Got the ring? Congrats! Now it’s time to help you find the perfect dress!

Shopping for the dress is the kick-off event for the rest of your wedding planning and festivities. Don’t let the process overwhelm you; it’s meant to be enjoyable. That’s what our bridal stylists at The Dress Shop are here for, to make your wedding dress shopping experience one you won’t want to forget.

Here are our tips for brides searching for the wedding dress of their dreams.

Set a budget

Before you hit the ground running on that dress shopping joyride, stop and set your budget. You don’t want to go into the process until you have a realistic budget, or else you might find your heart set on a dress you can’t afford. Spend some time researching designers and dress styles that you like. Then, call bridal salons to find out the prices on your favorite gowns. It is helpful to go into the process with a realistic expectation as to what bridal gowns cost, and will make your dress search more fun and less stressful.

Start the search early

You want to be able to enjoy your dress shopping experience, so give yourself time and start the search early. While several of our designers can accommodate rush orders for tight timelines, the average time needed to make your dress is up to six months, and most seamstresses require up to three additional months for alterations. We suggest ordering your dress nine to 12 months prior to your wedding date so you have the necessary time built in for fittings. Don’t have that much time? Don’t panic! We have a variety of off-the-rack and rush options to help.

Call ahead to book an appointment

Remember, you are working on a timeline, so be sure to book appointments as soon as you can. This will guarantee we have the exact time slot, the right stylist, and perfect fitting room for your group.

Make a lookbook

In order to pull the right selection of dresses, our stylists need to get a feel for what you’re looking for. The more guidance you can provide, the better! It’s great to be able to concisely articulate what wedding dress styles suit you, which is why we suggest lookbooks. Hop on Pinterest, Instagram, or flip through magazines and style books to get some inspiration to bring with you as you begin your search.

Come to your appointment prepared

Arrive at your appointment with your hair dried and somewhat styled and in light makeup, if any. A fresh and clean look will help give you a better image of what you will look like in your dress. We offer a full range of supplies to provide the finishing touches to your gown ” from undergarments to shoes to accessories. However, if you’ve already chosen specific items you would like to wear with your gown, please bring them with you.

Keep an open mind

Even if you came with a lookbook, don’t be afraid to try on something that you didn’t choose, or even something that might feel out of your normal look. Consider some gowns that are different colors (ivory, champagne, nude, etc.), and try a variety of silhouettes and lengths ” you may be surprised at what you find among the options. You might just fall in love with a dress that you never even thought of trying on!

Remember: dresses look different on hangers, displays, and models than they will look on you. Never thought you’d go strapless? Don’t rule anything out, because it might be your best look. Our stylists are experts at helping you find the perfect gown, so give us the benefit of the doubt when we pull different looks off the racks. Prepare the be pleasantly surprised!

Forget about sizing

Before you start shopping, keep one (very important) thing in mind: sizing does not matter. Especially not in the world of wedding dresses! This isn’t your traditional shopping experience where you search by a size ” nearly every single dress needs alterations and tailoring for a perfect fit. We make sure you leave the salon in a dress that is your size.

Shopping for your dress is one of the most magical pieces of your wedding planning experience ” set aside the stress and nerves and enjoy it! Take these tips with you as you begin the search, but ultimately, listen to your heart. You will know deep down if you love something, so go with your gut instinct and let our bridal stylists help you perfect your entire wedding look.

Get started with your search for the perfect gown and visit The Dress Shop. Call ahead for an appointment 517-546-3600 ” we can’t wait to see you!