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10 Tips For Plus Size Wedding Dress Shopping


Practical advice without the body shaming

by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

10 Tips For Plus Size Wedding Dress Shopping | A Practical Wedding

Last year, the APW staff went to meet with the awesome ladies of The Wedding Party, an independent wedding dress store in Berkeley, and picked their brains about wedding dress shopping. We’d asked you to share your fears and concerns, and they had answers to your questions. I walked out of that interview with my perspective totally changed on wedding dress shopping in the most fundamental ways. What stuck with me most was their smart, practical, and empowering thoughts on plus size wedding dress shopping. So today, we’re bringing you the boiled down and focused tips and tricks. But the information doesn’t end with us. This one is open to all of you. If you’ve bought a wedding dress and struggled with not being the sample size, what did you learn? What’s your best advice?

Here is ours:

  1. Call ahead. Pick up that phone and call stores. Tell them your size (no shame, no apologies) and ask them if they’ll be able to work with you. The economics of wedding dress stores mean that they normally can only afford to carry one sample gown, and they aim for an average size (if their customers run the gamut between a size 2 and a 22, they’ll probably carry a 10). So they may not have sample sizes that will fit, and that’s normal for all ladies. What you’re looking for is someone who’s informed, confident, and excited to be working with you. If you don’t get that, keep on calling.
  2. Big box stores are your friend. Chain wedding dress stores get a bad rap, which they don’t always deserve. But (bless them) their business model is based on having All The Dresses in the store. They’re great for normalizing your shopping experience: behold, dresses that actually fit! Whee! Whether or not you buy a dress, these stores are a great place to start seeing what looks good on you.
  3. The sales person is your resource. When you go into a store, part of what you’re paying for is your salesperson’s expertise. Find someone who’s excited to work with you (and hello, excited to get your commission) and put them to work. Ask questions, ask for recommendations, ask for opinions. You know your body; they know wedding dresses. Put that together to find something great.
  4. It’s your show. The sales person does not get to control your shopping experience. Period.
  5. Don’t worry about the size. Wedding dress sizes are wacky. More affordable brands will often use street sizes, pricier brands will often us “couture” sizes (code for teeny tiny, built for elves). In short, just ignore the number on the sizing tag. Does it fit? GREAT. Next order of business.
  6. You can alter a dress to have sleeves (etc.). It can be frustrating to shop in a universe where it seems like everything is a strapless ball-gown, if a strapless ball-gown isn’t going to be what flatters your boobs, or arms, or whatever you need flattered. Lots of sleeveless (not strapless) dresses can be altered post-production to add a sleeve. Dresses can be shortened, support can be added. Don’t be afraid to ask if changes can be made, and don’t be afraid to ask how much it will cost (hint: it should be reasonable).
  7. Go custom. If nothing works like you want it to work, well, that’s why God made a needle and thread. When navigating a world of sample sizes that don’t fit and sales people without tact, it can get easy to fall into the trap of, “There is nothing for me. Whatever, this will do.” We call bullshit. You can do better. Getting a custom dress made doesn’t mean breaking the bank, it just means doing some research.
  8. No body shaming allowed. We’ve all heard horror stories of sales ladies who ask you if you’re going to lose weight for your wedding, or who generally body shame you. Let’s reframe: that’s not just “how the wedding industry is.” Those are shitty sales people. If someone tries to shame you, nicely shut that shit down (“No I’m not, and it’s none of your business”). Then feel free to ask for a new salesperson.
  9. Be Your Confident Self. This one is more philosophical, but it might be the most important. The people you encounter while wedding dress shopping? They’re working for you. If they’re doing a shitty job, that’s not on you. Take your dollars elsewhere to find your kick-ass dress. You are going to look beautiful on your wedding day, and your dress is out there waiting for you.
  10. Have Fun. Not just have fun, go into this with the idea that you can have fun buying a wedding dress. You’re buying pretty lace/sparkles/layers of tulle/hot pink/pants/whatever you love and look hot in. And you’re buying for your WEDDING. You deserve to have some fun, lady.

More on silk vs. poly, what alterations should really cost, what kind of dress you can get for various price points, and much more right here.

