I am getting married in October and have tried on quite a few dresses at this point. I now have my dress and found the process to be painless and fun, so I wanted to share my best advice for all you brides and brides-to-be. πŸ‘°πŸΎπŸ’βœ¨
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    Set a budget
    And don't forget to factor the veil into your budget as well!
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    Have an idea of what you want
    Some of these bridal shops have upwards of 50-75 dresses in them. If you go in having absolutely no idea what you want, it's extremely easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. Look at necklines, silhouettes, fabrics, etc. beforehand to determine what you do and do not like. Being able to eliminate even a couple of styles will really help narrow the pool.
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    If you're getting married in a religious setting, know the guidelines
    Many houses of worship don't allow bare shoulders or certain necklines, so knowing what the rules are will inform your search and save you stress later.
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    Do your due diligence
    Before shopping, I read up on designers, browsed lookbooks, checked reviews of all the stores I planned to visit, etc. - and went in a savvy and informed shopper as a result. There's so much information online about wedding gowns and where to buy them; it's well worth the time to read up in preparation for such a significant purchase.
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    Make an appointment
    Most bridal salons will not see you without one, and there's nothing worse than getting dolled up and excited only to find out there's no availability that day.
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    Look for trunk shows
    If there's a designer you love, find out if there's a trunk show coming to a store in your area. Trunk shows give you a chance to preview new collections, and they also offer discounts if you buy your dress then and there.
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    Choose your crew carefully
    The phrase "too many cooks in the kitchen" certainly applies when it comes to shopping for wedding dresses. There's no pleasing everyone, and all it takes is one comment to alter your perception of a dress you may have actually really loved. When deciding who will go along, consider if the person's presence will stress you, and think about whether or not you truly value their opinion. Personally, I only had my mom and sister involved and I thought it was perfect. Go alone if you want to!
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    Wear nude undergarments
    It's incredibly distracting otherwise.
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    Look presentable
    This sounds ridiculous, but I went dress shopping without makeup + a greasy topknot once and it was distracting to the point where I just couldn't imagine getting married in any of the dresses I tried that day.
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    Don't shop when you're hungry or exhausted
    You'll be in and out of twenty dresses, there's a person in the fitting room with you pinning/clipping you in and out of everything, you're with your mom/sisters/mothers-in-law/aunts/grandmothers/BFFs - while it's all so much fun, I think most would agree it's a lot to take in even when you're totally content. Do yourself the service of being fed and rested when you go.
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    Don't look at dresses that are completely out of your budget
    I've heard many stories of women who had their heart set on a dress outside their budget early on and every dress they tried on after was incredibly disappointing in comparison. Don't do that to yourself!
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    Have an open mind
    Trust the bridal professional and allow them to pick a few things for you. They have been fitting people for wedding gowns for a long time, and often they'll suggest something you may not gravitate to at first but end up loving. Also, a dress that looks just okay on the rack could end up being absolutely perfect - but you'll never know if you don't try it on, so try everything!
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    Know the lead time
    Every single designer has a different lead time, and even the same designer can have differing lead times across collections. Many dresses can take up to seven months! Know the lead time and make sure you're completely comfortable with it before you buy.
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    Start a shared photostream
    Every time we shopped for dresses, the contenders were added to a shared photostream that my mom, my sister, and I could all look at and discuss.
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    Go for the bigger size instead of the smaller one
    It's easy to remove excess fabric or take the bodice in a few extra inches, but it's virtually impossible to add material.
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    Read the contract in detail
    Buying a wedding dress kinda feels like you're signing your life away no matter what, but DO NOT sign the contract until you have read it carefully and understand things like the return policy (FYI - most won't actually have one since gowns are completely custom!) and the store's alteration and shipping processes.
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    Ask for a swatch
    It's quite helpful to have a piece of the fabric with you while your dress is being made. As an example, my veil was made by a veil maker, not the dress designer - so I needed to send the veil maker the dress swatch to match the color and compare lace.
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    Don't look at dresses anymore
    Once you've purchased your wedding dress and you know you cannot return it, stop looking at dresses. I have heard of brides who just couldn't help but look and subsequently felt serious buyer's remorse, which is an awful thing to feel after making a significant and irreversible financial decision. Save yourself that feeling and trust in your choice!
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    Remind yourself of what your dress looks like once in a while
    There are so many horror stories of brides who picked a dress and by the time it arrived six months later, they had completely forgotten what it looked like and then hated it. I know this sounds strange, but the lead times are so long that this is actually quite common - so refresh your memory! If you don't have a picture of yourself in it, find one online that you can periodically reference.
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    Lastly, but perhaps most importantly - do it exactly the way YOU want to
    Don't let anyone tell you a cut won't flatter you or that you should look at certain styles over others. Get the wedding dress you feel awesome in and wear it with a big smile.