Don’t set foot in the bridal salon without brushing up on your gown shopping basics.

Bride with mother trying on wedding dress

PHOTO BY JENNABETH PHOTOGRAPHY

Before you head out with all those magazine tears and the will to power through countless wedding gowns, we’ve got a few tips for you. Like, should you bring a bra to your appointment? Or are there any secret costs to know about up front? Brush up on these tips before slipping into your first dress.

1. You should limit your entourage.

Wedding dress shopping tips

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—bringing a big group to the salon is a gown shopping don’t! Enlist one or two of your closest pals to help you start your search. This way you can find the gown of your dreams and not feel pressured by others’ opinions.

2. Hidden costs add up.

Remember, your wedding gown budget doesn’t just include the dress. Your veil or headpiece and alterations will also add to your bottom line. Be sure to factor in these costs before you give the salesperson your final gown-shopping budget.

3. Undergarments are optional.

Wedding dress shopping tips

Before you head into your appointment sans underwear and claim The Knot said it was okay, read this: Most bridal shops have a few different types of bras in the fitting room. If you have a favorite strapless style or plan on wearing a particular body shaper, go ahead and bring it. You’ll ultimately need your gown-specific undergarments for your first fitting but not your initial appointment.

4. Salons take requests (really!).

Just because a bridal salon carries your favorite designer, that doesn’t mean it’ll have the exact wedding dress you’ve been dying to try on. If you phone in advance and request a specific style, chances are that a salon staffer will able to call for a sample of that gown especially for you.

5. You shouldn’t get discouraged.

There are hundreds of bridal designers out there with literally thousands of designs—which makes the odds of your finding a fantastic gown, well pretty darn good. We know that coming up empty handed on your first trip can be a letdown, but don’t give up. You will find “the one.”

6. Shop for the body you have now.

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Wedding dress shopping tips

No matter what your shape, knowing your body shape—pear, full, thin, petite—is the first step in finding the right dress. Even if you’re planning on dropping 15 pounds before your wedding, your frame isn’t going to completely change because you’ve swapped cookies for carrots.

7. Always book an appointment.

While you may get lucky and snag a salesperson just by walking in, scheduling an appointment is the only way to ensure that you’ll get a full hour of undivided attention.

8. It’s okay to pick favorites.

To help guarantee that your gown shopping experience goes smoothly, ask a salon staffer when you call to book your appointment if she can suggest a favorite saleswoman. Or get recommendations from friends, and request a saleswoman by name.

9. Skip day one of any sample sale.

Wedding dress shopping tips

We know you’re tempted to get there as soon as the doors open, but shopping on the first day of a sample sale can be downright messy. Do yourself a favor and call ahead to ask how many days the sale will run. Then go on one of the later dates.

10. Plan on playing hooky.

Sneaking away from work will allow you to hit the stores while crowds are at a minimum. You’ll get more attention from the sales staff if you shop on a Tuesday morning rather than a Saturday afternoon. There will also be less people hogging the mirrors (hey, a little vanity is allowed!)

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