With news still buzzing of the biggest wedding in decades taking place next year between Kate Middleton and Prince William, the question is: What is she going to wear? Hong Kong brides-to-be face similar queries, but the choice of the perfect gown is as exciting as it is daunting. 'Brides love this part, looking for a wedding dress. They love trying on a dress,' says designer Noel Chu, who started her own line at Noel Chu Wedding Gallery ( www.noelchuwedding.com ) in 2007. 'When they put on a wedding dress, it highlights the best part of their body and they look like a princess. It's a joyful experience.' For a tailor-made couture design, Chu advises planning about nine months to a year in advance. 'From the first meeting, we go through different styles and sometimes it takes up to three months for a bride to make up her mind. Then we make a mock-up dress, which takes a month. After that, we order the fabric from Italy, which takes two to three months to ship. Then we have to make the dress and add the beadwork. I would say nine months to be safe,' she says. In the world of wedding fashions, Chu says, the minimal look has passed. 'It lasted for five years, but since the economy is coming back, minimal is becoming less and less popular. We are going back to very elaborate and detailed dresses. Some mainland people are very rich, so they are taking that direction. And there's always room for lace.' Another important tip to remember is to make a statement with your gown so your guests know it's you, Chu says. 'Some brides look at magazines and get lost. Look at the mirror and understand yourself. When you tailor a dress, you can put your own character into it. But my focus [to design a dress] is on the body figure and to highlight the best part, which will make you look good.' If brides are looking for a wedding gown made by an international designer, they need about three months to order one that comes in standard sizes, says Marina Chira, senior manager at The Wedding Shop ( www.theweddingshop.com.hk ), which will feature a catwalk show of British designer Jenny Packham's dresses at Emperor Jewellery at 1881 Heritage on Saturday. Italian dresses, however, are custom-made to measure and require a lead time of four to six months. Chira says the process of finding a designer dress is less stressful than a custom design. 'It's ready-made, so brides have already tried on the dress [before they buy it]. If you have to choose the fabric, beads and lace, the outcome could be really different from what you imagine. If you see a designer dress, what you get is going to be exactly the same.' An important consideration to remember, Chira says, is for brides to be open to different designs. 'So many women in Hong Kong want something simple and strapless, but when they try on new ideas, it might be something that fits them,' she says. 'And one more tip is to bring along married friends for advice. They have experienced it before and they will be frank, so they won't lie to you about how you look.' Designer Noel Chu, who created her own dress for her marriage to Bernard Chang (right) last month, advises brides to plan their tailor-made gown's design about nine months to a year before their big day.