I'm going to start this by saying I am definitely no expert at picking a dress and here's why.
My husband and I decided we wanted a small wedding with just family and a few friends. We decided to have it on a small island in the Whitsundays. There could be a total of about 40 people on the island at any time. We had 22.
So what to wear? Well my thoughts were just a simple fitted, but slightly flowy dress. Our ceremony was at 12pm on the beach, so I didn't want anything big and meringue like (plus that's just not my style). So I'd left just over 2 months to find one, thinking it would be easy!
So off I went all by myself into the city to try on dresses. I went to about 10 shops over 4 hours and tried on styles of dresses that I had in mind. They all looked dreadful on me. I was completely devastated.
I finally succumbed and entered a "proper" bridal shop at the top of the mall.
With only 10 weeks to go until my big day I, was shown the "off the rack" section. There were about 50 gowns that I would never have thought of trying on in a million years. I asked the lady if there was something simple but elegant. She picked out this dress and I thought, oh well, I may as well try it on.
It was PERFECT! It was nothing like I had originally planned to wear. Firstly it was white - I was looking at creamish coloured dresses. It was full length - not mid calf and it was strapless.
Everything about my perfect dress was totally different to what I went out to buy.
So my only piece of advice is be flexible when you start looking. You may be pleasantly surprised.