not engaged!

I have always been in love with love, and, as such, have always had a soft spot for weddings. For the last six years or so, I have become obsessed with wedding planning and styling.

So many ideas, so many colours, so many themes! As you can imagine, I have quite the Pinterest board as a result.

Over the years, I've collected many favourite pins and websites (including this one!) and an array of dresses.

But a year or more ago, I found “the dress.”

I know this certainly isn't a feeling everyone has, or SHOULD have, but this dress just spoke to me. I adore it. Albeit, a little traditional, but not like any other traditional dress I've seen, with enough offbeat flair to pull off as my own true style.

I was happy to stare at it every so often, but this last month, it was brought to my attention that “bridal designs” go out of style. Sell out. Taken off the floor. Gone forever. As it was a couple of years old, I was worried I'd never be able to find the design in person, when the time was right.

When the time is right.

What is that?

In a bit of a panic, I may have rang all of the listed stockists in my state to try to find if anyone had any on their floor. Only one store had one left.

And here, dear audience, is my dilemma…

I know, there are plenty of dresses out there, and there will always be another dress. But I've lusted after this baby for so long. And now, I don't know what to do next.

I really want to go try it on and even buy it if it's as dreamy as I have imagined it to be. However, I have had such mixed reactions from my dearest friends, some being very excited, and others think that I'm (endearingly) a little bit mad.

I know that this is the one I want. I've wanted it for so long. Is it really so wrong to want to go try it on?

Am I weird for wanting to buy my dream dress before I even get engaged?

Being a bit alternative and tomboyish, my friends don't really expect this from me. I also feel that there's this societal judgement of “ohh, that chick's nuts” or “what a red flag!” Why should I feel persecuted for being organised, or pursuing what I want? I can walk into an antique store and buy a gorgeous item or knickknack for my future house, but buying something for my future wedding is completely absurd?

Why do I have to sit around and wait for an engagement ring that I know is on it's way, just so that I'm “allowed” to go get my dress? It doesn't seem right that I have to potentially miss out on a dress I love just because I have to wait another 6-9 months to get a piece of bling of my finger that gives me “permission” to go for it. I'm an independent woman who knows what she wants, why should I have to wait around for that?

I would LOVE some advice from you all, has anyone else ended up buying a wedding dress before getting engaged?

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Comments on I want to buy my dream wedding dress before I’m even engaged

  1. I say if you know you love it, and this is the last one, go for it. You’re right there may be other dresses, but you’ll always wonder if you don’t at least go try it on. I bought a dress at a thrift store years before I got engaged – luckily it was cheap, because I ended up not loving it down the road. But at least I didn’t wish and wonder about it. And if you fall in love with a different dress later, you can always resell this one! Or you might not love it when you try it on – I thought I’d found “the one” and then hated it when I tried it on. Go try it. If you have the budget, go for it. If people are throwing shade, just don’t make it a big public announcement. Just do it. Clearly you feel strongly about this, don’t let social pressure back you down off something that will make you happy. Maybe discuss with your partner so they know it’s about the dress, not pressuring an engagement.

    • Just make sure you get it packed away to prevent any catastrophes between now and the wedding. My grandmother’s attic flooded (roof damage after a previous storm), my aunt’s dress even wrapped in plastic was damaged.

    • “I bought a dress at a thrift store years before I got engaged – luckily it was cheap, because I ended up not loving it down the road. ” — I did the exact same thing!! It was my dream dress at the time, but tastes change. Years later, my wedding ended up reflecting my relationship with my husband. The whole wedding probably would have looked different with a different man! You never know what your dreams will hold. 🙂

    • Thanks for the support! You’re right, I’ll always wonder about it if I don’t just go and do it. He ended up getting it out of me because I was being all secretive and weird (I’d be a terrible spy) and he knows what I’m like, and that it was about the dress and there was zero pressure on him. He told me to just go do it if it’s what I wanted to do.
      Thanks for the reminder that society sucks, and that I should do what I want!!

  2. I totally see no problem with going and trying it on! One of my good friends did this before she was officially engaged (although it was definitely in the cards that marriage was coming), loved the dress, bought it, and has no regrets. So it can definitely work out well. Maybe you’ll know it’s for you or maybe you’ll find out it doesn’t look as good in person, but you may as well go have fun trying it on. Even if you decide not to buy, it may help you figure out what you want down the road!

