Well congratulations! You’re engaged and you’re getting married to the man of your dreams.

Now the first thing you’re likely to be thinking about is “what shall I wear?”

Before you do anything else, we suggest that you set a budget for your whole wedding day with your other half and go from there.

Decide on how much you can spend on the dress of your dreams before you go shopping. It’ll make your decision a lot easier if you know that you can afford a particular wedding gown and a budget means you may find you can spend more than you first believed.

Keep an open mind

You may always have thought “I’m going to marry in a fishtail style wedding gown” or “I want something with beading”. However our advice to you is to have no preconceptions at all before you go shopping.

Make some appointments with bridal boutiques and then see what the assistant suggests. A good shop will have experienced assistants who will be able to assess you and your figure and know exactly what will suit you. And you may be in for some surprises.

Try everything on, look in the mirror and see what you think.

And by the way, don’t take a whole crowd of friends wedding dress shopping with you. It’s best to stick to one or two trusted confidantes because of course you want your wedding dress to remain a secret, don’t you?

Usually your mum, your sister, a best friend or your chief bridesmaid are a good choice. People whose opinion you trust. If you take a gang of girlfriends you’ll get conflicting opinions and the experience is more likely to stress you out, when in fact it should be a delightful part of getting ready for your wedding day.

Think about your skin tone. Bright white doesn’t suit everyone, and a cream or ivory dress may be much more flattering for your complexion.

There’s also no rule that says you have to have a long sweeping dress either. If you have neat ankles, then a ballerina length gown will show them off beautifully. If you’re having a formal type of wedding day, a strapless dress may not be quite right for the ceremony. In which case have a look at lace boleros which you can wear over your wedding dress and then take off for the dancing (transforming your gown into one that has rather more of an ‘evening’ look about it).

What about colours?

If you’re after a rather more bohemian look, then think about a coloured sash around your wedding dress or maybe a coloured petticoat. You could also wear coloured shoes, rather than ivory or white.

And the style?

Take a long hard look at yourself and decide what your best features are. If you have great upper arms and shoulders, then show them off. If you’re unhappy with your arms, then look at styles with longer sleeves (Kate Middleton looked fabulous in a long-sleeved wedding dress after all).

If you’re a bit flat-chested, then consider high-necked styles or a halter neck. On the other hand, if you’re well-endowed, you’re going to need a dress with a bodice that gives you plenty of support.

Like your waistline? Then show it off with something fitted. If you’re not keen on that area, then disguise it with some ruching or a dropped waistline (very 1920’s, very vintage).

If you’re after a vintage style dress, you’ll find plenty of bridal suppliers that specialise in this kind of look.

As for veils, we suggest that you try a few on with your wedding dress. You might opt for something birdcage style if you’re having a short wedding dress or if you’re after a romantic look, then there’s always the dramatic cathedral length veil.

Your wedding gown choice is going to play a big part in the look and mood of your wedding day. Once you’ve decided on it, show an image to one of our wedding stylists who will be able to dress up your wedding reception to match. Maybe you’ve chosen a lace wedding dress? Then our stylists will be able to conjure up a wedding day reception with delicate lace accessories (they’ll have a whole host of props to choose from). If you’re after something a little more quirky or vintage, then they’ll be able to match that too.

We have wedding stylists all over the country, so get in touch with the one that’s local to you and discuss your ideas. They’ll take a lot of the pressure off your wedding planning and you can relax knowing that your wedding day is going to look the way you’ve always wanted it to.

And have fun wedding dress shopping in the meantime!

Featured image: Dress by Sassi Holford