Love the fit and feel
• Try on styles you think you’d never wear. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
• Think “classic” and “timeless.” A gown that’s too trendy is bound to look outdated, or goofy, in photographs 20 years from now.
• For feedback, bring only one or two people whose opinions you trust.
• Bring the jewelry you plan to wear so that you can see how it works with the necklines of the dresses you like.
• At fittings, wear proper under-garments and heels similar in height to the ones you’ll wear with your dress.
• Pick up Bridal Guide’s How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Gown ($16.95; Warner Books) for more pearls of wisdom, plus attire info for the groom and your bridesmaids.
Comfort is important—your wedding dress should look and feel good on your body. Make sure you can breathe easily and move around in your wedding gown—raise your arms up above your head, sit down, boogie a little. Do you feel constricted? Is that tulle skirt starting to prickle? Another way to decide if this is the dress: Designers and brides swear you'll have an immediate, in-your-gut feeling when you see yourself in the mirror.
Read the fine print
You've heard the horror stories (the bridal salon that mysteriously goes out of business, the wedding dress that doesn't arrive on time), and that's why you need to have all the details of the sale outlined in a contract. You'll have some recourse if the terms of the contract aren't properly executed. Make sure it includes: a dress description (style number, manufacturer, color and size); deposit and balance amounts; special requests (like removing the train); alterations info and estimated cost; the store's cancellation policy; and the anticipated delivery date.
A 50% deposit is standard. Pay with a credit card—if you are wrongfully charged, your credit card company will go after the store and (if everything checks out) you won't be held responsible.
Bring it home
You should plan to pick up your wedding gown no sooner than one week before your wedding date—it will be safer at the shop than at your home. Then, you can get really excited. You're going to look amazing!