Wedding Planning as a Plus Sized Bride


Wedding Planning as a Plus Sized Bride | A Practical Wedding

I am a woman of a size that quantifies me as large, or curvy, or heavy, and from a medical description obese. I was when I was single, while we were dating and engaged, and when I am married I’ll likely continue to be a size that is larger than society typically dubs as “normal.” In my everyday, non-wedding-planning life, I actively work to make sure who I am, how I feel about myself, my dreams, and my happiness are bigger than my weight. When planning a wedding though, my feelings about my weight were a little more uncomfortable than usual. Sometimes this was because portions of wedding planning had me bumping up against business or options that were not as readily available in my size. Other times, my feelings about my size were challenged based on the images I saw of brides that looked nothing like me. My wedding planning experience in general amplified the areas of my life where I already struggled with conflicted feelings, and my body image was no different.

So, here are the places where my weight did play into my wedding planning experience:

1. The engagement ring. I love sparkly things, and while I wear little to no jewelry everyday, I was super excited to pick out a ring. My significant other and I spent weeks online looking and compromising on a ring style we both loved. It was tougher to get a sense of what the ring would look like on, since most jewelry stores don’t have samples in my ring size. When I had found a few I loved I put three up for the final vote, and the one I not so secretly preferred won the day. I was purchasing the ring with my year-end bonus and couldn’t wait to get it in my hot little hands—the quicker for him to propose with. So I went to the website and after finding the diamond I wanted I pulled down the drop-down menu for size and selected size 9, which, to my relief, was listed as an option for the ring I wanted.

A message came up on the screen that said I needed to call customer service to order a ring in that size. The size of my ring finger happens to be larger than they figure into the basic cost, so they couldn’t give me a price until I had customer service run the numbers. I understand business realities, but I still felt deflated—I needed a special size. Sigh. But then I gave myself a little pep talk. “Okay, I order different sizes online all the time—so why should this be any different—no worries—just call it in.” Once I finished talking to the customer service rep, and getting the higher quote for my special order ring, that could not be returned because it was a non-standard size, I placed the order. I was told it would take an extra few weeks to deliver. For some reason, this last bit of news—the delay—sent me over the edge.

I flung myself into bed next to my SO and started sobbing. I felt like this first step in the engagement process already had a hurdle just because I needed a different size ring. And then the floodgates of my secret worries really opened up: what if I couldn’t find a dress I liked or loved in my size; what if my pictures looked horrible, and, most importantly, what did my future husband expect his bride and soon wife to look like? So we talked, and I cried a bit more and he reassured me he loves me “just as you are” (cue Bridget Jones reference in my mind). Also, to be clear, my future husband thinks I should look like me. He wants me to feel good about how I look, be healthy, not to be confused with thin, and feel comfortable in my body. Which is just one reason why he is awesome and I love him.

2. The wedding dress. I never had a clear picture of what I wanted in a dress. I am a bit sentimental, secretly romantic, and I find it important to be comfortable while feeling elegant. So drawing on the feelings I hoped my dress would summon up I started looking for where to shop. I skipped the local small bridal boutiques for two reasons: 1) when I called they indicated they didn’t carry samples or very many patterns in my size, and 2) they were outside of my budget based on our discussions. Next, I checked my favorite online plus size clothing stores like Kiyonna and Igigi. They had options that were contenders, but these stores are only online—I couldn’t try it on before the purchase. I decided since they had very affordable options that I liked, I’d pin a few as backup choices if I didn’t find dresses I liked in stores. So, that left me with either a custom dress or David’s Bridal and Alfred Angelo’s. I went with the big bridal stores for various reasons and called the stores first to make sure they had plenty of samples in my size. Then I took a friend along who I knew would be supportive, and not coincidentally, had experience being a plus size bride herself. I found several dresses I liked, but the one I liked best was simple, in my price range, and most importantly felt like me—we had a winner. Was it difficult not being able to try on designer dresses or finding inspiration pictures of dresses I liked that weren’t in my size? Sometimes. But I figured all brides have limits on their dress selections, whether it was price, current trends, or other elements of their body types. I don’t feel like my dress makes me “feel like a bride” or there is some amazing story about my dress. I just like it, think I look good in it, and I am excited to wear it on my wedding day.

3. The pictures. This one was tough for me. In my experience, I seem to be able to take much more flattering pictures of myself than others do. I just don’t get it sometimes—can’t they see that angle highlights areas of my body I’d prefer not to accentuate? I love my eyes, my freckles, my cleavage and my legs—could we please focus on bringing those out? Anyway, when I saw a photographer who advertised working specifically with plus size ladies I jumped at the chance to hire her; you may have heard of her—her name is Maddie. I wanted to feel comfortable that, while my photos aren’t posed, during editing they may take out the ones where I look like I have more chins than usual. The struggle here, was when I looked at photos of other brides, on almost any site, a large majority were smaller than me. It was hard for me to wrap my head around what a bride my size looks like in photos. Could I look lovely, happy, and emotional in a way that I identified with? I sometimes feel that how I look in pictures looks nothing like I look like in the mirror. Somehow I feel the emotion in pictures of me doesn’t match how I feel—I only see my size. Again, I have worked on this before being engaged, but it is all the more important for me to feel accepting of images I presume I’ll reflect back on for the rest of my life.

4. Losing weight. I’ll keep this brief since this is very personal for everyone. I didn’t want to feel the need to change myself, including my weight, for my wedding. Outside of wedding planning I often vacillate between learning to love my body and the desire to lose weight to more easily fit into a world geared towards smaller-size bodies. So, as expected, this conflict came up a few times. In general, I dealt with it the same way I always do. I am honest with myself about what is realistic for my body, my lifestyle, and what I believe to be true about health and size. What I do want to make clear, though, was no one in my circle of friends, family, or even the wedding vendors I worked with ever suggested or encouraged me to lose weight, so a big heartfelt thank you to each of them.

5. Miscellaneous.  Outside of the items above the only time I thought about my weight was when looking through sites that have rhinestone Bride tanks or Wifey sweatshirts. Most of the “other stuff” under clothing options don’t come in my size. I can live with that; I deal with it every day anyway.

