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Survival of the Fittings

If you want an updo on the big day, wear it up to each fitting like this model bride in Now & Forever Bridal Boutique.

A wedding gown is no ordinary dress, and ordinary rules don’t apply. Experts explain why sizing up happens, and why a month isn’t enough time to find the one.

First Things First
Relying on the expertise of a seasoned consultant is the fastest way to find a dreamy dress, but it’s also a good idea to study styles (mermaid, A-line, etc.) and consider budget before navigating the sea of dresses with one or two of your nearest and dearest. “Having a look in mind helps a consultant point you in the right direction,” says Luvi Wheelock, owner of Casa de Novia Bridal Couture. Having a date and venue set also helps narrow the options. 3331 D’Amico Street, 713.523.9090

Shopping Strategies
With pictures in hand or ideas in mind, book appointments with boutiques on different days, advises Emily Arbuckle of Mia Bridal Couture, who says gown shopping can be mentally and physically exhausting. “If you’re trying to remember what you’ve tried on, you might lose the fun,” she says. And remember lip gloss and mascara for appointments. “If you’re feeling fresh and confident, it will be easier to envision yourself on the big day,” Arbuckle adds. She also suggests trying on a few different styles, even if you’ve dreamed of wearing a ball gown since birth. You need to wear the dress—not vice versa—and bigger silhouettes (like ball gowns) can overwhelm a petite frame. Keep an open mind, and you may end up with a dress you never thought you could wear. 1958 W. Gray Street, 713.622.2022

Size Doesn’t Matter
Also be open-minded about sizing. “The number doesn’t say anything,” says Kim Nguyen of Now & Forever Bridal Boutique. “I explain this six days a week. It’s all about the fit and the tailoring,” she says, because sizes are not consistent, especially as compared to everyday dresses. “Most wedding gowns are based on a European size chart,” she adds. Don’t get discouraged if you wear a size 6, but have to order a size 10 gown. “Get the style and size that looks best on you,” Nguyen advises. Keep in mind it’s easier to alter a dress that’s a little big. The silver lining: “Designers cut their patterns by different measurements, so it’s not always true you have to go up a size,” Wheelock says. 3701 Kirby Drive, 713.218.0369

The Waiting Game
Finding the right style and size is half the battle, so don’t expect to take home a dress the day you lock eyes on it. “For our boutique and most other non-manufacturers, we only carry one or two samples per style,” Nguyen says. Unless it’s a sample sale, plan on placing an order and waiting a few months—namely because most gowns are handcrafted due to embellishments like beading, lacework and sequins, which also up the price. Wait time depends on the level of detail and alterations, which is why it’s crucial to start early. It also takes a few fittings and a trusted tailor to ensure the perfect fit. Shop, shop!