Your dress is a reflection of you and should enhance your natural beauty. Don’t let other people influence you to a style that doesn’t match your personality or vision of yourself on your wedding day.

Be sure to start your dress shopping six to nine months before your wedding. Most wedding gowns require a few months for the manufacturer to make and another few for alterations.

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1. Pick a Designer You Love

Your wedding gown should make you feel like the bride you want to be. Choose a designer who offers silhouettes that match your vision of your wedding day, and research their designs before you start visiting bridal boutiques.

It’s also important to be selective of who you bring with you to your appointments. You should only bring people who you trust to give an honest opinion, and who will be able to help you focus on what matters most.

Remember, you’ll be wearing your gown for an entire day it should be comfortable!

2. Bring Shoes Similar to Your Gown

The bottom half of your outfit is important too you want to be comfortable moving around in your gown especially if you’re planning on wearing it for up to 12 hours or more!

This is why bringing shoes similar to those you’ll wear on your wedding day can help. Even if you don’t have the exact heels, it’s helpful to bring something close in heel height so you can get an idea of how long the dress will be once it’s hemmed for your big day.

This will also give the seamstress a good idea of how to best hem your gown for your alterations appointment.

3. Bring Heirloom Accessories

If you’re incorporating wedding gown accessories from your mom or grandmother, be sure to bring them to your dress fitting. It will help you visualize how they work with the silhouette and details of your gown.

Hartman recommends choosing only one accessory that stands out to complement your gown. If your gown has lace appliques or embroidery, for instance, keep the jewelry simple so it doesn’t upstage the wedding gown.

Feminine bows and ribbons are also making a comeback in bridal accessories. These girlish hair adornments look beautiful in a chic updo or paired with an elegant headband for a Grecian-inspired style.

4. Know Your Fabrics

Choosing the right fabric for your gown is one of the most important aspects of bridal dress shopping. It influences formality, price, and more.

Lace: A feminine and romantic addition to any wedding dress, lace adds delicate decoration with visually appealing graphic detail. It is often used for sleeves, hemlines, and illusion necklines.

Organza: This beautiful stiff material is great for structured dresses. It is a staple for many luxury bridal stores. It can easily be damaged by warm weather and works best in cooler seasons.

Bring only a few close friends and family members to help you find your perfect wedding dress. They will be able to give honest feedback and support you throughout the process.

5. Know Your Shape

There is a lot of advice out there about what size dress to get and which silhouette looks best on your body. But a lot of this is silly and even body shaming!

If you have a pear body shape (your shoulders and bust are narrower than your hips), consider a fit-and-flare style. The voluminous skirt will balance out your smaller hips while also adding drama to your look.

If you have wide shoulders, highlight them with delicate lace appliques and beading. Or choose a dress with a plunging neckline to show off your toned arms and gorgeous physique.

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6. Know Your Budget

Once you have a budget in mind, be sure to tell the salesperson before she begins pulling dresses. This will ensure that you don’t fall in love with a dress that is beyond your price range.

It’s also important to consider other wedding-related costs, such as alterations and accessories. These expenses can add up quickly, so be prepared to spend more than just the cost of the gown.

If you are having a wedding in the winter, for example, a cape could be a great addition to a more traditional gown. Or if you have a vintage-inspired wedding, lace may be the perfect choice for your big day.

7. Know Your Style

Whether you come into the dress shop with a handful of ideas or a clear vision, it’s important that your stylist knows the style of gown you want to wear. This helps her to find the perfect wedding dress to make you look amazing!

At your appointment, be sure to bring photos to help your stylist understand the style of gown you’re looking for. But also be open minded if she suggests something you may not have considered.

Trying on bridal dresses can be a lot of fun and can be very emotional too. Try to limit your appointments to two a day, so you don’t get overwhelmed.