6. EVERYTHING ELSE. So pretty much everything else had nothing to do with my size. My budget, dealing with vendors, finding a church, fighting and making up with my partner, choosing my wedding party, worrying about what other people think about my wedding, all the five-hundred million other decision, joys, and struggles other brides experience were the same. All the hard stuff that is talked about on APW still applied. All the good stuff about engagement also applied.

So I am a bride whose dress is a larger size, I have a special ring, and my photos will look different than my friends and others on this site. That’s okay. We are all different anyway. Wedding planning has affirmed what I believe about myself to be true: that I am lovable, that I am capable of loving, and that the life I choose does not have to be limited by my weight.

Photo Credit: Hart & Sol West (APW Sponsor)

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  • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

    “Anyway, when I saw a photographer who advertised working specifically with plus size ladies I jumped at the chance to hire her; you may have heard of her—her name is Maddie.” D’awwww that made me feel all warm inside.

    Good luck with the rest of your planning!

  • Steph

    Wow, I could have basically written this post (with a few individual differences of course). Thank you for putting your experience into words so perfectly. FWIW, when it was all said and done, my wedding day was one of the times in my life where I’ve felt the most beautiful, inside and out! Would love it if you wrote a wedding grad post from the other side :)

    Also thank you so much for this intro But we haven’t yet had a chance to talk about the very real ways that the wedding industry can make planning as a plus sized bride particularly unpleasant (or at least, very consciously “othered”). <—- so freaking true!!!!!!

    • Ashley

      Since writing this post I have since been married – YAY!!! – and I would be honored to have a wedding graduate post included on this site. I will have to work on that. I totally agree that on the wedding day I felt incredibly at ease in my body and so loved.

      • Steph

        So glad to hear that!! :)

      • kyley

        So very glad to hear that! Thank you for sharing this post with us. Congratulations!

  • Katrina

    I love her viewpoint on the dress: “I just like it, think I look good in it, and I am excited to wear it on my wedding day.” It’s the most perfect phrase that any woman-plus sized or thin-can relate to. I was proud of my curves in my dress, and looked hard to find something fitted and sexy that still looked romantic and classic. Her post is proof that you don’t have to conform to the WIC’s idea of a perfect bride, because when you love yourself, that makes you perfect instantly!

    • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

      Yes! And you don’t HAVE TO have the big emotional This Dress Is The One moment. I worried in the months between choosing my dress and the wedding that I’d regret having picked too quickly and not having all kinds of emotional ties to my dress. Then on the wedding day, I liked my dress, thought I looked good in it, and was excited to wear it. And that was all I needed from it. (Ok, and for my husband to say “Wow” when he turned around during our first look. Which he did. Whew.)

  • http://www.piercedwonderings.com Lynn

    I struggled with many of these same things. I’m still not terribly happy with most of my wedding pictures, and my dress didn’t come out the way I wanted it to. The things that I hold on to from my wedding are the pictures of my best friends (bridesmaids) and I laughing…I don’t know what we were laughing about but we were sure tickled…, the picture of my sweet doggie in her wedding finery at our feet, and the picture of my husband and I dancing where we are both open mouthed…again laughing. Those moments of joy and sweetness are what I remember.

    All of the rest of it…the snide comments about weight and the suggestions to lose weight (coming from my best friend who was so lovely about trying on dresses but in her words “forgets” that I’m actually a larger size and feels free to make comments about weight…even though she’s at the total opposite end of the spectrum and knows the pain it causes when people talk about her weight, or lack thereof), the worry my mom had about making sure the dress would fit (she was across the country…put in additional gussets just to be sure and then had to take them out, which created issues with the final fit)…all of the rest of it, not so much of a worry. Most of the time, I was OK with my weight because most of the people around me are OK with my weight, particularly my husband who thinks I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    I would, though, coming up on our anniversary have some photos of us with a photographer who knows how to make us look our best.

    • Ellie

      i hate every single picture of myself from our wedding. i hope one day i’ll like pictures of myself enough to do a photoshoot with the spouse on an anniversary, but for now i just ignore all the photos and act like i keep forgetting to share them with others.

      • Lucy

        Have you thought about doing a ‘rock the frock’ shoot? You could get dressed up, get your makeup/hair done (its cheaper when it isn’t a wedding) and go somewhere beautiful with a photographer you like.
        We did this with my sister photographing us after we weren’t super excited by some of the photos on our wedding day (I have a huge bust and our male photographer probably didn’t realise how unbecoming certain angles really are). We were all having so much fun being silly the second time around and probably becuase of that the photos look awesome.

      • Copper

        I’m so worried that I’ll feel this way about my wedding photos. I totally relate to the line from the post about always liking pictures she takes of herself better than those other people take of her. I think another part of that is that when we take pictures of ourselves, we interact with the camera; we try one, go “ooh, that’s not it. delete.” try again, until it looks great. And we’re not going to be doing that while we’re getting married, cause, well, it’s not a friggin photo shoot.

    • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

      Great plan! Go for the anniversary photo shoot (or anytime photo shoot) so that you’ll have some photos that you love!

  • Lauren

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this post!

  • Karen

    I’m glad you are using a photographer who knows how to take pictures of large size women (Hey Maddie, can you tell we think you’re great?). Years ago I had a photographer take pics of me from a lower angle and they were horrid. I was in tears. The next time she took them from a different angle and it was better. It is definitely a skill and technique that needs to be learned.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. If someone picks up bridal magazines, they would think that large size brides don’t exist. It can be hard to move past that and know that we are all beautiful regardless of whether we meet the WIC standard. I am so grateful for APW and the photogs that can be found through this site. They are much more welcome to diversity of sizes, colors, and relationships than what I’ve seen elsewhere.

  • http://www.sarahhoppes.com SarahHoppes

    Wow, I feel like all my thoughts during wedding planning are written out in this post! I worried a lot about finding a ring that fit, and was flattering on my larger fingers, the dress, and how I’d look in photos. I also worried a lot about the harder, non-aesthetic parts of wedding planning, but I tended to focus more anxiety than necessary on how things might look.

    In the end, any anxieties (aesthetic or otherwise) vanished on the day we actually got married. I was just really, really ridiculously happy. We were surrounded by people who were happy for us. I felt like a rockstar all day, and for many days following.

    Good luck with all your planning!!

