You already shop for everything from groceries to furniture online, so why not your wedding attire? While that may sound a bit misguided, new tools are making it easier than ever for brides and bridesmaids to find (and try on!) their gowns from home.

“It’s just so much more convenient. Time is of the essence here, and it’s so precious to everyone. Not everyone can drop what they’re doing and get to a bridal salon,” explains Terry Hall, head of retail and business development at Amsale.

This is especially true for bridal parties that are increasingly scattered across the country, or even the world, from each other and, therefore, may not be able to travel to the same dress shop.

Another great reason to look for your wedding or bridesmaid dress virtually: it’s more low-pressure than the traditional in-person salon.

“It can really take away a lot of the pressure of shopping,” says Hall. “Seeing all of these choices, all of these colors and all of these fabrications and silhouettes can be daunting at first glance. When you can sort through and filter through things online, it takes away a lot of that sense of unease. I think that also gives you a little more control over your experience.”

Of course, there are a few major differences between shopping for your dress online versus at a brick-and-mortar store, so you’ll need to adjust your approach and expectations.

First, look for a designer or store that truly caters to the online shopping experience. Amsale, for example, recently launched a virtual try-on tool that allows users to see what dresses from select collections look like on their bodies – without physically putting on the garment. Take a photo of yourself in the mirror with a handheld device, upload it to the platform and select which dress you’d like to try.

“Our technology is so advanced that, if you’re wearing long sleeves when you take the picture or long pants, but the dress that you want to try is short or sleeveless or strapless, the technology recognizes that and factors it into the equation,” adds Hall. “It knows to just show your bare arms in a strapless dress and not choose to show the sleeves you’re wearing.”

While dress shopping from the comfort of your couch is increasingly easy, it does have its drawbacks. Without the in-store experience, for instance, you miss out on the assistance of in-store experts.

Luckily, companies like Amsale are also bridging that gap with consultants offered via phone, text, email and even video calls. So, you can feel confident that you’re taking your measurements correctly and can immediately get questions about fit, tailoring and fabrics answered.

Even with all of this high-tech help, Hall cautions brides to only use these kinds of tools to get inspiration rather than make your final purchase.

“I think looking online and organizing things according to categories is a lot of fun. But ultimately, the bride is going to want to see how she feels in the dress because how you feel in it is everything,” he says.

It can be challenging to step into a bridal shop and find your dream dress if you don’t know what you like – or, more importantly, what you don’t like. So, utilize online tools to see what’s available and then narrow your selections from there.

“I think it’s very important to stay open-minded when you’re looking online. Even though you have an idea of what you don’t want, don’t be afraid to still look at everything,” advises Hall.

Even if you’re sure you don’t like strapless dresses, at least check them out online before crossing them off the list of possibilities. You never know what you might end up liking since you’ve never worn a wedding dress before. Also, more and more designers are willing to make custom adjustments like adding straps.

Finally, once you’ve identified your favorite options, resist the urge to share it with all of your online followers or even all of your friends, advises Hall.

“When you are looking at these items online and you want to ask other people’s opinions, only ask those whose opinions you truly cherish the most. The more people you ask, the more daunting it can get,” he says.

©CTW Features