If it had its way, the wedding industry would have you believe that, when it comes to your nuptials, the dress is the most important thing.
You can study the effects of dress-mania in seminal documentary series Don't Tell The Bride. Any casual viewer will know that the dress is the one thing that's always guaranteed to make the bride burst into tears. The show is literally just hundreds of girls asking if their future partner "even knows them at all" as they sob, clad in some poor lad's desperate attempt to choose between tulle and lace, fishtail and A-line.
Of course, the most important thing about any marriage is that you and your partner have chosen to make a commitment to each other. That you've found someone with whom you reckon you could spend the rest of your life without wanting to put them out with the bins is, quite frankly, amazing. And yet, figuring out what you're wearing for the first day of the rest of this commitment often eclipses this.
So is there any way to make shopping for your wedding dress less of a big deal? Yes, as it turns out. We spoke to Rosemary Masic, the mind behind Melbourne-based design studio Nevenka. She has had hundreds of brides come through her doors looking for the perfect dress and, as a result, knows a thing or two about keeping your dress shopping stress-free.
Here's her best tips...
Bring an open mind
I mean, duh, right? But Rosemary stresses this really is the most important thing. "Often [brides] come in and what they think is going to suit them doesn't, and they end up with something else." She adds that a lot of people think that if they've got a particular venue then they need a particular dress and, in turn, go for a dress that "doesn't really suit their personality."
"Some girls put themselves under a lot of pressure," she says. "They've got a Pinterest page about the dress that they want but then it turns out it doesn't suit their body shape or it doesn't suit where they're going, or the environment or the wedding they're going to have."
"If you feel really good in it then that's the dress to go for."
Don't try and do it all in one go
"Many girls become grumpy if they've been shopping and the mistake that they make is to try on too many dresses at once," Rosemary laughs. "They think they've got to take three days with their whole entourage and try on as many dresses as they can. This just means it becomes confusing for them. Often they just go for the first dress they tried on at the beginning of the process!"
Consider going alone
Scary, I know. Wedding dress shopping with your mum or best friend is practically the law, no? Rosemary reckons, though, that your optimum wedding dress shopping partner is yourself. "We've had brides decide on what they want and then they come back and bring two or three people and it completely changes the energy." She adds that, often, the bride then changes their mind and chooses the dress that those people want.
"These people aren't being her best friend if they convince her that she wants something else when she's already chosen the dress she wants. It's almost like their friend doesn't want them to look amazing. It's really weird."
"It's heartbreaking because they're not being true to themselves."
Whatever you do, don't bring your partner-to-be
"We have had some women come in with their partners. I think that's a bit weird and has been an interesting experience!" Rosemary laughs. "We had one guy who I think wanted to wear the dress himself!"
It's OK to think about the future
"We had so many women coming to us saying, 'I just want to buy a dress I can wear afterwards'," says Rosemary, adding that she likes dresses that could be worn again with boots or a jacket during the week. "For me, it's a very European way of thinking, that real traditional bride. There's still a market for it and if you're the woman that wants to look like a princess on her wedding day – the girl on top of the wedding cake – that's fine. But if you want something else, that's fine, too."
White doesn't suit everyone
According to Rosemary, so many brides still gravitate towards white dresses. "They all come in thinking they should wear white because of marketing, right?" she says. "Actually, a lot of women don't suit white or ivory – depending on the person, it can wash them out."
People are starting to look for other colours. "I've noticed a lot of people looking at navy. Navy is really, really popular – navy lace. Pink is really popular, too."
Prepare before you shop. Just not too much
If there's one thing Rosemary isn't a fan of, it's fake tan and makeup, which can rub off on dresses. "I tell everyone, 'You can't come in with makeup and fake tan.' We just give them baby wipes and make them take it off!"
"They all come in really bad underwear, too. Every. Single. Girl. Stripy, fluoro, it's really funny. No one thinks about wearing a natural colour or white underwear. Just go neutral so that it doesn't distract you from the decisions about the fabric and the shape."
"I reckon actually it's a really good idea to get your hair semi-done. It's all about the hair, and the underwear."