Shop Smart For Your Dream Dress

You've heard the horror stories -- tearful brides on television trying to get their gown deposits back, home videos of brides' wedding gowns virtually falling apart on them, the gown shop that disappeared overnight and the lipstick smudge that happened right before the ceremony. And maybe you have a family history of very unflattering wedding gowns. Here are some ways to increase your odds of not having a wedding gown nightmare, let alone a bridezilla breakdown.

bride stressed out in wedding dress

8 ways to avoid wedding dress disasters

Be wise . . . when it comes to bridal magazines

Since many bridal glossies don't give price information, don't use them as a resource for shopping. They're great for getting an idea about the styles you want to try on but if you walk into the store with a ripped out magazine photo of your dream dress, you might be dissappointed when you discover it's way out of your price range. 

Be realistic . . . about your body

Also provided by bridal magazines is the false reality that any woman can fit into the designer dresses featured in Vogue and Modern Bride. Do a little research on what wedding dresses are best for flaunting your body features. It will save you a lot of time at the bridal shop trying on dresses that aren't made to flatter your big bust or athletic figure. If you lie to yourself at the fitting, you'll regret it when you don't feel fabulous on your big day. 

Read more: Wedding dresses vs. your body type: How they match up >>

Be conscious . . . about your budget

Let's face it: it's only fun to try on wedding dresses you can't afford when you're not buying one. You might spot a Kate Spade or Vera Wang that has you at hello but if there's no way you can afford it, don't even go there. You'll just be tortured by how nothing else lives up to it. If it's a little over your budget, but still affordable, go for it! It's your bank account -- you make the call. If you just have to have it, ask ourself, "What other expense can take a cut?"

Be useful . . . of your time

This isn't the kind of thing you put off until a week before you're supposed to walk down the aisle. It can take time, precious time, to find your perfect dress and get it altered to meet your needs. Start shopping early -- gather information about what styles and silhouettes you want to try on, pick out the stores you want to pick through, make appointments, decide who your bringing along, etc. There's much more than meets the eye when it comes to wedding gown shopping. Two words: start now.

Be careful . . . of how you store your dress

To some, it might feel like stating the obvious but often it's the most obvious things that brides tend to overlook in their planning fiascos. Store your dress away from direct sunlight. Don't store your gown in a plastic container -- it can create a musty enviornment and over an extended period of time, plastic emits gases that can be harmful to your gown. It might seem silly not to hang your dress, but if it hangs in a closet long enough you might cause the straps to get stressed and stretched. So, if your going to be storing your dress for a lenghy period, fold it neatly and stow in a cardboard box.

Be picky . . . when deciding who to bring shopping

Don't make this shopping trip any more stressful than it has to be. Via lessons from 'Say Yes to the Dress', bringing the whole stinkin' family along can be a huge mistake. Having too many people tag a long can put pressure on you to choose a dress that everyone else likes. If you only bring along one or two close friends/family members, you can focus on what you love. Bottom line, this is your wedding. You get to be picky about anything that will make your wedding day superior after all is said and done.

Be obsessive compulsive . . . about preventing stains

Put a towel over your face when you slip on the dress to make sure your makeup doens't leave any residue behind. Pick your bouquet wisely -- nothing will ruin a wedding dress like a fresh pollen stain just before you're supposed to say 'I Do'. Finally, eat with caution. Fondu tastes great, but we know you don't want to decorate your pearly, white wedding dress with melted chocolate.

Be sure . . . you get a receipt

Before you purchase any dress, ask whoever is helping you about the return policy. Make sure you fully understand the ins and outs of what happens if you get the dress back after alterations and it doesn't fit. In fact, it helps to look up any store policies on their website before going to your appointment.

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