Every bride dreams of finding that picture-perfect gown for their special day, but overwhelming is an understatement when it comes to how to shop for a wedding dress.
"Good Morning America" style consultant Jessica Mulroney shared her top tips for how to wedding dress shop like a pro, no matter what wedding you have in mind.
For starters, Mulroney says she always tells brides to "enjoy the process" and relax.
"At the end of the day, yes, this is a very important day for you but it is one day," Mulroney said. "So you have to have some perspective when it comes to planning your wedding, that although it is so major and such an emotional and such a financial investment, it is still just one day and it is the beginning of a wonderful life, so try to enjoy it, try to enjoy the process, and try not to take everything so seriously."
Here are her top tips for how to find that perfect wedding dress.
Find your wedding location first
"Know where you're getting married first, then get the dress," Mulroney said. "Seasonal weddings can affect your dress, if you're having a winter wedding, long sleeves is obviously a really beautiful choice."
Dress materials are also an important consideration based on the location.
"If you're having a destination wedding, there's certainly a lot of materials that you want to avoid," she said. "If you're having a cottage wedding or a wedding in the forest you probably want to avoid things like tulle because it can break and snag on branches."
When to start dress shopping
Mulroney recommends shopping for a wedding dress 6 to 9 months out of a wedding.
"It's not like ready to wear," she said of the gown. "It's customized to you, so it can take a little bit of time."
Who to bring to your wedding fitting
Keep the bride squad small here, Mulroney warns.
"One of the most important things is to only bring a few people to your wedding fitting," she said. "You don't need 20 women to sit there and judge you, so bring the women that you trust, a small group of them and that is it."
Don't forget the shapewear and lingerie
"When you go to your appointment, having the correct lingerie and shapewear, it can totally make or break your dress," Mulroney said.
That means bring your seamless underwear, your favorite spanx, everything you need underneath to make you feel your best.
"That is going to affect the way you see yourself in this dress," Mulroney said.
How to pick a dress shape
When it comes to picking your dress shape, Mulroney said start by thinking about what you want to show off, and then focus on what you want to hide, but most of all, "you have to really be open-minded."
"There is kind of this cookie-cutter idea of like one type of body goes with a certain style of dress, I don't love to work that way because so many bodies are so different, so how I usually go is I work backwards," she said. "I talk to the bride and I say what part of your body do you love about yourself and what do you want to show off?"
"Really think about what you love about yourself and then go into maybe the things that you do want to hide and from there, shapes and dresses come really easily," Mulroney said.
Ultimately, "don't freak out" if you're dress size may be higher than you anticipated, Mulroney said.
"Bridal sizing works a little bit more on the European sizing," she added. "You go about one or two sizes up when it comes to bridal."
"For plus size brides it's getting better," Mulroney added. "Find the right store that stocks all of the designers, because there is a lot of choice now, but unfortunately not every store is carrying plus size or a lot of plus size, so find a store that is really catered to that."
Know your budget
"Always know your budget before you go bridal shopping and then make sure that you are very specific to your wedding consultant about what the budget is," Mulroney said.
But don't fret, she added.
"If a budget is a thing, the one nice thing is that there are so many nice bridal gowns out there that are beautiful, that are trendy that look great that aren't expensive," she said. "There are tons of options that are even under $1,000. So do your research, find it, and guess what, you wear it for one day so if it doesn't last, who cares! You need it to just last one night."