Like any project, choosing the right wedding gown requires a little bit of research, a few ground rules and lots of patience.

"Selecting a wedding gown and ensemble is a special event in a woman's life," said Amsale Aberra, a New York designer of custom bridal wear. "And taking the time to look around, research and ask questions is important to ensure the best quality, value and the most flattering style."

Aberra suggested the following for brides-to-be searching for the perfect gown:

1. Look through bridal magazines. They will give you a sense of what you like and what is available, as well as an overview of the generally appropriate attire for your type of wedding.

2. Set a budget for yourself. Be sure to include the price of the gown as well as the headpiece and charges for fittings and alterations.

3. Check the construction of the gown, the finishing and details, such as beading and trim. Are the beads sewed or glued on?

4. Check the fabric - is it all natural, a blend or man-made? Usually the more natural the fiber content, the more expensive the gown.

5. Consider some of the following basic guidelines to match a gown to your figure. If you are short, consider a natural waistline, high neckline and chapel train. Avoid a very full skirt. If you are heavy, look to a princess line style, simple lines and lace with a small, delicate pattern. Avoid heavy beading, puff sleeves and stiff fabrics. Tall women may consider a full skirt, cathedral train and dropped waist.

6. Remember less is often more. Your gown should flatter, not compete with you. Consider simple lines and understated ornamentation.

7. Plan for the reception as well as the ceremony when choosing your headpiece and train. Your comfort and ability to move around is important. If your headpiece is elaborate or long in back you may choose an alternate headpiece for the reception.