Finding your dream wedding dress takes trial and error and plenty of patience. Chances are, the first dress you try on won’t be the one, and you may have to devote some real time to searching for it. But with so many different styles to choose from, it can sometimes be challenging to even know where to begin.
If you’re on the hunt for the perfect plus size wedding dress for your figure, there are a few options to consider to best suit your style. Our experts weighed in on the best go-to silhouettes to fit a variety of body types. Get the search started with these tips and narrow down a few of your favorite flattering plus size wedding dress options before confirming your shopping appointments.
1. A-Line Wedding Dresses
"Anything A-line, especially if it has an empire waist, can be very flattering, especially if you want more coverage," says Terry Hall of Amsale New York. "Because the waist starts right under the bust line and immediately goes out into an A-line, it's an ideal silhouette for brides who want to be more discreet."
Meet the Expert
• Terry Hall is the head of retail and business development of Amsale New York.
• Lori Conley is the general merchandise manager of BHLDN, after serving as the senior vice president of merchandising, design, and product development for David's Bridal.
2. Wedding Dresses With a Drop Waist
Looking for an option that will hug your curves in all the right places? Hall says this is the perfect way for a bride to accentuate her shape, helping to create curves. "A bride might think that she doesn't have a waist, but a bodice top can carve one out," says Hall. A drop waist dress lets you have some fullness at the bottom of the gown, as well as accentuating the hips in a flattering way.
3. Ball Gown Wedding Dresses
Choose a timeless ball gown that highlights the most slender area of your torso—your waist! Ball gowns are an excellent choice for pear-shaped brides as they show off your smaller upper half with plentiful fabric on the bottom. No matter your body type, a ball gown will make anyone feel like a princess.
According to Lori Conley, general merchandise manager for BHLDN, if a full ball gown is what you're going after, then Oleg Cassini is a great designer option. "The line is known for its opulent, glamorous princess ball gowns (think Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress) and has many dresses specifically cut to flatter fuller figures," she says.
4. Mermaid Wedding Dresses
Work with a tailor to make sure the flair out begins just above the knees to give the illusion of longer legs. As far as designers to look for, Hall suggests Lazaro and Dennis Basso.
"Lazaro is a particularly good choice for brides who like beading and lace embellishments throughout, " says Hall. "Another designer that specializes in mermaid shapes for fuller figures is Dennis Basso. In addition to designing a great mermaid shape, Dennis Basso is also known for his ruching and use of dreamy organza fabric, which are both very flattering on plus size brides. The dresses are fitted and accentuate the waist."
5. Trumpet Wedding Dresses
A trumpet wedding gown is very similar to a mermaid dress—both options feature a curve-hugging silhouette that flares out toward the bottom of the dress. On trumpet dresses, however, the flare begins mid-thigh. If you're looking for a plus size style of this dress, Conley suggests looking to Zac Posen.
Plus size brides who favor Zac Posen's curve-hugging trumpet cut gowns will find their ideal look with the Truly Zac Posen bridal line. According to Conley, specific attention is paid to the waist and hip proportions with this line, making it ideal for fuller-figured brides. "This ensures that the dresses are not only flattering but also comfortable," she says.
6. Corset Wedding Dresses
When a gown comes with a built-in corset, it automatically shapes your body and gives you the appearance of a smaller waist and a bigger bust. Designer Pnina Tornai creates a lot of dresses with these built-in corsets, and the dresses are favorites among plus size brides, according to Hall. "Her designs are known for their built-in corsets, which give a lot of support, emphasize the waist, and carve out a gorgeous figure for full-figured brides," he says.
7. Sheath Wedding Dresses
Create the illusion of height and length with a sheath gown. The uninterrupted line of the dress never fails to flatter, and, as a bonus, it's a breeze to hem. Plus, Sheath gowns feature ample structure and support.
8. Wedding Dresses With a High-Low Hem
Like a sheath gown, a wedding dress silhouette featuring a high-low hem tends to elongate the leg and stretch out the body overall. Plus, it's a rather unexpected wedding silhouette and perfect for the avant-garde bride. It adds a touch of drama and gives you modest coverage in the back while showing off your legs in the front.
