Finding the perfect wedding dress is arguably the most fun part of the wedding planning process. This is the moment when you will truly start to feel like a bride. But it can also be one of the most stressful. Stylists strive to make it a fun and painless experience focused on helping the bride find a dress she feels the most beautiful in and feeling like a bride. Here is the ultimate guide to wedding dress shopping and finding the perfect wedding dress for you!

START EARLY

Having a dress custom made can take six months or more, so you want to start your bridal dress hunt early. Plus your dress really sets the tone for the day and can help determine your dress code and wedding theme. Many brides don’t know what silhouette they want or may change their mind after trying on another one. If you end up getting a ballgown wedding dress, you probably wouldn’t want a beach themed wedding for example. Do your research, and don’t try to find the perfect dress. Try and find the perfect dress for you.

KNOW YOUR BUDGET

When breaking down your wedding budget, you will allocate a certain percentage of your overall wedding budget to your dress. Try to stick to this number or you may have to lower your allocation to other of your wedding costs. Wedding guidelines say 8-10% of your overall budget is a good number to go with, but of course you can adjust your wedding budget to whats most important to you. It is YOUR wedding after all! Also make sure you factor in alterations and accessories such as your veil, shoes, jewelry and clutch. These items can add up fast.

THE APPOINTMENT

For your first appointment, go to a salon with a lot of different silhouettes, price points and styles. You may be surprised by what you love and more importantly – what makes you feel like a bride. If you can narrow this down, it’s definitely a success and who knows, you may even find the one! But at least for your next appointment you’ll be able to hone in on what you know you want. Don’t stress and go with your gut – it’s usually spot on. Bring only the guests whose opinions really matter to you. Too many opinions can cloud the decision that’s right for you. And remember, you have the final say! (Pro-tip: wear nude undergarments!).

SIZING & ALTERATIONS

A guide to wedding dress shopping wouldn’t be complete without talking about sizing and alterations! Each designer has very different sizing so it’s important to get measured and size the bride to the designers sizing chart. Then the dress will get fine-tuned to fit perfectly during alterations. The seamstress will pin your dress to give you an idea of how it will look when the alterations are complete. They’ll add cups, fix the hem and/or add a bustle. ALWAYS try on your dress after the last fitting and bring your veil, jewelry and other bridal accessories to ensure you love the completed bridal look.