Finding the right dress can be easy for some and impossible for others. Take it from me, I tried on 43 wedding dresses before I found my dress. Everyone’s experience will be different. But here are a few tips I’ve learned to help simplify this process for you, before you even step into a salon. 

Bring Your Accessories: While most salons will have shoes for you to try on with your gown, you should still go prepared with a nude bra and underwear for the fittings. Also, take shoes with a similar height as what you plan on wearing, so you can see how the dress falls with your heels. Try on your dress with veils or hair pieces before you decide. You want to get an idea of how the whole look will come together. 

Don’t Try on Dresses You Can’t Afford: You see a stunning gown on a mannequin that is way out of your price range, but you want to try it on just for fun. What’s the harm? Don’t do it! It can lead to heartbreak and disappointment. You need to be able to afford anything you try on. Make sure you are completely clear on your budget before you hit the salon—and make sure that the salon you choose respects your budget. 

Understand Your Budget: Let’s say your budget is US$2,000. That doesn’t mean you can buy a dress with a list price of $2,000. Alterations typically cost extra, and you may also be charged tax and delivery, so don’t max out your fashion budget on just the dress. Whether it’s something small like a hem, or something major like taking in (or letting out) the bodice, it can add up. You’ll also need to account for undergarments, shoes, a veil and/or hair accessory, jewelry, and any other accessories you’ll want to complete your bridal look. 

Keep An Open Mind: Don’t eliminate anything at first glance. If the salesperson brings you something, try it—even if you don’t initially love it or think it’s totally ‘you’. It’s possible to fall for a wedding gown you didn’t think you’d like or want. Not every dress looks great on a hanger, and you might have to let go of some preconceived notions and keep an open mind. 

Keep Your Circle Tight: It might be tempting, but don’t bring an entourage along when you try on dresses. A crowd of different opinions can be overwhelming and drown out your true thoughts and feelings about a gown. Try to only bring along one or two friends or family members. That way you can really decide what’s best for you. 

Buy a Dress That Fits Now (Even if you’re planning on dropping 15lbs): The truth is, if you do or if you don’t, your body type isn’t going to completely change between now and your wedding day. Besides, it’s a lot easier (not to mention less expensive) to take a gown in than to try and make a ‘too-small’ dress work. 

Read the Fine Print: When you order your gown, it’s important to triple-check the contract. Read it carefully, so you don’t end up with the wrong size or color. Also get the designer, style number, measurements, delivery date, the price of the gown and number of fittings, as well as the deposit amount, all in writing. 

Trust Your Instincts: If you have to be reassured that the dress looks great on you, it’s probably not ‘the one’. If you can’t see yourself walking down the aisle in it, move on. When you find the right dress, you’ll know—you won’t want to put on anything else. If you’re not sure, leave and come back the next day.