Puerto Vallarta Destination Wedding Guide: The Dress (Chapter 6)

A bride walks down the aisle in a white bridal gown at a hotel in Puerto Vallarta

Find your perfect wedding dress with a style guide that emphasizes feeling beautiful and true to yourself.

In this article:

I. Where to look for your wedding dress
II. The dressmaker contract
III. Shopping for your shoes
IV. Wedding dress accessories


More than likely, you have a vision of what you’d like your wedding dress to look like, almost certainly matching your style. Great! I also want to urge you to have an open mind during this process, as you may be surprised by the many styles of dresses and how one may come to life once you slip it on.

Shopping doesn’t end after you’ve found your dress – more than likely you’ll be involved in dressing the rest of the wedding party! You may have a strong opinion about how you’d like everyone to look at the wedding (especially for the photos!) whereas you also want people to feel comfortable. Ensure you reach a compromise with your soon-to-be-husband’s attire along with your bridesmaids so that everyone looks good, feels good, and nobody is breaking the bank.

We recently got married in Puerto Vallarta which you can read all about in our Puerto Vallarta Wedding Chronicles. Jump to Chapter 6: The Great Dress Hunt to read about my adventure finding the right wedding dress in Mexico.


Where to look for your wedding dress

Your style and budget will most likely determine where you will search for your wedding dress. Some of us get a rush from storming the racks at sample sales, while others crave an upscale boutique experience. Decide what is right for you and begin making appointments. Pro tip: Don’t be shy about talking about money – speak up when you have questions about pricing. The following is a list of places where you can search for your wedding dress:

  • Bridal Salons: A high-end bridal salon is where you will receive the highest level of service, including one-on-one consultations, on-site alterations, accessories, and of course, champagne. This type of service comes with a hefty price tag and normally requires a 50% deposit.
  • Department Stores: Many department store bridal salons offer the same level of service as a designer store but with more diverse price points. They may also offer on-site alterations and accessories.
  • Designer Salons: A local wedding dress designer can design a custom gown for you, albeit with a higher price tag. The pro? You’ll get a one-of-a-kind handmade dress designed specifically for you! However, you won’t be able to try on the dress until it’s nearly complete.
  • Vintage Boutique: This is a great option for brides looking for a unique gown on a tight budget. Many vintage boutique shops offer bridal gowns, however, allow room in your budget for a pro tailor to alter the delicate fabrics that you normally find within vintage shops.
  • Consignment Shops: There are upscale bridal consignment stores that offer discounts on designer labels, sometimes as much as 75% off! Pro tip: Look for more classic styles over outdated dresses.
  • Mass-Market Chains: This is a good option for brides looking for a simple dress (or in a hurry). Many chains will have their bridal gowns on-site allowing you to try them on in your size. The stores offer a variety of price points. Alterations may or may not be offered on-site.
  • Sample Sales: Most sample sales are held in NYC if you’re willing to travel to search for your favorite designer! Last season’s gowns could be marked down to 50%. Pro tip: Check the designer’s website for sample sale information. Also be aware that these types of sales could turn into a wedding gown war.
  • Online Stores: This is a convenient option for those already familiar with online shopping. Be sure to shop stores that allow returns as you won’t be able to try anything on, and order with tons of time. Pro tip: Try eBay, Craigslist, and wedding-specific sites but make sure you check your seller’s reviews and rating.
  • Family Closet: Have you dreamed of wearing your mother or grandmother’s wedding gown? Even if the dress isn’t quite your style, you can have a tailor work wonders by changing the sleeve length or neckline. Note: Whereas vintage dresses can be easily taken in, it’s almost impossible to let them out.


The dressmaker contract

When you place your order with your dressmaker or store, make sure to get the following points in writing:

  • Description of gown, designer name, style number, fabric, size, color
  • Any changes you’ve requested
  • Delivery date
  • Number of fittings scheduled
  • Estimated alterations fee
  • Deposit amount, amount due, remaining balance due date
  • Cancellation and refund policy


Shopping for your shoes

After you’ve chosen your wedding gown, you can begin shopping for your shoes! You’ll find good options at department stores, bridal salons, boutiques, and online. We always recommend going for a simple and elegant look. Once you begin your shoe-shopping journey, consider the following points:

  • Consider the surface: sand, grass, cobblestone, etc.
  • If your gown is long, you might only need simple satin evening shoes with a $50 price tag.
  • If you’re going for the super-high heels, buy a second more comfortable option.
  • You’ll be on your feet all day, meaning your feet might swell, so consider going up 1/2 size and putting pads under the ball of your feet and behind the heel.
  • If the shoes have smooth soles, scuff them at home for traction. Pro tip: Take a pocket knife or scissors and cut a series of crisscrosses.
  • Break them in by walking around your home for 2-3 weeks before the wedding,
  • If you’re splurging, why not find a pair you can wear again?
  • If you feel uncomfortable in heels, try platforms or a feminine pair of flats.


