When the big question was popped, of course your first reaction was excitement and aw. But as you settle in to the engagement period and delve deep into the planning, there are a lot of details to consider—especially your dream gown.

You may not even know where to begin, but that is why we’re here! Let’s look at a few starting places and how to pull off the bridal gown look you want.

Envision Your Big Day

If you have been expecting the big question for some time now, or maybe you’ve always planned on getting married, you may have gotten a head start by clipping magazine pictures, saving Facebook photos and “pinning” wedding ideas to a Pinterest board. These are all great places to begin, and if you haven’t already done this, now is the time. You are surrounded by inspiration so go out and find it. Buy wedding magazines, check out bridal shows, and read more bride-to-be blogs. The details you choose will fall in to place once you have the picture perfect idea of everything you want at your wedding.

Put it All Together

Now that you have carefully combed through the best of bridal ideas and selected the photos of décor and design elements you would like present on the big day, pick your favorites and create a mood poster showcasing all of these details. While you were gathering inspiration, you should have added some gown ideas to your arsenal. Pull these out and match them to your other ideas. Which gowns match the theme and style that has come together on the board?

I’m using gown here loosely. Some brides-to-be have a difficult time focusing on a gown as a whole. Instead, you may find a cut you like on one dress while the neckline of another is perfect and yet another dress is made of a material you would prefer. This is fine too. Gather all of these elements and match them up with the vision you have created on your board.

Shop

This is the most exciting part of it all! Now that you have somewhat of an idea of what you are looking for, browse online or set up appointments at your local bridal boutiques and even boutiques that might be a bit of a drive from you. The more options you have may make it seem harder to narrow down, but if you have a specific look you are going for—and at this point you should—then options shouldn’t be a problem.

**I would suggest physically shopping first so you can try on different gowns and make sure the cut, neckline, ect., complements your physique. You want to bring your envisioned gown details with you, but be open to other ideas. You never know what is going to pop out at you! So try on a variety of dresses, not just the ones that perfectly match what you are looking for.

Design

If you have visited every bridal boutique within 100 miles, you’ve tried on countless dresses, and you have even been open to other ideas, but you still haven’t found the right dress, use your mood poster and gown ideas to have a dress customized for you! Sometimes all it takes is a few tweaks of a pre-existing dress and Voilá! You have pulled off the perfect bridal gown look you want!

Finding your dream gown does not have to be difficult if you follow the steps above. Once you have found it, make sure to set up an appointment to have it altered closer to the big day (due to weight fluctuation), but early enough that you will have time to make any necessary adjustments. Remember, expert alterations don’t just happen over night!

If you aren’t bringing the gown home with you, take plenty of pictures from all angles. This will help when you are trying to decide on accessories. Fortunately, most bridal boutiques offer everything from shoes to honeymoon lingerie, so you can achieve everything in one visit!

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