02/27/2012 11:57 pm ET Updated Mar 05, 2012

7 Things To Do Before Shopping For A Gown

By Stephanie Davila, BRIDES magazine

It's the moment many of you have been dreaming of. You're getting married! Now, what about that dress? We asked Mark Ingram, owner of Mark Ingram Atelier, one of New York's most exclusive bridal salons, to share seven things you need to know before stepping foot in a dressing room:

1. Have the venue and date set. "This is very important because these two things really play into the type of dress you will want to shop for and ultimately buy," says Ingram.

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2. Know your budget. Be realistic about how much money you want to spend before trying on dresses and only try on gowns in your budget. "If you start trying dresses on that are out of your price range, it's going to be very difficult to match that fit and quality at a lower price."

3. Do your homework. Browse magazines and websites (like our galleries!) to get a feel for which designers you like. "Make sure the salon carries the designers and dresses you want to try on. Ask ahead of time, and come with tear sheets from magazines and printouts from the Internet."

4. Choose your adventure. "Research the type of salon you will feel most comfortable in. There are all kinds of ways to buy a wedding dress now--online, non-traditional stores like J. Crew, big bridal emporiums like David's Bridal, and small boutiques. Decide what shopping style best suits your personality."

5. Plan ahead. "Most bridal salons aren't walk-in stores so make sure you ask how they operate. You'll want to make an appointment 2 weeks in advance as premium times like nights and weekends fill up fast." Then be sure to confirm the appointment, arrive on time, and plan to spend an hour during the first visit.

See More: Dresses for the Mother of the Bride

6. Choose your friends wisely. "Two people is really the best number to bring with you. Choose people whose opinions mean the most to you, and who you really trust." Minus your fiance, of course.

7. Don't procrastinate. "If you want to avoid rush fees to get your dress on time, I think placing an order on your dress 8 months prior to the wedding is a safe bet. It takes about 6 months for the designer to make the gown, plus 3 months of alterations."

Happy shopping!

Browse our Wedding Dresses gallery, and visit our local vendor listings to find a bridal salon near you.

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