So, you’re clueless about finding a dress? Fear not. Arm yourself with some basics and you can enjoy a fearless approach to the wedding dress hunt. As daunting of a task as it might seem, this is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning, so enjoy it!

Start with the most important: be realistic. If your figure is less than flattering in a certain style, avoid, avoid, avoid! Think about what compliments your body; this might not necessarily be the dress you had imagined in your childhood dreams, but it can come close. Try on a lot of different styles; be open to things that might not look great on the hanger but could fit beautifully. You never know what you might fall in love with! Take a look at your closet; what is your go-to dress?

And along that note, let your sales associate pick for you!  She or he knows what they are doing.  Allow them the freedom to pull a few looks for you and give them a try, even if you would not have selected them yourself.  You might be surprised at what you love!

Not quite sure where to even begin? Refer to your venue. Look to your location to lend a hand and influence the kind of gown that will not only look fabulous on you, but also go well with your surroundings. If you were exchanging vows at a Gothic church in December, you wouldn’t shop for something that screams summery and fun, right?

Plan ahead. Give yourself plenty of time to avoid the types of disasters that can come with time-sensitive matters. It might seem like all you have to do is walk into a bridal salon, try on a few gowns, fall head over heals and hand over your card. This is typically not the case; there are a lot of factors that are involved in ensuring your dress is perfect for you. Depending on your situation, this includes anything from simple to complex alterations, cleaning or ordering issues. Start shopping nine months before your big day. If you don’t have that much time, a budget for potential rush charges.  Oh, and make an appointment.  Most bridal salons work by appointment only.

Work within your budget. How much are you willing to spend on a dress? Some gowns might cost three times what you had in mind, but that doesn’t mean it’s three times better. Spend time looking at your options and become familiar with what is out there. Do some research! Consider also veil, shoe and alteration costs too.

Don’t let anyone push you in any one direction. When you go shopping, bring someone with you who knows your personality and your style and is familiar with your wedding details and won’t push their agenda on you.  You certainly don’t want buyer’s remorse!

And lastly, once you have the beautiful bridal gown, stop looking.  You’ve made a great decision, no need to tempt yourself with what else is out there!

All Photos by Scott Clark for JLM Boutique.