It’s no exaggeration to say the dress (or dresses) you choose for your wedding might just be the most important outfit of your life. How’s that for pressure? But with all the options available, where does a bride start?

The owner of new multi-label boutique The Prelude Bridal, Ms Tann-Ling Loh, who had faced problems when buying her own wedding dress, gives us some key points to consider before you go shopping for your wedding gown.

Read this before shopping for your wedding dress

You’ve plenty of options but which wedding gown is “the one” for you?
A bridal boutique owner shares tips. Image: Getty Images

Where to begin
“Browse through wedding magazines – my personal favourites are Martha Stewart Weddings and Brides, both the British and American versions. Websites such as The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings and Style Me Pretty are also good to get a sense of the styles and designers whom you like. Note down the styles and details which are particularly appealing to you.”

Location of the wedding
“Do consider where you’ll be hosting your wedding. For example, if it’s a traditional ceremony held in a church followed by a formal hotel dinner, you might want to opt for a classic, timeless style such as an A-line, princess or ball gown skirt.

If it’s an outdoor garden or beach ceremony and reception, how about a modern sheath or tea-length gown? A long train would simply be too cumbersome with all that sand or grass.”

Your figure
Ms Loh believes in keeping an open mind and trying on many different silhouettes, but there are some simple fashion rules to follow.

“An A-line silhouette works for most shapes, unless you have a thicker waist. Avoid halters if you have broad shoulders or bigger arms and don’t wear spaghetti straps or sheaths if you have a full figure.

If you have a small bust, go for a sweetheart neckline or an empire waist. If you have an hourglass figure, flaunt it with a mermaid or trumpet style gown. If you’re petite, go for a slim sheath silhouette or an A-line style – avoid too many layers as it will weigh you down and may overwhelm.”

And there are options for plus-size brides too as gowns in her store are made-to-measure. “I have had brides-to-be asking for size 16 gowns,” she says.

Your style
Other than staying true to the theme you selected for your wedding (whether it’s vintage, classic, black-and-white etc.), you should stay true to yourself as the ideal gown reflects your personality – are you classic, understated or more avant garde?

“The dress must reflect your personal taste,” says Ms Loh. “That said, beware of trends. You don’t want to go ‘what was I thinking?’ years later.”

Comfort
Even though Carrie Bradshaw is a fashion icon who can do no wrong, Ms Loh advises against going the way of her Vivienne Westwood dress in the Sex and The City movie, topped off with that giant blue feather headpiece.

“With the yards and yards of fabric, it had to weigh more than Sarah Jessica Parker herself. Comfort is key. You’ll be wearing your gown for the most part of the day and you don’t want to be be bogged down by it and struggling to move around.”

Budget
“I’ve seen brides look gorgeous in gowns which cost a fortune and also in gowns which cost a fraction of that. It really depends on the individual’s tastes, preferences and priorities. This is probably the one outfit in which you’ll be photographed most in in your entire life. If you had to look good on one day out of your life, your wedding day is as good a choice as any .”

If you really can’t make up your mind
“If you’re torn between a few dresses, ask yourself if there’s one gown you’ve tried on which doesn’t need to be changed or altered at all. If that gown exists, you have your answer. If not, go back to basics. Which gown best represents your style? What is your wedding theme? Where are you holding your wedding? These questions should help you with your decision.”

And if you absolutely can’t find a dress you love?
Ms Loh reaffirms the notion that you’ll know which dress is “the one” – “Love at first sight exists in the world of gowns. Speaking from personal experience, when you look in the mirror, there’s an instant connection.”

So if you really can’t find the perfect wedding dress, Ms Loh suggests having it custom-made. Be forewarned though – it may not turn out exactly the way you want it to. Another alternative is to find a ready-to-wear wedding gown which closely satisfies what you’re looking for and then tweaking the details to suit you.

Vanessa is a freelance writer and can be found at thesewingwriter.tumblr.com.