Hi everyone 🙂 Regulars may recall this post I wrote some months back about why size doesn’t matter.  I still stand by everything I said in that post, but today, I’m flipping the statement on it’s head and considering when sizes does matter.  Because there are some occasions in life, when it really, really does.  Let me explain…

For a few weeks now, I’ve been doing some research into the issue of wedding dress shopping for the more curvaceous Bride. Now, I’ll apologise right now for any language I use in my feature here that ends up offending anyone – and I really mean that.  I had been using the term ‘plus size Bride’ when it suddenly dawned on my how much I dislike the phrase – and so it seems, many of you do too.  I think ‘curvy ladies’ sounds a little more flattering but please, put me right if I am wrong.

My readers mean the absolute world to me and I have a genuine passion for bridal wear and weddings in general {which I pretty much eat, sleep and breath these days!}.  Nothing makes me happier than to receive an email from a reader telling me what a magical wedding day she had. I could stare at happy wedding photos all day long.  On the other hand, nothing makes me sadder and more frustrated than hearing from a reader that their dress didn’t fit on the day, or that they were laughed out of a bridal wear boutique for being a size 18 or that they felt sick nervous even approaching a wedding dress shop at all because they considered themselves too big.

It’s no wonder, of course.  We are bombarded every day with images of the perfect figure, the aspirational petite beauty who proudly boasts her size 8 waistline in the latest designer wedding dresses, page, after page, after page of adverts in the glossy wedding magazines before we even get to anything we can read…

The Curvaceous Brides Guide to Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress... (Get Inspired Let's Talk Wedding Talk )

Dress by The Couture Company

Nothing pains me more than seeing a beautiful Bride squeezed within an inch of her life into a wedding dress that does not fit or flatter her simply because she has been ill advised by people passing themselves off as ‘bridal wear experts’, or by well meaning friends and family who daren’t be honest or really just don’t have a clue what to say, or because she has caved under the pressure of all those full page ad’s with their perfect size 10’s.

This blog post is an attempt to make a connection with curvaceous women who are having doubts about their wedding dress shopping experience. To give them a confidence boost, to provide sensible ‘dress hunting’ advice and to reassure them that they can feel confident and look completely beautiful on their wedding day, with a well cut dress that fits and flatters and enhances all the very best bits.

This blog post is also a notice to all those bridal wear boutique owners and dress designers out there who are shamefully shattering the confidence of many a Bride to be by ill advising them and inappropriately squeezing these ladies in to dresses that do not fit.   You know who you are and I would encourage you to consider looking at your business from a different perspective.  Sending  unhappy Brides away with bad experiences is not good for your reputation.  Word of mouth travels fast…

The Curvaceous Brides Guide to Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress... (Get Inspired Let's Talk Wedding Talk )

Dress by Dana Bolton

The Horror Stories

I’ve heard a lot of horror stories in the past few months, mostly from Brides who are or consider themselves to be ‘curvy’.  My reaction to what I’ve heard is what has prompted me to consider this whole issue on more detail.  The accounts below are but a mere dip in the ocean of experiences that have flooded in to my inbox in the past 2 weeks.

How can any of what you read below be acceptable?

“As I undressed in the changing room, I went through panic and out the other side into some clear zen place. This had no longer become something I was anticipating but something to be endured.  None of the dresses would even begin to do up so they were pinned in place or the lacing held together with rubber bands so all I could see was my back fat spilling out the back of the dress.”

“I was the last customer so the two shop girls and the owner crowded round to rain compliments on me. I’m still angry that I didn’t say anything beyond the weak sentence ‘that it was pretty hard to tell whether the dresses suited me given that they were several sizes too small.’ Pretty hard = impossible. But I didn’t want to acknowledge the elephant in the room, me 🙂 I also didn’t want to ruin this experience for my mum, little did I know she was thinking the same thing. So I put on an act as I was tugged in and out of dresses. All the while I gritted my teeth. I was not going to be the girl that cried in the wedding dress shop.”

“The very thought of walking through the door of a bridal shop filled mr with terror and brought me out in a cold sweat. Not only am I curvaceous (so much better than the term plus size which makes me feel fat !) but I’m also short and on the wrong side of 50!”

“My experience has put me off looking again until I make peace with my size or the weight watchers kicks in! It’s fair to say I’m not happy with my weight, but I don’t want to lose weight just because I’m getting hitched: I want to lose it because I’m not myself at the size I am now. But I also want to eat a stack of ferrero rocher right in front of that awful ‘stylist’ and then buy that beautiful dress. But I don’t want her to get any commission.”

“I have finally bought the dress, And guess what, it’s strapless, A line, corset backed etc etc. My dream dress just doesn’t exist within my budget and anything  that isn’t boned just doesn’t suit me. I constantly have wedding dress wobbles and am disappointed that I feel that I’m making do.  The one thing I did learn from one boutique is that dress shops will quite often see a larger bride and assume we want to wear something frumpy/frilly/asymmetric!

“I went to a large, reputable bridal shop and they stock the usual suspects. My budget is about £1,000 – they had some gorgeous lace dresses, which is what I’m after. The largest sizes they had in stock for these dresses was a size 12, which came up small {more like a 10}. There was a rack of plus-sized dresses, all the same, classic wedding dress, just different beading really. That was all I could try on. I was almost in tears – I don’t want your bog-standard wedding dress and I felt unworthy of a nice dress in that shop.”

“What happened when I went dress shopping? I cried, a lot on the bus on the way home and then I decided I wasn’t going to wear a dress but a paper bag instead.  I’d held in my tears through 3 dress shops but on the way home I just couldn’t handle it anymore and despite how happy I was to be engaged I had never felt so hideously unattractive.  I didn’t want a ‘traditional’ wedding dress but I did want a dress I loved and I wanted to feel special not like a lump. Comments varied from ‘you are an unusual size’ to ‘have you thought about having something made’ and my personal favourite ‘this is really for someone tall and slender’.  No one should be made to feel rubbish about the way they look and when you’re being bombarded with ‘buying your dress is the best experience ever’ stuff then when it’s a horrid experience it’s extra horrid.”

The Curvaceous Brides Guide to Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress... (Get Inspired Let's Talk Wedding Talk )

Photography Copyright (c) 2011, Assassynation
Dress by Claire Pettibone via Blackburn Bridal Couture

Why should someone have to be subjected to this hideous level of customer service and lack of choice because they are not the UK average size 14.  Have the brands catering for the bridal market not done their research?  One in every four women in the UK is size 18 and above – but where is the provision for them when it comes to a good choice of wedding dresses?

I spoke to Emma Meek, owner at Surrey based Miss Bush Bridal.

We stock sample dresses from a size 4 through to a size 18, depending on the label and style. If you look at the definition of ”plus size’ with regards to mainstream fashion Miss Bush has lots of choice. If you look, as I have done briefly, at what Google produces when you key in plus size wedding dress, which determines them to be size 18 – 32, then clearly I have no choice; there is no possibility of getting any larger size samples in Plus Size for a bride to borrow as the various designers and manufacturers only hold small size press samples. There are a number of mass market brands who have made cynical attempts to capitalise on plus size women by producing gigantic A line polyester monstrosities that I would recommend to no one – size zero or size 28. They are working on the assumption that anyone that is this size is…

  1. on a budget – they are all very cheap
  2. only wants a typical mass market look
  3. has no individuality or style
  4. the pattern cutting in this type of dress is very rudimentary and unsympathetic.

The position of Miss Bush Bridal and their stocking policies appears to be echoed by many other retail bridal outlets across the UK.  So what for the the Bride who is size 18+ {1 in 4 of you, remember} and wants a good choice of designs to pick and try from?

The Curvaceous Brides Guide to Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress... (Get Inspired Let's Talk Wedding Talk )

Photography Copyright (c) 2011, Annamarie Stepney
See the full wedding on Love My Dress® here

Emma Meek continues…

We find ourselves having to remake the skirts in wedding dresses of a size 16 and up, so to give a slimmer, more streamlined and flattering silhouette that compliments the Brides figure and enhances all her best bits.  We are also constantly re-adapting necklines with portrait or boat necks – even on strapless dresses.

