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Wedding dress shopping is a rite of passage for us gals. It should be a fun, relaxing experience and a day where you can truly feel like a princess. But this is not always the case so we’ve rounded up some of the best tips we’ve learned to make the day the best experience possible!

1. First and foremost- set your budget! Just like with all the other details, you need to have a number in mind and stick to it. How much you want to spend is totally up to you and your fiancé but a rule of thumb is no more than 10% of the total wedding budget. And remember, just like with all the other details if you want to splurge- go for it- but you might have to cut corners elsewhere.

2. Start looking early. Now, this is hard for some brides and we get it, your tastes may change!  However, it takes a long time for a gown to be made, fitted, and sized specifically for you (approximately 5 months if not longer). Having said that it is not impossible to find a dress in a short amount of time just be aware that it may cost you a bit more $$.

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3. Make an appointment. Most Triangle area bridal salons require appointments. Plus, it’s a good way to ensure you will have the undivided attention of your stylist.

4. Research, research, research. Browse bridal magazines, Pinterest, Instagram and other wedding blogs to find what you like and don’t like. Sometimes it’s even better to know what you don’t want than what you do. But don’t be afraid to try on everything because you may surprise yourself with how amazing you look in that mermaid gown.

5. Don’t invite every girl you’ve ever met! Seriously, the less people the better. Not everyone shares your taste and while they may mean well having a lot of opinions can really derail an appointment. Be selective in who you choose and ask those who you know will let you have the final say. If you must include all your maids our suggestion is to bring them to the final fitting.

6. Underwear. Ok, hopefully you’re wearing underwear but the right underwear is what we mean here. Bring or wear a strapless bra and a nude thong; a body shaper is another great option. A robe or some kind of coverup is another great thing to have as you will have a bridal shop consultant helping you in and out of dresses.

7. Stop looking when you’ve found the one! For real stop looking! There will always be a prettier, newer, better, etc. dress but the most important thing is to find a dress that you love, that is comfortable and that you can envision be married in. Once you find it stop looking and don’t second guess yourself or you will go crazy.

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