From budget to body shape, there are lots of things to consider when shopping for your dream dress. Here are 10 important points to think about before you part with any of your hard-earned cash…

Stick to your budget

While it may seem limiting to have to put a ceiling on your spending, the amount that you decide to spend on your dress can provide a good opportunity for you to narrow down the choices.

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Research your local shops

Through thorough research you can become familiar with what is on offer from the different shops and designers in your locality. It’s definitely best to have an idea of price in your mind before heading off on those initial appointments. Look for dresses that you like in our Wedding Collections section and then find your local stockists.

Consider your day

The ceremony, be it formal or informal, will be one of the chief factors to bear in mind when buying your gown. Picture yourself saying your vows and imagine the atmosphere that you will have worked so hard to create. At this point, your guests will be focused on you more than at any other time, so you’ll want to feel happy and confident.

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Keep an eye on the weather

Remember to maintain a practical approach where the weather is concerned. We all know how difficult it is to predict the weather, but you don’t want to be too hot or, on the other hand, to shiver your way through the proceedings. Talk about the time of year you’ll be getting married with your bridal boutique and they can advise you on the type of fabric you should choose for the season.

Be mindful of your venue

The reception is where the party really starts to get under way, so you won’t want concerns about your dress stopping you from having fun. To get the best from your venue, be it a hotel, village hall or decorated barn, be sure of the environment that each will provide. Do you want to be able to dance the night away? This will be almost impossible in a tight, figure-hugging fishtail gown. Consider a floaty skirt, a skirt with a hoop or perhaps a shorter dress for the evening.

Remember your image and your theme

When you’re shopping for your wedding dress, keep at the forefront of your mind an image of the overall look that you want for your wedding. From the smallest of details to the major ingredients, the approach to wedding design seems to be an ever more coordinated one. You can always get away with a peculiarity or two, but the style of your dress should harmonise happily with the rest of your arrangements.

Be honest with yourself

Be honest with yourself about your body shape, but not brutally so as wedding gowns will sculpt you to some degree, especially if they have an internal corset. And also think about your colouring. Not every bride suits white or ivory – consider Champagnes and blush pinks when shopping for your gown. Colour is big news for 2014!

Don’t get carried away

Remember that your wedding will be a gathering of friends and family, many of whom you may not have seen for some time. Don’t get too carried away with the theatre of the occasion and dismiss comfort from your tick-list when buying your dress.

A clash of personalities

For the majority of brides, the selection of accessories follows naturally after the decision on the wedding dress. However, frequently brides are lucky enough to be able to use a family heirloom or a traditional piece as the focal point around which to build the rest of their wedding look. An antique tiara doesn’t demand a dress from the same era, but make sure that you decide where your emphasis will lie in order to ensure that the features of your dress and those of your accessories don’t conflict.

Constructive criticism

Strictly speaking, your attendants shouldn’t have a direct effect on your buying decision, but ultimately their opinions may well influence your final choice. Be warned! While only the most confident among you should go shopping for that dress alone, do limit your party to only the most trusted and constructive of pals.

One final word…

Let the shop assistant know what stage of your dress search you have reached. If this is your first session with different styles, you won’t feel pressured into making a commitment that you’re not ready for. Bring your imagination into play, perhaps to envisage a bespoke design or to picture the dress that you are trying on as a perfect fit (despite it being a size up or down from your own).

If you’re still hunting for the one, our Wedding Dress Collections section can help you find the bridal gown of your dreams!