The Dress of Your Dreams

Say yes to the dress without all the stress

By Shala Hainer

Whether your dream dress is a fluffy, white Cinderella ballgown or a short, fitted sheath, picking just the right dress comes with a multitude of challenges. 

Finding the right dress starts well before you ever step foot into a bridal shop – do your research first, and you’ll be better armed to tackle the dress decision.

Pick Designers

If you walk into a dress shop without any idea of what you like, you could be there all day and find nothing that suits you. Instead, look at bridal magazines and online to find designers that consistently catch your eye. 

Research typical prices to make sure they fit your budget, then call area bridal stores to see which ones carry at least two or three of your favorites. 

Make a list of the bridal shops you want to visit, placing the ones who carry all your favorite designers at the top. Make appointments at the top two or three shops, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, keep moving down the list. 

You’re more likely to find your dream dress at a shop carrying three of your favorite designers rather than one that doesn’t carry any of the dresses you already know you like. 

Choose One Feature

Although you might have a dream dress in your head, it’s possible you won’t be able to find it in your price range. But don’t get discouraged! Instead, pick one, or maybe two, features that are the most important to you. 

Maybe you love the way a sweetheart neckline makes you feel, or you’ve always wanted a gown with a train. Setting a couple of priorities about what’s important in your wedding gown helps you narrow your options without feeling disappointed if you can’t find an affordable one with every feature you saw in your dreams. 

Start Early

Finding your dream dress, having it altered and getting refitted is time consuming, so start early – most experts recommend six to nine months before the wedding. 

Alterations on wedding gowns are intricate and detailed, and they can take a couple of months to complete – then you have to go back and try the gown on again, and it’s possible more alterations could be necessary. 

Alterations on wedding gowns are intricate and detailed, and they can take a couple of months to complete.

So you don’t have to rush, start a year to nine months out, if you can. If your wedding timeline is condensed, ask about alteration times before you try on any dresses. Some shops have shorter times, and some dresses are easier to alter than others. This is where picking a couple of important features can really come into play – if you have to pick a dress quickly and it has to be altered even faster, knowing where you’re willing to compromise and where you aren’t can make the process less stressful. 

The Right Silhouette

Understanding your body shape and what flatters you is key to finding your dream dress. Not every dress will look good on every bride, but there is a style that will be the most flattering on you. You are beautiful, and picking the best style for your shape is going to make you feel more confident. 

The bridal shop consultants can be your best friend in this area – they will be honest with you about what flatters your shape. It’s helpful to have a friend or family member with you, but the bridal shop consultants are more likely to tell you the truth. 

Ignore Trends

While it’s tempting to jump on a bridal gown bandwagon, sticking with classic styles, or a style you’ve always wanted, is often a better option. You might like a gown covered in ruffles when it’s all the rage, but 10 years later, you might look at your wedding photos and wonder what you were thinking. 

Some styles seem to bridge the generations, like the ballgown, mermaid, sheath and A-line. Trendy styles might include high-low hems or separate tops and bottoms that leave some midriff exposed, for example. Pearl and lace are traditional details, while feathers are a bit trendier. 


To ensure your dream dress fits like it should, wear the undergarments – especially the bra – you plan to wear at your wedding. It wouldn’t hurt to get a professional fitting done first, just to make sure you have the right size bra. 

This can make the gown drape perfectly, and it will ensure you have the correct alteration measurements. 

If you are planning to wear other shapewear under your bridal gown, wear that on your shopping excursion as well. Although shoes are not technically undergarments, wearing the shoes you plan to walk down the aisle in ensures your dress will be hemmed to the correct length. 

Remember Accessories

As you set your budget and your dress design priorities, think about the accessories you might want, including shoes, jewelry and a veil. The cost of the gown is only part of what you need to spend to complete your look, so work that into your budget. 

If your gown is floor-length, for example, a good place to cut corners would be on your shoes. Save money on cute but comfortable ones that people will barely get a glimpse of as you dance at your reception. 

If shoes are a key piece of your ensemble because your dress is short, maybe skip a veil, or borrow jewelry from your mother or grandmother to help keep costs affordable. Considering all the pieces as part of the whole ensures your dream dress is highlighted with the perfect accessories on your special day. WGW

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.