Many brides view their wedding day as the most important day of their life. And with every eye on the bride as she walks down the aisle and dances the night away, looking one’s best is important. Then, of course, there are the photos that will last a lifetime, and beyond. In other words, the wedding gown is a pretty important aspect of this big day. So there’s a lot of pressure to pick the perfect dress. The good news is that you have no shortage of resources to help you make the right selection. Here are just a few guidelines that should put you on the right track.

  1. Set your budget. It’s not the perfect dress if it’s so far out of your price range that you’ll have to take out a second mortgage or barter your first-born babe to get it. The perfect gown will be gorgeous, flattering, and most importantly, affordable. Unless you’re keen to start married life in debt up to your eyeballs, you need to temper your desire to overspend on the golden goose of gowns. Remember that this is just the beginning of your happily ever after. Don’t spoil the rest by splurging on a wedding dress you can’t really afford.
  2. Do your homework. Visiting a bridal salon packed with dresses can be overwhelming, to say the least. And while you might not want to limit your options, you’re going to have to narrow your choices a bit so that you’re not trying on 200 dresses when you go in for your first appointment. The place to start is by doing some homework. Flip through bridal magazines and look at wedding websites beforehand so that you can come prepared with pictures and notes to give your attendant some direction when it comes to pulling gowns. You don’t have to be so set on certain things that you’re unwilling to try anything else. But you should have some ideas going into the process to save time.
  3. Book an early appointment. Shopping for a wedding gown is unlike other types of clothes shopping – you need to give yourself plenty of time. Not only is it difficult to make a decision on the spot, but you may also have to wait weeks or months for the dress to arrive from the designer. And then you’ll need time for alterations. In short, you need to book your appointment at the bridal salon as early as possible to ensure you can get the gown you want in time for your big day.
  4. Leave the entourage at home. It’s true that feelings might get hurt if you don’t invite everyone to accompany you when you try on dresses. But bringing along too many of your gal pals will cause a cacophony and lead to confusion. Instead, think about who you can trust to give you an honest opinion and then back off to let you make a decision. Bringing just 2-3 ladies along is your best bet for useful input that can actually help you choose the right dress.
  5. Consider all options. There are so many wedding dress styles to choose from that it can be hard to pick your dress. But don’t forget that there are also several options for sources to buy from. Most brides prefer to get a brand new dress from a reputable salon like Allure Bridals. However, you might also consider buying a used gown on eBay or Craigslist. You can find designer gowns that have only been worn once at a fraction of the cost of new, potentially letting you get the dress of your dreams at a price you can afford. Just be careful – with alterations, the sizes listed may not be accurate. You could also rent a designer gown for the day. Not every bride is comfortable with non-traditional options, but they’re something to think about if you’re hitting a wall with your budget.