  • http://fancystephanie.wordpress.com Stephanie

    Yes!!! I totally empathize. I got sooo mad at our engagement photographer because of about 300 pics, only about 5 showed me at a flattering angle. I got another photographer for the wedding, and her pics were so much better, even though she had less experience. I made her stand on a chair for all the family pictures, so she wouldn’t look up at me! :)

    But now as I’m trying to get pregnant, I’m stressing over maternity pictures. All our friends have these super cute maternity pics, and I know I am not going to have that perfectly round belly… I probably won’t even show until much later than all my thinner friends. Oh well… first world problems, right? :)

    • Kara

      Best of luck in your journey there!

      For what it’s worth, be mentally/emotionally prepared for challenges in shopping for maternity clothes too. I wasn’t. I think mine is compounded by being fairly tall, but I figured that shopping for maternity stuff would be easier than shopping for normal clothes, since they’re SUPPOSED to fit around bellies. Not quite. :S I eventually have found things, but it was a challenge I wasn’t prepared for.

      • http://fancystephanie.wordpress.com Stephanie

        I know – it’s like maternity companies think fat women won’t get pregnant! My cousin, a size 32, is pregnant, so she’s told me about all her problems finding clothing. Poor thing is in yoga sweats and T shirts! :(

        Luckily, I sew most of my own clothes anyway, so I’ve been looking on Pinterest for DIY maternity clothes. I’ve found a few great tutorials for stretchy pants and dresses. :)

        • Kara

          Yuck, I have found professional things, just mainly online. Some of the people on mothering.com have good ideas for making your own stuff too, if you check there!

  • http://landlockedlove.blogspot.com Kelly

    Trying on rings is ridiculous. I don’t think I have an above-average ring size (6.5) but the first three shops we went to, I couldn’t slide a single ring past my first knuckle. It is ridiculous to try to decide whether or not you like the way ring looks on when it’s hanging out up around your fingernail.

    I felt so embarrassed and ashamed about this. I straddle the line of being “plus-sized.” I wear either anything from a 12 to a 16, depending on the type of clothing and the brand. I’m used to things not fitting, and I’m used to struggling with emotions related to my weight. But ring shopping? Not being able to slide a single damn ring over the first knuckle of my finger? FOR REAL? So upsetting.

    (The ring I ended up getting was a piece the shop had on hand, in my size, that fit like a glove. I walked out of the store with it on my finger. It took us almost three months after the proposal to find it. It was the first engagement ring I ever tried on that fit all the way. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why I picked it).

    • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

      Ring sizes have always made me feel awful and fat. Even at my thinnest, rings have made me feel huge. Partly because my mother has preternaturally thin fingers and I’m always trying on her fun rings that fit her index finger and then I can’t even get them on my ring finger so my comparison is biased.

      What strikes me about this post with buying the ring, though, is that they couldn’t list the price and order through the website. If you sell the size obviously the company knows how much it costs, so why not have that up there somewhere?

      • Class of 1980

        Totally agree. There is no excuse since they already know the price.

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      I don’t wear many rings, so your difficulty finding something shocked me. I was wearing size 8 ring in middle school. That was when I still wore juniors clothing, so I’m pretty sure the determining factor was knuckles not weight. Kinda glad to flag this as a potential issue in my future, but kinda resolving to not bother with rings.

  • Weegee Manlove

    What a strong finish: “Wedding planning has affirmed what I believe about myself to be true: that I am lovable, that I am capable of loving, and that the life I choose does not have to be limited by my weight.”

    I wish you the best in your wedding planning and the sweetest start to the rest of your life.

    Slightly unrelated, this post has hit home for me in a way.

    I have, in the past, let my eyes hinder my confidence and affect how I interact with others. I have a weak eye due to a shot nerve that looking in a certain direction or how my head is tilted causes it to appear lazy. I have learned the angle to hold my head and have maneuvered around crowded rooms so that people are on my better side.

    But it was a matter of perspective. Those differences don’t make me “different” but unique. It took a bit before I learned that the only person who was holding me back was me. When I embraced myself for my positive qualities and my “weak sides” . . . I found that, like the blogger, that I am lovable, that I am capable of loving, and that the life I choose does not have to be limited by my” weak eye.

  • kyley

    Can I just say I’m so glad that we’re talking about these things on APW?

    When I first got engaged, I thought I was doing alright with body image, and then I went impromptu wedding dress shopping at this little boutique. After trying on a bunch of dresses many sizes too small, we left the store, and I still thought I was fine, until 10 minutes later I was ugly crying. Like, a full-fledged meltdown the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was in high school. It was a wake-up call that I had buried a lot of this stuff *really* deep.

    • Karen

      I’m really sorry to hear this. Dress shopping can be a traumatic experience. I hope you found a dress you love and that makes you feel beautiful.

      • kyley

        Thank you! I did find a dress that I really love and the day shopping for it was a really wonderful experience. Perhaps even better, the experience as a whole has forced me to look at and begin to unpack all those deeply buried *feelings.* My goal by the wedding is that, when I look at our pictures, the first thing that see will be the joy that is there, instead of focusing in immediately on my weight.

        • Ashley

          I can tell you that looking through our pictures of the wedding day that is exactly what I see. Even pictures that aren’t traditionally flattering, i.e. showing me in the thinest way possible, show me as I am – joyful, dancing and loved.

          • kyley

            Thank you! This is great to hear!

    • KateM

      I sobbed after wedding dress shopping the first time. I am a size 12 now, and had been quite a bit smaller for most of my life. I am one size smaller than the national average, and I couldn’t try on 90% of the dresses. I struggle with not looking the way I used to. Never mind the fact that they change the sizing on the wedding gowns so now you are 2 sizes larger than your street size.
      Anyway, I found a bridal salon that carries all sizes and that is their specialty and they were wonderful. Also David’s was great, I could try on the dress I wanted in my size.
      I HATED dress shopping, it was the worst part of wedding planning in my opinion.

      • lisa

        After expressing my interest in mermaid style dresses to show off my size 14 curves, I was treated to a sales lady who told me they don’t make samples for people my size but one of the employees could try some on for me to see. I stayed only because they were the only ones who carried a dress I loved in photos…and experienced glee when their size 12 sample could be zipped partially. I smiled sweetly and offered a “thanks” for pulling a dress made for people like me. I made sure to let the salon owner know about my experience. Never saw the employee there again.