Jo Bromley of The Couture Company supports this view..

As with fashion stores, (basically we get to shop at Evans, AND WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL!), the full potential of the plus sized fashion and bridal market is not being realised.

Savvy business people, please take note!

So curvaceous Brides can either purchase a wedding dress from a relatively limited and uninspiring, mass manufactured supply (most of which will be the classic strapless A-line style – no offence), and then pay a variable fee in alterations, to have it adapted to a more flattering fit?

Doesn’t that kind of take some of the magic out of the whole experience?

The Curvaceous Brides Guide to Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress... (Get Inspired Let's Talk Wedding Talk )

Photography Copyright (c) 2011, Annamarie Stepney
See the full wedding on Love My Dress® here

What do the experts advise?

Whilst I think I know the answer to this already, let’s see what two top indpendent bridal wear designers have to say:-  

“Although I would not describe myself as ‘plus size’, I do have a very large bust – it would easily measure an 18/20 in most designers size chart. Personally speaking I find all the dresses on offer for me in specific plus size ranges incredibly bland and mainstream so I would opt for a made to measure bespoke dress or couture dress from one of our designers like Suzanne Neville or Stephanie Allin. I would have to acknowledge that because of my bust there would be no samples to try on that would give me a ‘found the one’ moment in the mirror. However the collaborative design process, intermediate toile fittings and excellent cut and fit would give far more wow factor in the long term.

A bride with a £2000+ budget and a non-standard figure, be that plus size, busty, petite, or very tall – should, I believe, look to find a British based designer label or independent dressmaker/couturier and have an incredible individual, one off flattering dress made just for them”, says Emma Meek of Miss Bush Bridal.”

A toile, by the way, mentioned above my Emma, is a first attempt at making a dress based on a bespoke cut and fit – usually created in cheap fabric like calico, it is an opportunity for a dressmaker to perfect the bespoke fit on you before going on to create the actual dress itself.

Jo Bromley of The Couture Company, independent dress designers based in Birmingham, told me…

We welcome working with curvier girls, often we design corsets that are integrated or go under the wedding dresses we design. These corsets are empowering and confidence boosting for the girls,  help redefine the silhouette and in particular gives support to the bust and a lovely cynch on the waistline. I know what I am talking about and can totally empathise with their dress/fit/shape/silhouette concerns because I have also been blessed with an ample figure.

The Curvaceous Brides Guide to Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress... (Get Inspired Let's Talk Wedding Talk )

Jo of ‘The Couture Company’ on her wedding day

So ‘going bespoke’ is a safe and sensible option that all curvy Brides would be wise considering…

“We are trying to offer a service where a bride can walk into our boutique and walk out with a big smile on her face because we understand her body concerns and have designed a gown for her that is going to make her feel like the “bees knees” (that’s my mum talking there) on her wedding day…”

But don’t be put off designer bridal wear completely, there is hope, as Emma Meek from Miss Bush Bridal…

Maggie Sottero  – a very popular label at Miss Bush – offers dresses up to size 32. Because they generally have a lace up back corset closure it is very easy for a size 20 – 24 bride to get a really amazing look from trying on a size 18 sample.

So you see ladies, there are people out there who really do care.  From wedding dress boutique owners, to amazingly talented independent dressmakers {see the list at the end of this page}.  It is a case of seeking these people out – but be warned – this is a tastk that is more than likely not going to be easy for you.  But however difficult a challenge, it should never ever bring you tears, shame or any fall in confidence.

A bespoke wedding dress, by the way, does not have to cost a fortune.  Too many people assume that it will and that really is not the case.  A reputable seamstress will be able to keep within your budget by using different kinds of fabric and embellishment – it doesn’t have to be most expensive royal wedding worthy lace or silk.  Also consider reading this feature on ‘How to find your ideal dressmaker’, which was written by a dressmaker herself for Love My Dress.


Top Ten Tips for Curvy Brides

One reader who shared her story with me sent in a list of tips that she wanted to share with other Love My Dress readers {thank you}. I have taken this list and enhanced it with some advice of my own…

  1. Know what you want and stand your ground
  2. Don’t allow yourself to be put into a frilly dress to ‘hide your bulk’, if that’s not what you want!
  3. Be prepared that most shops only carry samples in a size 12/14.  Some will do larger samples but they are very limited in style
  4. Ask other Brides about their experiences – join the wedding forums, use Twitter, read/contribute/watch out for discussions on the Love My Dress Facebook page, where many boutiques who do stock larger sizes have made themselves known.
  5. Seek out the shops with larger samples – they’re few and far between but they do exist.
  6. See if the shop can order a larger sample
  7. Go armed with pictures
  8. Stick to your budget
  9. Consider bespoke and be prepared to travel to find a reputable/recommended seamstress/dressmaker
  10. If you have a dreadful experience with a boutique or dressmaker who was insensitive, perhaps print them a copy of this feature off and pop them a copy in the post 🙂

The Curvaceous Brides Guide to Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress... (Get Inspired Let's Talk Wedding Talk )

Dress by Dana Bolton


Here are some amazing independent dress designers that I know {in no particular order}.  Please don’t be put off by the geographical distance between you and them. A good seamstress is worth putting some of your wedding day budget aside for to travel to – trust me:-

As always I’ve tried to keep this discussion post relatively brief, so to encourage you to contribute to the conversation in the comments box below and get some community discussion going on 🙂

Readers, if you have had a bad – or good experience, please share it. If you have some great advice for the more curvy Birde about to tackle the wedding dress hunt experience, please share that too. All and any feedback is welcome on this feature – but please note that any negative feedback referencing a brand by name will be immediately removed. Postive feedback on the other hand is fabulous 🙂

I hope you have found this feature helpful.  And wedding dress designers/stockists – pleeeeeeease pay this matter some serious consideration. This is an untapped market that is desperate for your love and attention.  There needs to be significant changes in how you are currently operating as a whole because too many of your potential customers {ie, people prepared to part with hard earned cash to cover your mortgage fees} are being left disappointed, offended and with memories of one of life’s experiences that should be wonderful, NO MATTER WHAT size they may be.  And that simply isn’t acceptable.

Love Annabel x



NB: The images featured in this blog post are reader supplied and represent beautiful curvaceous women in their wedding dresses.   Thank you very much to all the wonderful readers who sent in these images and allowed me to share.

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The Curvaceous Brides Guide to Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress... (Get Inspired Let's Talk Wedding Talk )


Annabel is the founder of Love My Dress. She lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, two daughters Eska and Leanora and three dogs. If she's not being a Blog Queen or practicing her photography, you'll find her fighting her way through a renovation dust cloud as she and her family transform their forever-home.

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89 thoughts on The Curvaceous Brides Guide to Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress…

  1. Beautiful piece, Annabel. The women you featured are absolutely gorgeous and nobody should be made to feel like they don’t deserve an equally stunning dress.
    Makes me sad reading the above experiences. I hope the women who shared their stories found their dream dresses in the end.

  2. Great post – the comments from brides to be were pretty awful – imagine being in that situaiton where you feel like you have to settle for a dress! DONT do it, it’s one of the biggest days of your life, and every bride regardless of shape size colour, should be allowed to feel like a princess on her big day! Clearly there’s a gap in the market! Hopefully the savvy business owners will take notice of this. Well done lady 🙂 x

  3. A really excellent place to look for plus size wedding dresses is Daisy LOVE in Datchet. An amazing shop full of dresses that a plus size gal (such as me!) can try on without being squished!!