Wedding dress accessories

Congratulations, you’ve found your wedding dress and shoes! Now it’s time for many brides’ favorite part: accessorizing! We recommend pulling together different elements that are harmonious and reflect your style. Here is a list of possible accessories for your gown:

  • Undergarments: Choose a smooth layer for the dress to glide over.
  • Jewelry: We recommend only wearing your wedding and engagement rings on your hand, combined with elegant earrings or hair ornament. If the gown is beaded and embroidered to the nines, keep the jewelry simple.
  • Handbag: A bridal bag should be tiny not to distract from your overall look. Options include a simple clutch, a drawstring pouch, or a delicate handbag.
  • Wrap: Strapless gowns may require a cover-up in silk, lace, or cashmere for warmer climates, and satin, velvet, or cashmere for colder weather.
  • Gloves: Of course gloves are optional and should always complement the dress style. With a sleeveless gown, go for over-the-elbow gloves. Pro tip: During the ceremony, the ring should always be placed on a bare finger – never over a glove.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where should I start looking for my wedding dress?

Begin by considering your style preferences and budget. Options range from high-end bridal salons to department stores, designer salons, vintage boutiques, consignment shops, mass-market chains, sample sales, online stores, and even family heirlooms.

2. How do I choose between different bridal salon experiences?

Your choice depends on the level of service and price point you prefer. High-end bridal salons offer personalized consultations and on-site alterations, while department stores may provide a similar experience with more diverse price options.

3. Is it worth considering a custom gown from a local designer?

Opting for a custom gown ensures a unique, handmade dress tailored specifically to you. However, be prepared for a higher price tag and the inability to try on the dress until it’s nearly complete.

4. What should I keep in mind when shopping at consignment shops?

Look for upscale bridal consignment stores offering discounts on designer labels. Focus on classic styles rather than outdated dresses and budget for alterations if needed.

5. How can I navigate online dress shopping effectively?

When shopping online, prioritize stores with favorable return policies. Ensure you have ample time for shipping and alterations. Consider platforms like eBay and Craigslist, but always check seller reviews and ratings.

6. What should be included in a dressmaker contract?

Ensure your contract includes detailed descriptions of the gown, any requested changes, delivery date, fittings schedule, alterations fee estimate, deposit amount, cancellation policy, and refund policy.

7. What should I consider when shopping for wedding shoes?

Consider the venue surface, prioritize comfort, and choose a style that complements your gown. If opting for heels, consider a second comfortable option. Remember to break them in before the wedding day.

8. How can I accessorize my wedding dress effectively?

Harmonize accessories with your personal style and gown embellishments. Consider undergarments for a smooth silhouette, minimalist jewelry, a small bridal bag, appropriate wraps or gloves, and ensure they complement your overall look.

9. Are there any specific tips for wearing heels on my wedding day?

If wearing heels, consider potential swelling and prioritize comfort. Scuff smooth soles for traction and break them in before the big day. Alternatively, explore platforms or feminine flats if heels aren’t comfortable for you.

10. How should I handle the issue of dress fittings and alterations?

Schedule fittings according to the terms outlined in your contract. Communicate any desired alterations clearly, and be prepared to pay any additional fees. Ensure alterations are completed well in advance of the wedding date.

Taylor Wade headshot


Hi, I'm Taylor, the Creative Director at Chas Studios. I co-founded a matchmaking company at the age of 16 and have since amassed two decades of experience in the dating and relationship industry. My deep understanding spans critical areas, from the spiritual growth potential within relationships to navigating finances with your partner. In 2017, just two weeks after relocating to Mexico City, I met and fell head over heels for Diego, who was working in the fashion and editorial world at the time. We subsequently moved to Puerto Vallarta and launched Chas Studios, a photography and film house specializing in weddings and events. We also married in Puerto Vallarta in 2023 allowing us to offer our local knowledge and experience to our readers. 

Are you looking for a wedding photographer for your destination wedding in Mexico?

Chas Studios has an instantly recognizable aesthetic, defined by the soft, organic, and classic qualities that film provides. As a bespoke photography service, we apply a highly personalized and hand-crafted approach to each and every wedding. Our team goes above and beyond for our clients to stay true to our mission: to provide a one-of-a-kind wedding experience! Submit an application to receive a custom quote.

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