The one thing so many people avoid talking about when it comes to shopping for the perfect wedding gown is just how exhausting it is.

Being surrounded by so many gorgeous gowns you just can’t wait to try, is exhilarating but there’s a lot more to it than trawling through bridal shops and boutiques.

Establish your budget and style:

What are you prepared to spend?

Will you be putting a little extra aside just in case the dress you want is slightly over your budget and are you willing to settle for something cheaper but still within your style range?

A good rule of thumb is to make a list of what it is you’re looking for in a dress, do some research about the shops and any eliminate any boutique whose price ranges start above what you’re planning on settling for (unless you’re planning on having your dress made and want to visit as many stores as possible for style inspiration).

Either way, narrowing your options is a good way to ensure that you

  • don’t get overwhelmed
  • don’t stray from your objectives unless you’ve exhausted all your other options.

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Take these three things with you when you’re shopping:

  • Stock up on your energy by eating well

It’s never a good idea to go shopping on an empty stomach, especially if you’re planning on making a day of it. Lauren Kay from The Knot recommends that you fuel up and have a hearty meal before you head out since you’ll no doubt be on your feet the entire day.

  • The underwear you wear matters

Depending on the type of dress you will wearing, the underwear that you’ll wear with it could influence what the fit of your dress will look like. 

In terms of bras, many recommend that taking a strapless bra is always a good idea, but depending on what style of dress you’ll be wearing, make sure to take more than one type of bra with you.

Stefania Sainato from says it’s also a good idea to get all of your measurements in order, especially if you have either lost or gained weight. At the end of the day you want to make sure that the bust of your dress fits securely and that the dress you’re wearing doesn’t show panty lines.

  • Take some shoes with you 

If you’re planning on wearing heels on your big day, a good way to ensure you’ve got the overall look down pat is by taking a pair of extra shoes with you (not necessarily the ones you will be wearing, but ones that are similar to what you have in mind for your day).

Model the gown in your shoes and do a walking test around the store to get a feel for the dress and whether the height the shoes gives you makes the dress flow in the way that you want it to.

It will also help to determine whether or not any hem linings may need to be adjusted.

READ MORE: Why can’t I wear white to a wedding?

Finally, add some makeup

You don’t necessarily have to have your entire look, but a general idea of what you want in terms of makeup style (are you going natural, whimsical, dramatic, or glam?) can help you get an idea of the overall look for your wedding day.

Make sure to apply the makeup after you’ve decided on which dress you really have your set on and have a small towel on hand for when removing the dress (you don’t want to get any stains on your gown, after all).

Of course it’s handy to also have your actual hair and makeup trial on the same day as one of your wedding fittings, so try and set a day aside to save on time.

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By the time you do the actual makeup and hair trial, your previous test runs should be over and the dress you’ll be pairing your overall look with should be the one you’ve finally settled on.

What tips have helped you when shopping for a wedding dress? Share your advice with brides-to-be and fellow readers and we’ll feature it in a follow up article.

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