  4. Interesting reading Annabel, however, rest assured that there are some retailers out there who take into consideration the sensibilities of all their customers. At Cariad Bride, we stock samples up to size 24 from labels that are specifically designed for our curvy customers. All our changing rooms are private rooms, not cubicles and none of our customers are visibile to anyone other than their friends/family that accompany them. Our job is make them feel at ease and not some kind of freak who is being judged which, judging by what our customers tell us is the unfortunate norm at other stores. I would be mortified if any of our curvy ladies left my shop feeling that they wanted to cry. Perhaps someone should compile a list of shops which meet the correct criteria to make the choice of where to go that bit easier.

  5. Great article, what beautiful brides ! I had these experiences with my daughter,so many of the bridal shops we visited just had sizes 8 to 10. We restructured a dress in the end which was gorgeous and fitted well.

  6. Bravo for Annabel! I am a curvy lady, albeit finding myself sliding into the ‘standard’ sizes these days. I love the vintage look but realised that my size (large bust in particular) doesn’t fit that style.
    I enjoy reading your blog because a) you choose distinctive images to feature, and b) you don’t discriminate on the basis of size, wealth etc. I was so disappointed in the bridal magazines etc because all they offer up are bland options for brides.
    All the curvy ladies you feature in your images do look distinctive and glamorous. And although many of us cannot afford the bespoke option, at least by showing some inspirational pictures and challenging the industry you will provide curvy ladies with options.
    So sorry for the brides that were made to feel excluded though. Interestingly I was in a bridal shop the other day where a very slim lady was also being bullied into a style that she didn’t want. Perhaps the industry needs to change its one size (metaphorically) approach in general??

  7. You are wonderful Annabel – finding your wedding dress should be a wonderful, special, happy time and it is such a shame to hear that some people have such an unhappy experience. I really hope things can change xXx

  8. Sue Lund – thanks so much, yes, I absolutely know there are some brilliant boutique owners out there who know how to run a business. I did try to convey in my feature they are out there – just sometimes, they can be difficult to find.
    I’d be happy to host a list of recommended boutiques…
    Much love and thanks so much for your comment,
    Annabel xXx

  9. I was totally devastated to read some of the stories that curvy brides have had to endure when dress shopping! Every little girl has dreamt of being a princess and any bride should be made to feel special, irrelevant of their size.
    Their marriage is a celebration of love! Who cares about the size label at the back of their dress? Thank you for tackling with such honesty, respect and love such a topic, and for mentioning bridal shops WHO can help make every bride feel special and beautiful!
    Marine x

  10. I love this post!! I hate being labelled, it is one of the most embarrassing elements to having lumps and bumps, when we should be proud of our bodies and the fact that we are getting married in these bodies. I’m not an industry normal size and it is and always will be a taboo subject. We need people like you Annabel to push matters such as this forward into the spotlight… more please!!! I would also like to recommend Benjamin Roberts as a supplier, his dresses are made for any size any shape! Hearing brides having an awful experience is sickening.Thank you for posting this.
    From Emma, size 16 who wore a size 20 wedding dress and loved every minute of it!

  11. Oh well done Annabel – this is an excellent post. I hope it’s being passed from bridal shop to bridal shop via twitter and facebook so it can be read by a huge list of people who can really make a difference.
    I’d add something else to your numbered list of tips as well:
    {11} Ask around for stories of bridal stores who are kind and compassionate.
    I’ve met some lovely store owners in my time as a wedding blogger, who wouldn’t judge, or even blink if I walked in (I’m an 18/20) for a dress fitting.
    I’ve also heard stories of store owners who do judge. And for me, I’d be excited about going for a dress fitting if I already knew I’d be with someone who’d be nice. There’d be nothing worse than going in not knowing if they’d make me feel good or not.
    While it’s depressing to know this is such a big issue, it’s good to get it out there.
    *** I wonder if the guys from the 2012 Wedding Awards could help with a list, later in the year? Just thinking because of the comments-based voting thing, this might be easier to compile than we think? ***
    Claire xxx

  12. Really interesting article Annabel, it’s nice to read something that can help you empathasise with people. I never thought about how curvy ladies experiences could be ruined trying on dresses through lack of choice and people’s attitudes etc. I’m at the other end of the scale, I’m a tiny twig. Not one dress I tried on looked remotely nice either because they were stuffed and tied up and I was made to stand on a step like a child! it was so difficult to get a picture of what a dress would look like that I’m having one made!

  13. Wonderful article …
    I can highly recommend Jo Bromley at The Couture Co, she has designed my dream gown (not a “meringue”), dealt with all my body image issues (believe me, I am no stick insect) and is the most sensitive and understanding designer ever … she designs for real women regardless of size or shape and I have never left her studio feeling anything less than absolutely fabulous (be it for my wedding gown or for numerous corsets I’ve had made).
    Every bride deserves to feel fabulous regardless of size … we are worth it!

  14. Mazambonii – thanks for exposing one of the tricks we know boutique owners employ to make Brides feel better.
    You are so busted people!
    Is a Bride going to be walking around on a step all day at her wedding? No. So stop asking Brides to stand on steps/elevated platforms just to give a faux sense of stature and lure the Bride into buying a dress that isn’t right in the first place. Come on! Brides, just take along a pair of shoes similar to the heel height you’ll be wearing on the day and you’ll be fine 🙂

  15. Love this post! And particularly the Once Upon a Time dress pictured towards the end. I can’t really understand why the ‘mainstream’ suppliers haven’t cottoned on the fact there is a huge market out there for curvy girls, bridal wear and otherwise.
    I think this is where bespoke dress makers are the way to go, mine looked at the style of dress I wanted (unstructured empire line) and steered me correctly to a more structured corset to show off my waist. Thank goodness for that! My first choice looked like an oversized nightie (no doubt it would have looked lovely on someone tall and thin).
    If a tactless boutique owner or dress maker is making you feel uncomfortable, vote with your feet and take your money to somewhere that appreciates you, whether you are a size 8 or 34.

  16. Great article. We have 2 brides this/next year who are curvy gals and I love them!!! Show off those curves girls.
    I had this from one of my clients.
    “Thanks once again for everything, it’s fair to say that even if everything else had been (as it was) perfect, the dress had to stand the most critical attention on the day…and your creation absolutely wowed them! The moment I put it on, I knew it would all be alright; that I could carry off being the older,curvier bride with ease and confidence.” Sue

  17. Such a thoughtful and well considered post. I hope designers and boutique owners are reading and being urged to make changes. In the meantime, I’m off to brace myself for a weekend of wedding dress shopping – as a size 18! Wish me luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Really interesting post Annabel – I was like Mazambonii, the opposite end of the scale, had to stand on a box and had so many pins shoved in place to hold the dress up I was too scared to move! I ended up getting one made too. There definitely needs to be a broader scale of sizes to try on, great that you are highlighting this – one size does definitely not fit all!

  19. As you know vintage dresses are small and we are always searching for realistic sizes but sometimes we can’t help everyone but really wish we could………so we have a plan to help these gorgeous curvy ladies and spice up the choice!
    Just give us a little bit of time
    with Love from Fur Coat No Knickers xxx

  20. I so resonate with your post today annabel! When I was buying my wedding dress, the only objective was one that made my chest look smaller, I didn’t think about style or type just wanting small boobs!! Looking back I wish I’d done it differently!

  21. Oh, Annabel, I could kiss you. What a lovely article and I hope the Powers that Be take note. Seeing my quote amongst many other disappointed brides-to-be is sad, but it’s also very heartening to see it’s not just me.
    Thanks to Emma_A_future_wife for the mention of Daisy Love in Datchet. That’s near me, so if I fail on my planned shopping missions in the next few months, I will most certainly check that out!

  22. A fab post and totally relate to this as i struggled to find dress shops that stocked larger size samples. The option i was given was to buy a dress to try on.
    Far too much pressure is put on us to be a particular size on our wedding day. Why shouldnt a curvy lady be allowed to have just as much choice in dresses as a smaller bride. So glad you have highlighted this issue and i think the advice from yourself and bride shops is fab!
    If we were all the same size the world would be a very boring place.
    All the brides looked looked gorgeous in the pictures from your post.

