Do your homework
Flip through bridal magazines and visit Brides.com's Wedding Dresses Gallery to find styles and designers you love.
Be realistic and open-minded
What looks fabulous on a model may not flatter your figure. Choose a gown that hides your flaws and plays up your best features. Check out our Custom Fit tool to find the dress that most flatters your figure.
Consider wedding location, time of day and formality
It is important to think about the location and setting of your wedding, the time of day of your wedding, and whether you are having a formal or semi-formal wedding. Answering these questions will help dictate your dress options. You probably won't want a very formal gown for an afternoon beach wedding.
Listen to what friends and brides in your area have to say about salons. If you find the service is bad, move on: You'll be dealing with the salon for months, and poor customer service during try-ons could mean difficulties when it comes time to order—and pick up—your wedding dress.
Some salons allow walk-ins, but by booking an appointment you'll be guaranteed that a consultant will have time to help you. But don't overload: Limit your appointments to two a day. Cramming three salons into one afternoon will leave you tired and stressed.
Be honest about what you can spend, and tell your consultant what that amount is up front. You'll only create heartbreak for yourself if you try on—and love—a wedding dress that you can't afford.
Dress the part
Put on makeup, bring heels, and style your hair for the best idea of how you will look on your wedding day. Also be sure to wear nice lingerie for when you're standing around between try-ons.
Lots of inspiration
Don't forget to bring along magazine photos, your Brides.com My Clippings photos, magazine ads—even your grandma's wedding album—to give salon staffers an idea of what you want. Your consultant will pull dresses based on this information.
Who to bring
Don't invite a crowd of people with you. Two people, your mom and a close friend, are plenty. Three or more will make decision-making stressful and difficult, especially if they're offering conflicting opinions.
Sleep on it
There's no need to make a rush decision, especially since many bridal salons charge a steep fee for returning a gown, or don't allow refunds at all.