Firstly, is it okay to have 5 outfit changes over the course of the day?
YES, definitely yes.
However, with things like budget dragging you (and me) back to reality, it is helpful to consider a few things when making the choice to spend hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands (!) on your wedding outfit.
1. What do you normally like wearing/ feel great in? It's unlikely that you will fall in love with a princess style ball gown if you would never be caught in it otherwise. Seems obvious but trust me you will forget this when you start looking for your wedding attire.
2. What are your deal breakers? I.e. the thought of having a strapless gown makes you cringe? You absolutely hate the look of lace dresses? Cross those babies off your list.
3. White/Ivory/Off White/Diamond White or perhaps Non-White White? If you do decide to go with something more classic and choose white, it's good to keep in mind that darker skin tones tend to look best with pure whites and paler skin tends to look less washed out with Ivory. But of course there is Bondi-Sands if you prefer a pure white but are kind of pasty. (Purely hypothetical of course.)
4. Budget. Far out what a boring one. But yes, sadly they do exist and at some stage (or many) you really will be pondering about better uses of your money. However, keep in mind that when buying a gown (rather than having it made) you will need to factor in an extra few hundred for alterations. Often dresses are made in a standard size, and things like hems may need to be taken up etc. Minor details but still something to factor into that boring B word.
5. Body shape. It is a good thing to consider what will work best with your shape. What works best for your body is usually what you feel best in. If you hate X, Y or Z you probably generally don't want to accentuate those assets (yes, assets) at your wedding. Having said that there are many brides who are far too hard on themselves and look amazing in things they don't feel suit them. However, at the end of the day it comes down to what makes you feel a million bucks (even if the budget is closer to much, much less than that. Again, hypothetically.)
6. Sleep on it. Ponder over the styles in your head. Sleep on it again and then go whats it your gut. If you still have about 6 months until your wedding, it's all sweet. Less time is manageable too. Then ask yourself which one you keep thinking about (aside from future husband/wife obviously)?
6. Once you've found the dress/ball gown/jumpsuit/suit/outfit STOP LOOKING. Ok maybe look for a bit and then consider getting that second post ceremony outfit and possibly buy that just in case you want/need that option (so many hypotheticals). But otherwise STOP. Seriously, let's not forget it is only one day and if you have already spent 4k on a dress that's perfectly beautiful it's probably not helpful to go to another bridal shop to try on more dresses. (Trust me, this happens more than you'd think!)
7. Kick back and relax. Honestly the whole process shouldn't be torture. If it is, take a break from the whole dress buying situation and come back to it later. Or if all else fails net-a-porter.