They say you shouldn’t wear makeup. I always wear makeup and I definitely did for all my appointments, and not one store mentioned it. I’m so used to wearing makeup, that I would look so off to me in a fancy dress and no makeup I wouldn’t be able to pick any dress!!
Shapewear isn’t neccessary. Many stores give you some that go with a particular dress to try on over your underwear. A strapless bra would definitely be helpful. Also, wear a nude/ light colored pair of underwear with as little lines as possible. It isn’t a huge deal (I wouldn’t run out and buy new underwear to try on dresses), but I wore dark blue underwear and tried on all sorts of dresses, and it definitely showed through when I tried on a couple of sheath gowns!!
Some salons let you take pictures and others don’t. The salon I bought my dress from did not, but you are allowed to take pictures after you purchase (not too helpful for making a decision but it is something).
As far as hair, if you know you want to wear your hair down, half up, or up, I might put your hair that way (it doesn’t have to be fancy). If you wear your hair completely down, I might bring a hair tie or a couple bobby pins incase they want to veil you. Depending on your hair texture veils can just slip out of your hair without something to prevent it.
Everyone tells you to try on a bunch of different styles and be open (good advice), but I’m going to tell you a bit of different advice. Be prepared to use your imagination. Unless you get very lucky, it is likely that most of the dresses you try on won’t even come close to fititng you. It is one of the only times I had ever tried on clothes for purchase that weren’t even close to my size, and you have to imagine it sits. You will feel beautiful in your gown with the right mindset, but if the sample of your gown happens to be many sizes off, chances are in actuality you will look a little funny. Imagine what it would be like if it fit you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the gown would fit. The sample of the dress I picked was 3 sizes too big. They pinned it a bit, and I spoke to a seamstress before I put money on it. Although it clearly didn’t look great on me as I was swimming in it when I tried it on, they were able to give me a clear vision of what it might look like when it fits, and not that I have my gown in my size, I couldn’t be more thrilled with it!!
As for how many dresses you will get to try on- that all depends on how generous the consultant is with her time and how busy the salon is (generally during the week you get much more time than on the weekends). Probaby around 5-7 dresses. Places like David’s Bridal you can pull dresses off the rack and try more (while I wasn’t thrilled at their dresses, they have many sizes and you can try them on rapidly, so it actually is a great place to figure out what you want if you are as clueless as I was)