The dress is one of the most important aspects of your big day, so here are our fool-proof tips to make sure your wedding dress shopping experience is as smooth as it is special…

Start early

It may feel too early to start searching for your gown the moment you get engaged, but many brides are surprised to learn that you may need up to a year to find the dress of your dreams! Even if you discover your ideal gowns straight away, many bridal boutiques will need a minimum of eight to six months to order in your gown.

On a tight schedule? Off-the-peg bridal designs can be ordered and altered within 12 weeks!

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Figure out what you like

Have a flick through the pages of Wedding Ideas and check out our dress collections online to figure out the styles you’d like to try on once you start shopping. Have a think about which shapes and fabrics are appropriate for your venue and the season you’re marrying in.

Remember, don’t think too much about fashion – finding something to suit your body shape is much more important at this stage, and you can add your own fashionista touches later!

Set a budget

Before you step foot in a boutique, have a clear idea of how much you want to spend on your gown. Don’t get sucked in to trying on dresses that you can’t afford, even for fun – you might end up falling in love with it and busting your budget, or worse, ending up heartbroken when you can’t afford it.

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Get recommendations

Ask your married friends where they got good service. First one to tie the knot? Our real brides are full of great advice – check out the Wedding Ideas Forum and Facebook page, and see who they voted for in the British Wedding Awards 2015 for a good idea.

Set priorities

We advice that you get your gown sorted before shelling out on accessories or bridesmaid dresses. You might end up choosing a style you weren’t expecting, and if it doesn’t match up to what you’ve already bought then you may have a costly mistake on your hands!

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Make a moodboard

Are you thinking glam or boho? Make a wedding moodboard of your favourite colours and styles, and take it to your dress appointment so the boutique assistant can get a real idea of the look you’re trying to achieve and can recommend dresses to match your theme.

Buy the right underwear

Before your first trying-on session, make sure you invest in a nice, seam-free pair of knickers and a strapless bra, as it’ll give you a clearer idea of how you’ll look on the big day.

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Try on everything!

You might have a certain look in mind, but don’t be afraid to try different styles – you might be surprised. Try on a range of different shapes, and your perfect dress might be something you didn’t expect.

Sort your shoes

You’ll need to sort out your bridal shoes before your second dress fitting so that your skirt can be altered to the correct length. Go for a heel height that you’re comfortable with, and wear them in on carpet before the wedding day.

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Stop looking!

Once you’ve found the gown, don’t torture yourself by looking at all the new styles for the following year. Your wedding dress is ‘the one’ for a reason – if you can’t wait to put it on and get down that aisle, then you don’t need to keep on looking!

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