Shopping for a wedding dress is almost like a rite of passage. It’s something you may have dreamed about when you were young. If only finding the perfect dress was as easy as it was in our childhood daydreams, am I right? As far back as I can remember, I don’t think I ever saw a plus-sized bride. Not in movies, or advertisements, or tv shows either. Thus, I never had the chance to grow up and see someone that looked like me getting married. That all changed in my 20’s, and it changed how I felt about myself, most positively. It gave that romantic teenager hope that someone could and would love me, just as I was. Plus size women are often told that they have to lose weight to look their best; well, I’m here to say to you, that’s not true at all.
Don’t let your dress size dictate your happiness! That’s not to say that even the most confident curvy bride-to-be can’t get the jitters when thinking about the bridal shopping process. So, to make it as seamless and stress-free as possible, continue reading for excellent tips and advice from plus-size bridal experts on wedding dress shopping!
Look for Bridal Shops That Specialize in Plus Sizes
Shopping for your wedding dress is inherently stressful, no matter what size you are. But, as a plus-size bride, it can seem even more intense. Lisa Litt, owner of the plus-size bridal salon Della Curva, says the benefits of shopping at a plus-size bridal shop are that “they are the most knowledgeable and understanding of a plus-sized bride’s needs, desires, and of course have the best selection of sizes.”
Having the ability to shop with someone specializing in your particular body type is a great advantage. Still, if you don’t have a plus-size wedding dress shop near you, there are plenty of other ways to ensure that your dress shopping experience is a wonderful one.
You love the idea of a plus-size bridal shop, but unfortunately, there are none near you. What do you do to get a similar experience?
“Find a shop that is a good fit! If there isn't a plus-size specialty shop near you, don't fret. Lots of shops will still have a good selection of gowns for you to try on. Just ask about their size selection before your visit.” says Amanda Cover, owner of a size-inclusive bridal boutique, Bombshell Bridal, on what brides should do before even stepping foot in a bridal shop.
Indeed, doing a bit of research can go a long way in avoiding uncomfortable situations when going shopping for your big day. Make sure when you do email or call to give them your clothing size to let you know if they have dress options for you. Another great question to ask is if they have plus-size friendly chairs and fitting rooms!
Be Selective With Your Entourage
When shopping for the dress don’t feel pressured to bring people that don’t have your best wishes at heart. “Be VERY selective with your entourage. Bring only the people who will be supportive of your bridal vision,” says Cover. “Your bridal appointment will be so much better when you're not surrounded with negative comments about your style or size, even if they're from well-meaning relatives.”.
Cover suggests having a conversation with your crew before trying on dresses, letting them know what you are looking for, and establishing your boundaries. Let them know that it’s a no diet talk zone or that constructive criticism is okay, but hurtful comments are not allowed. Unfortunately, some folks don’t even realize they are engaging in fat-phobic language and behaviors, so giving them a heads up will not only help you but hopefully them, as well.
Pay No Mind to the Number on the Dress
Don’t focus on your dress size! “Keep in mind that bridal sizing may not match up with the size you most often find yourself wearing,” says Kat Eves, a professional stylist and former lead-stylist and marketer for a bridal wear start-up. She continues, “It’s very common for people of all sizes (not just plus sizes) to need a size or two bigger than what they’re used to wearing.” Remember, it’s all about how the dress fits on your beautiful body!
You want to get a gown that will fit you and all your curves. The size doesn’t matter.
Curinne Polizzi, owner and resident bridal expert at Ivory & Main, reminds us, “You want to get a gown that will fit you and all your curves. The size doesn’t matter.”
Come In With an Open Mind
When it comes time to shop for the dress, you are sure to have done lots of research on the most-flattering silhouettes for your body type, which is fantastic—but go in with an open mind, as well. “Many brides tend to hold back when trying on different styles from fear of our own body image issues,” says Polizzi.
Don’t forget that suggestions on the most flattering dresses for each body type are just that, suggestions! Try on the dress silhouettes that you think you’ll love, but don’t be afraid of trying on something outside of your usual comfort zone. “Let your bridal stylist make suggestions, and be open to things that you may not have considered. You just might end up completely surprised by what you love!” Cover advises.
Think About the Details
Are you planning on wearing shapewear on your wedding day? Bring it with you! Keep in mind that shape-wear is NOT a requirement to look your best on your special day. Beth Clark of Bridal Chateau, an inclusive family-owned bridal boutique in Williamsville, New York, gives this great advice, “If you do not want to wear [shape-wear], then ditch it! I've had brides look better without the undergarments than with. The name of the game, though, is to show up how you would for your wedding to give you the best visual.”
Equally important to what’s underneath your gown, give some thought about other details you’d like on your wedding day, and be sure to represent them during fittings. “Wearing your hair up? Throw it in a ponytail for your appointment. Looking to rock a bold lip for the wedding? Grab your best smudge-proof lipstick. It's amazing how something that simple can change the way you feel in a dress.” adds Clark.
It’s essential to see how all these elements work together.
Join Plus-Size Bridal Communities for Inspiration and Support
The wonderful thing about social media is how it can connect you to different communities you’re a part of. You can have a support system of fellow plus-size brides to seek advice and gather inspiration from at your disposal. Representation is so important, and to see brides that look like you makes such a difference—especially when you see how drop-dead gorgeous they all look in their wedding dresses.
Follow the hashtag #CurvyBrides and #PlusSizeBrides for dress inspiration, and to find plus size wedding dress designers, too! On TikTok, you can discover Ivory & Main’s lovely Curvy Godmothers dishing out helpful advice for plus size brides. They’ve reached over a million views with their tips, tricks, and expertise.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Your Dream Dress
Seriously, don’t be afraid to ask for the dress of your dreams. There are many non-traditional ways to obtain the perfect dress. If budget is a barrier, consider renting your gown. Laine London (carries up to size 28) is a bridal rental shop in Atlanta that provides you with that high-end, luxurious bridal shopping experience at a more affordable price. Take time to research if there are rental options near you.
Another way to get a dress that you coveted on another bride? Simply ask them if you can buy it from them! Kat Eves had this very thing happen to her. “The smartest bride I ever met was the one who reached out to me via Instagram to ask if she could buy my wedding gown from me. It might seem like a bold move, but, as it turned out, I had a near carbon copy of my gown that was just sitting in the closet, and I was all too happy to gift it to her,” Eves says. It’s worth a try, but don’t go about it expecting a yes, or getting upset if it’s a no.
Have Fun With It!
Take a deep breath and remember, this is all about celebrating the love between you and your future spouse. Make dress shopping and fittings a festive and happy occasion. Get glam and enjoy these special moments. You deserve to feel gorgeous, loved, and celebrated throughout this process.