Bride and Groom holding hands with trees and white flowers behind them.

It is entirely possible, when the ring hits your finger and you and your love set a date, that the thoughts that will most dominate your waking moments as a wedding-planning-bride-to-be (sorry, guys, if you're reading this. Consider yourself warned that this subject doesn't really pertain to you.) will be about one thing: the dress.

It's only natural. As humans, we tend to think about our appearances on a daily basis. As women, there's a chance that we think about our appearances just a little bit more often than the men in our lives. And as brides-to-be...well, let's just say that the spotlight is a little bit aimed in your direction. Plus, (and this comes from a girl who probably didn't own anything that looked like a dress or involved the color pink until she was, oh, maybe twenty-three) when else in your life are you going to get to wear something as wonderful as your wedding dress?!

But, and this is coming from that same non-dress, non-pink girl, sometimes finding that dress can be just a touch overwhelming. And unless you've been lucky enough to find (and afford) the dress, the one you saw in that magazine, the day after you got engaged...odds are you're going to try on more than one before you find your perfect fit. And so, in hopes that I can make your experience a little bit less overwhelming than mine was initially, I've collected a few tips for your adventure.

1. Have some ideas in mind. If you walk in to a bridal shop of any shape or size and don't know that you like Empire-waisted dresses and you hate ball're going to be kissing a lot of proverbial frogs before you find that glass slipper. Please excuse my mixed metaphors. Look around before you go, tear pictures out of magazines, bring them with. It will keep the deer-in-the-white-lace-headlights experience to a minimum.

2. Consider the fabric. This one is, ultimately, practical. If you're getting married outside, in the summer, in Texas...satin is not your best friend. It is heavy, it is hot, and maybe you will need your own personal air conditioning system to make it down the aisle without passing out. Just maybe.

3. Be willing to try something new! Even if you walk in to the store knowing that a strapless tulle ball gown is the dress for you, be open to other ideas. You never know what you might find, and the open-backed lace fit-and-flare that you would never have picked to begin with may just be the gown you've always dreamed of after all. One thing I loved about the shop where I found my dress is that they had me try on one gown in each silhouette before I could really narrow down my options. Not only did it help me understand what would really work on my frame, it was fun to try on dresses that I might not have considered before!

Most of all - and let's just say that you've heard this from me before - take a deep breath, relax and have fun! Because you know what? It's your wedding!


Photo Credit: Sean Flanigan Photography