It’s Gina’s Final Wedding Dress

What it's like having a custom wedding gown made as a plus size bride

When I was a little girl, I loved to wear dresses. Though I was a tree-climbing, dirt-clodding, dog-wrangling sort of girl, I always did these activities in a dress. I loved the flow of the skirt when I twirled and the silhouette of the shadow I cast on the ground. Of course I wanted to be a princess then, because of the princess uniform. I did not understand the complicated politics and serious demands of being a real-life princess, because I was, you know, four.

Fast forward to thirty-two years later, I find myself planning my wedding to a man I love enough to create a life with. We have decided to throw a wedding big enough to include as many friends as possible, and so we have to conjure some pomp and circumstance. We got a venue, a caterer, a playlist and… oh dear, do I have to pick a fancy dress?

two plus size wedding dresses on dress forms in the Lace and Liberty bridal shop

I’m kidding. Obviously I was delighted that I finally had a solid reason to find the dress of my dreams. Not that you can’t just purchase the dress of your dreams whenever you want… Some people get to do that long before their weddings, but I never had the right opportunity, until now.

If you have been following my story, you already know that I have a tall size 18 body, and finding a dress was a challenge at first. The wedding industry is just not where I needs it to be yet, in terms of sample sizes and designs for bodies outside of the classic straight 0 to 14 size range. But lucky for me, one of my lifelong friends happens to run a big wedding publication (hint: it’s this one), and also happened to be launching a plus sized wedding dress line with Lace & Liberty. So somehow the stars aligned, and they asked me to be their dream size 18 dress guinea pig. I mean, it’s tough work, but someone has to do it. And I figured WHY NOT ME?

plus size brunette woman walking through the doorway seeing her wedding dress for the first time at Lace and Liberty

Flashback to the spring, when the lovely ladies at APW flew me up to San Francisco to meet Danielle and Annie of Lace & Liberty. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first. I looked over their website and found beautifully designed separates that would not compliment my body shape at all, but I knew that they were creating a plus size line, and I figured I had a lot of thoughts, so why not? I created a vision board and came equipped with a long list of gripes about my wedding dress search so far.

And while I don’t have time or space to list all of my complaints about plus size wedding dresses, here is the TL;DR. I took issue with the cut of dresses designed for small bodies, then expanded with no consideration of shape to fit a bigger body. Plus size women are not reverse shrinky-dinks. I took particular issue with the corsetry in many of the dresses, which made me feel stuffed into the garment in an attempt to hide my body entirely, pretending I was the exact shape of a size four, but bigger. I felt like I couldn’t move or else I would give away the hideous truth: that my actual shape was not a size four. I felt like I might accidentally burst out of the garment and reveal that I was a fraud.

woman's hand holding a cell phone taking a picture of her friend looking at plus size wedding dresses at Lace and Liberty

The funny thing is, I do not normally feel ashamed of my shape. I walk around every day without shapewear. I don’t dislike all shapewear, but I take issue with shapewear that makes me feel like I am hiding my body, rather than accentuating it. Also, I like to breathe.

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The ladies at Lace & Liberty and APW were very supportive and willing to listen to my concerns and ideas. I left my first visit to San Francisco with solid design sketches from Annie. I left the second time after trying on two real-life dresses, which inspired a long discussion and lead to the creation of my final, real-life wedding dress.

plus size brunette woman walking out of the dressing room with her white, v neck lace wedding dress on and a smile on her face at Lace and Libertyplus size woman in wedding dress smiling at herself in the mirror at Lace and Liberty

And you guys, it is so beautiful. It is an A-line, with a wide illusion neckline, and three quarter sleeves. The corset inside shapes my silhouette without making me feel like my body is being forced into a shape that is more acceptable. Rather, I feel supported by its structure. The skirt is layered with tulle and sparkly lace which goes all the way up to the sleeves and neckline. The color is the exact gold-ish white I imagined. I feel amazing in this dress. All I can think about is the day I get to wear it for my fiancé. I want to twirl endlessly in it (I do not recommend twirling endlessly for obvious reasons). I expect birds and woodland creatures to come in through the windows and sing with me (I know they probably won’t, but it would be cool if they did). I cannot contain my excitement!

close up photo of plus size wedding dress sleeve floral lace details from Lace and Libertyplus size woman in a Lace and Liberty wedding dress posing outdoors in front of a wall of greenery

Now I have the dress of my dreams and I am delighted. I get to sparkle in it, without the exchange of land or titles. Though you will not be seeing me toss clods of dirt while wearing my wedding dress, you will certainly catch me twirling. I am the smallest bit sad that I can only realistically enjoy its magic for one day, but I get to share that day with my favorite person in the world, and I can hardly wait.


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