        • KB

          I personally didn’t mind the not-fitting-quite-right aspect – I didn’t like that the dresses that I had LOVED prior to visiting a salon made me feel hideous. It’s funny, you look in the mirror every day, but there’s such a disconnect sometimes between what you think of as “you” and what you see in the mirror when you’re on a store pedestal with a really, really expensive dress on.

  • efletch

    This post really resonated with me especially about the pictures which is also a big concern that I have being a plus sized lady. Please write a graduate post when the time comes. I’m interested to see how if at all your feelings change post wedding day.

    • Ashley

      My feeling about pictures really changed after the wedding – for the better!!! Not just because I have some kickass pictures of our lovely day, but also because they helped me come to a deeper sense of love and acceptance for my body. I am definitely working on a graduate post to include this :)

  • Kara

    Oh yeah. My hardest thing was dress shopping. I felt like I was 13 again!

    I also hadn’t realized that the photography thing would be an issue until I got the formal group shots (taken from below the altar) back. I don’t really like any of them. No one else can see it, but I can. There’s also a couple of photos from later in the night with backfat once my dress started sagging a bit (my seamstress was a genius, but after 9 hours + dancing+taking off the detachable straps (and wardrobe tape) since they were bothering my sensitive skin, even a genius can’t make everything fit right). So happy to hear that Maddie knows how to deal with us!

    • secret reader

      yes! we really need to unite both ends of the “size spectrum” here because posts from either perspective sound dead on for me. only being able to buy clothing online (and therefore can’t try anything on): check. being made to feel like your size/shape “doesn’t exist”: check. worrying that clothes or photos will accentuate the ways in which you are “non-standard”: check.

      of course the reality is that few/none of us are completely comfortable with our bodies. but I think larger and smaller women can uniquely relate to that gut-punch feeling that your body isn’t standard, requires unique accommodation, etc.

      high fives on a thoughtful post & comments

  • Granola

    For what it’s worth, and I hope this doesn’t come across as a humblebrag, but as a thin person, dress shopping also sucked.

    Nothing quite fit, or it was hard to imagine how it would look on (not clipped six ways from Sunday) and after a couple dozen dresses, I was totally deflated too. Salesladies would try to nudge me to things they thought would look good that weren’t what I wanted. Even now, I still go back and forth over whether I liked my dress or not, and in some photos all I notice are the parts of my body that I dislike that the dress highlighted, even though it was the best one I could find.

    Also man do I empathize with your feelings on wanting to look flattering in photos. I love my high cheekbones and my neck – why oh why must the photographer always shoot my shoulders and face in the most unhelpful way possible? I’m still avoiding looking at my photos too much. I’m only OK with them when I look at them not too closely.

    • http://www.snippetsof.blogspot.com Sarah E

      Thanks for commenting- I think it’s more important to say “everyone can have body issues that make dress shopping hard” rather than “well, you’ve never been (x quality), so you don’t know what it’s like.”

      We all deal with hard things, and when we have good discussions like this, we can sympathize better with each other’s situations, and – more importantly, in my mind- empathize with each other’s feelings.

    • Ashley

      I totally agree – in earlier thinner days I remember being even more critical of my body – and I hope it is clear I don’t think any of the challenges I pointed out are unique to plus size gals. I don’t think any woman has an easy time shopping for a dress and I certainly remember shopping with non-plus size friends who had the same struggles with arms and tummy that I did.

      • Granola

        Nope, I didn’t think you were exclusionary in your post at all. I just wanted you to know that I understood how you feel/felt, despite my different experience and I was grateful that you shared. It’s quite courageous to write something so personal.

        • ItsyBitsy

          I’d just like to take a moment here to say: This is why I love APW. An honest, thoughtful post on a touchy topic leads to honest, thoughtful and respectful comment threads. It’s like the opposite of the rest of the internet.

    • Kess

      I also had this problem. I’ve always been thin, but the sample size dresses are actually the correct size.

      Instead, the people at the dress shop were just really confused about how I couldn’t step into dresses – I had to go in from the bottom as I have very wide hips compared to my shoulders and waist.

      It was just really simple comments of “oh, well we usually don’t have to do this, but you could probably go in from the bottom” and “can’t squish you in this way, most people have a bit more squish! You’re just all bone down there”. I know they weren’t being mean or anything, but it’s something I’ve been sensitive about from puberty.

      This also came the same week that someone at the gym (a complete stranger) came up to me and said that I had the lower half of Nicki Minaj. I’m pretty sure that was supposed to be a compliment, but it just wasn’t.

      Body issues suck.

      • ItsyBitsy

        Body issues do suck. I understand how hurtful those experiences can be even if people weren’t *trying* to be mean. Although I do find it odd that the people at the dress shop were so confused. When I went dress shopping with a friend, our other friend and I were instructed to hold the dress up so that the bride-to-be could “dive” headfirst into the bottom of the dress. Which is to say- there’s nothing weird about you not being able to step into the dress! I hope things went / are going better now.

    • http://anniecardi.com Annie

      I agree. Even though the post above takes such a thoughtful look at what it means to be a plus-sized bride, I think everyone can relate to body concerns. The more we all talk about these pressures, the better.

  • Class of 1980

    Ashley, if it’s any consolation to you, even when I am at my absolute lowest weight and a size six, I am ring size 8. So any weight gain means going up a ring size very quickly. At various times, I have been a ring size 8 or 9, and if I really gained a lot, I’d easily be a ring size 10.

    I inherited my dad’s “pillow-top” hands. My fingers look normal from the top, but the palms and underneath the fingers literally look like a pillow-top mattress. And there’s not a thing I can do about it.

    On the plus side, people always tell me my hands feel so soft that they don’t want to let go of them – including men. On the funny side, one of my friends asked me if small furry creatures like to curl up to sleep in my palms at night. ;)

    (I actually thought this was hilarious and couldn’t stop laughing.)

    Most people don’t know why my hands feel so soft or even notice the pillow-top effect unless I mention it and turn my hand over. Most people don’t look at us that closely. All I see in your photo is a PRETTY curvy girl.

