The answer is always – asap. Unless your wedding is more than 9-10 months away, start looking as early as as you can.
Reasons to start off as early as possible
- Find the right shops: If you want to go to a LOT of shops to first get an idea of what is available in the market, start spending some time shopping asap. Go out and explore what shops are there, which ones suit your budget and your style. I had never been lehenga shopping, so I started looking in February for my October wedding.
- Lehengas are not made over-night: Most lehengas are custom-made, and they can take anywhere between 1 to 3 months to make, depending on the kind of work you want. Keep enough time margin to get any alterations made.
- Find matching accessories: You also want to leave ample time to find jewelry, shoes and other accessories that match your lehenga.
- Plan the colors for all events: You don’t want to repeat colors on multiple–wedding functions. Knowing the color of your main wedding lehenga beforehand will help with choosing the color of your mehendi, sangeet or/and reception clothes. Since shopping for other functions is not as time-consuming, best to get the wedding lehenga out of the way first.
- Wait for a sale: A lot of shops go on sale during certain months of the year. Do a little bit of research and find out if you can time your purchase during sale season. Again, the earlier you start, the more the probability that a sale will be on during the time you’re looking to buy.
Avoiding the I-found-a-great-lehenga-in-the-first-store-I-visited syndrome
When you first start looking around, you can potentially find a lehenga very early on that you feel is “the One”. Please ignore the strong urge to just buy the lehenga and save yourself months of shopping (if you have that kind of time, that is). The wedding is too far off, don’t buy it. I’ll tell you why –
I found a very pretty lehenga in February itself but since the wedding was a good 8 months away, I didn’t buy it. And in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t pick it up. Why? A number of reasons. I found a much better lehenga later on. Back then, I was clueless about what kinds of lehengas were available. Figuring out what style I liked also took some time. So start looking asap, but hold your horses – don’t buy one till you’ve gone to atleast a few good shops. Getting a sense of what’s available, what your personal style is, and what fits your budget – it all takes time. If you have the luxury of time, use it. And don’t forget the all important aspect of lehenga shopping with your family – enjoy it! You get to be a bride only once (hopefully)!