  23. This is an excellent post and needed to be written. I hope the people that can make a difference are reading this. I had a horrendous experience but eventually found an amazing dress designer.
    Keep up the good work Annabel, I really admire you for tackling issues like this, you have a superb blog that many people I know (I also work in the industry) respect hugely.

  24. Wow what a fabulous response already, huge huge thanks everyone for taking the time to comment.
    I really really want this page to be a resource for Brides who are on the web searching for inspiration/reassurance because they are not a size 8/10/12.
    Ladies, if you have had any positive experiences with any independent designer or boutique, I encourage you to post their details and location here. I won’t tolerate negative feedback but anything positive can only help others who have arrived at this page seeking help and reassurance 😉
    Huge thanks again everyone,
    Annabel xXx

  25. Great Post Annabel!
    I found it such an awful experience when I was shopping for my wedding dress. I was told to come back when I had lost weight, I was pushed and pulled into soo many samples that were too small, or just told there was nothing suitable. Once after the shop assistant tried to put me in a size 8 ( I am and was a 22!) I got into such a rage, because they had hurt me, I told the girl if it didnt fit over my bust there was no way I could step into it.
    When I was fortunate enough to open a store along the South Coast I have purchased brands that cater for curvier girls. I love Callista- For Brides with Curves, they are new and have all shapes and lots of different styles. Lots of bridal suppliers charge more for plus size, and one brand I looked at getting only went up to a size 16! I laughed and walked away.
    I have had brides from all over the world come over and see me, Paris, Tanzania, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and consider myself very lucky that I can help these girls find their dream dress.
    My only advice to Brides, curvy and small, if the supplier is mean to you or makes you feel awful because you are whatever size you, put your clothes on, and leave.
    Good luck and cant wait to share this with lots of brides!

  26. What a brilliant blog post, it’s about time we stopped all the fluff and nonsense prevalent in this industry – there are many real/normal women out there being blatantly ignored and not catered for purely because they are larger than a size 14. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
    Bravo to you Annabel for raising this issue – designers taken note!

  27. I love this article its so heart wrenching reading through women going through some very similar circumstances to me. I now have a massive favour to ask, are any of you lovely ladies looking to sell your wedding dress? I am a size 22 and getting married in 3 weeks. There has been some problems with my dressmaker getting hold of some fabric and I only got told this week. She has reassured me I will receive my dress the week before the wedding but I am really panicking about the weather as she lives a few hundred miles away and we are getting into December and if it snows I will not be getting my dress.
    I have been searching online for a beautiful dress for me to buy second hand preferably with lace so I have at least something to wear on my big day rather than walking down the aisle in my undies 🙁 any help would be really appreciated x

  28. Curvy doesn’t apply to me at all, but I found dress trying on daunting enough.
    Is it just me who can’t picture dresses on the rail? its just a sea of white.
    Realistically a not curvy figure isn’t going to look good in dresses for a curvy figure and vice versa.
    Surely there are nice stores out there that focus on curvy women?
    A list would be amazing. Also what about bridesmaids dresses too?

  29. I had a lovely experience at Gracie Bleu Bridal in Matlock. They had small-ish samples, but they put me in a corset and I managed to fit in most dresses, there was only 1 I wanted to try on that I couldn’t get into. The lady who helped me was great and me feel fabulous.

  30. I can totally empathize with this post. I was sick of being made to feel ugly and freakish by being squeezed into size 12 samples. Who wants to see their back flab pushed together into hideous folds? I would have loved a Jenny Packham dress but it just wasn’t realistic option for me. I went to a fab shop called Proposals in Chichester. The dress the lady picked out for wasn’t what I have thought of at all but it looked amazing! At every fitting they were so supportive and seemed genuinely happy for me. They made lots of suggestions that really enhanced the look and I felt fantastic. On the day itself one of the guests asked if it was a Jenny packham dress so it must have looked good! The designer was sottero and midgeley who really do understand the structure needed to enhance curves, i thoroughly recommend them!

  31. Great post. I’m curvy but with a smallish waist. I’m a size 10 hips, 8 waist and a 32GG on top. Most bridal boutiques want to order me a size 16 (or even an 18) for my bust. And I’m supposed to trust them to take it in by half?!
    Incidentally I’ve also been told dresses are for ‘taller and less curvy girls’ and my friend who is a size 6 is told ‘it’s designed for CURVIER brides’. You just can’t win EVER.
    I’m also a believer in the quality of a shop. I tried on a Stuart Parvin size 10 in Jesmond, Newcastle and was told it was too small and they did the whole elastic band back fat thing. I took my Mum to the London boutique and they not only did the size 10 up at the back but told me I needed a size 8 on the waist. Oh and to have it made with a toile in London was £400 more expensive than having a size 16 altered to fit me in Newcastle. A toile in the Newcastle shop was almost £800 more expensive than having it made and fitted in London.
    So it’s not just curvy brides. It’s a problem across the whole industry.

  32. Becca, your comment has really got me thinking and I’m going to try to post it to my Facebook page also. I really think that anyone working in bridal wear in the UK wedding industry needs to read the comments being left on this post!!

  33. Katherine, as I was doing my research for this post, someone described the type of dresses you refer to as:-
    “Slinky floor length numbers that frankly were only ever designed to be worn by size 6-12 and that require the ‘bra to be attacked, rearranged and built in using copious amounts of tit tape to keep it all put!’
    ……..! 🙂

  34. Fantastic post. Some of the experiences quoted (‘this is really for someone tall and slender’?!)make me so furious that so many brides have had bad experiences. I was so frustated by the limited style options for curvy brides on offer. Namely A line, shiny and, as Emma said, frequently cheap polyster monstrosities. But to all the brides still hunting I just wanted to reiterate that there are some great shops, dressmakers and designers that cater for curvier ladies out there, it’s just finding them.
    I can second Katherine’s recommendation for Proposals in Chichester, where I bought my dress (a Sottero and Midgely dress too. Their corsetry is unreal). They were so welcoming, recommended lots of different dresses and never made me feel bad for the way I looked. When I tried on my dress I didn’t care what size I was all I could think about was how I felt: beautiful, just the way I was.

  35. I was a size 18 when I went into a boutique looking for a wedding dress. The girl who served me was totally unused to plus sized women. She found me the largest size gown they had (which was a corset and skirt) and kept saying things like ‘I will fasten this up the best I can’, ‘obviously this isn’t your size but I will do the best I can’, ‘i’m doing the best I can here’…. I lost count of the times she ‘did the best she can’. I left in tears and I would never ever recommend that store to anyone.

  36. Joanne fleming is in Brighton not Bristol, and I couldn’t recommend her enough. Just an hour from London she is well worth a visit on order to get you the dress you’ve always dreamed of.

  37. WOOHOO, well done Annabel for tackling this subject head on!
    I’s short, 5.2 and curvy, 16-18, with a big bust. I loved planning my wedding, everything was great except the thought of trying on dresses, I dreaded it! I bought a second hand dress from eBay and knew I had to lose weight to fit into it (I just couldn’t face bridal shops) but then 6months before our big day I went to the Designer Vintage Bridal show in Birmingham and fell in love with a vintage 1950s lace over satin prom dress with a full circle skirt. I stood in front of a mirror for about 10 mins just looking at it a swaying but it was tiny as most vintage dresse are so I spent the next 3 weeks trying to find something similar that I could afford.
    Then I saw THE dress again at a vintage fair in Sutton Coldfield and got talking to Claire from The Wedding Club who was selling it. She said if I loved it that much I had to come speak to her seamstress so I did. Teresa looked doubtful at first but as soon as I said I wanted it shortened, about 6-7 inches, she said no problem.
    Both Claire and Teresa were wonderful, when I was almost in tears worried about ruining such a besutiful dress Teresa cheered me up, she used some of what came off the bottom to make the bodice bigger and remade the front panel to fit my bust.
    By the end of the fittings it was MY dress, not some skinny flat chested 1950s girls. I love my dress and felt a million dollars in it on the day!
    I can’t recommend Claire & Emma from The Wedding Club enough and Teresa is a miracle worker!