Photos by APW Sponsor Christina Richards for APW

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

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  • SarahG

    Thank you thank you thank you. The universe needs more wedding info like this! I am not getting married and not plus sized, but so many of my friends have been in tears over this exact issue. Also, would be awesome to do a “how to shop for butch/masculine of center wedding wear” if you can find someone to write it — that’s another pain point for many folks :). Maybe a guest post from Saint Harridan or someone like that? Or maybe you all already did that post and I just need to look through the archives more :) At any rate, THANK YOU.

    • M.
      • sarahG

        Yes, I loooove this post. But I recently went butch-ish wedding shopping with a friend and was reminded of how the industry just makes life really challenging for masculine-of-center and androgynous folks. Concrete shopping advice like this would be so awesome!

        • Meg Keene

          We’ll work on it!

  • Margaret

    I had a custom dress made. It’s not as expensive as you might think, especially for the quality. It was about $1,000, but it was all silk (and a lot of it, since I was pretty big!).

    • vegankitchendiaries

      I had a custom dress made in China. This would be a great option for plus sized brides, especially if you’re on a budget. There are LOTS and LOTS of stories online of people who’ve done this online and they’re about 50/50 in recommending it. I got scared reading stories about people whose dresses ever arrived, didn’t fit, etc. but figured it was worth the risk. $100 later I have a custom dress which is “bridal quality”. The silk will be synthetic (but I’m vegan, so that’s a plus for me). You can just send them the picture of what you want and they make it to your measurement… I’m still gobsmacked by the process – I had my dress in about 90 days start to finish.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        There are also States-side options on etsy. I went to a local store that took my measurements and dress ideas and sent them to their contact in China. That way, I had local faces, a phone number, etc. if something went wrong, but still got exactly what I wanted.

  • Rachel

    I was terrified about going wedding dress shopping, as a UK size 18 I fall into the plus size camp. I was so worried that it would be awful, that I just put it off and didn’t go. As the deadline drew nearer, I finally did some research online, looked for shops that had wide ranges of brands/sizes/styles and called ahead. I shouldn’t have worried, the shops I called all said “no big deal” (no pun!), they had dresses in my size and assured me that they would hold, pin, clip me in to get an idea, even if the dresses were too big or small. I was treated like any other bride, and was never made to feel out of place or awkward. I think the above tips are great – and many apply to every bride, regardless of size. I wish I hadn’t spent so long worrying about it – the reality was far better! :)

  • Ashley

    There are so many helpful tips in here! I’m not plus-sized, but when I ordered my dress my sales consultant, who, up until that point had been extremely helpful/kind/wonderful and generally the type of person who you dream about, asked if I was planning on losing weight.
    In her defense, it was more of a “you have plently of time to order your dress, if you want to drop a few lbs you should wait to order your dress until you’re at the size you want to be at”…but it still sucked to hear.

    ALSO! There are small bridal shops that carry a lot of plus-sized samples – like you mentioned, it’s all about who their average customer is. I went to a shop when I was hunting for my dress and while it didn’t advertise itself as a plus-sized store, most of the samples they carried were size 16+. I kinda wished I knew that before hand (it’s just as annoying for a size 8 to try on a size 16 as it is for a size 16 to try on an 8), but I love having that nugget of info to share with my local friends who are plus-sized.

    • Laura C

      I have a friend who bought her dress in Beverly Hills and had to sign off on her measurements with the promise she would inform them if she got breast or butt implants…

      • KC

        Wow, hello unique demographics?

        (not only 1. people who frequently get breast or butt implants, but 2. do not apparently realize those will affect their wedding dress measurements??!!!)

    • Sheila

      I agree that it’s hard to get a true picture of how a dress will look on you if it’s too big OR too small, but I disagree that it’s just as annoying either way. When I tried on dresses that were too big, it was easy for the salesperson to pin them closed. When I tried on dresses that were too small, there was a lot of humiliating (to me) tugging and pulling and worry that I’d rip the seams. Plus instead of extra material gathered in a clip at the bag, there would be a big gaping hole where all I could see when I looked in the mirror were rolls of back fat. Not a great look.