    • http://fancystephanie.wordpress.com Stephanie

      My fingers have always been a size 10, from my lowest size (14) to my biggest (24). IDK what’s up with that! And my DH loves holding my hand – when we first started dating, he said my hand was so much nicer to hold than his ex’s ( who has size 4 fingers).

      • Class of 1980

        It’s funny how some people’s ring size never changes, no matter what size they are, and other people (like me) vary so widely with any change in weight.

        It’s very inconvenient and why I don’t wear rings unless married.

    • Marie

      I’m also in this category. I’m a street size 6-8, and my ring is a size 8. Apparently, I have ginormous knuckles. It’s very unladylike, but oh well.

      Funny story: when looking at rings, the sales lady had difficulty finding a size 8. She tried to convince me that I could get a size 7.5 and just never take it off. Um, no.

      • Class of 1980

        Wow, was that sales lady a twit or what? It can be dangerous in certain situations to not be able to get a ring off.

    • Ashley

      I just don’t get why ring stores don’t carry a sample in the upper size that ring stores sells, you know? The samples are silver and CZ anyway?? And a larger ring can be a good example on smaller fingers. Anyway, I ended up with lots of photos of rings on my first knuckle for comparison. I just had to accept this fact with as much humor as I could muster.

      • Alexandra

        The store I went to had literally hundreds of rings, so I could see that being a lot of extra samples… And a too-big ring does make it tricky to model on a smaller hand since it basically forces your fingers to sit unnaturally. I dunno, I’m sure it just comes down to them wanting the best fit on the largest number of potential clients possible, and so they have samples that are the top end of the “average” ring size.

    • Cleo

      Another “me too!” comment here. Instead of pillow-top hands, I have what I like to call traffic cone fingers. My fingers are tiny by the nail, and then expand outward like a traffic cone, so they’re nice and wide at the base. I wear a clothing size 8 and a ring size 7.5.

      And come to think of it, my fingers are just mimicking the rest of my body (I’m a classic pear shape — size small on top, medium – large on bottom)

    • RachelM

      Pillow-top hands! What a perfect description. I have these, too, as well as big knuckles. And my ring size can vary depending on the time of day. No joke.

  • Molly

    I had so much anxiety about trying on wedding dresses and how awful I was sure it would make me feel. Originally, I was convinced I should just go shopping by myself because I did not want anyone else to feel uncomfortable if we went places and couldn’t find samples that fit me. After doing a little bit of online research I was incredibly happy to find that in my area, there are two bridal shops that carry ONLY plus-sized samples. I was also able to find two smaller boutiques that had a large selection of plus-sized samples. Encouraged by my options, I invited my mom and a couple friends to go shopping with me. Wedding dress shopping ended up being a lot of fun – I felt pretty and supported by my friends and mom. I think having this positive experience early on in the wedding planning process helped to put me at ease with the rest of the planning. I only wish options like this were available in more areas!

    • Steph

      Had a similar experience at DB. I knew they had stuff in my size but I generally HATE clothes shopping and was all prepared to have wedding dress shopping be a million times worse. Lo and behold, I found lots of different styles that looked good on me, and a couple hrs later walked away with a dress that I loved and a lot less stress than I was anticipating :)

      But I remember having the same feeling and concerns as the OP prior to getting my dress.

    • Ashley

      I think a little bit of research goes a long way on the dress issue for plus size gals. I didn’t find any plus size boutiques nearby, but I am so happy you did! Also, as a practical tip, Alfred Angelo’s plus size dresses often have corset backs which allow for a bit more wiggle room for a customized fit if your measurements change near the wedding day.

  • Lauren

    Dress shopping was also the hardest for me. One of the stores refused to put me in anything that wasn’t my size, so it meant wearing unflattering 80s dresses with shoulder poufs taller than me! Urgh.

    My dress just came in (!!!) and, while it’s beautiful and made for me (squee!) the bust cups are a little small? Making it look like I have smaller boobs than I really do? And, I love my boobs and I’m not at all ashamed of them, despite what everyone tells me to get a “minimizer” style or something. That’s the one place people have been really judgey-shamey.

  • Chelsea

    I’m not personally a plus sized bride but I’ve run into some of the issues WIC creates for plus sized women while planning my wedding. When I was looking for bridesmaid dresses and the ones I loved didn’t come in a size that would fit some of my bridesmaids, the sales woman actually suggested having them buy two dresses to then be combined into one dress. Thankfully, none of the affected women were present when she said it and needless to say, I did not go with that company. I was really insulted that they thought I would be willing to even consider being so inconsiderate to the most important women in my life.

    • KW

      When I was in a friend’s wedding in 1997, she’d found a simple, dark green tea length dress. It was inexpensive and they had sizes to fit everyone… except me. The bride’s mom was able to get a seamstress to make a clone that really was identical and fit me well. I didn’t feel out of place in it, my friend and her mom handled the whole situation very well, probably because my friend was both short and plus-sized herself and quite possibly had a hard time doing the bridal gown shopping.

  • Hannah

    I spent so much energy worrying about dress shopping because of my size (short & curvy, shall we say), and I sure wish I could have some of that energy back. I agonized and procrastinated about shopping for it.

    The best thing I did was ask a friend, who knows this area much better than me, about where I should go. When I finally got my gumption up to go, the process went far better than I expected. The sales lady was awesome. I had picked my outfit that day to try to convey my style (such as it is…), and so when I was flustered about what kind of dress I wanted, she just said, “Classic & elegant.” Why yes, that’s exactly it, although I couldn’t for the life of me find the words on my own.

    Four dresses later, we had the one.

  • Moe

    Oh geesh, I feel like I could have written this post too. I think I could even write a whole blog on weight/body image/the fashion industry/self perception…*sigh*

    I was morbidly obese 110 pounds ago. Still, I have a good 50 to lose before I would be considered a normal weight. So I think of myself as the average fat girl, a nice size 16. I went to Nordstrom’s and JCrew to try on dresses and felt like a huge heifer. Size 18 at JCrew is really a 12 or 14. The sales associate was really very helpful and kind but there was no way I was going to lose enough weight in 6 months to get into their dresses. Which by the way are also completely unsuitable for women with real boobs.

    Ultimately I’m having my dress made for me.

    All my life (as a very fat kid) I felt sadness that a wedding day would never happen for me. Boys never noticed me. Losing a significant amount of weight changed more than just my body. It also brought all sorts of emotional baggage to the surface that I had been stuffing down with food. Dealing with all of that crap helped me to be ready to love someone and be married.

