Starting your search for the dress can be a daunting task. With technology offering so much inspiration and options for your big day, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are 10 tips to help ease the stress and confusion when searching for your perfect wedding dress.

1. Set a Budget

Wedding dresses are expensive! A lot of work goes into the design and preparation not to mention the average gown style dress is approximately 100-150 ft of fabric. Depending on what you’re looking for, a well designed dress can range anywhere from $1500 to $5000. So be realistic about what you can afford and stick to it! Every boutique has their own price range; it might be worth while to do some research beforehand to see which shop fits into your budget. Some designers often won’t list prices because each design is unique, but they will be able to tell you their starting prices.

2. Don’t try too many styles at once

The more you try on in one session the more confused you’re likely to get. Have 2-3 styles you prefer then try on 5-10 gowns. From there, use the process of elimination to narrow down your favorites!

3. Take only your BFFs

It might be tempting to take a bunch of girlfriends dress shopping, but often it can lead to confusing, conflicting opinions, which might actually hinder you rather than help. Take just 1 or 2 of your closest friends and relatives whose opinions you value. You can always bring along others at a later fitting.

4. Wear the correct undergarments

It’s best if you wear lingerie and shoes that are similar to what you have in mind for the actual wedding day. You may not have even thought about this yet but it’s important to the overall look and comfort of the dress. Heel height is very important too; different shoes can affect your posture and the fit of your dress.

5. Think about YOU

Know your body type and embrace it! Are you self-conscious about your tummy? Or your arms? An empire waist is great for the middle area and timeless lace sleeves are ideal for flattering arms. Asymmetric gowns can minimize hips, whilst A-line gowns can add to the hip line. Corsets can create a curvy silhouette – even if you don’t have one!

6. Consider fabrics

If you’re getting married in the middle of August, that couture satin ball gown might just cause you to melt. Light natural fibers, silks and cottons, are perfect for summer. Winter is a great time for layered fabrics and accessories such as a faux fur jacket or cloak.

7. Take notes

After your first appointment, go out to lunch or coffee and have a take notes on what you’ve just tried on. What did you love? What did you hate? Keep the names of the designers you tried. Perhaps you’re favoring a particular detail, designer or style. Be aware that most boutiques will not allow photography; this is usually due to copyright issues, so notes are important!

8. Do some research

Once you have an idea of what styles and designers you like, surf the web for dresses that match your preferences and stores that stock them. Going to every local dress shop and trying on hundreds of random styles is more likely to confuse and cause you to forget what you liked in the first place.

9. Check costs

Remember to ask whether alterations are included in the cost of the dress. Some bridal shops do include alterations, but most don’t as they usually outsource alterations to their seamstresses, which come as a separate cost. This doesn’t apply to custom made gowns as they are made to fit you from the beginning, so there is only one price.

10. Be prepared that there might not be “the one”

Not every bride will experience that epic moment that is so over-hyped in films. This is one of the most important days of your life and many things will contribute to your decision. There might be 3 dresses you love and any one would do. If you can’t decide between one style, factor in a second dress for the rehearsal dinner or reception.

Remember that this is supposed to be fun and exciting! Designers and sales assistants are there to help and guide you in this experience; don’t be afraid to ask questions and relax so you can enjoy the entire experience.

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