As a lady with a fuller figure I was really concerned about buying a wedding dress. What if they just didn’t make them my size? What if I couldn’t try anything on and had to hope for the best? Did I have to go on a mega diet just to buy a wedding dress (which sparks a story about looking totally different on your wedding day…)
Many MANY years ago as I was heading out to be a nanny in Belgium I spent the night before flying out in Birmingham. Back then I was a curvy size 16 and my friend was a not-at-all-curvy size 10. For fun, we thought we would go out and try wedding dresses on to kill some time (I was around 20 so I’m hoping I can be forgiven for thinking this was a fun activity!). We found quite a few shops within a short walk of each other that didn’t require an appointment, pretended we were sisters and both getting married and off we went.
Marie’s experience….oh we have lots of lovely dresses for you try on, come on, let’s go.
My experience….No I’m sorry, we don’t have anything in the shop over a size 12, you can try it on but it won’t do up at the back and won’t look as it will if we order it. Oh, and of the 3 million dresses I have in stock only 4 come in a size 16 or above.
Not fun and completely put me off buying a wedding dress at any point in the future.
Fast forward to my wedding and I knew I had better do some research. To my DELIGHT I found quite a few bridal shops that did ‘plus sized’ wedding dresses and so off we went!
I had two wedding dress shopping experiences. As my close friend was emigrating to Australia and wouldn’t be around for the actual shopping or the wedding, she and my bridesmaids joined me on a ‘research’ day, which included lunch and general fun girlieness. The actual day I spent only with my dad’s partner of 26 years (they’re not married so not step-mum, but boy did she take on the MoB role with gusto!). She doesn’t have her own children and I really wanted her to have the experience of going wedding dress shopping, and we had a great day out.
Please note this experience was in 2014 and things may have changed since then!
Shop one – Butterflies Bridal in Stockton. No appointment needed, but went early. Was assigned an assistant to help me, chose lots of different styles to try on. Probably tried around 8 dresses on, and they allowed me to photograph them all so I could see what they’d look like on the wedding photos. I went back here when actually trying to pin the dress down and it was between one here and the one I ended up with. Great service, didn’t feel like my shape or size was a burden and really enjoyed the experience.
Shop two – Exclusively Yours in Wingate. Did need an appointment in this one however I wasn’t the only bride trying on dresses during that time. The selection of larger dresses to try on was smaller but still decent enough to try on 2 or 3 and get an good idea. They were great at offering advice on how to make the dress more ‘me’. I was concerned about strapless so they came up with several ideas about what could be added to sort that out without being too close to my neck (can’t bear things tight on my neck!). Went back here again too but had already fallen in love with my dress.
Shop three – an outlet place in Northallerton. This was a dreadful experience. Dresses all bunched together, not in size order or design order. One big dressing room that everyone went into and then came out to the gawping faces of everyone waiting to see their bride. Horrible. One poor girl came out squeezed into a dress that they said they could do adjustments on. Not sure how. Another came out simply loving her dress but we could see the mocking faces on the onlookers. Just dreadful. I do hope some people have had good experiences here, the dresses are cheaper, but for me you would be better off getting a dress from Pre-Loved and trying it on in a strangers home than doing this.
Shop four – I was out and about in Darlington and came across a bridal shop that I’d seen do a fashion show at a wedding fair so thought I’d pop in. No appointment needed. However, no plus sized frocks at all to try on . Closest was a size 18 which obviously didn’t close at the back (I have grown from the size 16 of my 20s!), and although the assistant was lovely, no amount of ‘it will look great when you get it in your size’ was enough for me to part with the better part of £1200 for ‘guesswork’.
Final Shop where I found ‘the dress’ – Curvy Bridal in Boroughbridge. I needed an appointment for this and they were hard to come by! When I was finally offered one I jumped at it. I went with only my dad’s partner, not the bridesmaids (too many opinions!). We arrived and I was chuffed to realise I was the only bride there. We were offered a cheeky glass of fizzy, invited to sit down and chat about what I thought I wanted.
First question – had I fallen in love with a dress yet? Answer – no, but I like the look of that sparkly number over there. A wry smile passed over her and she said ‘ok, lets try it on’.
Putting me in the dress with my back to the mirror, I could only guess what it looked like as I looked down on it. I liked the bling! However as soon as I turned to look in the mirror I new it was not good. Jayne agreed and off it came.
Next question – I’ve been doing this for a while, shall I pick one or two for you? Answer – go on then!
Waiting in my underwear I was less than excited to see a plain buttercream taffeta dress come through the curtains. I duly stood not looking at the mirror as I was pulled into the dress. Then came something I wasn’t expecting – a wrap to go over my shoulders, giving my strapless dress the appearance of ‘Bardot’ shoulders, or worn like a shrug. Ooh I was getting excited, despite the lack of bling – 3 dresses in one!
Curtains back, stepped out….and Jayne cried. Well, that was probably the only endorsement I needed. That and I just didn’t want to take it off. I swished my way around the shop, grinning from ear to ear and finding veils to to with it. Job Done!
For fun I tried on one more. Still in taffeta (totally fallen in love with taffeta!) but this one was a cappuccino colour. Gorgeous, and had I not have tried my dress on beforehand I might have gone for it. But I was already in love ♥