      • Jess

        Until you purchase a dress based on their “size chart” with boning that extends a full inch past the ends of your boobs and doesn’t even touch your skin at the top, because their in-store sizes weren’t anywhere close to you and you couldn’t get any feel for what might actually fit.

        The embarrassment of having to wear that in public, at a friend’s wedding, with pictures taken, still makes me want to cry a year later. I have no pictures of this event, and she’s my best friend. It looked awful, even after the attempts to fix it. The only other thing I could have done, maybe, was find somebody to completely remove and redo the boning. There weren’t any seamstresses in my area who were willing to do that.

        To this day, I am terrified of having to go shopping for a wedding dress, dropping more than the $400 I spent here, and having it happen again.

      • KC

        I think there is no winner in the trying-dresses-on misery Olympics. All of these experiences sound like they sucked in different ways, probably some more than others, but different kinds of misery are like comparing skiing to luge to hockey and asking who wins (except more unpleasant and you don’t get any medals and… yeah, forgot where this analogy was going. signing off now.).

    • ElisabethJoanne

      My tailor (for my suits; wedding dress was a different ball game) asks “full tummy or empty tummy?” whenever he measures me. “Are you planning on losing weight before the wedding?” may be bad phrasing, but I think something like, “Do you expect any of these measurements to change?” is a legitimate question.

      • BreckW

        “Do you expect any of these measurements to change?”

        I love when the APW community comes up with language that is 1,000,000x better than the typical phrasing. See also: “You’re engaged! Who’s the lucky person?”; “Are either of you changing your names?”; and not mentioning anyone’s pregnancy until said pregnant woman does.

    • Gina

      I totally second you on the “there are small bridal shops that carry a lot of plus-sized samples.” Don’t automatically assume that just because something is a boutique, they don’t have a range of sizes! I went to one that had a fantastic assortment of size 14+ dresses, and only a few that were in the 2-8 range. The lady also helpfully told me that alterations work best within a couple sizes. So if you’re at a boutique where what you see is what you get, and you’re a size 6, modifying a size 14 to fit you is going to be rough.

      Also, I cannot say enough good things about bodice-style (is that what you call it when you cinch it in the back?) I could have gained or lost 20 lbs and still fit in that baby perfectly.

  • C

    I had a custom dress made (Wai-Ching, all silk) for about $1,000. The bra that I had sewn into it was about ~$100 and the total cost for alterations (done in MN by Louise Kegley) was $60. I tried on traditional bridal gowns and I had an ok experience (no body shaming at least) but based on extensive research, I quickly realized I should do what I could to get a custom dress. I should’ve started the process sooner but I managed to not freak out about picking up the final version of my dress the day before the wedding.

    • Meg Keene

      OMG. I’m an idiot. I didn’t mention the “having a seamstress build in a bra” trick. PRICELESS.

      Signed,
      Your ladies with boobs, Meg & Maddie

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

        Last week during my final “fitting” (uh, via FaceTime), my mom asked me what bra I was wearing and I said I didn’t have one. My grandma asked if I wanted her to sew in cups so I wouldn’t want to buy one and I said yes…she asked what size, so then I got to basically pick what size my boobs would be on my wedding day, and it was awesome.

        • BreckW

          Hahahaha, my girlfriend who is getting married this summer did this, too! She brought in a picture of Kate Beckinsale from the Golden Globes to her seamstress.

        • H

          I cannot stress how invaluable the “sew in a bra” revelation is for those of us who fall under the category of “your ladies with uneven boobs”. I know y’all are out there.. (oh god please be out there). I have scoliosis, so flattering everyday clothes are hard enough to locate. Wedding dresses for normal, straight-backed people go all sorts of gappy in the chest on yours truly. But sewing in my own bra cups did wonders (I did it myself and it was really easy. Of course, my dress was a thrift find and my support needs weren’t dire so I was cool tackling the renovation). I added a lining to one side, and something more padded in the other and voila, problem solved. I feel sort of an affinity with plus-sized dress shoppers (am I allowed?) because dress-shopping during the strapless takeover was literally my worst, back-revealing nightmare.

