How to shop for a wedding dress

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How to shop for a wedding dress

Finding your perfect wedding dress can be as difficult as finding your perfect partner. While you may have to look at several dresses before you find the right one, the process doesn't need to be stressful.

"When the bride puts on that perfect gown her body language totally changes," says Linda Taylor, the owner of Taylor's Bridal Boutique Inc. in Elmira, Ontario. "The smile on her face will not disappear the entire time she has her dream gown on." She shares her advice on finding the right dress as well as her best gown-shopping tips.

1. Whose opinion matters most?
You might think that having as many opinions as possible will be helpful, but bringing along a brigade of friends and family members when you go wedding dress shopping is often anything but.

"Too many opinions can lead to tears of frustration and confusion. It's also hard for a sales associate to help the bride find the perfect dress when her family and friends keep bringing her gowns," explains Taylor. "A bride should honestly only bring the one or two people she trusts the opinions of most and whose opinions matter the most."

Remember that shopping for your dress should be fun and exciting, not stressful. By keeping differing viewpoints to a minimum you'll be better able to focus on the opinion that matters most: yours.

2. Don't be pressured
Finding the right dress requires a worry-free mindset that won't be swayed by high-pressure sales tactics. "If you are not 100 per cent sure, go home and sleep on it. Or walk away and go for lunch just to have a clear mind," Taylor advises. "If the salon tries to tell you that you need to order your dress that day to avoid discontinuation of the gown or price increases, they are trying to pressure you."

Aside from potential pressure from sales associates, make sure you're not in a position where your friends or family members also inflict pressure. "Another mistake that brides can make is falling in love with the gown they want to wear, only to give in to a family member or friend who feels another gown is perfect for them," Taylor says. "No bride should walk down the aisle in a gown she does not truly love."

Page 1 of 2 -- Find out why it's important to choose the right wedding dress for your body type on page 2.
3. Find a wedding dress in your price range
Since there are gorgeous gowns at every price point, there really is no need to break the bank. Make sure you have a clear budget in mind before you shop and don't allow yourself to be persuaded by expensive dresses.

"Never, ever try on a gown that is above your budget," warns Taylor. "My theory is if you fall in love with it you will not be able to settle on another. Do not give into a high-pressure sales associate who tells you to just try it on to see how it feels."

For brides on a budget, there are usually deals available during seasonal stock turnover. "I suggest watching for sample sales," Taylor advises. "All shops need to clear out last season's inventory to make room for the new arrivals, and you can generally get a nice savings on the stock sample."

4. Consider any hidden costs
Ideally, your gown will come from a full-service shop with its own alteration department. This will allow you to work with fitting experts who are with you throughout the entire process, and it will also eliminate the need to pay extra for a perfect fit.

"You don't want to be surprised with an alteration bill that's half the cost of the gown," says Taylor. "Some shops will offer you a big discount if you buy the gown today, but they can more than make it up with alterations and other hidden costs," she warns. "Ask about the hidden costs -- it's your right to know."

5. Choose the right wedding dress for your body type
While it's OK to have a specific style in mind when shopping for your wedding dress, it's equally important to be open-minded. "You can see a model in a gown that looks absolutely beautiful on her and feel this is the gown for you, when in reality it may not be," says Taylor. Leave it to the professionals to help you choose a dress that marries your perfect idea and your body type.

"A gown that looks unappealing on the hanger can look absolutely beautiful on the body. The sales associates know the shop's inventory and should be able to help you find the perfect gown," she explains.

The most important part of shopping for your wedding dress is to have fun. Make an appointment at a few different boutiques and leave the tough stuff up to the professionals. Keep an open mind and a stress-free outlook, and when you try your dress on, you'll just know.

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How to shop for a wedding dress