Hello, friends. Sorry I haven't posted in a while! Wedding plans have started to pick up, which unfortunately means less time for blogging.

Speaking of wedding planning, I must admit to you that I went into this whole process without much to go on. You know those girls who have been planning their wedding since age 5 and have Pinterest boards upon Pinterest boards to prove it? Yeah, that wasn't me. And while I'm typically very comfortable in the world of fashion, bridal fashion threw me for a loop. Luckily, experience can be an excellent teacher, so I thought I'd share with you a few tips that I picked up along the way. Enjoy!

1. Choose your wedding theme first.
A jewel-encrusted ballgown and tiara might feel a bit out of place at a rustic, shabby-chic reception. Establishing the feel of your wedding first will give you a solid starting point for dress shopping.

2. Set a budget and stick to it.
Once at the shop, you may have salespeople pressuring you to up your price point, especially if they're paid on commission. As a budget bride you may have to look a little harder, but
you CAN find gorgeous dresses of good quality for just a few hundred dollars.

3. Pre-shop online.
Browse Pinterest, boutiques, wedding websites, blogs, and even big box retailers before you actually set foot in a store to discover general likes and dislikes. Rhinestones or no rhinestones? Long or short? Full or sleek? Shiny or matte? Knowing your preferences will make it much easier for the sales associates to find items you may like.

4. Choose your advisers wisely.
It can be tempting to invite a bunch of friends and family members to tag along for your shopping trip, but this is definitely a less-is-more scenario. Stick to just a couple of people who know you well and will be honest with their opinions.

5. Keep an open mind.
Remember the preferences you established in Step 3? Release your vise-like grip on them and be open to trying the suggestions of others. A dress that you loved in a magazine might look totally different in person, or on you! An experienced salesperson may have a better idea of what will flatter your figure. It's important to know what you like, but be willing to try new things, even just for the heck of it. You may end up loving something that you hadn't previously considered.

6. Know your venue's regulations.
I know some churches require dresses with sleeves, so make sure you're complying with your venue's rules, if applicable.

7. Give yourself the first look.
You've carefully slipped on the gown and are about to throw open the fitting room doors to show your entourage. But wait! Before they get their first glimpse, take a good look at yourself in the mirror and decide how YOU feel about it. Once you have an opinion, step on out and hear the thoughts of your companions. Their opinions can certainly influence your decision, but at the end of the day, you'll be the one wearing the dress.

8. Be prepared for what goes underneath.
Remember that you will be spending many hours in your dress. You'll be taking a billion photos, hugging guests, and maybe even dancing. Comfort is an important factor to take into consideration, and if going strapless or backless generally makes you uncomfortable, that's probably not going to change on your wedding day. If you do choose to go that route, be sure to do a lot of research and find undergarments that will fit your needs and stay in place all day long! A wardrobe malfunction is the last thing you want to be worrying about.

9. Take additional fees into account.
Buying the dress is just the first step. There may be shipping and handling fees, and alterations can be very expensive. If you do need your dress fitted, I would recommend shopping around before going with an in-house seamstress as you may be able to get a better deal from an independent tailor. However, be sure to check reviews before taking the plunge! You'll only want an experienced professional handling your beautiful gown.

10. Don't wait for "the one."
If you're waiting for an epic, Say-Yes-To-The-Dress moment to help you in your final decision, don't hold your breath. While some brides claim to have experienced this sensation, many don't, and the truth is that there are probably many dresses out there that will look fabulous on you. In the end, pick one that you love and feel beautiful in.

11. Be (somewhat) practical.
If you've planned a dance as part of your reception, make sure you can enjoy it too! You may dream of sporting a train to rival that of Princess Diana, but it won't do you much good once the DJ takes over for the evening. Consider getting a dress with a train that can be removed or pinned up to allow for dancing, or change into a completely different dress after the ceremony is over and your pictures have been taken.

To all the brides and brides-to-be out there, are there any tips you would add to this list? I'd love to hear them!

Thanks for stopping by!

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