Kirstie Kelly

Courtesy of Kristie Kelly

If you're tying the knot soon, you just  might be a tad overwhelmed with an abundance of planning details ranging from floral arrangements and centerpieces to music selection and cake tastings.

And last, but certainly not least—you've got to find the wedding dress of your dreams! No pressure, right?

We tapped couture bridal designer Kirstie Kelly for her expert advice on shopping for that gorgeous gown. 

Here are her 10 tips for wedding dress shopping:

1. Enjoy Your Time:Trying on wedding gowns with a small audience would make anyone feel a little nervous. Remember that this is your time to have fun dressing up and share it with your closest friends and family! 

2. Keep An Open Mind: Feel free to entertain any direction you might be thinking. Many brides go in with one vision and leave with a gown they normally never would have tried on in the first place. Trust your consultant and follow your heart. Just like your future husband, finding the one is a natural process particular to each individual bride.

3. Wear Proper Undergarments: It may seem unimportant, but wearing proper lingerie and shoes can help you get a better idea of how each gown will fit after tailoring. Corsets, strapless bras and figure-hugging shape wear in neutral colors will help you put your best foot forward when you step out of the dressing room and onto the pedestal. And, bring your heels!

Kirstie Kelly, Wedding Gowns

Elizabeth Messina

4. Size Is Just a Number: Bridal gowns are generally sized smaller than average ready to wear collections. Don't be surprised if you end up purchasing a size 14 when you are normally a size 10.  Also keep in mind that a good consultant will suggest you order a size relevant to your curviest body part—bust, waist or hips. In doing so your gown will be custom tailored around your other measurements without running into a sizing problem. Remember: It's always easier to take a gown in than it is to let it out. 

5. Communicate at All Times: When working with your consultant, talk to her as much as possible. If you already have a vision or a venue picked out, share this information with her so that she can help guide you as you consider options. Bridal consultants live and breathe wedding details, so you might even get a few great ideas if you chat it up!

6. Be Nice to Your Budget: If the budget for your gown is smaller than you think it should be, don't worry. Bridal gowns in high quality are available at reasonable prices if you know where to look. Brides are beautiful because they are beautiful brides, not because they spent a fortune on a gown. Stay positive and keep the faith; you will find the perfect gown. 

7. Mind Your Body: But in a positive way! Rather than gawk at your arms or your premature cellulite in the mirror, focus on highlighting what is already uniquely beautiful about you. Every woman has distinctive features that can be enhanced by a beautiful gown—focus on bringing that out.  

8. Be Selective With Your Group. Bringing your best friends, family, entire bridal party and sorority sisters may seem like an exciting way to kick off the gown search but it can often lead to too many opinions in too tight of quarters—and ultimately can make you feel overwhelmed. We recommend bringing about three people with you who are equally excited, supportive and stylish so you get the best feedback in the most encouraging way.

9, Plan Ahead: It might seem unnecessary, but unlike regular shopping stores, bridal salons require appointments. Call in advance so you can make sure to have undivided attention from a professional consultant. It's worth it!

10. Go For It! This is a day to celebrate and look your best while marrying the man of your dreams. Embrace the excitement and beauty of this time—you deserve it!

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