Allow plenty of time for your search for the perfect gown – and don’t forget your shoes, writes Francine Wolfisz

For any bride-to-be planning her wedding, finding the perfect dress for the “big day” can prove an exhausting and time-consuming task. On my own jaunt through the local bridal stores, one exasperated owner told me of a client who had tried on 147 gowns – and was yet to find the “right” dress!

So rather than finding yourself overwhelmed by the extensive choice out there, why not start by doing plenty of research before hitting the stores?

Look through bridal magazines and wedding websites, attend bridal shows to familiarise yourself with the latest designer trends and keep pictures of the designs you like.

Ideally, start your search nine to six months before the wedding date, in order to allow time for the dress to be made and adjusted.

Also important to consider is the budget – the average wedding dress costs £800, but can cost well into the thousands – and also what will look good on you.

The best place to start is with the familiar. Think about what colours and styles you normally go for, where the ceremony is taking place and the tone of the day – whether it is traditional, avant garde or relaxed.

When thinking about colour, wedding dresses are traditionally white, but this does not suit all skin tones.

If, like me, you are a little paler in complexion, move towards the ‘warmer’ or off-white hues of ivory, cream and oyster.

This year’s most fashionable brides are opting for dashes of colour around the skirt and bodice, or throughout, in silvers, golds and pastels.

Beadwork can also transform a relatively plain gown into a stunning garment.

However, if you are choosing a coloured dress, less is best. Opt for detailing around only the bodice or hem.

Moving on to style, decide on the type of gown according to your figure.
The traditional ball gown or “meringue” combines a fitted bodice with a full skirt and generally suits a wide range of figures, as does the A-line style.

Those who want something less figure-hugging and who are slim and small-busted, could choose an empire line style, where the skirt starts just below the bust.

At the opposite end of the scale, those who want to show off their curves can opt for a mermaid style, which flares out at the bottom and is bias cut.

Last, the column design, which closely follows the body’s curves, is for those brides who want to achieve a more modern, no-fuss look.

Once you think you have found “the one” make sure you get a second opinion from a family member or close friend, and try and view your gown from all angles.

You should also remember to wear your wedding shoes and underwear to all your fittings, to make sure the dress is the right length and fits in all the right places.