  3. You should absolutely go and try it on. You don’t need to bring anyone with you, or even tell anyone. The dress on you could look completely different from how you imagine and you’ll know that now. Or it is just as likely the dress of your dreams and you buy it now and you have it for when you do get married. I tried one on when I wasn’t officially engaged because I was in love and it had been difficult to track down and I wanted to see it. Unfortunately it wasn’t a great dress for my boobs, but I learned that and was able to move on without worrying.

    • At least now you know! I’d hate to spend a long time regretting never going to look at it, or missing out on even trying. Thanks for the support!

  4. I would say it depends on the price of the dress, and exactly how long you think you will be waiting for the wedding. But I gotta admit I am in the ‘wait’ column on this. Maybe it is your DREAM dress, but have you & the SO discussed wedding budgets/locations/guest lists? If you buy a dress perfect for a little chapel will you be OK wearing it if you guys decide to have a big out door party? Or if you buy the perfect beach wedding dress will you be OK if his family insists you have a ceremony in a church? Or if you get pregnant, or if you decide not to get married, how much of a disappointment it will be to have this dress you couldn’t/didn’t get to wear.
    If you’ve considered those things, I don’t think there’s any harm in trying the dress on IF you have the money for it (in case you have to purchase right away) especially if it is something you’ve had your eye on for a long time. There are places to resell online, so especially if you get a good price it could be worth it.

    • HA i guess i should have read the other comments first because i just said almost EXACTLY the same thing! great minds think alike, i suppose.

    • All awesome points! Life can change, that’s for sure. We’ve chatted a lot about ideas, budgets, etc etc. and I think an added benefit of getting it now (if I loved it) is that it’s less pressure when we’re putting deposits down on everything at once, so financially, I feel it’d be a good move (it’s not tooo pricey) and I could always resell if it didn’t work with the theme or what not. The dress would work in any environment luckily!

  5. Of course go try it on! However, I will add that I also had this experience. I had found the dress way before I was engaged and was talked out of it by my friends and family who said it was too crazy or even bad luck to buy one beforehand (even though I knew the engagement was just a matter of time, like you!). Well here I am engaged and I have a dress. I love my current dress! I feel amazing in it. Do I regret not buying that dream dress? Well, looking at it now, it would not match my current theme/feel if I had. Does that mean that had I bought the dress I would have regretted spending the money? Nah, maybe my visions would be different. I don’t know how helpful I am being, my only point really is: try it on, see how you feel, can you envision your venue and the plates and centerpieces when you wear it? Do you hear birds sing? You won’t know until you try it on. And in the most offbeat way, don’t let anyone judge you, whether you buy or not.

  6. i think the idea of not being “allowed” to look at dresses or even think about wedding plans before you’re formally engaged is pretty ridiculous. i mean, it’s a pretty major event, why wouldn’t you think about it? and there’s so much weird sexist junk connected to the idea that if a woman so much as mentions weddings without being engaged she’s suddenly super crazy and desperate. it’s all just absurd. your wedding dress is just that, a dress. it’s an article of clothing for a special event. so i absolutely think you should not feel like you are doing anything wrong for wanting to try on and possibly purchase a dress you really like.

    THAT SAID – there are actually some logistical reasons you might want to hold off. have you and your partner ever discussed your feelings about weddings? about what kind of wedding you imagine having eventually? if you buy a dream ballgown, what happens if your partner is more interested in a simple backyard wedding? if you buy something casual and beachy, what happens if a traditional church wedding starts to seem more likely? you may love the dress now, but will you love it in the context of your actual wedding? maybe now is a good time to start having these conversations with your partner. they don’t need to be firm plans, but you can still get a sense of what kind of setting feels right for you as a couple (as well as your family, friends, other potential guests). just like you shouldn’t feel prohibited from thinking about wedding plans yourself, you also shouldn’t feel afraid to talk to your partner about them, if you feel confident that you’re both on the same page about where you’re headed (and if you’re not, that’s worth talking about too).

