The day has arrived to shop for your wedding dress. The golden ticket is on your ring finger, your date has been set and it is time to venture out into the seas of ivory, lace and something blues for the shopping trip you have dreamt about since you were little. But while visions of Pinterest boards dance in your head, it can become overwhelming to choose the wedding dress that suits you.

If the pressure is mounting to find the dress of your dreams, don’t worry. We have compiled an expert guide designed by bridal stylists to prepare you for your first dress appointment and help you find the gown of your dreams with ease.

  1. Trust Your Consultant

First, trust your consultant and don’t be afraid to try on gowns he or she suggests that fall outside of your traditional comfort zone.

These men and women are your confidantes during the appointment. They will help you charter the unknown waters and keep you focused and on track; ensuring that the initial enthusiasm surrounding the dress hunt does not morph into exhaustion.

Every day bridal stylists help women find the gown of their dreams. Many times it was a dress the bride-to-be was reluctant to try on or a style she had crossed off her list. Trust that the day-to-day experience of your salesperson has given them some insight into what will flatter your body and meet your aesthetic standards. One big thing to keep in mind is that detail is often lost on the hanger. Just because the flower on the shoulder or the ruching on the bodice looks too busy or too gaudy does not mean it will look the same way on a body.

2. Only Bring Support Friends and Family 

Although it may be incredibly tempting to invite the entirety of your close friends and family to your appointment, having a large entourage accompany you can quickly transform an appointment from an exciting shopping trip into a nerve racking experience.

The majority of bridal boutiques are small and crowded enough without your fiancé’s cousin’s friend joining the party; so only shop with a supportive group whose opinions matter the most to you and whom have your best interests at mind. Miss Negativity does not deserve a sacred spot on the stylist’s sofa.

Kleinfeld’s bridal consultants advise selecting two or three loved ones (five at the max), to accompany you to gown appointments. The more people you invite, the greater the chance there is that you’ll end up overwhelmed, confused or upset by an unwanted opinion on a gown you may deem to be the one.

3. Arrive With an Open Mind 

You loved the dress you saw on last week’s I Found The Gown episode with the champagne colour lace and sweetheart neckline. Or was it a scoop neckline? Or was it satin?

Brides today are swimming in imagery. From countless Pinterest boards to shows flooded with top designers and beautiful gowns, it can be hard to focus in on one style that is a good fit for their shape and wedding.

Randy Fenoli, fashion director for Kleinefeld Bridal and of Say Yes to the Dress fame, says if you are stuck on one specific style before your first appointment and remain stubborn to change, you’re only headed towards disappointment.

“I cannot tell you how many brides come in swearing they want a ball gown, yet end up loving the complete opposite in a slinky sheath instead — and vice versa,” said Fenoli to the Today Show. “Brides arrive and claim they want no beading or bling but then can easily fall in love with a head-to-toe beaded number with an open mind and the right stylist.” 

As well, the majority of bridal shops will only let you book an hour-long appointment. And, while one hour is plenty of time to try on a lot of dresses, if you can narrow down your options before stepping foot into your first gown, you’re in for a less overwhelming and much more productive shopping experience.

4. Physically Prepared 

Arrive to your appointment prepared to focus on your wedding image. Yes, the dress is a big part of the finished look, but it will be much easier to imagine wearing one of these gowns if you don’t look like you just rolled out of bed. Though a stretchy headband and messy bun perched on top of your head may be your day-to-day look, this casual appearance can make your dress feel out of place and bizarre in comparison.

Stylists do not believe you should arrive looking wedding ready, but having a put together appearance can ease the selection process and help you focus in on the dress and how it makes you feel.

5. Have the Questions Answered 

Setting the parameters of your wedding before heading to the land of lace and tulle can be the key to choosing your bridal gown. Venue, time of the year, outdoors or indoors – all of these factors are what create your wedding and your gown is the cherry on top. And though you do not have to choose a dress that cookie-cutter fits your style of wedding, by having these questions answered you can easily break a tie that may occur between two gowns.

But the biggest question of all is budget. All stylists agree that no bride should start shopping if the question of how much is still hanging in the air.

6. Don’t Get Hung Up on Sizes 

As body types have changed throughout the decades, bridal size charts have not.

Wedding gowns are created on European sizing and fit small. Based on your shape, this may require brides to order two sizes bigger than they would ordinarily wear. This does not mean you are not built for bridal. European sizing runs small as it is based on couture fashions and it has become a tradition of the wedding industry to use these sizing methods.   

If a stylist has heard it once, they have heard it a thousand times. I am going to lose weight before my wedding, I need a smaller size; I can’t be a size 12 my jeans are a size eight.  Because the sizing of these gowns is foreign to our regular clothing, choose to avoid the stress and ignore your preconceived ideas on size and its correlation to your body. Simply trust the designer’s size chart. The majority of stylists suggest ordering a size a touch bigger than your current state and having it altered to fit you perfectly.

7. Be Prepared to Say Yes

Finding the perfect dress but not being ready to stop shopping can be disheartening for your family, the stylist and yourself. Many women have a hard time ending their search, even after they have found their dream dress, for a number of reasons: they have a fear of missing out on another shopping experience, what if a better dress is out there at another store or they don’t want to stop feeling like a new bride.

“Designer gowns should be ordered six to nine months in advance to ensure there is enough time for delivery and alterations,” says Mara Urshel, the co-owner of Kleinfeld. “Though many women have a hard time committing to a gown, they need to ensure that they have given themselves a sufficient amount of time to actually get the gown in and altered.”

The key to overcoming this anxiety and saying yes to the dress? Listen to your gut. You knew your fiancé proposed that they were the one for you, so harness that feeling while shopping. If you have found a gown that makes your heart sing, you know it is the one. There will be plenty other wedding planning excursions post dress that will get you just as excited about your wedding day.

Written By: Gabrielle Tieman