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Expert Advice from the Co-Owners of Hitched Bridal Salon

Martha Stewart Weddings, Fall 2012

Julia Lichtman Kepniss and Carin Rosenberg Levine

Bridal Boutique Owners

Known for Putting together head-to-toe ensembles for busy brides-to-be
Where to Find Them Hitched, Washington, D.C. (hitchedsalon.com)

Create the shopping experience you desire. Before you begin your hunt, ask yourself: Will I be most comfortable trying on gowns surrounded by friends, or just my mom, or by myself? Only bring people whose opinions you truly want to hear. If you're concerned with pleasing someone other than yourself, you won't have a clear head.

Be frank but stay open. It's incredibly useful when a future bride is candid, so never be shy about what you do and don't like. That said, once you've conveyed your general preferences, try on what your consultant brings out, even if you aren't crazy about it. Bridal fashions are different from everyday clothing. A specialist can guide you to a style you might never have taken off the rack yourself, but will love once it's on.

Don't make yourself crazy by going to 10 bridal salons. Yes, you want to get a sense of what's out there, but balance the need to research with the risk of shopping fatigue. Check out around three stores, and don't feel like you have to try on every gown in each.

Use social media to your advantage. While Facebook and Twitter might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think "wedding gown," a lot of designers and their teams love connecting with brides directly. You could ask them a question about how a specific dress fits, or learn about a trunk show they're having at a local bridal salon.

Factor in venue when selecting your gown. Certain fabrics and cuts lend themselves to certain types of weddings. This isn't strictly about city as opposed to country. Rather, it's more about the vibe, like rustic versus modern. A poufy ball gown won't work as well for a reception in a sleek gallery space.

Wear a veil -- or don't. Right now we're loving a simple cascading veil like Toni Federici's "Waltz," which creates a beautiful frame around a sophisticated sheath or a dramatic ball gown. If you'd rather skip a veil, try an embellished headband or a vintage hair comb.

Consider a convertible gown. Cake-cutting and getaway dresses have become popular, but you can also look for a frock that can be transformed on the fly. Designers are creating trains, straps, and au courant peplums that can be put on or taken off after the ceremony. You can even fashion a long veil into a shawl to wear throughout the evening.

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