    • I agree, there’s so much stigma surrounding basically anything wedding related before you’re engaged, with all those comments regarding craziness and desperation, god forbid I be prepared or actually like something, right!
      Great points about the logistics, and I’d definitely be more hesitant if my partner had no idea, but we actually chat about weddings fairly frequently. He’s very easy going, and is on the same page with me about a lot of my ideas which is great (and will likely save a lot of stress when the time comes!!). I even have “plan B” themes and venues and the dress in question would fit nicely there too 🙂

  7. I’m coming at this with the perspective of being a 34-year-old first-time engaged lady. From that perspective (not knowing how old you are, whether you’re in a serious relationship, or anything else about you and what the future is likely to hold), I’m not sure I’d do this.

    When I was 28, I was dating someone I was sure I’d eventually marry. I also weighed 30 pounds less than I do now, lived on the other side of the country, and was just, ultimately, a different person. I’m pretty sure that even if I could fit into a wedding dress I bought in New York City when I was 28, it probably isn’t what I would want to wear at the actual wedding I am currently planning, six years later, in Los Angeles. (Needless to say I broke up with that dude, moved to a new city, and met someone else I’m now engaged to. Seriously, six years is a long-ass time.)

    Which brings something else into it: your someday actual partner. I’m not going to pick a wedding dress with my fiance in mind, per se, but the wedding we are going to throw together is different from anything I imagined doing in the abstract, when it was just me I needed to think about. Any wedding dress I’d have shopped for as a single woman would be really, really different from the dress this specific party that we are planning together is going to require.

    TL;DR: I don’t think this is wrong from a feminist standpoint, or a romantic standpoint, or any of that. I do think it might not work out from a practical standpoint. But, hey, if you have a couple grand to drop and are mentally OK with maybe never using this dress, you do you.

    • I appreciate your words, and you’re right, a lot can happen in 6 years! I probably should have mentioned a bit more about myself and relationship. I’m 30, and we’ve been together for four years and will basically get engaged after we purchase a house together (one large lot of money at a time).
      Subjectively, I find that the dress is about “me”. It’s something I get to pick, what *I* am going to feel great in – partner and audience be damned. And that’s what shows on the day. So for me, I personally feel like that wouldn’t change. And if things don’t work out, it’s not like I’d be missing out on my only opportunity to get married. And there’s always sites that sell second hand or not worn dresses (sure I’d lose out a few hundred, but then someone else could love it).
      But I definitely hear what you’re saying in terms of practicality and planning it together, and how the event as a whole would be quite different. We’ve discussed a lot of aspects of the wedding and luckily agree on a lot of elements (he mainly just wants to control the music).

  8. I think you should go try it on at least. There’s a chance that the dress you love looking at so much won’t be as mind-blowing when you try it on. It sounds disappointing, but it happens, and that’s okay. You may walk out with a lot more knowledge of what silhouettes work for you, or what colors clash with your skin tone, or that the gorgeous gown you love is the most uncomfortable thing you’ve ever attempted to wear. On the other hand, it may be even better than you imagine. Either way, if you don’t try it on and it gets sold, you’ll probably spend an inordinate amount of time wondering about it. Or I would, in the same situation.

    Look at it another way: There’s something you want, something you love, and you have a reason to buy it (eventually, maybe not now, but still a reason). Ignore the social pressure, if only for a moment during this exercise. Now imagine it’s not a dress. Imagine it’s some other item that you probably won’t use much, and probably not for a while, but you really love it and want it, and it’s available *right now* and possibly never again. Maybe it’s a Kitchenaid mixer that you’ll only use for Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s a pair of diamond earrings you’ll only wear on your anniversary. Maybe it’s a motorcycle you’ll only drive to Bike Week. Would you still get it? Imagine your husband-to-be found an amazing suit – or suit of armor, if that’s his style – and faced the same decision; what advice would you give him?

    Personally, I wouldn’t worry as much about matching expectations. There’s no rule that says you can’t wear a big, floofy ballgown at the beach or a backyard barbecue wedding. People might insist that such rules exist, but really it’s a mixture of expectations and practicality. Regardless, you have every right to wear whatever appeals most to you. Sure, you should discuss it with your future intended; communication is key in any part of any relationship. Assuming he raises no objection, assuming you can fit it in the budget (and hey, maybe you can have it paid off before you have to start putting deposits down for things like venue and catering!), assuming it’s still there by the time you’ve read this, go try it on and see what happens.

