Shopping for a wedding dress can be an exciting (and stressful) endeavor for any bride. But it can become daunting when the average American woman wears a size 14, yet many bridal stores cater to a size six and don't carry gown samples in plus sizes. Every body type is beautiful and no one should settle for anything less than their dream dress. Full-figured brides, here are some tips to keep in mind while shopping for the big day.
1. Determine a budget before shopping for a gown.
Plus-size gowns are pricier than other sizes because manufacturers charge a higher percentage for more material, beading and lace. As excited as you may be to start shopping, work out your budget first. Avoid trying on gowns outside of your price range because you'll either fall in love with one and be disappointed by every other dress you see (even if they're just as beautiful), or you'll blow your budget.
If you do find yourself pining for a gown that costs more than you can afford, ask the designer if they can limit the beading to the bodice only, and skip embellishment entirely on the skirt or train. Or ask if the dress comes in another fabric that's less expensive.
2. It's normal to wear a bigger size in bridal than you would in everyday clothing.
Bridal sizes run smaller than streetwear sizes, aka regular clothes. You’re considered a plus-size bride if you normally wear a size 14 or higher, which would be a size 16 in bridal. Most designers do offer plus sizes, but many stores only carry samples in sizes 8, 10 and 12. Call your local bridal store before you go shopping to ensure that they'll be able to accommodate you.
Trying on the dress you love in your size will eliminate return policy fears — you don't want to get stuck with a dress that doesn’t fit — and help you envision exactly how it'll look on the big day. Check out great sources like Alfred Angelo and David's Bridal (which carries sizes up to 26W). Some designers, like Bonny, also offer collections exclusively for plus-size brides. Whether your dream dress is sweet, sophisticated or dramatic, you're sure to find a gown that flatters your figure.
3. Choose figure-flattering fabrics.
Thicker fabrics such as taffeta are ideal for curvy brides because they smooth everything out, creating a streamlined silhouette. Be aware that strapless styles can make shoulders look wider, so consider opting for styles with thicker straps or cap sleeves. Avoid heavily-beaded bodices and appliqués, which can draw attention to areas you’d prefer to minimize.
4. Find the perfect silhouette for your shape.
The most important advice for finding a wedding dress is to know your body shape. Top-heavy brides with hourglass figures look great in trumpet silhouettes, whereas an A-line cut is better if you're bottom-heavy, and apple-shaped brides look best in empire dresses or ballgowns.
Just because you're a plus-size bride doesn't mean you can't wear a fitted gown! Look for a style that flares out at the knee, or right above or below it. The perfect dress isn't complete without the right undergarments. We love the Slimplicity Open-Bust Mid-Thigh Bodysuit from Spanx. This shapewear firms the tummy, hips, thighs and rear. (Learn what to wear under your gown, here!)
5. Be confident!
While shopping for a wedding dress, don't be timid. Tell the consultant exactly what you want, and don't let them pressure you into buying a style you're not in love with, no matter how flattering it is. The right dress should make you feel comfortable in your own skin. It's just as important to know what your dislikes are as it is to find out what you love. Stay true to yourself and don't be afraid to seek advice from family and friends!