For as long as I can remember I have been dreaming about my wedding dress. As a little girl, it started with Disney princesses, hit a high point in my teens when I fell madly in love with the Vera Wang dress that Kate Hudson wears in Bride Wars, and from then on it’s been Pinterest all the way.

I fulfilled a dream of mine last year in preparation for my Aunt’s big day when I was able to accompany her on her search for the perfect dress. I was so excited to actually be entering a bridal shop with (someone else’s) buying intentions, rather than just to look. The options were endless, which for me (just an assisting onlooker) was really exciting. The bride, on the other hand, was feeling a little overwhelmed. Here are a few tips and tricks that I found useful in finding you the ones dress you’re gonna love.

  1. Start at a boutique. The leading lady here at Villa St. Clair always advises that brides-to-be visit a bridal boutique to try on dresses before shopping at chain stores like David’s Bridal. The reason is because the assistants at bridal boutiques are skillfully trained to fit and style according to what looks best on you. With their words of wisdom in mind you can then start the process according to your budget
  2. Know your budget. Once you have actually started looking for “the one” be verbal about how much you’re willing to spend. There is no worse feeling than taking a dress (any dress) whose cost is unbeknownst to you, falling in love with it and then not being able to purchase it. There is a dress out there just for you that exists within your budget, stay focused.
  3. Ignore the size. Dress sizes differ with each designer, and according to APW’s: Ulitmate Guide to Wedding Dress Shopping,“the more high end and couture that a dress is, the smaller the sizes are going to run. This is because they are going off of vintage sizing.” Don’t let a possible change in size deter you from purchasing a dress that you love just because you think you’re a size 6 but walk into a store and all of a sudden you’re a size 10. It’s not you.
  4. When in doubt, put on a tiara. If you are on the verge of saying yes to a dress, but are having reservations, amp it up! Try to create a vision of what you want to look like on your wedding day. If you are still feeling unsure at that point, try on other dresses.
  5. Don’t take a large party with you. Everyone wants to be involved in helping you find your perfect dress, but the old saying “the more the merrier” doesn’t usually apply in this situation. Take those trusted few that are going to assist you in finding a dress that YOU love, not one that they love, on you. Speaking as one who has experience in the onlooking department, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the yards of delicate white fabric and overwhelm the poor bride with sheer number. I know that you love every single aunt, cousin, friend, etc. but less is more.

Good luck and happy shopping!