Wedding Dress for Success: Stay True to Your Personal Style

For most brides-to-be, the choice of a dress is among the first and most important decisions in planning a wedding. With thousands of choices in every price range, finding the perfect wedding dress can be a difficult and time-consuming process. But by making some decisions before setting foot in a store, the search will be both easier and a whole lot more enjoyable.

First things first

Start by knowing your limits. To avoid disappointment down the line, determine the maximum amount that you can spend on a dress -- and don't forget to include all the little extras, such as undergarments, shoes, jewelry, veil, and/or hair ornaments. Next, take an inventory of your personal style. If you know that you're not comfortable in strapless or sleeveless dresses, for example, you can immediately eliminate these options. The trick is to rule out a few style options before hitting the magazines or stores and then be open to all other options.

Firm yet flexible

There will be no shortage of opinions -- from mothers, sisters, friends, and store personnel -- about your choice of a wedding dress, but the decision, ultimately, is the bride's alone. A great strategy is to be open to suggestions about dresses to try on, but reserve the right to choose the look that feels right to you. With so many potential options, you might want to consider bringing along a camera and taking photos of yourself in the dresses that could be "contenders."

Go for a flattering fit

Remember: Your goal is to find a dress that flatters your body and expresses your personal style -- not to fit into a particular size. If you look ghostly in white, feel free to choose a creamier shade or a dress that has decorative accents of a different color near your neck, shoulders and face. Similarly, there's no rule that a wedding dress has to be floor-length. If you're planning a daytime or more casual wedding, you might want to consider a tea-length dress (one that falls a few inches above the ankle) or go even shorter.

Comfort is key

Style and fit may be the two most important factors in choosing a wedding dress, but comfort should be a close third. Ask yourself if you will be comfortable in a particular dress given the setting in which your wedding will take place. For instance, if you've always dreamed of an outdoor wedding, you may want forego a dress with a long, trailing train that could trip you up on your walk to or down the aisle. Even if you're planning an indoor event, having a dress and shoes that are as comfortable as they are beautiful will greatly increase your odds of enjoying your special day to the fullest.

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