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Shopping for a wedding dress can be overwhelming, given the endless possibilities. Just remember that no matter your budget, shape, personal taste, wedding size, or wedding type, there is a perfect dress out there just waiting for you to find it. 

Wedding dresses take time to produce, and most are manufactured overseas, which can mean long shipping times and possible delays as they go through customs. You should be shopping for your wedding dress six-to-nine months before your wedding to ensure that it can be ordered and altered. If you’re already past that point, some bridal salons will let you buy the sample dresses, or they can rush order your dress for an extra fee.

Be sure to make appointments at any bridal shop you wish to visit. Plan to visit several, since they carry different designers and styles. Above all, don’t forget to bring along your mom, your fiancé’s mom, and your best gal pals! Don’t visit more than a couple per day, since you’ll want time to process what you’ve tried on and narrow down what you liked. Make some mental notes while you’re trying dresses on so you can write down the details later.

Do your research before you do any shopping, because having an idea about what you want can be incredibly helpful, both for you and your consultant. Browse bridal magazines and Pinterest, and put the styles you like into a folder to take to your appointment. However, you should also keep an open mind when it comes to trying dresses on. Your consultant may take the opportunity to try out another style if the initial one isn’t working. You may like something entirely different than you expected, so let them show you alternatives!

Before you head to your local bridal shop, favorite bridal store chain, or bridal warehouse, take a moment to consider the theme and location of your wedding. This will help you narrow your search. For example, a princess wedding dress with a long train may be beautiful, but not well-suited to a breezy destination wedding on the beach. Strapless wedding dresses may fit the standard idea of what you think a bridal dress should be, but the time of year or location of your venue may make wedding dresses with straps, sleeves, or a jacket more practical.

While considering these factors will certainly help you narrow the field, the most important factors in trimming down your search are your personal style and which silhouettes make you feel the most confident. If you hate lace, and curve-hugging dresses make you feel self-conscious, it is probably safe to assume that lace-covered, form-fitting wedding dresses can be crossed off the list. You want to look beautiful and bridal on your wedding day, but you also want to be comfortable and feel like yourself.

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