  38. Fantastic post Annabel! I do hope bridal shops take note about stocking sizes higher than 14.
    I’m very busty, and though I didn’t get to try on a sample that I could pace up properly, I was able to get a Mori Lee dress thanks I loved in a size 24 (the waist was taken in loads for me ).
    It’s also a mission finding regular clothes sometimes, especially when you’re busty but not so curvy in other areas.

  39. Hi Aisling! Did you come and say hi to me at the DVB show, I was there exhibiting! 😉
    I am so pleased you found such an excellent service in The Wedding Club – my experience of working with Claire is only really positive, I love what she and Rachel Simpson are doing with the Designer Vintage Bridal show – thanks for sharing your experience with my readers – so pleased you found your dress too 🙂
    Much love,
    Annabel xXx

  40. Unfortunately I missed you, I was there on the day you weren’t. It was a wonderful show, I found my dress, jeweller and florist there. Luckily I have a friend getting married soon so I got to enjoy the October show too!
    My dress is actually in one of the photos from the DVB show here on your blog! It’s a lovely reminder of the moment I found THE ONE!

  41. I in no way condone the awful treatment some brides get in these shops (how do they stay in business?!?), but I do have to quibble with your use of the word ‘curvy’ to describe all larger-bodied women. Curviness has to do with the ratio of waist circumference to boob/hip circumference. It has nothing to do with whether someone is larger or smaller. A woman could be extremely curvy at a size 00 or as rectangular as a brick at a size 30 – there isn’t necessarily any relation between the two. I get the impulse to find a new euphemism, as ‘plus-size’ can be bandied about as an insult these days, but this usage just muddies the water. I also think it can be a tad insulting to the larger ladies who *don’t* have the requisite slender waist – as if they’re too big for ‘regular’ but not shapely enough for ‘curvy’. I don’t think that’s a step in the right direction.

  42. Fantastic post! I am a size 12/14 and even I found some elements of the wedding dress shopping experience completely depressing. I used to be a size 20, so can well imagine how some wedding dress suppliers could ruin the experience for some of us. So upsetting, and such bad business sense.
    I’ve had THE most wonderful experience with Kevin Freeman at Renaissance Design in Brighton. He is an absolute genius, a genuinely lovely man and has really looked after me (and my groom too – he is making him a fabulous vintage style suit). I’ve got the dress of my absolute dreams for a similar amount of money as I would have paid in a shop, it fits like a glove, nobody else will have anything the same EVER, and I have had such a massive amount of fun in the process. But most of all, every single trip to Kevin has made me so happy, so excited, and has made me feel like a million dollars. Exactly how it should be. Cannot recommend him highly enough – I’d shout about him from skyscrapers if I could. We love him so much he is coming to our wedding!
    So, in my view, bespoke is a brilliant option for everyone of any size. Find a good designer, and you’ll never look back, ladies! Don’t stand for being made to feel anything other than wonderful!

  43. I love this post and such a balance and sensitive take on the subject, I was plus size when I first starting trying on wedding dresses so I know how this feels. In the end I was so disheartened I went on a diet and lost weight. It was one of the things I had hoped had changed over the years.

  44. Hi Moddy – thanks so much for your comment. Have you got any suggestions on what other words I could use in this feature? It’s a difficult one, so don’t want to offend anyone…

  45. Orly & Elspeth – thanks so much for the kind words.
    Suze – LOVE your final words/thoughts…
    “…in my view, bespoke is a brilliant option for everyone of any size. Find a good designer, and you’ll never look back, ladies! Don’t stand for being made to feel anything other than wonderful!”
    You’re bang on the money my friend! 😉

  46. Great post! It’s sad that any bride has to deal with added stress when shopping for the most important dress of her life! As photographers we see brides that are all shapes and sizes and I have to say that size simply doesn’t matter when you see a glowing, gorgeous bride in love!
    I hope wedding shops will take heed and start stocking sample sizes that the majority of women can fit into!!!

  47. What a great conversation to follow between all of us normal gals! I am 5ft tall and a size 12/14 getting married next year and if one more person asks me when I am going dress shopping I will scream!! I am conscious I am short,have lumps and bumps and have big boobs. I’m nervous I will look swamped in a dress. I know I should look forward to it, but I am dreading going dress shopping, however this has lifted my spirits! Does anyone have any recommendations for shops south of Bristol? Keep up the good work ladies (and of course Annabel!) this blog is my daily fix! x

  48. Right, finally have had time to read this! Bravo! I have been screaming out for someone to air these points to a large audience (my little blog doesn’t get the readership!!) I really so wish I had the balls to go onto Dragon’s Den or something, my experience has really made me want to get into the wedding dress business!
    As a size 24 I have found the whole experience mortifying in varying degrees! I’m happy to say that after a few wobbles and near misses (I so very nearly bought a dress I hated because I was so sick of being wrestled into dresses!) I’ve bought my dress, a tea length 50’s inspired number, I don’t care if I’m short and fat, I wanted a 50’s inspired dress and it’s my wedding day, so heck, I’m wearing it! Big two fingers to all the shops trying to put me into the meringues! And I’m going to rock it, and I’m not going to be all trussed up in frilly fabric and lacing!! The best thing? It only cost £400!! Hurrah! I’ll share the pictures post June-2012 (the ‘big’ day, haha!)

  49. This is an incredible piece, thank you!!!
    This is exactly why I don’t work with ‘sizes’. The issue isn’t just for plus size brides, but also for brides that have big busts compared to their waists, who are taller or more petite. I’ve met so many brides in the past few years who simply say that ordering a dress is a set size is never going to work for them. Made to measure is the way to go girls, don’t get labelled with a number.
    Everyone has the right to wear the dress they want to on their wedding day and feel like a million dollars when they wear it.
    I LOVE the attitude of Amy who has posted above me. Seriously, you rock. Everyone should have this attitude and, frankly, bridal designers need to adopt this attitude as well.

  50. This is a great post and I wish it had been posted whilst I was trying to design my dress!
    Where I live, wedding dresses are only bespoke made – there is not one shop in the whole country where you can try one on!
    I am a UK size 16 – when I walked into the designers they promplty looked at me said “Bride?” I nodded. They said “Come back to me when you have lost 10 kilos!”
    I did not go back, and looked elsewhere.
    The trickiest part for me was trying to design something as designers just dont design for my body shape – all their designs were for slender waifs – and I knew they would look rubbish.
    So, I designed it myself and its turned out quite nicely! The best bit of advice I had was to take a picture of myself in undies in the mirror and print it out. Then draw a dress onto yourself and play with styles, shapes etc until you see one you like.
    Anyway, good post!

  51. I’m so thrilled at the comments coming through on this post – Amy Georgina, yours’ in particular made me smile so much today – thank you!
    Everyone pleae read Amy Georgina’s comment and be inspired.
    Katy – That experience is so shocking and unreal it’s almost unbelievable!!!

  52. Excellent piece Annabel it’s about time the brides magazines did it too and became more sensitive. 40% of my brides are curvy and need good dresses and have to shop hard to find good sizes. We’re all different hey!

  53. This post came to the front of my mind only this weekend.
    I went dress shopping for the first time, and honestly felt sick with nerves. I am just under 5 foot, (so short)size 10 on top, 8 waist and then 12 hips. I hate my arms and my muffin top. But i was pleasantly surprised how comfortable they made me feel in the first shop and by the second shop I was in my element and I think even found THE dress!
    I had a third appointment booked and was not going to go, but thought it was too late in the day to cancel so took the entourage (Sister in law, Mother in law and Auntie) along, well I was honestly shocked what happened next and soooo glad it was not the first shop I went into as I am not sure I would have continued.
    Basically the lady selected 6 dresses for me after I explained the styles we had eliminated in the other stores. I went out back to start to try them on and realized ever dress was size 8/10.. she squeezed and squashed me into them,which as you can imagine was a huge confidence boast!
    When I came out to show my cheer leaders, the lady was more worried about the dress explaining its too tight here and would not normally look like this there…I really don’t understand why you would ever just stock that size, i know for certain I would not recommend my friends now to go to that store and being the first to get married out of a a huge groups seems a shame.

