Professional fit consultants offer advice on how to find the dress of your dreams.

There is an art to pairing a bride with her perfect wedding dress. So before stepping into the fitting room, bridal boutique consultants first set aside time to chat with their clients and assess their personality, style and body shape. The goal is to answer one important question: "How do you want to look on your wedding day?"

That answer usually guides everyone in one direction-and eliminates the need (but not always the urge) for a bride to try on hundreds of dresses. "Every bride has a picture in her mind," said Wafa Laban, owner of Elegant Bride in Dublin. "My advice, the moment you find the right cut, the right fabric, (is to) stop."

Laban and other bridal experts say that choosing one silhouette-straight, a-line or ballgown, for example-establishes a flattering shape and helps to simplify the search. "What we try very hard to do is play up the assets that the bride wants to most show," said Lil Stalnaker, general manager of Wendy's Bridal in Dublin. "Often, that could be a waistline, or maybe the shape of the hips.

Every bride has something she wants to minimize and something she wants to maximize, and finding the right dress does that." Looks aren't the only consideration, though. Comfort is an important factor, too. Stalnaker encourages her clients to walk, sit and move around the store in their favorite dresses.

"You're hugging, dancing, posing for photos" on your wedding day, she said. "You have to be able to function and envision all of that."

Most bridal boutiques require scheduling appointments in advance. A one-on-one approach makes for a more-personalized, less-stressful shopping experience, said Kristin Cooke, manager of Big Rock Little Rooster in the Short North.

"You want to feel like you're shopping with a friend," Cooke said. Courtney Leister, owner of Girls in White Dresses in the Arena District, agrees: "Have fun while you're shopping."