    As far as the wedding industry goes, the dress manufactuers can go suck it. There, I said it. You’re outright mean for doing what you do to women. I know my measurements, I know I fit into a street-size 16, so don’t go putting a size 16 label on a size 12 dress.

    One of the many issues I have against the wedding blogs is that they feature countless glamourous chic weddings and every single one of those productions feature tiny size 2 brides and rarely do I see a woman of color.

    • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com Rachel Wilkerson

      Dress labels are also seriously inefficient. And as more women order dresses online (or try to find used dresses online), not knowing what the size really means is a huge disadvantage. From vanity sizing to sizes differing between brands, not knowing what a size really is tough for everyone, but especially for plus-size brides who need to know if that 16 is really a 16 or if they are just wasting their time.

  • http://ellenmcsweeney.wordpress.com Ellen

    What a wonderful post! You’re a great writer and obviously have a great head on your shoulders. So happy you had such a great day and it sounds like the whole thing was a powerful, not-always-pleasant learning and growing experience.

  • Emily

    I’m between a size 14 and 16, and I have always hated trying on clothes. I have cried in all sorts of fitting rooms. So leading up to wedding dress shopping I totaly meditated, and journaled, and reread a few chapters of a favorite book about nutriton/body acceptance. I also put on my wedding make up and wore some “foundational garmets”.
    It really helped!
    Not only did I not cry, I ended up enjoying myself.
    Now I just have to tackle the fittings….

  • http://goldensilhouette.etsy.com Carryn

    Thank you so much for your honesty! I could relate on so many levels. When I planned my wedding nearly six years ago, I had so many similar experiences. The worst was dress shopping and in the end, I really didn’t like my dress. But every time I look at my photos and think about that day, what stands out to me is how happy I was to declare my intentions to my now-husband, with my favorite people surrounding me.

  • LB

    I don’t think I would consider myself a plus-sized person (I wear a size 12) but I had a horrible experience shopping for dresses. I really felt like the wedding industry was telling me I was too big and that I really could only wear a few styles of dresses because I was tall and busty. Why can’t the wedding industry support women of all shapes and sizes ESPECIALLY where dresses are concerned? In the end, I ordered a dress I loved (although couldn’t try on) and had to have it special ordered so my bust could fit into it. Because wedding dresses are for women with size “B” chests. Are you kidding me? Thank you for the thoughtful post. I got married 2.5 years ago and I still am angry about this small part of (what otherwise was a great) experience.

  • http://townhousetohome.wordpress.com adria

    morbidly obese former bride here…

    your pictures (which was about the ONLY thing I was super worried about being a plus-sized bride) will be amazeballs. i was so worried that i would hate the way i looked, that i would only see fat, or that i wouldn’t look “like a bride” (which, BTW, you’re gonna totally look like the bride that you want to look like because that’s just the way this wedding magic works), that i lost sleep waiting for our images to come in…

    then i saw them and i cried. tears of joy. because i looked exactly how i felt that day. and it was incredible.

    and i’ll never forget being in Alfred Angelo, trying on dresses, and seeing an Amazonian Super Model (not really, but she was tall and skinny and ridiculously pretty) come out in the dress that actually turned into my wedding gown and it looking AWFUL on her. and i cried on the spot because if it looked bad on her, what in God’s name would it look like on me (fatty mcfatterson)? then i tried it on, came out and fell in love with it. The super model came over and said “See? This is why I want hips and curves! Look at how amazing this dress is! Ugh! My body is so annoying! You look stunning in that gown!” Which was the breaking point for me…to realize that we all have whatever issues we have, and that size doesn’t matter. At all.

  • LaLa

    We need more posts like this. I was a plus sized bride (got married in December, yay!) and I just saw my wedding photos. My mom (bless her well meaning heart) threw a fit that I “had” to wear a minimizing bra and insisted my dress (which was non-traditional) was pulled up ridiculously high in the front so that my now minimized boobs (that I love) where squished and covered. If I didn’t do any of these things, she threatened to never display any of the wedding photos, nor would she send my granddad (who was unable to attend) any of the photos. Honestly I wish I had called her bluff and run the risk of no one in my family ever getting photos. We didn’t have a professional or semi professional photographer so a lot of the photos of my aren’t flattering regardless, but any photos showing my dress and the boob shaming look awful. However since this is an elopement and we intend on having a big party for everyone else later, I do not intend on wearing anything that will minimize my breasts.

    • Lauren

      Boob-shaming is the worst. After years of torture and torment by boys and girls alike in grade school, I am finally happy and – dare I say? – proud of my boobs. I will not be minimizing, smoothing or hiding. I am fairly modest, so I won’t be hanging out all over creation, but there is some cleavage (and I look HOT).

  • jules

    Thank you for this post! I was at my heaviest weight when I got married, and decided not to go on a crash diet just for the wedding… If I was going to lose weight, I would do it the healthy normal way (eating less/better, moving more) and not by compromising my health. But on the photographs… I think the reason I didn’t care to hire a professional photographer enough to make it fit in the budget was that I don’t like the way I look in pictures, but at the same time I did not want to get photoshopped to look thinner/better/less chins. So I just had family and friends take pictures, selected the most flattering ones without editing and with good cropping I have several pictures I love from our wedding which show me as I was that day.

  • Adi

    My dress was a 24 from David’s Bridal. Every other store I went to had next to no samples in my size, and most of the sales people told me I “shouldn’t” wear certain styles because they would look terrible on me. I can’t tell you how much I cried over dress shopping, but even worse was lingerie–all I wanted was an undergarment to keep my boobs up and my silhouette smooth, and it was a nightmare. I finally ordered something online, IN BLACK, because it was my ONLY OPTION and you can see the edge peeking from my cleavage in nearly every wedding photo. As wonderful as our wedding was, my lingerie-buying experience will always remain one of the most humiliating and depressing memories of my life. I really honestly hope no one else has to go through the rudeness and cruelty I did.

