The mission: a dress. But as with every well-executed mission, it's all about the preparation. First, plan your attack. Try and take a day or afternoon off work when the boutiques will be a) quieter, so more attention for you b) you won't have to wait weeks for a Saturday appointment and c) you avoid those Saturday appointment charges.

Get the foundations sorted. Don't go in your greyest undies. You'll end up spending a lot of time undressed and you want to feel swan-like, not like you've fallen out of the washing machine after a particularly aggressive spin cycle. You're not trying to seduce the assistant so leave your best lace at home and opt for something pale and not too interesting. Strapless always helps but isn't essential.

Look pretty. On the day you are going to be preened and primed to within an inch of your life so you want to feel almost as good trying on dresses. Shave your legs and underarms as they'll be on show. Wear the kind of make-up you might on the day itself. If you are planning to wear your hair up, try dresses with it up, it's amazing the transformation. Try and take shoes in the style and height you are hankering after - although if you forget (like me) they'll usually have a few pairs.

I'd suggest an initial reccy. Head to a boutique that stocks a few brands you like the look of and try on anything and everything. Once you've narrowed down to 'your' style - check out the dresses other boutiques you fancy are going to stock before you book an appointment, or call and ask. There's nothing more disappointing that turning up and finding there's nothing in the style you love. Such is the peril of the ballerina-length dress hunt...

Lastly - enjoy! Have fun, twirl, prance up and down. And treat yourself afterwards - it might be a glass of champagne, lunch with your bridesmaids or I tried the perfect post-Pronovias pit stop for you London brides. US super-spa Bliss have opened an on-the-go QuickBliss counter in Debenhams beauty hall - just a hop skip and a jump from dress shopping. I tried the 'You Glow Girl' facial - 25 power-packed minutes of cleanse, champagne-fizzing-like mask and deep-cleaning pore-gadgetry. Not to mention a quick hand-massage to boot. It was, well, blissful. Ready for my next appointment...

Find out more about the QuickBliss faical at www.blissworld.co.uk