          • Fay

            Tots a member of the “Uneven Boob Sisterhood” *high-five* and yes, the sewn in bra to my wedding dress was a wonder. My seamstress put in an extra cup into the bust of my dress for the boob that is smaller and it seriously helped make the girls look even in my bridal gown. It’s awesome to see my girls look perky and EVEN in my wedding pictures!

          • H

            *high five* right back atcha Fay, and glad to know there are a few members of the UBS out there (I think we need badges). I intentionally bought a “modest in the chest” dress but if I look fairly symmetrical in pictures with the help of sewn-in frankenbra I will be pleased.

          • Jess

            My boobs are… not full-and-round shaped. I wonder if finding someone to sew in cups would help the gappy chest thing! Were you limited in the kinds of dress you could buy (no boning, only soft materials/low structure…)?

          • KC

            Broadly speaking, if you could wear a strapless bra under it without cup show-through, and if the material can hide the strapless bra in front, and if either the material is thick enough to stitch to directly without “pulling” *or* there’s a lining (which is basically 98% of the time), adding cups (with potential foam “boosting”) will be no problem. You can test this with safety-pinning the cups of your temp bra in place – does it wreck the drape or otherwise do weird things to have the fabric clinging tighter to the cups, or is it fine?

            You can also have them stitch in an actual full strapless bra (or a non-strapless bra, if your dress has straps that the bra can hide under – the straps can be shuffled a bit sideways and stitched in, so *exactly* the same strap placement is not necessary, although obviously the closer you can get, the more support and less pulling you’ll have) if you have one you love and that fits; it can also be removed and re-worn after the fact as long as it doesn’t have to be cut up to not show on the back of the dress, etc.

            Options!

          • H

            Jess, I can’t speak for everyone, but I did avoid super-low cut stuff (hello one-sided peep show!) and the boned “chest shelf” dresses. This was personal, honestly I think you could get a bra sewn into just about any style and make it work. If you’re like me and just needed a touch of padding/support, you can buy those soft cup-inserts and with a couple stitches they’re attached to the lining of your dress, no seamstress required. Just make sure they’re in the right place ;)

      • KC

        I had one bra style that I was most comfortable in (as in, could wear for 36 hours in a row during finals week and not get uncomfortable or even really go “ahhhh, that feels better” upon removing it), so I, um, designed my wedding dress around “will work over that bra”. Comfy and secure: very important to me!

        (a… number of years later… my shape has now changed and there is no bra that I have found that stays put and comfortable and supportive for that length of time, hmph. But it was awesome for the wedding to not even have to think about that allll day long.)

    • InTheBurbs

      Writing just to second your shout out to Louise Kegley. She is amazing!

  • Laura C

    For me the best moment was after a not-great experience trying on wedding dresses at J. Crew (they were really dirty, a lot of them had side zips and you can get an ok sense of how a back-zip dress three sizes small will look if it’s clipped on, but not so much with a side-zip dress) when I realized I could order a dress from J. Crew that would arrive clean and in my size, and I’d be able to return it if it didn’t work out.

  • Adria Rizzo

    YES! to the “big box stores”. I purchased my dress from Alfred Angelo and the #1 reason I went to their store was because of the array of sizes available. I had a truly fantastic experience and would recommend it to anyone!

  • Kristenina

    This is great! And I discovered most of these when I was dress shopping a few years ago. The other thing I would add, which is true for everyone, is only bring people shopping with you who are supportive. The only person I brought was a good friend who was also a confident plus sized bride. She was ready to go to the May for me if anyone started saying fucked up shit, but no one did. All told, I had a great experience.

  • Eva

    I will actually jump in with an unpredictable vote of (a little) confidence for Vera Wang. My family’s in NYC and I always knew that I wanted to go to Vera Wang with my mom and aunt when the time came, just a fun day for us girls. I knew I wouldn’t buy a dress there but it was always something we knew we would do together. At the time I wore a street 14 and really concerned that a place like that would only give a runway 6 (which is like a 2), so I was expecting this experience to be awful — just put me near pretty dresses, let me touch the beautiful lace, and then I’d leave. Well riddle me surprised when I walked in and the woman I was working with pulled sizes 14/16 for me. The dresses all fit and looked heavenly, and even though we did not purchase a gown there it was a much more positive experience. It turns out they carry two sample size options to make sure their bigger-boned brides have a chance to feel as beautiful as they are in the dresses.

