7 Steps to Shopping for the Perfectly “You” Wedding Dress

1. Clarify: Define your aisle style. Collect images, labeling each with what you do and don’t like. Consider what will look best on you over what is the trend- those wedding photographs will be with you for life (80’s puff sleeves, ’nuff said).

2. Time It: Most dresses are made to order, so it is advisable to begin shopping 6 months- 1 year in advance. Shop only when you are ready to find and buy it. Finding the dress of your dreams and later discovering that it’s no longer availableis the fast track to a bridezilla-worthy-roar.

3. Where to go: Research bridal shops in your area- but also consider unconventional options like vintage shops, wearing a family heirloom wedding dress, or having your gown custom made (especially if you are a budget, eco-minded, or alternative-taste bride). Wherever you go, make an appointment first! Visit shops during the week if at all possible, since they will be less busy than on the weekend.

4. Who to Bring: Hit the town, but don’t shop with too big of a posse. What happened to the bride who brought 12 people shopping with her? Epic meltdown. Limit your guests to 2-3 whose opinions you value and who respect your tastes.

5. Prep for It: When trying on wedding gowns, bring a strapless bra, hair tie, shoes of the approximate height that you will be wearing, and if needed, a shaping garment like spanx. Most importantly, bring a smile on your face. Being nice goes a long way for having the best experience. You get what you give out- capiche?

6. Find It: In most designer salons, you are going to be brought dresses to try on. Have an open mind about trying on, all dresses look different on the hanger. Taking suggestions about what styles suit you can lead to finding the best dress for your shape. Don’t hesitate to clarify your’ vision if you are not seeing what you want.

7. Make It Yours: Get your gown professionally altered and customized. Do this 1-4 months prior to your wedding date, timing depends on seamstress availability and if your size is still fluctuating, you’ll want to wait until as close to the wedding date as possible. Personalize your gown by add a belt, dyeing the inner tulle a fun color, or with fun hair accessory or statement jewelry.

You’re set. Rock that aisle, girl!