  54. Hi Annabel
    Lovely piece! I live outside the UK in Gibraltar. Everyone here is about 5 ft tall and weighs 55 kilos. I do not fall into that category!! I was 40 and a size 18 (ish)
    I contacted some shops in London & some in South Wales (where my parents lived). I had a good and bad experience in London (the one dress really would not suit me, darling)… in S.Wales I visited High Society in Cowbridge – I had my eye on a Caroline Parkes beauty, Rosa Mystica plus a Jenny Packham.
    I tried on the JP – beautiful but didn’t suit and may not have fitted… and then I tried on a similar style to Rosa Mystica – it was amazing. The girls took my measurements, I went back for a toile fitting, Iw as never made to feel ridiculous. They understood about the fat arms thing… all in all a wonderful experience & a highly recommended professional boutique. They even kept the price quiet so Mum wouldn’t know hahaha!!
    So, girls, there are lovely people out there – keep hunting, and tell those who are nasty to shove it 🙂
    Good luck and enjoy your wonderful day
    Jane xxx

  55. This blog post has come at just the right time for me, I was just about to give up – literally. At size 16-18, I don’t want to have to wear a boring sleeveless number simply because designers don’t cater to my size. I will definitely be going bespoke with my dress. I could also name several brands and retail outlets on here who seriously don’t get it but wouldn’t for legal reasons. The wedding industry needs to wake up and realise not all brides are a size 10. And some of us have money to spend on a beautiful design for the bigger bride to. Thanks for writing this post x

  56. I cannot tell you how helpful this post has been – thank you SO much.
    I am currently a size 22, 5’6″ bride to be. I plan to lose a lot of weight before the wedding but am realistic enough to know that the chances of me being less than a 14/16 are very slim (excuse the pun).
    I haven’t even been willing to utter the words ‘wedding dress’ during the 6 months we’ve been engaged as just the thought of going into a shop to try on or even look at them makes me want to cry.
    So it was with great trepidation that I went along to the national wedding show in London a couple of weeks ago with two friends that are also getting married. My plan was to look at styling, music etc and not go near the dresses but the girls had other ideas.
    I found that whenever we were together at the dress stalls my two friends got pounced upon by sales teams immediately whereas I had to almost beg for someone to talk to me. Without exception every assistant talked to the other two and ignored me and all seemed shocked when I said I was also a bride. (someone has falled in love with a bigger girl – shocker!)
    However it was at the last stall that my nightmares came true. It was at a really well know high end boutique stall. After trying for 10 minutes to get attention from a completely disinterested assistant I asked what sizes the Lusan Mandongus dresses came in, the response;
    ‘I’m not sure but definitely not your size’. I felt completely humiliated and walked away in shame.
    The thing is, I don’t want to be treated as a special case, have to buy from a special range, or have to buy a special style. I just want to have the experience that every other bride has. I’m now planning to wait until i’m 10-11months away from the wedding day before I start looking and phone ahead to the stores to make sure I don’t have any similar experiences.
    Wish me luck! x

  57. Thanks for writing this post so reassuring
    I had fears going in to try a dress on, and for good reason – I am a size 18. It was a very humiliating frustrating experience, and these women that work that that give you the look up and down and narrowness really have to remember they only work in a dress shop and lose the attitude cause you are not very good at your job making someone with curves feel below you. I was made to squeeze into size 12 dresses and to woman said that the dresses I want will not suit me (well order them in my size and I will be the judge of that – they do make dresses to your size but refuse to hold them instore!) She put me in the standard dress they feel they only know how girls with curves should dress – It didn’t suit me, I felt so ugly and just wanted to cry. She did give me a card of a dress shop for “plus-size brides” which I felt even more humiliated. I’m sick of the attitude I keep facing with boutiques I call and I am so afraid to attempt again, cause I know what I will face.
    I am going bespoke, I cant afford it but at least I know I get what I want and not just settle on something.

  58. Whilst I felt flawless on my wedding day I knew I didn’t look it.
    Fat, plus-size, whatever you want to call it, there is a point when it is almost impossible to look good and I was there.
    I am deeply ashamed of most of the images of me on my wedding day but I loved my dress because it was exactly what someone like me should never wear.
    I loved twirling in it and dancing all night.
    I would never have been brave enough to go to a dress shop because I new it would just be horrible.
    I’m so glad I plucked up the courage to go to the dressmaker otherwise I would have been wearing a bed sheet on my wedding day!

  59. I was dreading shopping my dress as a curvy bride! In then end I just kept putting it off as I had read so many horror stories. I decided to go to a dress shop that only did “plus size” dresses and had the most amazing experience.
    I had a 2 hour slot that was just for me and my bridesmaid and the shop owners new exactly what they were talking about. I said I didn’t want a strapless dress and it had to be lace, I have walked out with the most beautiful strapless dress with not one bit of lace to be seen. I felt like a million dollars in it and would recommend going to shop that specialises in “plus size” dresses to anyone!!
    The icing on the cake for me, is having started a diet since I first ordered by dress, I have had to have it taken in by 2.5 inches!
    It makes me very sad that this is how we are treated when shopping for the most important day of our lives. The brides in the photos you featured look so beautiful! Great post!

  60. Want me to spill a few beans?
    These are not my personal thoughts of feelings, or how I would propose to run a bridal business . . . it’s just how it is . . .
    Cost of bridal samples is huge, a bridal shop would be out of business in no time if they were required to order 4 varying size samples in each design.
    Certain fabrics are only manufactured in certain widths, as a pattern increases in size, it will not longer fit on the fabric. To make a join in the fabric is sometime unattractive, and the designer won’t do it.
    Proportions of dresses will change i.e. the design has 3 flowers at the waist?? Looks fine at a size 10, scaled up to size 30 – it will look mean, and will require more flowers to make it look the same as it did at – more cost.
    Dresses produced abroad (this includes most high end dresses), rely upon foreign speaking factory coordinators. To give different instructions per dress size would be infinitely confusing for the foreign speaking worker, and so simply, they don’t bother.
    Is it fair to ask the same price for a size 10 as it is size 20? Depending on the style, there could be double the fabrics in the dress. Most brands would think it very bad etiquette to ask for different prices, and so the price of the size 20 is charged to the size 10 bride.
    To manufacture a size 30 dress, and charge all brides this cost, would send the price sky high – most would feel that unfair too.
    When extra support is needed, construction can be incredibly difficult.
    Dress-making is not magic. I don’t mean this is a nasty way, but bosoms are heavy, a slip of fabric won’t lift it into the air. It will need some complicated construction, and everybody is different, there is no standard.
    Most brands want to be aspirational. Despite the fact that the average UK woman is a size 18 . . . which shows a need, and a market . . . but the world we live in favours slim.
    I guess in some ways, this is a defense of the bridal industries – there are reasons that larger brides are not catered for.
    My response to this article is not meant to be nasty – I am simply telling some reasons why – so you know. X