  • Fay

    I bought my dress from a now closed plus size bridal dress shop in the DC Metro area. They had so many options for dresses; strapless, straps, cap sleeves, lace cardigans to wear over your dress if you needed something more conservative, etc. etc. I had tried the chain bridal stores and did not have a great experience, but at this store the sales associate listened to me and what I wanted in a bridal gown and they had lots of different dresses available in plus sizes to try on. I actually had issues at the chain bridal store, who supposedly carries lots of plus size dresses, not having much in the way of plus size gowns to even try on!

    But THIS is what really got me about your article:

    “Lots of sleeveless (not strapless) dresses can be altered post-production to add a sleeve. Dresses can be shortened, support can be added. Don’t be afraid to ask if changes can be made, and don’t be afraid to ask how much it will cost (hint: it should be reasonable).”

    I found the perfect dress that had a beautiful sweetheart neckline and illusion straps to help hold the girls in, but I needed some major alterations. My dress had a train. I’m not a train sort of girl and I was entertaining ideas about cutting my floor length gown to tea length for my late afternoon June wedding. Plus the straps needed some tightening up. I was lucky enough to find a wonderful seamstress that worked locally at another bridal salon in MD, as I had bought my dress out of state, who was willing to help me out. She took her time discussing what I wanted to do with the dress, what did and didn’t work with the dress, and offering options to make the alterations work.

    In the end we killed the train (she took the left over satin and made my then HTB a custom pocket square for his suit, complete with our initials embroidered on it!), hemmed it, took out some of the crinoline layers, put in some more bust supports, and took some of the left over tulle overlay from my dress and reinforced the illusion straps of my dress and continued them out further where they attached to the back of my dress which helped to completely hide the dreaded back-fat we all experience with fitted bodice dresses! Now this was a lot of work and I was expecting to pay around $500 for it all (which was what I had been estimated at from some other salons i had called or emailed about working on my dress), but she charged less then $300 for all the work!

    So it pays to shop around and to really talk with the person doing your alterations. I’ve been rushed thru bridesmaids dress fittings in the past and wound up with dresses that looked bad and felt really uncomfortable so I wasn’t going to allow that to happen with my wedding dress. Find someone who wants to help you look your best and who is going to take the time to do it the right way and will deliver on their work when promised!

  • Lily

    GREAT TIPS for anyone who is “hard to fit,” not just plus-size ladies. I’m very short, and I found that calling ahead made all the difference. One store I called sounded put off and asked how high of heels I was willing to wear when I called to see whether they would be able to work with me. The store I ended up buying from sounded knowledgeable about fitting shorter brides and realistic about what could and couldn’t be done with alterations. And the consultant they ended up pairing me with was also very short and totally GOT IT (not just that certain cuts would be unflattering regardless of alterations, but also that too much embellishment would look totally overwhelming).

  • L

    Perfect timing, fits well as a partner piece to http://offbeatbride.com/2014/01/plus-size-wedding-dress-shopping

  • http://readingandthensome.blogspot.com/ Martha Smith

    I grew very irritated when the salespeople purposely wanted me to order a size up in case I gained weight! Lady, I’ve been relatively the same size for half my life. It ain’t changing now! One thing I found helpful to dissuade them of this tactic was to try on a dress by the same designer of mine in the size I wanted to order. Fit like a glove, despite being hideous. So, when you fall in love with a dress that’s not available in your size at the store, see if they carry a dress by the same designer in a size closer to yours.

  • JenClaireM

    These tips are so great! I was a street size 14 for my dress shopping and wedding, and while at one time that would have made me self-conscious and insecure, I had been working hard on being healthier and in better shape for the past two years (and had lost a chunk of weight as a result), so I felt damn good about myself and totally confident. That made such a difference in the experience, and I never apologized or felt bad for anything. It was a big revelation for me. I finally truly appreciated how okay (and great in fact) it is to be exactly myself, in whatever shape and size I come, and that anyone who does not support my validity as I am is not worth my time or my energy – and definitely shouldn’t get to make me feel bad about myself. Because I felt good about myself, even the stores that were not fabulous experiences were fine. And some places were really fun! I ended up getting my dress from David’s Bridal, because it was affordable and because I procrastinated, but also because it was really great to try on dresses in my actual size and know how they would fit me.