    • Thanks for the support, that was all really insightful! I just need to KNOW. If it doesn’t work, great, I can move on. If it does, I can get it and know it’s one less thing to budget for later.
      If my husband-to-be found an amazing suit, I’d 100% tell him to get it (I mean, we’ve all seen how bad some of those rentals can be, yikes!).
      And thanks for the reminder about the rules – it matches everything else I’ve had planned, but even if that changes, who says it won’t “go with” the venue, and what not!

  9. I would say that after considering the previous comments (would it fit all themes and wedding possibilities, etc), and if you still want to try it on/ buy it, talk to your future fiance about it. Not to “ask permission”, or anything like that, but this is something that could affect him, and it makes sense that you would get his input; it’s almost like test driving your marriage a little (marriage, in my experience, is a lot of big decisions made together; communication is huge). Honestly, if you feel weird about talking to him about it, or if he freaks out, it could tell you a lot.

    • Great advice 🙂

      He ended up getting it out of me (he aaaalways does) and he didn’t care at all, he knows it’s what I love and told me to look at it if I wanted to, no judgements. ^_^

  10. I did not buy a wedding dress before I was engaged but I am a lifelong dreamer who can while away happy hours researching options for my perfect future. Wedding planning plus the internet pretty quickly transformed “researching options” into a pretty much full blown addiction. At first it’s a huge high looking through website after website and dreaming away but then you hit on something which seems absolutely perfect and it begins to hurt that you don’t have it yet, especially when you know it’s years away. Yesterday you were perfectly happy knowing it didn’t exist now it seems the sum total of your happiness. I am currently trying to curb my property research addiction as we are at least 5 years away from buying a house….
    It’s totally up to you what you do but consider this, if you go and try this dress on, you will likely only increase your dilemma. If you like it you will want it even more, if you buy it (assuming you can) then that desire will be answered for a bit but it will probably begin to hurt that you are not wearing yet.
    Things change, including you. I am not at all questioning how well you know yourself but just that anyone can know the future. It’s not just your tastes but possibly also your physical self that can change, I bought my wedding outfit a totally reasonable year before the wedding and in that intervening time I suddenly and unexpectedly needed a hysterectomy after which my body was very changed. Ok that’s a pretty extreme example and the message here is definitely not never plan anything ever because you might need a hysterectomy or face some other catastrophe, but what I am trying to say is be honest with yourself about how much this desire is something that you have created and whether satisfying that craving now (and thereby either closing down or complicating options in a future you don’t know yet) is that important.
    I’d also definitely second the comments about what you plan on your own being different to what you plan with a partner (and I planned my wedding outfit with my wife). As someone who came to partnership later in life it’s been a learning curve that over dreaming and over investing on my own in the abstract can actually hinder genuinely joint decisions. And if you think it’s sweet finding the perfect thing yourself it’s nothing compared to the joy of choosing something together that suits you both.

    • They are definitely all things to consider! It’s a lace up back, so I’m hoping that will help a little in terms of size (but I of course know the limits of that too!).
      My partner is well aware of the themes, venue and styles of everything I like, so the wedding has already been half planned really! And the dress isn’t something that I’d show him anyway (it’s probably the only traditional thing about the wedding that I’ll keep).
      I can also greatly relate to property addictions!! I spend sooo long staring at dream homes, I have for years. Hopefully this year! *fingers crossed*

  11. The key question to ask yourself: if you end up unable to wear the dress for whatever reason (no longer fits, doesn’t fit the style of your wedding, your tastes change, etc), how much will you regret having spent the money on it? You sound in love with this dress, and if you still feel that way seeing it on you, it may be 100% worth the risk of losing the money if things change–but if this dress would be a major chunk of your wedding budget that you couldn’t recoup, consider that before even trying it on.

    My sister bought her wedding dress a few weeks before her fiance proposed. She saw it on a clearance rack while trying on bridesmaids dresses and decided to go for it. She looked gorgeous on her wedding day and has even considered having it dyed to wear again. There are plenty of people who wait until they’re engaged to buy what they think will be a good dress and then end up changing their minds–whether you’re engaged or not, there’s always a chance that will happen. If you’ll regret missing out on this dress more than you would regret buying it and not wearing it, don’t let the lack of an official “engaged” label stop you!