  61. Emma Meek has been very insightful and honest with her comments, and she should be very much respected for that.
    I understand the reasons why many dress shops don’t cater for curvier brides.
    I have come across bridal shops which are especially for size 18 and upwards, but must admit, that they have come and gone . . out of business? I don’t know.
    I guess it would be too easy for me to say to a plus-sized bride – don’t care what anybody else thinks . . . but that’s rubbish advice, because I know it’s not always possible!
    I am a bespoke dress designer myself, and believe me when I say – everybody has their hang-ups, and things that they are embarrassed about when they are suddenly sharing a changing room with a bridal shop assistant.
    I can honestly say though, that when I’m with a bride, I’m not judging. My bride has a body, and it is what it is . . . what more can I say?? We work with what we’ve got, and it’s never a problem.
    I guess there are some realities to face, in terms of what we can create . . . but in general, there are ways around most things – so that you can actually have what you want – (you just might need a few extra (secret) straps).
    I once worked with a bride who was curvier, but also had medication which didn’t allow her to loose weight, and she worked out a lot at my gym.
    When she came to me for her wedding dress, it never occurred to me the reason why she’d not been to any dress shops . . .
    But we were honest about what we could make for her, the styles and fabrics that would suit.
    We started by thinking about what she’d usually wear to flatter her . . .
    Eventually, we designed a pretty chiffon wrap dress with a lace bodice and curved beaded waistband. She looked wonderful!
    These are some of my tips for dress shopping:
    Don’t worry what people think – chanced are you are judging yourself more than anybody else!
    Soak up inspirations before you go looking in shops.
    Think about what flatters your body. Remember, you know your body better than anybody else, and how you perceive it!!
    This is my TOP SECRET TIP . . . A curved waistband makes EVERYBODY look fab, a curve that dips at the hips, and rises at the centre. Now, it may need a different position on each person, but experiment . . .
    Gosh, I could think of tips all day . . .Ulitimately, everybody is different. . . but at the same time, don’t feel you are any different!

  62. This was very indicative of my experience. I have a decent sized bust (34G) and of course they tried to fit me into a 38C bustier. For which I laughed and then proceeded to show them just how ill-fitting it was. Tossing the bustier aside, they put me into the largest sizes they had which were 16-18 and while they did fit my bust the rest of the dress swarmed me (I’m a size 8-10 in the waist down). Sometimes they took the time to pin the dress, others they gave up on (mostly the 18s). They really didn’t get the fact that I was feeling like a whale because everything just looked like a tarp and had no real idea of what dresses would look like if they fit. Suffice to say I left the store empty handed and even more discouraged. What I ended up doing was special ordering a dress off Etsy (a gamble, I know) which could be made to my measurements—not as expensive as one would think (in fact cheaper than any of the dresses I “tired” on in store). While the newly fitted dress has made me come to the conclusion that I’m much more hourglass than I would like(I guess I was the last one to pick up on that fact), the dress is comfortable and actually fits me. So… as an “odd” size I can’t ask for much more.

  63. I’m not a big girl as such but definitely a bit on the curvy side, especially around my hips. I’m probably a 12 top with a 12/14 bottom. I can be quite conscious of my size but find that I can normally dress myself in something that flatters my shape and just try to keep an eye on colour, fabric, shape of outfit, etc… White is not always my friend and I can have the occasional wobble before a night out!
    My sister (who’s a tiny size 8) is also getting married and we’ve been dress shopping together which for the most part has been great fun. However in a few dress shops assistants have been incredibly rude, including one assistant that seemed rather exasperated and exclaimed ‘Well, you are really rather difficult to dress as your bottom half is an entirely different shape to the top!’, I’ve also had quite a few ‘You can’t try that on, we’ll never get it over your hips!’. I can honestly say that I would never buy an expensive outfit without feeling the fit first and it’s incredible unhelpful when shop assistants tell you to ‘use your imagination’ regarding alterations when you’re forking out a month’s salary on one dress!
    That said blogs are fantastic to see what other ‘real brides’ have worn, what flatters your shape and generally some out of the box ideas  Good luck fellow curvy brides to be, I expect to see all of your beautiful photos online after your big day!

  64. Hi there,
    I found this post after a going for my first bridal shop experience today and leaving mortified by it. Fully expecting the experience to be magical and to feel special, I’ve been left crushed! Although ‘curvy’ I am only a size 14 and having recently lost some weight having been a size 16 I was looking forward to feeling curvy and beautiful in my first experience as a bride.
    I was asked to select some styles I liked as I was very open minded and just wanted to try a bit of everything so I could work out what suited me. With no help to decide what I liked I just picked about 7 off the rails and the woman then took them to the changing room.
    Every dress was too small, and I couldn’t even squeeze into them, most I could get into with the back gaping open and a couple I couldn’t even even pull on enough to get an idea of it. I asked the woman if I could try dresses in my size as I thought that would help, to just be told, ‘it doesn’t work like that, you choose the design you like not the size’. I found the experience humiliating and totally crushing! Like so many woman I’ve battled with my body confidence for much of my life yet I never expected to be made to feel so frumpy and fat when I expected to be treated as special and made to feel beautiful. I’m also only a size 14, I can’t imagine what it must be like for girls bigger than me.
    I think it will be a long time before I go into another bridal shop, if it all. Luckily I didn’t like any of the dresses and I will probably stick to my original plan to make it myself as I do have dressmaking skills. I really hope it was just a particularly bad shop and not common practice.

  65. I was really relieved to find and read this post. People keep asking me if I am excited about dress shopping for our wedding in May. There’s every reason I should be, I love fashion and picking out a pretty dress is usually my favourite thing to be doing. However, even as a size 16 I have been terrified about going into wedding dress shops to be told they stock nothing in my size, being squeezed into dresses or even having them pinned onto my front. How on earth are you meant to make a decision on a dress that you can get over your shoulders let alone anything else? So I have put it off, hoping I’ll tone up, shape up, lose a bit of weight ‘here or there’. You can’t put it off forever though and now my concerns of being too big for the dresses was also being added to by the expected comments of ‘you’ve left it very late!’.
    So no, I have not been excited about going wedding dress shopping and that has greatly saddened me. I am excited about the wedding dress I will eventually wear, but not the process before it. This post made me feel better though, made me realise I am not alone in having had other atrocious dress fittings for formal wear in the past. It also me realise there was nothing wrong with me (or my impending marriage) for feeling this way!
    I went dress shopping for the first time last week. It was bareable, bits were painful and yes there was indeed some holding ups of size 8’s against myself while my sister took was advised to take some photos (really?!).
    I felt I had to add to this forum however after having the best experience at Fur Coat No Knickers. They have just realeased their own range of vintage inspired dresses so that we bigger vintage brides can get the dream dress. Laura was absolutely amazing and made me feel and look wonderful. She never once mentioned my dress size or tried to squeeze me into anything – it just didn’t come up. Instead she just ‘knew’ what to put me in. I felt in such safe hands and everything she put on me fit! There was never the awkward moment of ‘just trying something’ – she just put the dress on, zipped it up and got to pinning it in for me to match my shape. In truth I was probably trying on much bigger sizes than I’m used to but she never once said ‘I’m going to put the x on and then pin it’ she just made me feel beautiful. It was such a blissful and exciting experience I would thoroughly recommend everyone going whatever your shape or size.
    I am also going to see Joanne Fleming and am delighted to see she has been recommended on this post.
    All women deserve to feel beautiful and comfortable with their body. I am aware and happy with my size and shape and I’m so thankful that there are some wedding dress designers and vendors out there that know how to keep these ideals enforced rather than destroying them.

