By Melissa Henderson

There's a saying about everything being bigger in Texas, but whether that applies to your bridal attire is a matter of personal style. Throw away the idea that wedding dresses have to be big, puffy and white with a sparkly veil and embrace the freedom of the modern bride. Anything goes, with high fashion couture and ready-to-wear clothing joining forces to create dresses that can be worn anywhere a girl's heart desires.

But with so many options, how can you be sure to find the perfect dress for your Houston wedding? We assembled 10 shopping tips to help you find the dress of your dreams, whether you're looking for a traditional gown or something more unconventional.

Shopping Dos and Don'ts
Do keep your personal style in mind.

Modern brides use their personal style to sift through hundreds of options. What styles and cuts are constantly on repeat? What looks grace the pages of recent bridal magazines? From bohemian goddess to classic, these styles can be the basis of beautiful wedding dresses. But if the latest style isn't your thing, don't choose something that makes you uncomfortable. Your gown should reflect you - not a runway trend that feels inauthentic.

Do be open to trying on other styles.

While this may seem to conflict with our first tip, you owe it to yourself to try on other styles. When else will you have the opportunity? The modern bride looks for dresses from any department and any store. Despite always dreaming of a white sequined ballgown, your dress may be a sleek lavender number in the contemporary aisle at Neiman Marcus. Always be open to new things; you may be surprised!

"Don't rule out a gown because you think it won't fit into your wedding," according to Mia's Bridal Couture's blog.

If a dress doesn't seem grand enough, consider adding accessories. A tiara or gem-encrusted belt may elevate a simple gown to its rightful place at your glamorous reception. Or if a dress seems too formal for your plans, ask if it comes in another color.

Do Lean on your favorite designers and brands.

Beyond your favorite formalwear designers, it's possible your favorite contemporary and activewear brands have delved into the world of bridal. Check out bhldn (pronounced "beholden"), sister brand to Anthropologie. Not only do they offer lovely bridal gowns, but they also carry a line of reception dresses that the modern bride may adore!

Don't forget your budget.

Set a price range and only browse dresses you can afford. Brides typically spend $1250 on a wedding dress in Houston, though some brides go all-out to spend upward of five figures. Ventura's Bridal features dresses ranging from $399 to $4500 while Casa de Novia carries gowns with designer names including Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta. Few feelings are worse than falling in love with something that's going to break the bank so consider that when booking your appointments.

Do limit the dresses you try on.

Limit the number of dresses you try on in a short period. After the seventh dress, things can become confusing, especially when you're trying on similar colors and cuts. Narrow down your choices, and take a day or so to review dress options if two dresses are in the lead.

Don't forget lingerie.

The perfect dress is about wearing properly fitted lingerie. Wearing the correct bra with any dress is the key looking and feeling your very best. Consult with a lingerie specialist before or after the wedding dress is chosen.

Do experiment with different hairstyles before dress fittings.

Especially for summer weddings, the Houston heat can compromise your entire look. Book appointments with possible wedding day hairstylists. Experiment with different styles that take frizz, dancing and the temperature into consideration. Doing this before a dress fitting can help you envision your overall look.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.

When it comes to choosing the dress, the most important task is to ask lots of questions. Bridal consultants know what the dress will look like when it comes in new and in other colors, not just in its off-the-rack form. They're a valuable resource far beyond just knowing their inventory (which is no small task either!).

Do allow yourself enough time.

"Gowns in production take 4-6 months to come in, and a month for any alterations," according to Mia's Bridal. Allow time to choose your dress, and then make sure there's plenty of time for it to fit perfectly.

Your perfect gown is waiting for you in one of Houston's bridal stores. Visit's Bridal Store and Boutique directory to find it.