  12. I “found” my dress before we were ever engaged. We were hypothesizing about our mythical horror movie themed wedding (which we made come true over a year later). I vaguely started searching around for “red wedding dresses” and I found a gorgeous black and red hand fasting gown online. Just like you, I knew it was the one. I bookmarked the page and left it at that.
    When my fiance proposed two months later one of the first things I did was strike up a conversation with the Etsy seller who made my dress. I ended up not going with that seller and instead found a very similar pattern and a local costumer who made the dress EVEN better because it was totally customized.
    So, I know it is quite possible to find THE dress before the engagement happens. If you love it, go try it on! It won’t hurt anything. If you try it on and you super super love it, then buy it! If you try it on and you’re not 100% sure then don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that 🙂

  13. I say go try it on. There is no harm in seeing if you like it on as much as you like it in theory. I had a “dream” engagement ring picked out before we were ready to actually be engaged. I tried one on that looked just like it in the jewelry store and hated how it looked on my hand with my other typical jewelry. So try it on if you have nothing but warm fuzzies and can afford it buy the dress and be happy with your decision!

  14. I did this very thing! I had tried some dresses on for fun at a bridal store before my fiance and I had even started seriously talking about marriage. I fell in love with one, and wrote down it’s information. Months later I ended up finding that very dress it in my size on a used dress site for hundreds less than the store price. It was meant to be, for sure. I bought it, packed it safely away, and will now be wearing it when we get married this July! 🙂

    • That’s fantastic!!

      What a great score, nice work! I hope you enjoy your big day!

    • I bought my dress 7 years before I was ever engaged and it was when I was dating someone else before I met my now fiancé. It was a perfect fit then and it still fits now! I found it on Craigslist and paid $75 for a designer used dress and will be finally wearing it this May. If you like it and you can afford it, get it. I don’t understand this whole the dress must match your venue, its just a dress and has no bearing on the relationship you have with your future husband. He will be happy no matter what you wear because he is vowing his love to you the person not the clothes you wear including your wedding dress. Its only 1 day in your life. If you want it get it. I am sure you don’t ask people about a pair of shoes or any other clothing item you just have to have but have no place to wear it too yet. Live your life and say Yes to the dress!!!

  15. I’m pretty picky, so when I find myself looking at the same thing over and over again, I know I like it and should at least try it on. I also know that when I’ve had that feeling about something, not gotten it, then find out it’s not available, I always feel mild regret – nothing crazy, but there.

    Go try it on. See if you like it on. See if you can afford it now. See if you can store it safely for a year or more, until you guys are ready to marry. All yes? Go for it.

  16. At least go try on the dress, and if it’s everything you imagined it to be once you see yourself in it then just BUY it. I admit I’m biased because I did not buy my dream prom dress when it was available, and it was so unique I have NEVER been able to find another one quite like it and although the dress I ended up with was very nice, it was still the *wrong* one and I have regretted it ever since. This has actually had a more long-term psychological effect on me leading me to impulse buy a number of dresses since then due to that worry I’d miss out again. I don’t want that to happen to you.

    If you do try it on and it doesn’t live up to your dreams, then note all the aspects you do like about it, write them down, and design your own dress to be custom made when the time comes.

    Just my $0.02

    • Awww, I’m so sorry to hear that’s what happened to you 🙁 that’s exactly my fear!! I don’t want to end up with a sub par or “that’ll do” dress because I didn’t go and try on the one I was in love with and spend my whole life regretting it.

      Thanks for your input!

  17. I wouldn’t.

    For a bit of background before I get into my reasoning here, I think I’m very similar to you. I’m currently 23, but I’ve been obsessed with weddings (especially the dresses) since I was 8 years old. I’ve had wedding magazine subscriptions since then, an extensive wedding board since I made my Pinterest account over 4 years ago, organized folders with pages upon pages of wedding-related stuff. I got into a serious relationship when I was 15, and the more time went on, the more certain I was that I was going to marry this guy. We had talked about it, more and more each year, and I knew it was going to happen eventually. When I was 18, I found my “dream” dress as well online.

    As obsessed with weddings as I was, and as certain of our relationship I was, I refused to try the wedding dress on. My mom was pleading with me to take me to a store to try it on, and I wouldn’t budge, for a few reasons (which I’ll explain in a minute). I was in love with that dress, sure, but I was adamant that I was going to wait.

    Five years later, this past November, I got engaged to the boy I’ve been with since I was 15.

