When little girls spend their math classes daydreaming of weddings (instead of winning the World Series -- not to say you can't do both), what do they dream of first? The perfect wedding dress, of course: a gown in white satin with a bustle and sweeping train, the perfect embellishments, and the perfect shoes.
There are few occasions in our modern world where a woman finds herself in a position to wear a no-holds-barred ball gown, much less a crystal tiara, and all too many where she's called on to wear to a neutral suit or uninspiring "biz-caz" combo. No wonder that with so many brides, their wedding plans start with the dress.
Many of these brides are lucky. They may search high and low, braving chilly department stores and pushy bridal shops, but eventually they come face-to-face with The One. They know this is The One because they start crying, or their mother or friends all start crying at once. Suddenly the rest of the planning ... the theme, the tone, the right kind of venues ... it all springs to life.
Other brides aren't as fortunate. They've searched just as hard, working their way through shops across three or four states, but they haven't found The One. Instead, they've found three or four Contenders, all of which are serviceable and nice, but not earth-shattering enough to tell them that now is definitely time to stop the searching and get on with the planning. These brides have it harder.
Even if you're the first kind of bride, buying the dress is such a momentous decision that you run a risk of falling into that wallet-skinning category known as the Two-Dress Bride. Here are some tips for picking the perfect dress and avoiding that awful fate.