[AD:foo]Most brides dream of the perfect dress long before the wedding is even on the horizon. From little girls fluttering around in their moms' white dresses, to brides-to-be pouring over stacks of bridal magazines in hopes of finding The One, the wedding dress has become a centerpiece to the perfect wedding. Each bride has her own unique style she'll bring to the fitting room, and every bride wants to feel exquisitely beautiful when she walks out. In your search for the perfect gown, you may find yourself faced with an overwhelming number of options and a wall of white lace, tulle and hand-beaded gowns that seem impossible to sift through. Fear not, lovely bride. Armed with the right questions, you'll be on your way to the perfect wedding gown in no time!

How long before the wedding should I order my dress?

Nothing can spoil plans for the big day faster than finding your dream dress and then being told it's too late to order in time for the wedding. Speak with a bridal consultant or your local dress shop to get a good idea of how soon you should order your dress!

Do I need to set an appointment?

While it may seem fun to drop into a bridal boutique to sift through dresses, your best bet is to set an appointment so you have plenty of time and personal attention while choosing your dress. When you set an appointment, you'll be assigned a consultant who can help you find the dress of your dreams, while staying within your budget. 

Will the dress I've chosen require alterations?

Very rarely does a dress fit perfectly right off the rack. When you're spending hundreds (sometimes thousands) on a gown, expect to have alterations done before the wedding. Talk to the bridal shop or your bridal consultant about alterations, so you can get a better idea how much time will be needed, and what the extra expenses may be. 

What payment arrangements are available?

Most bridal boutiques and dress shops offer payment arrangements, allowing you to pay for your dress in installments (with the full balance due before you pick up the dress). Many require at least half down in advance, but policies vary by store. Check with your dress or bridal shop to find out what payment arrangements are acceptable. 

What is your cancellation policy?

Finally, after months of shopping, you've found the perfect dress. You're convinced it's The One, so you put down a big deposit and order the alterations, and then you (just for fun) go try on dresses with your best friend one Saturday and fall head-over-heels in love with another dress. What do you do? Some places will let you cancel within a certain time frame, while others will keep your deposit if you cancel at all. Even if you think you've found the dress of your dreams, ask about the cancellation policy, just in case. You never know what might be waiting at the little boutique down the road! 

Are preservation services included in the price of my dress?

Some shops will throw in preservation services for gowns above a certain price range, and others charge extra for the service no matter how much you spent in the store. Always ask ahead of time, so you can budget extra for gown preservation services after the wedding, if necessary. 

Which designers do you carry in your store?

Before setting an appointment, find out which designers the store carries to determine whether the styles will match with your vision of the perfect dress. 

Do you carry dresses in my price range?

Before trying on dresses, make sure they're in your price range. You don't want to be left heartbroken when you fall in love with a dress that costs three times your budget! 

When will my dress be ready?

When you find the dress you want, ask when you can expect it to be ready so you can plan accordingly. As a general rule, you should plan to have your dress completely altered and ready by one or two months before the big day, so there's plenty of time to address any last-minute issues or details.