  • Sharon

    Thanks for this post – I finally joined the ranks of the engaged on 12/17/12, and as a plus size woman I’m going to run into the dress size issue I’m sure. My major issue is that as a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding, the bridal shops do not carry samples in my size so that I can show my sister-in-law-to-be how AWFUL the strapless, empire waisted, quasi-mermaid styled dress she has selected will look on me. A-line with sleeves, please!!

  • Moe

    Since shopping round-ups will be a recurring feature on APW could you do a feature on plus-size and/or full bust dress styles?

  • Rachael

    I’ve been plus sized my whole life. My smallest as a size 12, which feels much less plus-sized than it apparently is, as such, I hate clothes shopping. I do not look forward to dress shopping at all.

    But worse than that is shoe shopping. Regardless of my weight I wear between a 9.5 and 11 wide shoe (and I’m only 5’3″ so I get the ‘clown feet’ line more often than I can stand). I can hardly ever find heels that fit, and forget strappy sandals. But I want to find fabulous shoes for my wedding, and I am terrified that I’ll be stuck in boring shoes just because they are the only ones that fit. This is actually the reason I’m considering crazy colored/glittered/sequin sneakers instead of nicer shoes.

    • Barbra

      You might want to check out the shoe roundups on Offbeat Bride. They’ve specifically focused on larger-sized shoes in the past…hopefully, that will help!

    • KateM

      I have had great luck with online shoe shopping, especially since so many places now have free returns. I ordered 5 or 6 pairs and returned the ones I didn’t want. It worked out just as well anyway for me, because I could try them on at home with my dress and see the whole look. Mine came from Nordstroms, who have the most fabulous “help you feel good about yourself and never hassle you” return policy. Zappos was great too.

    • Bren

      I got my dress at julietta by Mori lee. The local dress shop was kind enough to get the rep to let us borrow it so I could try it on. It was the only one I tried on and I loved it! Highly recommend, I felt absolutely beautiful

  • Flamingo

    Thanks for your post. We have been talking about looking for rings together so I can get an idea of what I like. The plan is to go tomorrow, but I’ve been so worried that they won’t even have anything in my size (ring size 10). Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Eryn

    What a wonderful post. I laughed, I cried, and I related. Even though I am a “normal” size bride, I struggle with my body image and my weight constantly, and wedding planning brings out the worst of it. Thank you for sharing!

  • Wendy

    Being a really short and plus size bride (I’m 5’1″ and a size 20), and had a similar situation dress shopping. I called around local area boutiques before going, and they had a limited selection of dresses in my size. I looked on the David’s Bridal website, but did not find anything that I fell in love with, but made an appointment with them anyways. I also looked on the Alfred Angelo website, which had a lot more gowns that I liked, and also made an appointment with them. Thankfully I booked the AA appointment first, because I had a great experience AND I found the dress. They had sample gowns in my size, and I was able to order it in my size and in a short size, so I won’t have to pay a bunch more for alterations. My consultant was helpful and did not judge my size, and pulled stuff she knew would be appropriate and flattering on me.

    Btw, most of the gowns on the AA site come in plus sizes! The gown I bought AA 2310 is not listed in the plus size section.

    Best of luck with your wedding planning! I can’t wait to read more from you!

  • Toni1835

    “Wedding planning has affirmed what I believe about myself to be true: that I am lovable, that I am capable of loving, and that the life I choose does not have to be limited by my weight.”
    I love this quote and this entire post. When I met my fiance and we started dating I was much thinner than I am now from having lap band surgery. Long story but I had to have the band removed and I’ve gained a lot, but not all, of my weight back. He still loves me and proposed to me looking a way I’m not completely comfortable with.

    My fiance knows I struggle with my weight and body image but doesn’t bother me about it. He supports me when I complain about working about with my trainer but in the end just wants me to feel good about myself. We are both in our 40s and are getting married for the first (and last) time. I’m just thrilled that I found someone that is so perfectly accepting of me at any size.

    I thank you for this post and congratulate you on your wedding!

  • Heather

    Thank you for your post and sharing your experience. I am plus size and also newly married – I can definitely relate to most of what you shared. Dress shopping created A LOT of anxiety for me – A LOT. I went to 3 stores in 1 day – mostly because my mom came from out of town to be a part of the day. If you live in Southern CA, I HIGHLY recommend Bonni Bridal in Brea. It was the most amazing experience. They have a large selection of dresses online to review and a local warehouse where they store dresses in all sizes. They ask you to review the website and tell them the styles you like so they can pull them from the warehouse in your size. The salespeople were so wonderful to work with and I got an amazing dress for less than I expected. I also planned my wedding in 4 months and they were able to order the dress I selected and get it very quickly. I was so lucky to have found them online – without finding them I likely would have gotten married in something that I didn’t picture myself in. Mostly importantly though, find something you are comfortable in and feel good wearing.

    Thank you again!

  • Nora

    Thanks so much for writing this post, Ashley. I admire your healthy and accepting attitude towards yourself- that is remarkably rare at any size, unfortunately. Generally I would say that I share it, but between gaining 15 lbs in grad school and recently becoming engaged, I’m struggling to hold onto my self confidence around body issues.

    Even before we got engaged, I was dreading standing on a 3-way mirrored platform in my underwear as my nearest and dearest watched me try to maneuver myself into sample dresses inevitably several sizes too small for me. Yuck. I had always intended to make my own dress (and thankfully have the sewing experience and training to rock it), but with so many of the designs that we think of as “wedding dress-y” not built for my body type, I’m still a bit nervous about figuring out the right cut to make me look awesome and still look like a bride. I guess I just have to trust that no matter what I’m wearing, if I’m holding flowers and saying vows, I will look every bit a bride.

    Again, thanks for the awesome post and the equally wonderful and supportive comment thread- I’m so grateful to have this community. I’m usually a quiet reader, but I couldn’t help joining in the conversation this time. More posts about supporting yourself and maintaining a positive body image while wedding planning would be much appreciated!

    • Copper

      Something I’ve done is try on other formal dresses at department stores. They may not be white, but are often the same shapes as some wedding dresses, so it helps me get an idea of what works on my body.

  • Em

    I gained a bit of empathy for what it might be like to shop as a plus-sized woman, just after reading this post. Wanted to share this to thank Ashley for a bit of enlightenment, and in case this perspective is helpful for anyone else.