    Which brings me to my reasoning as to why I wouldn’t buy “the dress” before an engagement. Not all might apply to your case (for all I know, none of it will) but I hope this might help you make your decision, whatever it is. First, I refused to try on wedding dresses before the engagement because I honestly didn’t know how soon it would be until we got engaged. For me, it ended up being years, which was totally fine. But I wanted trying on wedding gowns to be special, and the feeling when I put on wedding gowns after we got engaged was indescribable – it made it feel so much more real, like “oh, this is finally happening.” Still, I obviously could have tried on gowns ahead of time – that wouldn’t have changed much. Except – what I had pictured for our wedding has changed dramatically since we got engaged. Turns out engagements end up changing at lot of wedding plans, sometimes. I was planning on a fall wedding ideally with an outdoor ceremony, and now we’re going to get married in the winter when it’s going to be snowing (so indoor ceremony it is!). Also, in the span of five years I’ve gained a fair bit of weight and that changes how dresses fit me and whatnot. The other thing was that I didn’t want to try on a dress, and fall in love with it and have that weighing on my mind the whole time. Especially if I had decided to buy it, then I would’ve been thinking the whole time, “come on, I have the dress, what’s the hold up?” I didn’t want to be putting any more pressure on our relationship, and on my boyfriend-now-fiance, even if he knew about the dress. Obviously, that might not apply here, but that was one of my main fears.

    Having said that, after we got engaged, I did try on the wedding dress – it’s still in stock, with no signs of it being discontinued anytime soon. I put on this dress that I had dreamed about for years – and I hated it. Absolutely despised it. It was nothing like I had imagined, and I took it off almost immediately. I ended up going to another store and finding a different dress that fit my dream so much better. And when I put it on I thought, “oh my gosh, I’m going to wear this as I walk down the aisle towards my husband.” I’ll also say that after I got engaged, it was really nice to go try on wedding gowns with both my mom and his mom with me – which I would’ve felt weird about doing if we weren’t engaged yet, and I think his mom would’ve thought I was completely bonkers if I had asked her to come with me then anyhow.

    So yeah. For my reasoning – I really wouldn’t recommend buying the dress before you get engaged. I understand your fear of “what if this dress gets discontinued,” and for that reason I almost do suggest trying it on despite what I’ve said, but I’d worry that you’ll fall in love with it, buy it, and then something will change about your wedding plans (what you want to look like, the wedding budget, etc). If your dream dress is from one of the big chain wedding stores (I’d imagine you know the few I’m talking about) they generally don’t seem to remove stock all that frequently. But obviously it could happen. I guess part of it would depend on how soon you imagine this engagement will be, and how prepared you are for if things change. As certain as I was about wedding plans, the proposal changed a lot for us as a couple, and me as a future bride. Our wedding guest list was much different than I imagined, and everything ended up more expensive than I imagined, and both of those things affected the budget, which affected how much I could spend on a dress. My body changed, the season changed, my theme changed, even what I imagined my fiance would wear changed. All of this stuff did affect how I selected a dress.

    All I can say for you, not knowing all of these other details, is to really think it over. Think about how you want your “I found the dress” experience to be before you go try it on. Think about all your wedding details and if they are subject to change, and what those changes might be, and how you will handle those changes in relationship to your dress, should you buy it. But if you’ve thought these things over, you’re sure about this, and you really want to try the dress on? Go for it.

    Even though I said I wouldn’t, doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t. Best of luck!

    • Thanks for such a detailed reply! The one thing I was mainly worried about was that I would lose the “so this is finally happening” thing of putting on the wedding dress after being engaged, but I’ve also come to realise that the reality of wedding planning isn’t all fairy tales and pixie dust, it’s finding what works, and organising, and other things that can be both fun and also frustrating. Definitely have given me some things to think about!

  18. I’d say go for it! My dress is literally one of a kind, refurbished from a vintage gown and modernized by a friend of mine who owns a Maine & Etsy- based business. I saw the dress posted and fell in love with it- but was still about 6mths from getting engaged. I tried it on, loved it, couldn’t stop thinking about it. I knew that another dress like it would never exist, and I knew in my future gown search I’d always think about this dress. I ended up purchasing it, and am so glad I did. Now engaged an planning my wedding, I know I have my dream gown… And besides, it’s one less thing I have to budget for now! Good luck!

