Courtesy of Badgley Mischka

American Idol contestant and country music artist Kellie Pickler and her fiance Kyle Jacobs had already begun planning a blowout Nashville wedding when they suddenly realized they'd rather elope. So they ditched all their well-laid plans and flew to the Caribbean where they were married on New Year's Day.

Her wedding may not have been the lavish affair she once envisioned, but there was still one thing Pickler couldn't ditch: a stunning, traditional wedding gown. She chose Badgley Mischka Bride strapless dress in ivory duchess satin with removable tulle ball gown skirt and crystal beaded accents at the train.

We asked designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka for their best wedding dress shopping advice. They told us there are two things every bride should remember:

1. Always choose a gown that is true to your personality. Your wedding is not the time to explore trends.

2. Fit is the most important element of the bride's gown. Make sure to have your final fitting as close to the wedding day as possible.

Check out this video of Pickler trying on her dress with Mark Badgley and James Mischka: