Wedding dress shopping.

Is it possible to endure this marriage milestone without wanting to shun food for the next five months or engage in a fight with your mom?

There is a huge pressure on a woman to find the perfect dress to match her perfect day, even if she’s not feeling perfect. Even if she’s feeling far from it. With the onset of television shows documenting the drama surrounding a lot of white, silky skirts, it seems impossible to make it through this pivotal planning step unscathed. Feelings will be hurt, tears will be shed, and too much money will be spent, according to that TLC marathon from the other day, and I was unknowingly about to be plunged into it headfirst.

There are times when I’ve felt relatively confident about shopping for clothes. Last Thanksgiving, however, was not one of them. Like a lot of women, wedding dress shopping existed very much in the abstract for me. Sure, I’d be trying on dresses at some amorphous point in the future, but that would be at a much later date when I finally looked the way I was “supposed to” and felt like a million bucks.

Then, I learned my aunt and cousin had booked an appointment for me at the notorious Kleinfeld Bridal, which had just opened up a storefront in Toronto. I would be in town on vacation, and there would be no way to avoid it without acting like a total ass, something I typically try to avoid.

But, the vision of staring at my reflection stuffed and squeezed into puffy tulle made me break out in a cold sweat. That abstract date was finally here, and I was dreading it.

I didn’t say anything to my family. They’re amazing, and it would be ridiculous not to accept after they’d gone to the trouble of organizing the appointment at the very exclusive store. They’d also spent months planning and throwing me an awesome wedding shower. So, to refuse would be most ungracious.

They were excited for me and the event! They were full of the Wedding Spirit! Who was I to dampen it by being a big, grumpy, self-conscious dummy? So, I would grin and bear it. I would show up to the appointment and face it head on and not quivering behind rows of beaded bodices.

However, I’m not the best at disguising my emotions, and things might begin to seem suspicious if I grimaced and cringed through the whole thing. It was just a little shopping.

At the very least, I could get some research out of it. At the very best, I may even … enjoy it? Dare I even dream? Yes, maybe I could enjoy it. I could eschew those images of tears, arguments, and tulle with vigor and actually enjoy myself!

And, you know what, I did.

So, if you’re feeling similarly, I pass on to you my top five tips for having fun while trying on a wedding dress. And no, fun and wedding dress are not oxymorons.

1. Say yes to everything: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. You’re getting married. You’re supposed to be happy. Giving any gown that rubs you the wrong way the stinkeye isn’t going to win you any favors or make you feel good, so put on your best YES attitude.

It’s cool to peruse the odd wedding dress magazine before trying any on, but do not let that get in your way. When will you ever be able to try on an endless amount of expensive, outrageous, and beautiful dresses again? For most of us, the answer is never. So, go big.

Try on everything. Ask your consultant to bring you the ball gown, the strapless, and that weird one with some pink at the bottom. Put on the short veil, the long veil, the birdcage veil, and the skirt with a ridiculously long train. Ooo and ahh as your consultant reaches under your skirt and fluffs it up just so, so that it cascades to the floor and lands in a perfect semicircle. Zip into a dress with lots of bling, lots of lace, and lots of volume.

Start to pick up the lingo and run your fingers along the materials. Oh, so that’s the difference between organza and chiffon! I cannot emphasize this point enough: squeeze the life out of every silly, emotional, and girly minute. And once you see the price tag, you’ll know you’ve earned it.

2. Don’t skimp on quality: I’m not talking about the dress. I’m talking about the service. Big-box dress stores treat you like a number. Sure, they deal with brides every day, but you are not a faceless, nameless entity!

We need all the support we can get when facing off with our physiques, and a professional and wise consultant will carry you through the worst of it without blinking an eye. If you’re in the vicinity of a Kleinfeld’s, I highly recommend it, which I would have never said before my own experience. They supply freshly laundered, silky, periwinkle robes and strapless bras. The dressing rooms are the size of my entire apartment. Every time you try on something new you get to emerge through double doors like a goddess.

It’s an experience. You deserve an experience.

I also really enjoyed the service of The White Room, though they aren’t quite as luxurious as Kleinfeld’s.

3. Don’t overcrowd your entourage: Say Yes to the Dress depicts one thing honestly, the bigger the crew the bigger the drama.

Refine your guest list to the select few who will actually help and support you on the day. Everyone tells you that “it’s your day,” so don’t be afraid to hold them accountable. I never went to the store without more than three girlfriends (my mom qualifies as a girlfriend), and it was the perfect number.

We kept it drama free!

4. Don’t be too hard on yourself: You’re going to look beautiful. And, wedding dresses are really forgiving.

Find the style that suits you best and let yourself feel good. Try to leave those negative thoughts at the door.

5. Take it all in: I’m already mourning the day after my wedding when it’s all over, and it hasn’t even happened yet!

Marriage is an event you’ll experience once in your life if you’re lucky, and it goes by fast. Planning for such a big event is stressful, but it’s also exciting.

And once it’s over, it’s over for good. This is your moment, so don’t forget to take it all in.

Love it or hate it, you’re going to have to say yes to a dress for your wedding day.

Here’s hoping you find your perfect dress and make a memory that matches.