    • Wow, with such a one off, how could you not!! Go you!!
      That’s a plus that I was thinking of too, if I get it now – I don’t have to budget for it later, when I have pay a zillion dollars for all the rest of the wedding things.

  19. I think you should do it! You don’t have to buy it, but you should at least try it on. You don’t even have to bring or tell anybody. Maybe it’s 100% perfect and you can afford it and you have to have it so you buy it! That’s fine, that’s your prerogative, that’s one thing you can check off the wedding planning checklist before you’ve even started. Or maybe you find out it’s not that great and you’re not really digging it. Well, at least you tried on and you know that for sure, and then you can let it go!

  20. You should totally try it on if that gives you some piece of mind – life is stressful enough at it is! But I agree with the others: tastes, visions and bodies change over the years so if you want to spend the money, be prepared to spend some on another dress if this happens.

    Talk to your boyfriend and when you go shopping: take the people with you which you would have brought if it was a ‘regular’ session. When I found my dress, it was such a joy to have my mom, his mom and my bff with me! So if this dress is really your dream dress, have that moment with them. Even if they think you’re a little bit crazy 🙂 They probably wouldn’t want to miss it for the world 🙂

    Good luck!

  21. Maybe try it on, and if you love it gather as much information about it as you can. Talk about fabrics, boning, darting, decorations etc with the assistants. Measure all the bits of it. Take millions of photos of it on and off. Sketch it. Figure out how that dress works and what you love about it over others.

    Then walk away.

    (well, thank your assistant a lot, and maybe buy something sparkly so you don’t feel like you’ve wasted their time. Then go)

    This way, when the wedding roles around you’ve got enough information to recreate the dress, if that’s what you want to do, but you’re not committed to it. If your tastes chance, you’ve still got a lot of useful information to work with (love satin, hate silk; glass beads yes, embroidery no, etc). If your body shape changes, you don’t have to worry about large alteration costs. If you pick a venue where you just can’t get that six foot crinoline through the doors, or that delicate silk will be ruined by the water fountains, or you can’t wear high heels for safety reasons and don’t want to be tripping over your skirts, you can factor that in.

    Also, in nine months, that dress might go on sale, and you’ll be able to waltz in and snag it then!

  22. I’m in the ‘wait’ section. Not because you’re not engaged, but because you don’t know anything about when or where….if you said you WERE engaged, but didn’t plan on marrying for 2 or 3 years, I’d still say, wait.

  23. It definitely isn’t wrong! That said, I think a really important factor to consider is how you approach shopping, and what makes you feel comfortable and happy.

    I bought my wedding dress about five months before getting engaged.
    It showed up on eBay for a hundred quid, it stood out as serious quality, and because it was vintage, I knew it was a case of buying it then or never seeing it again. So, I justified the purchase by thinking of it as a wedding investment, and spent the next five months wearing it for the odd ten minutes when I was having a lousy day and needed cheering up. (That, and the whole process of getting the hemline altered to fit me, actually made the dress feel more special to me… it felt like the dress and I had the chance to get to know each other.)

    However, I am *exactly* the kind of person who picks up things because they might be useful one day, who collects beautiful and interesting things for the love of having them, and who really, really needs her space when it comes to any kind of clothes shopping (no entourage, no major time pressures, and god help anyone who tries to impose criteria).

    So, for me, the way that I found and bought my dress ticked all the boxes. I loved the dress, I was thrilled to discover that it worked well with a jacket I’d bought fifteen years earlier and never worn, and I spent the entire wedding planning period telling everyone how amazingly lucky I was to get it when I did, because goodness knows where I’d have found another one.

    But those are very much *my* boxes, and I can completely understand how someone else might not be happy with the same choices… in exactly the same way that I can understand how my choices regarding, say, not having bridesmaids, might not work for someone else.
    So. Setting aside anything anyone else may think for the moment.
    Does the idea of having your dress hanging in your wardrobe, waiting for its moment, or just *being* there, bring you joy?
    Do you think you will be happy to answer the inevitable post-engagement dress questions with ‘already got it!’?
    Do you think you will want to involve other people in the dress-buying process in some way? (Fittings nearer the wedding date could be a nice opportunity to share a moment with people, if trying on/buying with friends/family doesn’t feel right)

    This is becoming a short novel. To sum up: nothing inherently wrong with buying a wedding dress ahead of the engagement, and I have absolutely no regrets. But if you’re not going down a conventional route (or even if you are!), it’s worthwhile thinking about how a particular course of action fits with you, as a person. We have a lot of conversations about getting a dress that is right for you, but at the end of the day, it’s not just about the material object: there are all sorts of values bound up within the experience of buying a wedding dress, and it’s worth thinking through what’s important to you.

