All in all, the experience wasn’t overly maddening. With a little research and a “Plus-Size Options” filter, I was able to find a great selection of designers and dress stores that catered to fat women. Pinterest became my best friend as I pinned and pinned and pinned dress styles that I liked, and figured out the terminology.
Empire, A-line, Fit ‘n’ Flare, Illusion… these were all terms that didn’t really mean very much to me before…
The first place I went to was Designer Loft in New York City. After filling out a profile of dress styles I liked, I did some research on the designers they carried. The website did have some plus-sized options, but they seemed fairly limited. I tried not to get my hopes up as my appointment date approached.
I arrived in Midtown Manhattan with an entourage. One of my best friends, who is also getting married this year, came with her family, and I came with mine. I had asked ahead of time to make sure that all the dresses selected for me be made with all man-made materials, and I was assured that no animal-produced materials would be considered.
Ali, the lovely human who helped me, helped me get situated and showed me the Plus-Size dress collection in the back. Fellow plus-sized folx know how this feels. It’s never fun to be regaled to the back corner while your thin friend picks out clothing in the rest of the store (I’m looking at you, Forever 21).
But thankfully, my options weren’t as limited as they seemed. I did pull a few dresses from the Plus-Size rack, but my bridesmaids also picked ones from the front. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I swallowed my anxiety and put my brave face on.
In the dressing room, I dove arms-first into the first dress. After some shuffling, pulling, squeezing, and sucking-in, Ali held the first dress in place.
I took my reflection in in the mirror as Ali pinched fabric together, looking to see how it was falling on my figure. After a few adjustments, and the application of a bunch of clamps, the first dress was on.
Shock was the biggest thing I felt, and pride followed shortly after. Maybe this won’t be so bad, I thought. I swayed from side to side and the poofy half of the dress moved with me. “Wow,” I said aloud.
That sentiment was echoed as we walked out of the dressing room and in front of my bridal party. That first dress… it was beautiful. I was beaming as I stepped up onto the platform in front of the long, long mirror. Somehow, I suppressed the urge to do the royal wave. For possibly the first time, I felt like a true bride-to-be.
Once I was done being showered with compliments and admiring my own reflection, it was time to try on another dress. Ali removed the clamps, and the dress seemingly lost its magic and it shrugged off my body. A few rough tugs and shimmies later, it was on to the next one.
By the end of it all, I tried on almost 10 different dresses, all held together with clamps, spare fabric, and sheer force of will.
My consultant explained to me that wedding dress samples typically come in a “Wedding 12,” which is actually a size 8. Getting those dresses on and off was a magic act in itself, and by the end, I was definitely sweating. Big props to Ali who was graceful as ever as she shoved layers of tulle and lace over my body.
Though two of those teeny-tiny, totally not plus-size dresses piqued my interest, but I wasn’t quite ready to say yes… yet.
About a month later, I tried on dresses at Ivory & Main, a dress boutique specifically for full-figured women on Long Island.
If you are a full-figured person looking to try on wedding dresses, I cannot recommend a plus-sized boutique enough.
There wasn’t a single gown in the store that was “off-limits” due to my size. (I say “off-limits” in quotation marks because nothing was ever off-limits at Designer Loft either, but it was just different somehow). But additionally, the entire vibe was different. I didn’t get that out-of-place feeling I tend to get when things don’t fit.
At Ivory & Main, the body anxiety just wasn’t there. Though I enjoyed my time at Designer Loft, the experience at Ivory & Main was so different, it was hard to believe they were the same type of store.
I tried on dresses where I could actually squeeze my arms into the sleeves. I tried bustiers, ball gowns, and even a mermaid style dress—something I had never, ever considered as a possibility before.
It’s an amazing feeling when you know that your size isn’t the biggest obstacle to a piece of clothing, and that’s exactly what it was like trying on gowns at Ivory & Main.
I felt like a fat and fabulous princess instead of an over-sized bride squeezed into someone else’s dress.
Andrea, my Ivory & Main consultant, was patient, complimentary, and sweet, and she checked every single dress’s materials for animal products, which was so appreciated.
In the end, though, the dress that won out was a thin-person dress back in NYC, which is being custom-made in my measurements (though it’s worth mentioning that that’s pretty standard, plus-size or no). As much as I’d like to show you pictures, no one gets to see the dress before the wedding!
Especially not a certain fiancé who is known to read this very blog.
So now that I have the dress, am I #SweatingForTheWedding?
You can miss me with your toxic diet culture, thank you very much. I get my clothes to fit me; I don’t get me to fit my clothes. I am not here for the suggestion that I need to lose weight in order to get married. I can present my best self exactly the way that I am.
Because I already AM my best self!
I am loved at my current weight. I am loved if I gain weight. I am loved. That phrase is not what being a bride is all about.
What matters is that I feel happy, confident ,and beautiful on my wedding day. It doesn’t matter how many pounds I lose from now until October, or how toned I can get my arms before the big day. And I’m confident the dress I chose will reflect that.
I have much bigger and better things to worry about rather than how much I can work my body to fulfill an idea of what my body should look like on my wedding day—like picking out the perfect high-waisted bikini to wear on my honeymoon in Hawaii!