Before you make the choice from the huge range of perfect wedding dresses, here are a few things you should know that will save you time, money and heartache. Make your shopping experience the best it can be.

Every bride anticipates the task of choosing a wedding dress with a mixture of excitement and fear. Perhaps you’ve been fantasizing about the wedding gown from the moment he popped the question – or even before that – but the chances are you probably haven’t considered the process of actually finding your dream wedding dress. So whether you have a clear idea of what you want or don’t know where to start, here are 15 tips to help ensure you get the most out of your search for the perfect wedding gown.

Use popular wedding magazines or the internet for inspiration and ideas on styles, trends and prices

Set a budget and stick to it (c’mon, you know you can do it!!)

Allow plenty of time to find and order your dress. It may take you a while to find one and most wedding dresses have to be ordered three or four months in advance.

Try on as many styles as you can. Some dresses look plain on a hanger but great on a body.

Start out with a general idea of the kind of dress you like: traditional, straight, empire line, princess line, etc.

It may seem silly, but be certain to check out the view from behind. Your wedding guests will have an uninterrupted look at your back and you want to look good.

Be practical – a huge skirt or an extremely long one will be hard to manouver in a tiny church or on the dance floor.

Consider the season of your wedding and whether it will be indoors or out. Late Spring or Summer ceremonies call for cool silk, chiffon, pure cotton or lace. Late autumn and winter weddings demand warm, heavier fabrics such as brocade, velvet and satin.

Always take at least one other person with you (two is best) when shopping for your wedding dress, so that you know what the dress looks like from every angle.

Try on a veil with the dress to get an idea of the complete look – a short veil may turn a dress from ordinary to extraordinary, while a long veil might not work at all.

Think about your shoes and any other accessories you may need to set off the dress and add that finishing touch. Are they in your budget, too?

Remember that most gowns run small and it is normal to need a couple of sizes larger than your normal clothes size, especially if you are well endowed or have broad shoulders.

Allow ample time for fittings and always make an appointment; gowns and slips have to be pressed ahead of time. Remember to bring the shoes and bra that you’ll be wearing with the gown.

When your wedding gown is complete, it will be pressed and packed neatly. When you get it home, take it out and hang it in a protected spot until the big day!

Remember to relax and have fun! You don’t have to do it all in just one day.