    • It sounds like you and I are really similar!

      I think looking at it would make me happy, it’d keep me focused, and yeah, I’d also put it on whenever I was sad and feel pretty and happy, and I think that’s great.

      As for the comments about the dress after, I’d either lie and say I don’t have it yet (likely to relatives because I don’t want to deal with their drama in general) or just be honest about it – I came, I saw, I took what was mine. My friends all know I’m insanely into wedding design and styling, so they wouldn’t be too surprised.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment!!

    • “So, I justified the purchase by thinking of it as a wedding investment, and spent the next five months wearing it for the odd ten minutes when I was having a lousy day and needed cheering up.”

      THIS! I bought my dress 2.5 years before I got engaged, and did the EXACT same thing. I’ve worn that dress more than a dozen times, ten minutes at a time, and I loved it more every try-on! It’s nice to know someone out in the world was doing the exact same thing.

      It’s been really fun when people ask when I’m going dress shopping, to be able to reply, “Oh, actually, I got it three years ago.” It makes for a great story and usually leads to interesting conversations.

  24. Oh honey! It SO does not matter when you buy your dress. I bought one after getting engaged, then dumped the man but kept the dress. I married another man in that dress and after 41 years together, I still have both the man and the dress! Best wishes always.

  25. I am a little late to the party here, but wanted to throw my own story into the pot… I, like you, have a soft spot for weddings (and wedding planning), and one day, casual “daydreaming of someday” window shopping on Etsy turned into finding a dress that I fell head over heels for. This was three years ago–about one year into dating my FH, and LONG before the discussion of marriage was ever on the table. But I loved everything about it! And hey, it was my hard-earned money to spend however I wanted to! And I figured, a vintage dress doesn’t lose any value in a few years. If I didn’t still love it when my marriage was on the near horizon, I’d resell and find a new one. So, I bought it. And when I told my partner what I’d done and why, he was totally on board (probably a good sign of things to come).

    Three years later, I still love it, and I couldn’t imagine getting married this August in anything else. If I hadn’t bought the dress, knowing me, I would have 100% regretted not taking that leap of faith and would always wonder whether it was “the one.” I definitely have friends and family that think I’m a little crazy (I also bought my own engagement ring–very similar story), but getting married in the dress of my dreams makes it more than worth it. Everyone’s different, but it worked out for me, and you’re a lot further into wedding planning than I was at the time. I say, at least try it on! What have you got to lose?

    I can’t figure out how to add a picture, but here’s a link to an image of the dress I’ll be getting married in soon: https://img0.etsystatic.com/000/0/5840221/il_570xN.334022300.jpg

  26. I brought my dress in advance of getting engaged as I was in a very similar situation. I don’t regret buying it early as it was a dress that was already out offseason and I managed to find a sample in my size a hundred or so miles away.

    I’m still in love with my dress. I didn’t have that dress moment in the store but I love it more everyday and know that I would have regretted it dearly to have let it go.

    Whilst everyone now knows I got my dress early it was only my mum that came with me to see the dress at the time and I hid the dress at her house until after I was engaged and I told my fiancé.

  27. I bought my dress before we were engaged. I joined the Wide Bride group on fb which is an awesome plus size bridal group and someone posted a dress i was lusting over since seeing it when i bought a bridesmaids dress a few years ago. i tried it on that day for fun. i hadn’t even met my fiance yet lol. anyway it was on clearance for 500 bucks!! and it was my size! my size is hard to find. i told my then boyfriend about it and he suggested i go buy it. so i made an appt and went with my mom and although i tried other dresses, it was the one and we got it. also i was back at that bridal store a few days ago and ran into the sales girl who helped me the first time. she said it was a good thing i bought it that day, they sold out soon after. and then recently re released it at full price of $

  28. What did you end up doing? Do you love it? Are you engaged?

    I’m tempted to buy this one dress on sale- I don’t even have a man! 😛

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