Shopping for THE dress can be quite stressful and overwhelming so doing some online research prior to beginning your search will help a lot!
Define your style.
Would you like formal or informal? What is your theme for example vintage, bohemian etc . Look through your current wardrobe - consider the necklines and shapes that are your favourite and highlight your best features. Research the designers that are showcasing those luxe.
Bring a friend.
Choose someone who knows you well and will critique fairly and honestly.
Wear nude strapless underwear it will give you the best base for most shapes as well as save your blushes as you will be helped into most styles. For fittings, you should be wearing exactly what you will be wearing on the day to ensure best fit, including shoes etc.
Weigh it up.
Whether it is up or down the scales you may like to go; make sure it is realistic and don't start trying on dresses until you are, at most, two sizes away from your ideal weight. Not only will you cost yourself in unnecessary alterations but it may completely change the look and shape of the dress.
Sync those dates.
For final fitting, try sync hair trials to overview your look. Be thinking about lip colours and make up look etc at this stage.
There is no point visiting many shops with the same suppliers. Pre online research will help narrow down the designers you would like to view.
Not recommended. I've heard many horror stories about brides buying cheap alternatives and being let down. if its cheap, then more than likely corners have been cut on fabric and construction. Cheaper more leads to extra creasing (not a good look in photos) and potential snagging. Buy from recommended outlets and check out their reviews and forums.
Not to be underestimated! Speaking from experience, having the perfect dress can bring its challenges especially when going to bathroom. How long will it take you to undress, how many people will it take to help you?!
This is very important. Is the business well established? Suss the staff - are they helpful and honest? This is the most important and probably the most expensive dress shopping you are ever going to do so you will need to be able to approach these people and work with them for at least 3 visits.
Know what you are willing to spend but take into consideration the cost of fittings. Some shops can charge 120 per alteration and if you need a few, you wont see this adding up. Also don't be afraid to negotiate the marked price or ask your friend to on your behalf!
Before committing google the dress style code and see the images online or even better catwalk videos.
Make it fun!
It will help ease the stress, Pump the girly tunes, hit the road and build your trip around some nice lunch (afterwards if youre a bloater :)) and perhaps a post shop analysis glass of wine.
Box it off.
Once you have commited to THE dress, try, with all your might, not to look at the dress again until the big day or look at any other dress for that matter, you will ony confuse yourself and take away from the impact on the morning of your big day!