  • ruth

    Our wedding was last year, so thankfully my wedding dress shopping days are done – but just wanted to send my best wishes to anyone who is currently wedding dress shopping – cause for me, wedding dress shopping was really rough! I am not plus size (I wear a US 6 or 8) and I have never encountered so much body shaming in my life; what is up with some of these sales people?! It’s like they think if they make you feel bad about yourself you’ll buy more. Evan as an “average” size person, I couldn’t fit into a single wedding shop sample size – at all the shops I went to in NYC, the sample size seemed equivalent to a size 0, it wouldn’t even go over my hips – why do they do this?! I know that most of their customers are not this size! Anyway, in the end, I went to a local mom-and-pop tailor shop out on Long Island that specialized in formal wear; they took a 100% silk off the rack dress from an unknown designer, customized the heck out of it so it flattered every part of me, and the whole thing, cost of dress plus all labor and multiple fittings was under $1500, about half of what I would have spent at those other wedding boutiques. Plus, there was so much great personal attention and the joy of supporting a small, family owned business. Highly recommend the experience.

  • Nicole (Founder of Brideside)

    Hey this is an amazing piece. We recently launched a Fit Video series and did a segment on plus size. Your readers might find this helpful- I interview the owner of a local Chicago plus size bridal boutique: http://shop.brideside.com/pages/in-full-bloom

  • ugh

    how would you know anything about plus size shopping at all you douche

    • Karen

      Is this a joke?

    • Rachelle

      aww, did we just get a troll?

      • Lily

        On the whole, APW is usually remarkably troll-free. Unlike, oh I don’t know, THE REST OF THE INTERNET. This just makes me appreciate more the overwhelmingly civil and respectful tone of the comments the vast majority of the time.

        • Rachelle

          I know, I love and appreciate it as well! I hope you understood that that’s what I meant :)

  • KerryMarie

    I would like to put in a good word for Dolly Couture: http://dollycouture.com/ ! They custom-make some very cute vintage-inspired dresses. I knew that I wanted a vintage-y, tea length dress, but as a size 10 lady (size 14 in the wedding dress world) I had a hard time finding an actual vintage piece that fit. Dolly Couture made me a dress (complete with customizations) that I love and feel great in. I had a lot of anxiety about dress shopping, but ended up having a great experience with the women there, and not a word was breathed about losing weight before the wedding (not that this alone should be the benchmark of a great dress shopping experience, but y’know…it helps). They outfit a lot of plus-sized brides (unfortunately not featured on their website, but view-able on their facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dolly-Couture/121902929539 ) and they all look HOT!

  • Jennie Elliott

    I`m a plus size bride sz 16/18. I`ve has such terrible experiences buying clothes as a plus size woman that I decided to skip the wedding dress “shopping experience”. What I did was do a lot of wedding dress research for plus size brides online. Then I went to various websites and looked at a ton of preowned dresses over 2-3 months. I found that one major advantage to looking at preowned dresses is that their were pictures of REAL BRIDES in the dress not stick figure models. This is a major plus as I could compare the brides in the pics and compare their body type to mine. From that it gave me a good idea if the dress would suit me or not. Another plus, is that former brides plus size are usually very honest about what the dress will and will not do for you. And will detail what they wore underneath the dress to achieve their look.
    I ended up buying my dress for my July wedding over x-mas. I got a Maggie Sottero all lace dress, almost perfect condition, with a veil for $600 from Craigslist! It fit great and will only need minimal alterations. I estimated that I saved well over half price never mind the taxes etc… I never felt bad about my body because I was looking at dresses that were worn by plus size women like me. I didn’t get that shopping group experience but it wasn’t important to me. Also, it would have been hard to pull off as my mom, mom-in-law, MOH, bridesmaid, and I all live in separate cities. FYI – I read that many times before shopping that a strapless dress isn’t flattering on plus size brides. I ended up buying a strapless dress because when I tried it on it was very flattering! Trust yourself you know what works.

