Chances are, you’ve gotten the opportunity to try on gowns before. If you went to your high school prom, you’re likely very familiar with the process of perusing a showroom and trying on a bunch of possible dresses. However, shopping for your bridal gown is a unique experience, and it deserves to be treated as such!

You’d be surprised to know how many mistakes brides make when going to their dress fittings. That’s why we’re writing this article—to help you have the most success in this exciting time as possible.

We had a conversation with Megan Hamilton, who is the queen of wedding gowns! She’s worked in bridal boutiques, serving brides like you, as well as behind the scenes with alterations. So, you could say that she knows everything! Luckily for you, she is willing to share some of this knowledge.

TREAT IT LIKE YOUR WEDDING DAY

“You should feel like it’s your wedding day.” This may feel like a cheeky comment, but it’s true! Many brides show up at the boutique simply not looking or feeling their best. Keep in mind that you’re choosing the gown you’ll wear on your wedding day, so consider doing your hair up in a similar way to how you’ll wear it on the big day.

Shower the night before your fitting so that you’re feeling as fresh and clean as possible! Not only is this the courteous thing to do, but also it’s amazing how much better you’ll feel in the gowns if you’re refreshed and clean.

Obviously you don’t want to wear too much makeup, so as to avoid leaving any on the beautiful white gowns you’re trying on. But a little bit will ensure that you feel beautiful in the gowns that you try on.

BRING THE RIGHT THINGS—AND PEOPLE—WITH YOU.

One of the biggest issues that bridal boutiques see is when brides bring too many people! You may want to get the opinions of all of your bridesmaids, and that’s completely up to you. But you may find it easier and more relaxing if you keep the tag-alongs to a minimum. For many brides, they find that their mother and maid of honor are ideal.

With so many people in a room, all weighing in on the dresses they do and don’t like, it can get quite noisy and overwhelming—not to mention, very difficult to arrive at a decision! By keeping the group down to the two ladies whose opinions matter most next to yours, you’ll make sure that you say yes to the right dress without too much hassle.

In addition to your trusted team, you’ll also want to bring shoes and undergarments that are similar to the ones you intend to wear on the day of the wedding.

You may find that you would benefit from getting measured by a professional to ensure that you’re wearing the proper bra or body shaper underneath your wedding gown. “The actresses of old Hollywood always looked perfectly put together and the reason for this was a well fitted foundation,” Megan said. In order to look your best in the dress, having the correct foundation is necessity.

USE THE SERVICE…AND KEEP AN OPEN MIND!

They’re there to serve you—that’s why you scheduled an appointment. Most bridal boutiques don’t allow walk-ins because they want to offer you the service of helping and suggesting gowns.

You’ll likely try on between five and eight gowns during your visit, so be prepared! Of course, you should have some idea of what type of gown you’d like. But unless you’ve done your research and know they have the exact dress in stock, they won’t have the dress you’re imagining in your head. So definitely keep an open mind about the dresses that you try on. Also keep in mind that dresses look very different when they go from the hanger to an actual body.

DON’T LET YOUR EXCITEMENT GET THE BEST OF YOU!

Believe it or not, you can get TOO much of an early start on your dress shopping. You’ll probably start looking through magazines and Pinterest for dress ideas immediately, but you should wait to start scheduling appointments at boutiques. Megan suggests purchasing your gown eight months prior to your wedding date, so that’s a good time to schedule your appointments.

When you go to your appointments, try to limit yourself to ten gowns. We understand that you’d love to try on the whole store in order to find the perfect gown, but this can cause unnecessary confusion. What would happen if you try on two different gowns that simply scream “I’m the one!”? Since you can only wear one gown to your wedding, you’d have to choose between two perfect gowns. It would be a shame to have regrets later on! To avoid this, try on the suggested 5-8 gowns per visit.

MAKE SURE YOUR GOWN FITS!

Since your wedding gown needs to fit your body perfectly, you’ll come back to the boutique for several fittings prior to your wedding. The gown will likely arrive at the boutique four to six months after you purchase it, so your first fitting will fall about three months prior to the wedding. The second and final fitting should be about two or three weeks prior to the wedding, to ensure that everything fits perfectly.

Many brides lose weight during the year leading up to their wedding. If you intend to lose weight during this time, let your seamstress know! They are used to this, and can make the necessary adjustments as long as you stick to your plan. However, so often, brides lose too much weight and then their dress doesn’t fit! If you’ve ever seen a bride have to hike up their strapless gown every five minutes, it isn’t the prettiest sight.

To avoid this, keep your seamstress informed about any weight loss plans you have, and stick to the fitting schedule that you make.

After you’ve figured out all of the nitty gritty details of your dress shopping plan, have fun! You’ve likely been dreaming of wearing your wedding gown since you were a little girl, and you deserve to find a gown that feels perfect for you. Good luck, and happy shopping!

Once you’ve found your Dream Wedding gown, you can commemorate it with a custom illustration you’ll be able to treasure for years to come. After years in the fashion industry, Megan now uses her talents to create custom gown illustrations for brides! This is a great, unique way to remember your Dream Wedding gown, even after it’s been dry cleaned and put in the closet for safe-keeping. For more information on Megan’s illustrations, visit her website!