    My body is fairly “typically” sized, but my feet are anything but. I’m a size 8.5-as-wide-as-you-can-get, which is why my footware selection consists of Merrell boots, Chacos, sneakers, one pair of Naturalizers for work every day, and a couple of cute sandals that miraculously fit me, but which are rapidly deteriorating from overuse.

    This weekend I schlepped all the way to Chicago from Michigan to search for wedding shoes (mainly as an excuse to visit a friend). We searched all day, going to at least a dozen stores, trying on many dozens of pairs of shoes. I walked away with something that sort of fits, but cost more than I wanted to spend, and still need to be altered by a cobbler, and worse, rather frustrated. This is in great contrast to my dress shopping experience, where I spent 2 hours at one store (The Brides Project!), had a good time, and found something nice that fits perfectly and was below my budget.

    Since I’d just read this post, my shoe shopping process sounded awfully familiar, but in contrast, the felt like way it should be for anyone with an “atypical” size. While it was annoying to go to store after store with not enough (or not the right) selection, no one asked if I’d consider losing a few toes. While some salespeople may have been disappointed that they didn’t get to sell me a cute shoe, I never felt judged nor made to feel bad about my unusual feet. What if salespeople where like this to everyone who didn’t fit into their merchandise?

  • Bren

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been very stressed about my wedding since I am curvy, but this post is exactly what I needed to read. My mom is super obsessed with the way I look, but fortunately she has not said anything since I told her I didn’t want to go dress shopping if she would have an attitude.

    Thanks again for this great post!

  • Del

    Do you ladies have any advice to a small-sized bride to help her plus-sized BMs feel as happy and beautiful as they deserve throughout this process? Perhaps you have been BMs too? I have been super conscious when searching for their dresses (the sample size issue is pervasive), but didn’t even think of how they might feel posing in photos formally for an hour and generally all night!

    • Ashley

      I have been a bridesmaid in several weddings and here were how my bride friends made me feel most comfortable.
      1) They asked me, and every bridesmaid, what style of dress I felt most comfortable in (structured v flow-y, Aline v straight skirt etc); most opted for same color different styles to accommodate.
      2) They asked my street size in dresses then went a researched options and businesses that would work with my size. Calling businesses ahead so they would know if they had samples in my size and then letting me know before we showed up. Being emotionally prepared for the selecting and fitting of the dresses helped.
      3) Regarding photos, I am guessing you are close since she is in your wedding, so just asking how she is feeling about being in the wedding in general should be enough. Some ladies love their picture taken no matter their size. No need to put the idea up that she might be uncomfortable with the photos in case she isn’t. Also, one friend whose photographer was shooting digital had us review our individual shots with the bride to make sure we were happy. It took forever but we all got a pic we were happy with.
      4) The friends who I was open about my weight with asked questions specifically about how I felt about my body.. The ones where it wasn’t part of our friendship just let it be which was awesome. If you don’t normally talk about weight or losing weight with her no need to start now.
      5) lastly, when they thought I looked great they said so – giving me compliments that were specific.
      Those were my experience, but just by being open and conscientious that it may or may not be an issue is awesome IMO.

    • LMN

      Hi, DEL–a few summers ago, I was a bridesmaid for a close friend from college–a beautifully petite and slender bride. At no point in the planning process did she make me feel self conscious about my weight (I’m a street size 12-14). I knew that she was asking me to be there as her friend, not to look a certain way in her wedding photos, and that made all the difference. She didn’t refer to my weight at any point, other than to email over a dress fitting chart and ask what size she should order for me.

      Her BMs ran the gamut from size 0 to size 18, so she had a challenge on her hands finding a dress that came in all those sizes and would flatter everyone. I think she did an awesome job picking out a dress; she ended up going with the J Crew Sophia dress in Triocotine, navy blue. The cut and color of the dress made me feel very comfortable and classy. I was so caught up in the joy of the occasion that I didn’t think twice about posing for photos. I’m not completely happy with the way I look in every single one, but everyone’s huge grins totally outshine my cleavage. (Thank goodness.)

      So, I guess that my only advice would be to thank your friends/family for being your BMs–let them know how much they mean to you personally! That was the loveliest thing the bride did for me, and it helped me feel confident and beautiful at her wedding. And, when picking dresses, maybe think about whether you want your bridesmaids to “match” or whether it would be better for them to all pick out different dress styles in the same color. We did all the dress shopping online, which was really nice, since there was a wide selection of sizes available. If they are self conscious about any particular body parts (like upper arms in a sleeveless dress), maybe offer options like a pretty cover up that could be used during photos…? The fact that you are already thinking about this issue means that you are a super considerate bride and your BMs must be so appreciative. :)

  • Britt

    Ring shopping is a funny thing. My husband and I set aside an entire day to shop and then I fell in love with the second ring we saw. It was the only one the store had; it was a one-of-a-kind piece the owner had purchased at some sort of convention. It did not fit so she sized me (an 8.25 because I have no knuckles to speak of so I have to wear my rings tight to keep them from falling off) and told her we’d be back in a couple of weeks. My husband went back to buy the ring in secret and brought it home as-is instead of having it resized because the saleswoman he saw that day looked at him like he was crazy when he told her I wore an 8.25. She said “Maybe you should just wait to resize the ring. You don’t want to offend her.” So I had to wait four days after he proposed and slid the ring onto my fingernail to actually wear my engagement ring. Sure, no offense taken, lady.

  • Valerie

    I LOVE THIS! And I kind of love you! This is precisely what I have been going through during my wedding planning. Every time I notice myself slipping back into that tendency to want to change myself to fit a norm I remember that everyone involved in this epic moment of my life loves me…..dor being me. My size doesn’t matter. My happiness does. The man I love…..my future husband…loves me. Exactly as I am. So, yes I’m still concerned that our photographer may not get the angles quite the way I might have, and I’ll be larger than the blushing brides you see when trying to find a dress you want. But….I’ve got love. I have acceptance. I have my heart and soul soaring. I accept me and I hope that everyone can do the same for themselves.

  • Kate

    Thank you for this!! I thought I was the only one feeling this way!!

  • Pingback: Are You a Plus-Size Bride? | Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

  • Madonna

    Thank you so much for this article I stopped so many times throughout it..thinking is she listening to my thoughts this is beautiful and will probably read it a dozen more times to remind my self that im beautiful just by being me :-)