Lovella Bridal Salon
Photo courtesy of Lovella Bridal 

Congrats! You’re engaged. And ready to start scoping out the wedding dress of your dreams, right? Well, before you start poring over Pinterest and spend a small fortune on bridal magazines, consult this helpful list of ways to make your search more efficient.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask a Bridal Salon Before Booking an Appointment

1. Your Date (Or At Least Your Season). 
Season matters, ladies. Not as much as you think, but it does matter. You’ll be sweating bullets in structured heavy silk for the summer, and floaty layers of thin chiffon might look silly if you’re battling snow come winter. Brides in transitional months like March, April, May, September, and October can get away with a wider variety of styles, but if you’re saying I Do during a more extreme weather month, adjust the gown you’re looking for accordingly. As a general rule, more substiantial, multi-layered ball gowns and beaded sheaths work better for winter months, and lighter, ethereal styles make sense for summer. The ever-popular fit and flare and trumpet silhouettes works for the widest variety of seasons.

2. Your Venue Type.
Holding your reception in a cozy NYC restaurant? Might want to re-think the voluminous gown that’s impossible to sit down in. Exchanging vows on the beach? Consider a short dress—that way it you won’t be kicking sand off of it for years down the line. Practical predicaments like this should impact the kind of dress you look for, and you also want to kick off your search by ruling out things that will seem stylistically out of place at your venue. If your venue is a formal ballroom, for example, avoid rustic lace gowns that feel too casual.

3. Your Budget.
This doesn’t need to be set in concrete, but you should have an idea of how much is too much before you start pinning only Veras and Moniques. Our suggested approach: work out your overall wedding budget and set your priorities first. This way you’ll be able to clearly visualize the things that you care more about spending money on, and the lower the gown falls on list, the smaller the percentage of your budget that should be dedicated to it. Most brides settle somewhere between the $700 and $1500 range, and you can use our wedding dress finder to search for gowns at that price point.

4. What Works for Your Body.
No matter how trendy you are in your everyday life, weddings are not the time for extreme fashion risks. Instead, this day is about knowing your best features and finding a gown that shows them off. This helpful article breaks down the best dresses for the most common body types and offers examples to kickstart your search.

5. To Not Worry (Too Much) About Sizing at the Salon. Ready to start trying things on? Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in the numbers. Most wedding dresses still run off haute couture sizing specs instead of the ready-to-wear stuff we’re used to seeing at the mall. Go into the process knowing you’ll be a few sizes bigger than you’re used to so you won’t be caught off guard at the salon. Alterations are also an expected part of the process, so make sure you’re away of a salons tailoring policy before you commit to purchasing.