  66. I agree with everyone that if you have a horrible, degrading experience (no matter what your size or shape), just put your clothes back on and leave (if you don’t feel confident about telling them there and then that their customer service is appalling, that’s fine – you can always complain by email another time). *Don’t* let them shame you into buying something you don’t like or that doesn’t fit you.
    If you can’t find a dress that makes you feel special, I would definitely recommend having it made. If you can’t afford a professional dressmaker and you want something fairly simple (or you aren’t sure what you want), there are two other really sensible cost-effective options:
    i. ask around among your friends and see if you know anyone who could make it for you. I’ve made dresses (wedding dresses and bridesmaids’ dresses) for friends that have cost a few hundred pounds;
    ii. consider buying something vintage or second-hand and having it altered – again, if you know someone who knows a bit about dress-making, ask their opinion on the alterations you have in mind. It may be a lot simpler and cheaper than you think.
    I’m getting married in April and I’m making my own wedding dress (I’m making two, actually). I never even considered doing anything else, because a. I don’t want to wear white or cream, but colours and prints, and b. I wear a 32G (I’m a size 12) and I know there is no way I will find a dress that will fit me without being altered. Every dress I own that actually fits me has been either made or heavily altered by me. I simply refuse to pay a wedding shop hundreds of pounds to alter a dress that doesn’t fit me in the first place. First of all, I can do that myself; and secondly, that simply reinforces the idea that it’s OK for them to stock a narrow range of shapes and then charge the customer for alterations. That is, effectively, a tax on not being a ‘standard’ shape, and as we can see from the other comments, there is no such thing – there are comments here from brides of every shape and size who have all had the same humiliating experience.
    Don’t pander to these people. If you don’t like their tone (or their dresses!), go somewhere where you will be treated with respect. It’s not their place (or anybody else’s!) to tell you what your body ‘should’ look like. My heart bleeds for the poor girl who was told to come back when she had lost weight (I actually shouted ‘go to hell!’ at the laptop when I read that). When I put on a dress I have made to fit me, I look so much better than when I wear anything else. Wearing a dress made or altered to fit *your* body is the antidote to all these awful experiences.

  67. It doesn’t help either that wedding dresses seem to be reverse vanity sized! It’s like they WANT you to feel bad by squishing you into one that’s too small. I seriously wonder if it’s perhaps to make a profit on extensive alterations….? I am pretty much the standard size 10 – 12, and I found that none of the wedding dresses that were in ‘my size’ in the shop even remotely fitted me – the lady kept saying I needed at least a size 18.
    Perhaps I should explain that until 18 months ago, I was a size 24. Now that I’ve lost half my body weight, and worked really hard to be a size 10, I am NOT willing to feel like I’m wearing a ‘fat dress’ on my wedding day. That shop made me feel like all that hard work was for nothing!
    At first, I was mortified, I cried, and refused to countenance even trying on any more dresses until I had been on a serious, SERIOUS diet. But then, putting my size 12 skinny jeans back on again, I felt really angry – it’s meant to be one of the best days of your life, a crappy wedding dress shop doesn’t have the right to spoil that for me. I have put off buying the dress for a bit so I can leave a window between it and the bad experiences, but when the time comes, I am going to get one made.

  68. You know i read your article and it made me cry… i am a size 12-14 but my bra size is a 34F… so when i went into the place i brought my dress from (Cicily Bridal are amazing by the way) they were great, the dress was a size 12, it didnt quite do up properly however i was then told that “yes its a size 12 but the cup size is B”… to me that makes no sense! i have never met a size 12-14 with a B Cup… maybe I’m wrong! Anyway i digress… I have ordered my beautiful dress… however to state that i am terrified of going back to get my measurements done is an understatement… all i want to do now is lose weight! Tone up! because im scared that people will say “ooh shes beautiful for a chubby bride” or “oh why didnt she try and lose some weight” and im sorry but when the hell did a size 12-14 become “fat” ?! This wedding so far has been easy to plan but more then anything this weight thing is stressing me out…My fiance loves me curves n all… he says so enough! how can its be gotten into womens heads that, brides heads that just cause your not and 8 doesnt mean your not beautiful 🙁 it makes me so sad cause i know i wont stop untill i think i can look in the mirror and be perfect

  69. This is a fantastic article! My husband and I were married nearly two years ago and I experienced so many of these awful bridal shop horrors and it really put me off! I really hated the big standard satin a line dresses every shop insisted would be perfect for me. As I tried to explain to each that I wanted a 1940s influence in my dress, time and time again they brought out yet another a line satin number, but this time it had lace short sleeves. I was told this was a ‘vintage style’ and that the lace sleeves would cover up my arms… Something they thought I must do evidently!!

    I never really found a shop that understand but I managed to find a style I loved but until 6 weeks before our wedding Id only tried on a size 10 version!! Being double that, it wasn’t exactly s great visualisation but all worked out!!

    I was very surprised when Love My Dress Featured our wedding. This is a place for glamourus weddings and beautiful brides and I really thought I would not fit into that category. I hesitated as I was so proud of the wedding but was scared about putting pictures of me out there! So thank you for celebrating all kinds of brides!!!

  70. I’m both thrilled and saddened I’ve found this article. I was proposed to by my wonderful man on Christmas Day and I have to admit one of my first thoughts was “Oh no, not again” – about the dress shopping !! Shopping for my first wedding dress 12 years ago was truly a miserable experience – so many rude, dismissive and intimidating experiences to go into and although I did end up with a dress I liked (note the use of the word ‘like’), it wasn’t what I wanted. Even 12 years ago I wanted a lace 3/4 sleeved bodice with a full skirt – but I was told I would look like a snowman with all over white ! I believed these sales ladies knew best ! So I’ve been dreading looking again – as this time I want to love my dress and I still want what I wanted 12 years ago ! Reading through all your posts has made me realise I am going to find an amazing designer who will see my vision and not make me look like a snowman !!!

  71. Great Article! It was the experience of trying to find a wedding dress for my larger friend that led to me and my business partner opening our bridal shop. We exclusively stock samples in size 16-30 and all of our dresses are available to order up to a size 36. We also do bridesmaid dresses with samples in size 14-28 ( dresses available in sizes 6-36 to fit your whole party)

    Both of us who own the shop are large ladies and understand the bits of your bodies that you will want to emphasize and the bits you will want to hide!! Our brides have said to us that they feel more comfortable with us in the changing room, as they know we will not be judging them for their ‘flaws’

  72. I know I am late into this conversation – but I got married last year and I wasn’t having a wedding dress ‘cos at 52 I didn’t feel it appropriate. Then I realised that at whatever age my groom deserved a bride!
    I still didn’t mean to buy a dress – but then a friend and I noticed a store in Bolton (Lancashire) that I had never seen before. The Wedding Factory Dress Outlet that I went to one shop for one hour – they had racks of desingnetr and non designer dresses most for under £500 in sizes from 8 to 32. I took to try on the first 5 dresses in my size that were there on the rack waiting to be tried on. My assistant was so lovely and like me thought the 3rd dress was the one! Right up until I tried the 4th .. and then we stopped looking! The lovely girl in the next cubicle was about 19 and a size 6 – should have been a recipe for disaster – but we cried together that we had found our perfect dresses!
    It doesn’t have to be down South (London) and it doesn’t have to be a bad experience! 🙂

  73. I too am currently a size 22 and whilst I intend to slim down for my big day (and to have a healthy future) I am absolutely dreading wedding dress shopping! To add to the mix I am also over 6 foot tall and worried that dresses won’t be long enough! I have been into 1 dress shop and felt humiliated even looking at my preferred style (Vintage, Art Deco designer). Having contacted the designer I have been told that there are no shops that stock a size 18 sample- and that ‘one size fits all’…… errrrrr yeah forgive me if I am sceptical about this statement. I have looked online at the plus size bridal stores and none seem to stock anything close to the vintage lace/ beaded/ deco styles I like. (Please pipe up if you know some places that do!!). Why must this be such a horrible experience for anyone that isn’t of average height and a size 8?

  74. I’m 5ft 8in tall and a size 20 top and 22 bottom. I too intend slimming down for my big day, long term weightwatcher and fell off the wagon badly the past year. I had my first experience of dress shopping last week and it was amazing. I went to a shop that caters solely for larger sizes, ie a 18 and above (Just The Way You Are on Dean Street in Newcastle). I had no idea if there was going to be anything I liked there but what I really wanted from it was a positive dress shopping experience where I wasn’t shoehorned into a child-sized dress and expected to make a decision about whether or not I liked it. Yes, some of the dresses weren’t to my taste but there was one there that definitely was and is now the benchmark for the rest of my dress shopping (and will be the one I buy if I don’t see one I like better).
    Reading some of the tales above has made me a little scared of trying to find a dress in a “normal” shop now. I read on websites that many of the dresses go up to a size 30 but realistically how many stores are going to have samples of these dresses that a woman who is a size 30 can try on? I doubt very many.

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