    • Jennie Elliott

      I wanted to add … if anyone cares lol… that I think this article has great suggestions for shopping in a store. And if you want that experience that’s ok. But being this site is “A Practical Wedding” I was using my story as an alternative. I was told by many that “I had to have” the dress buying retail group trip thing. Well, no “I don’t have to” do anything that I don’t want to do. Because it’s MY wedding/dress. Worked out great for me. No regrets.

      • http://alithompsonart.com/ Ali

        I love this as an idea to see what dresses will actually look like. I buy all my plus sized clothes on line, and I always wish they would use more plus sized models (and different shapes too!) so I can tell more how it’s going to look on me.

  • TeaforTwo

    Chiming in with the perhaps obvious advice to choose your shopping companions well! If your mother can’t stop bringing up the 30lbs you put on in grad school? She doesn’t have to come.

    I eventually went with a custom dress, but I did try a few boutiques. I’m a street 12 and could justJUST get into sample dresses, except for a few that were too small. And there are certain wedding dress styles where that just looks…awful.

    One particularly fitted one that was I barely squeezed into I never even saw: the very trusted and dear friend I had brought with me suggested I should just take it off and banish it without coming out to look in the mirror. I love her for that, because it meant not seeing myself in awful dress, and spiralling down about how THIS WILL NEVER WORK. But make sure your shopping companions are people who can see you looking terrible (because some will just look terrible! that’s fine! you don’t have to get married in those ones!) without you being embarassed about it.

  • Winny the Elephant

    I have to say that the wedding dress industry is stupid with the sizing. I am a solid size 8 in street clothes and I could barely squeeze my ass into the sample dresses at the stores. I ended up buying a size 12 sample which I love but which I will definitely need to lose 5-10 lbs to fit into (It wasn’t in production anymore, had to go with the sample). That’s not a huge deal given that I tried it on last year during exams (note: stress induced weight gain) and I’m getting married this year 2 months after exams (time to lose that weight) but still. Other clothing manufacturers do vanity sizing because they have realized that if women feel good in the clothes, they are more likely to buy them. What is wrong with the wedding industry? MY DRESS IS TWO SIZES UP FROM MY USUAL SIZE? They should make me want to drop 3k on the most amazing dress because I look fab in it, not make me want to go back to David’s Bridal where the dresses felt like crap but at least they fit.

    The worst part is that I know people who are a 12 or 14 in street clothes and are now a “plus sized” bride. Suddenly they have to go to the rack at the back of the store which has 4 dresses they can even get in their size.

  • Emily

    First, I want to say that I get it, I do. These rules are necessary in this world.

    But second, how incredibly eff-ed up is it that we need to bring protectors who are willing to go to the mats for us, that “no body shaming” even has to be said! (but it does), and that going dress shopping is even such a potentially high-stress situation!

    I’m having a moment of complete disgust and outrage for the situation.

    Carry on.

  • Kaveets

    I’m sure this isn’t true for every major city, but in my case, shopping in the smaller town where I live was drastically different than shopping in the large Canadian city where my parents live. It felt like I was in the capital of WIC-Town, with women looking me up and down, the consultant bringing me dress after dress that didn’t fit, talking about my weight, etc. There was a lot of, “well you have to do this” or “everyone needs that”. In my small town, the store was less busy (less people watching me!) and my consultant was so laid-back. She also took the time to explain the pros and cons of various undergarments (not tell me what I should want), and actually paid attention when I was uncomfortable or didn’t like something. At no point did I feel that I was any less allowed to be happy because I’m plus-sized.

    Also, HALTERS!! They are the happy compromise between sleeves and strapless, and so long as you get the right fit, they’re full of support!

  • http://www.clairestelle.com/ clair estelle

    best wishes on your wedding dress journey ladies!

  • Andy Black

    these are really helpful tips…my favorite is having fun. brides tend to get too stressed out

    Unique Wedding Favour

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  • Kate

    Awesome tips! I had a hard time finding good dress stores in Baltimore. I ended up purchasing from the ‘big box store’, but I LOVED my dress shopping experience at Curvaceous Couture in Columbia, MD. Really awesome dresses ALL in plus sizes, great staff, too.