As I have recently become engaged and am trying to plan a wedding in a very short time frame, wedding dress shopping was inevitably going to be on my agenda. I have never been someone who spent any significant amount of time imagining what my wedding would be like someday. I never planned colors, or themes or locations, but, as most brides, I have always felt excited about getting to pick a wedding dress.
While I was certainly still excited about dress shopping I did find the prospect of actually doing it a bit daunting. When it came time to actually make appointments I found myself feeling mild feelings of dread. Shopping for any type of clothing as a plus sized woman is not often a terribly uplifting experience, but shopping for a dress for a day when you know everyone will be looking at you in particular is on a whole new level. I worried about finding anything that fit or that I would feel good in. Basically my feelings on the subject could be summarized in the great words of Sondheim, “Well, excited AND scared.”
I made appointments at 5 different bridal stores ranging from small boutiques to large chains and sent up a few prayers. Here is the thing about bridal boutiques; they offer very limited sample sizes. They usually have their dresses in size 4 and size 10 or 12. Add to this fact that “Bridal Sizing” tends to run on the small side (If you wore a 12 in regular clothes, you would wear a 14 wedding dress. Somebody fire whoever had that idea!) and it seemed there was a recipe for disaster. However, at each of the boutiques I went to the consultants were extremely helpful and never made me feel bad about not completely fitting in the sample size dresses. They clipped and pinned things in the back to try to give me a picture of what the dress may look like in my size. I didn’t feel like any of them treated me differently than they would anyone else. They all tried to make me feel beautiful and special. They all asked me about my fiancé and my ring and my wedding. Because of this I never left any of these appointments feeling bad about not fitting into the dresses, I left feeling like I looked really beautiful and would look even better in a dress that was actually my size.
Now I had made an appointment at a very large, well known bridal store. I won’t name names, but let’s just call it Schmavid’s Bridal. I thought for certain this would be the easiest appointment. They have a very large selection of many types of dresses and sizes and I thought certainly this would be the most fun appointment where I felt the most free to try things on. Spoiler: I was wrong.
When we arrived for my appointment we were given a consultant and sent back to the dressing room area for a brief consultation. My consultant was Betty*. Betty was a young, brunette woman who seemed mildly flustered at our meeting. She was talking to us and repeatedly apologizing for how messy her station was as she tried to remove wedding dresses and undergarments from the room. She asked me briefly what kind of dresses I liked and assured me I had come to the right place. She then insisted I put on the Schmavid’s Bridal undergarments even though I informed her I was already wearing Spanx (This was my fourth appointment. I came prepared). She then proceeded to bring me the wrong size of undergarment not once, not twice, but three times before she gave me one I could get over my hips. She then finally pulled two dresses I had mentioned I liked and had me try to put one on. Once again, I could not get it over my hips. She was baffled and kept telling me how she, “Never pulled the wrong size”. I assured her it was fine and I had large hips and we would just move on to another dress. But, unfortunately, it seemed Betty had given up. She pulled one dress for me during the rest of the hour long appointment which was much too large and she didn’t try to pin it or show me how it could look. And then she just left us. She told my mom and Rachell to look through the racks of dresses and pull things they thought I would like, so they did just that. Then someone else scolded us for doing that. Finally after finding no dresses in a remotely similar size to the one I needed and not seeing the consultant for twenty minutes we decided to call it a day. I went back to the dressing room to put on my clothes and I found myself pressing back tears.
Earlier that day I had tried on dresses at a wonderful store with a wonderful consultant (Shout out to Maria at Enchanted Bridal!) She had pulled tons of dresses and I literally felt gorgeous in all of them. I mean, I felt like my shape looked amazing and I could have gotten married right there in the store at that moment and been overjoyed at how I looked. It felt so strange to go from feeling that positive and happy to feeling so dejected and like I was too big for everything.
I had one appointment left a couple days later and it was at a boutique store I knew would only have sample sizes. I dreaded it. But once again, the consultant there pinned and tucked and made me feel lovely, even in dresses that were much too small. Betty and Schmavid’s Bridal be damned! Being treated with kindness made me realize my own beauty time and time again.
So here is the thing that is actually true: I look AMAZING in a wedding dress.
*Not her actual name