Everyone wants their wedding dress to be one of a kind. Seeing someone else walk down the aisle wearing your dress somehow takes some of the magic away from your special day. It shouldn’t, but it still does, nonetheless. But we also have to be realistic; the cost of a custom wedding dress can border on outrageous, and unless you’re a celebrity (or walking down the aisle with one) you might have to resort to buying a dress like the rest of us mortals do.

However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be a one-of-a-kind gown. Here are a few ways to make your dress a perfect reflection of who you are:

1.) Make minor shape changes. By doing some simple changes (as long as the dress permits it), you can ensure your gown will be entirely unique. Changing a straight neckline to a sweetheart neckline or raising the hemline to make a long dress into a short dress are changes that can take a gown from unassuming to absolutely stunning. Of course, always check with whoever is doing the alterations on your dress to make sure these changes are not only possible, but are able to happen within your given time frame.

2.) Add color. Whether it’s with accessories or the dress itself, color makes a statement. Even a deep blue sash or a pair of bright yellow heels can be enough to change the entire look of your dress. Buck tradition entirely by wearing a yellow or pink dress, or try something more subtle, like switching out those basic white buttons for a set in one of your wedding colors. A beautiful white dress with gorgeous red buttons running down the back is sure to be an unexpected and breathtaking touch no one will soon forget.

3.) Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! Your wedding dress is not the only thing you’re wearing, so don’t neglect the rest of what your outfit! Instead of creating a custom dress, spend a fraction of the cost creating a custom veil or wearing an antique necklace that has been in the family for generations.

4.) Add little embellishments. A great way to make your dress your own is to add little touches to it, like a bit of beading to the neckline or some lace trim around the hem. A jeweled or beaded belt can also be added to define your waist as well as give the dress a stunning focal point.

5.) Include your culture. In many cultures, the wedding dress is seen as a collective effort. Adding components like beading or embroidery to your dress that represent your heritage is the perfect way to make sure your dress will stand out among a sea of wedding dresses your friends and family are sure to see at other weddings all year long.

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