9. Wedding Dresses With a High Neck
Of course, you want to look amazing, but be mindful of a secretly high maintenance dress. Even a simple silhouette that’s impeccably tailored may need to be hoisted up throughout the night if it’s not right for your body. And who wants that?! For any bride in search of fuss-free and flattering (especially those who want to be sure to avoid a wardrobe malfunction on the dance floor), a high neck wedding dress is a stylish choice. The overall effect is layered and feminine, not to mention ultra-flattering thanks to the long, lean line the high neck creates.
10. Bridal Jumpsuits
You don't have to sacrifice comfort for style on your wedding day—and designers like Gemy Maalouf and Naeem Khan have picked up on the modern bride’s desire to have the best of both worlds, sending a number of bridal jumpsuits down the runway. Not only is a jumpsuit more comfortable for some, but it can also be a really flattering choice. It provides shape and structure in ways that a dress can’t, accentuating your waist and highlighting your legs. If you don’t want your curves to get lost under an abundance of fabric, this could be the silhouette for you!
11. Wedding Dresses With an Exposed Shoulder
As evidenced by styles seen at Theia and Reem Acra, the combination of an exposed shoulder and a wispy sleeve is truly flattering on all body types. Not only is a cold shoulder undeniably chic, but it also provides just enough upper arm coverage for women who don’t want to bare it all while drawing attention to a specific area. And for brides who want to experiment with volume without adding bulk, a delicate ruffled drop-sleeve is a perfect, on-trend way to add interest.
More Dos and Don'ts for Plus Size Wedding Dress Shopping
Now that you're familiar with the most flattering wedding dress styles for plus size brides, you'll be totally ahead of the game when you go dress shopping. Here are a few more dos and don'ts to help you find the perfect gown.
Do Opt for a Size That's Too Big Rather Than Too Small
If your top is bigger than your bottom (or vice versa), strategically choose the size that fits the larger part of your body, and then have the other area tailored to fit the smaller portion. It's simpler (and less costly) for the tailor to alter the dress to be smaller where it needs to be than it is to alter it to be bigger.
Don't Be Discouraged If Your Dream Gown Isn't in Your Size
If you're shopping off the rack and it doesn't appear that the designer dress you've fallen in love with comes in your size, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Often times, designers offer their dresses in sizes up to size 24 even if the store you're in doesn't carry them—you'll just have to contact the label itself. Note: Some designers have an extra charge for making the dress in a bigger size, which ranges from $100 to $200. But, if it's your dream dress, this just might be a price you're willing to pay.
Do Look for Ruching
"Anything with ruching can be very forgiving, regardless of your shape or height," advises Hall. "It also helps to add support and gives the dress more structure." In particular, look for dresses that are ruched in an asymmetrical pattern—for instance, gathered on one side of the dress. "That pattern brings the eyes up to the face and creates a vertical shape to the gown," he says.
Don't Go for a Piece-Meal Gown
"Avoid gowns that look pieced together. For example, the bodice is one style and then the hip or skirt is a completely different fabric or texture. Different shapes or fabrics that don't transition smoothly can visually cut the body in unflattering ways," says Hall. "It doesn't mean the whole gown has to be the same fabric, but make sure each section segues fluidly and flows together."
Do Look for Asymmetrical Details
Hall recommends looking for dresses that have asymmetrical detailing, which is not only more flattering but artistic and unique. The asymmetrical hem will draw the eye downward and create fullness at the bottom of the gown, which will balance out fullness on the upper or mid-portion of the body.
Don't Choose Flimsy Fabrics
Hall suggests avoiding thin fabrics such as silk charmeuse or chiffon, which just skim the body and can magnify every little detail. But other than that, feel free to go for anything. Taffeta, organza, lace, and duchess satin are all very flattering fabric choices.
Do Choose Something That Reflects Your Personality
"If there's ever a time that a bride has to wear something that she loves when it comes to fashion, it should be on her wedding day," says Hall. "Every shape, embellishment, and detail comes in plus size, so if you want to have ruffles, bows, flowers, or beading—go for it!"