I’m back! Well, the wedding planning me is back. It’s true, I got caught up in all the holiday cheer and basically took a 3 month break off from anything related to planning our July 11th wedding. Totally regretting that right about now. When January came, I got my butt in gear and have been crossing things off the wedding planning to-do list like a mad woman. So, basically, I have a ton to catch you all up on. But today, we’re going to talk about how I finally said I’m down with the gown!
I say finally because I sort of had been putting it off. The whole idea of shopping for my wedding dress was pretty frightening to me. Nothing about it felt exciting. It didn’t help that I had this vision in my mind that I wasn’t going to like a single thing on me and the appointment would end with me crying and being completely discouraged. January came around and there was only about 6 months left until the wedding. I knew I had to start looking or else I wasn’t going to have a wedding dress at all.
Being plus-size, I really had no idea where to begin. You know how you hear those horror stories of all the sample sizes being size 2 and the consultant asking you if you plan on losing weight. That’s kind of what I imagined it being like. I ended up doing a ton of research (go figure). I found blogs, YouTube videos, and even reached out to a few friends, trying to learn as much as I possibly could about past bride’s experiences. It was so comforting to know that I was not the only one with these fears.
I ended up starting my wedding dress journey at David’s Bridal. They seemed to have the largest variety and I was told tons of plus-size samples. After hearing that many plus-size brides found their dress at David’s and had a good experience, I was feeling a lot better going into it. I printed off a paper with some of my favorites that I found online and made the journey with my Mom, Dad, and Sister. I walked in, not totally impressed with the service at the front desk… but I could deal with that, as long as my consultant was awesome. Thank goodness she was. My consultant, Michelle, was funny, comforting, and she didn’t hover too much… which I liked.
I ended up really liking a couple gowns from David’s. After I went home and flipped through all the photos my Dad took, I was able to narrow it down to one favorite. It was a “this could be the one” type of feeling. At this point though, I already had 2 appointments at a couple of shops a few hours away in Cincinnati. I researched the designers they carried and picked a few of my favorites. It ended up leading to disappointment because neither or the shops had a single dress I asked about. (WARNING: Apparently this is pretty common).
I came this close (thumb and pointer finger nearly touching each other) to canceling those 2 appointments and making one last trip to David’s to buy a gown, but my mom talked me into making the trip – I mean you just never know… they could have the dress of my dreams, right?
So my Mom, Dad, Grandma, Sister, and I made the 2.5 hour trip to Cincinnati. First stop was a large shop called Bridal & Formal. It reminded me a lot of David’s Bridal – lot’s of wedding gowns, lot’s of bridesmaids gowns, and lot’s of prom! My consultant let me go through the racks myself and pick out what I liked. It was nice to be able to see all the options and pick and choose what looked best to me, but it was also overwhelming and very difficult to see what silhouette the dress was when they were in clear plastic bags.
I ended up liking one particular gown a lot. I could tell on the hanger it was beautiful and definitely my style. It was full lace, empire waist, a unique champagne color, sweetheart neckline, with some beading. Very pretty on, forgiving of the stomach area, and went well with our barn venue. My consultant could tell I really loved it so she put it on me first. It was definitely a top contender… I even liked it more than my favorites from David’s Bridal. I was feeling better about this trip already! I tried on a few more, nothing that particularly stood out to me or felt like my style. Though my family fell in love with this ball gown that I tried on. It was gorgeous, extremely figure flattering, but it just did not feel like me and I couldn’t imagine wearing it to a barn wedding in the middle of July. Sorry fam fam.
Tip time –
- An issue I kept running into was there were dresses that were beautiful and I felt good and like a bride in them, but I didn’t feel like myself. Then there were dresses that I tried on and I felt good and like myself in them, but I didn’t feel like a bride. Definitely look for a dress that makes you feel all 3!
- There will be dresses that your family and friends absolutely love, to the point that they’re almost in tears, but don’t let that distract you – pay close attention to how you’re feeling in the dress. Trust me, your family will want you to get the dress that makes YOU feel the best.
My appointment at Bridal & Formal was coming to an end and the question was, was this lace gown the one? I explained to my consultant that we had another appointment at the place right next door, so we were going to at least go to that before making the decision. She was totally cool with it and said she’d hold the gown to the side if we ended up coming back to order it.
We were off to appointment number 2 at a place called Belle Bridal Boutique. I originally made the appointment at this shop because they claimed to have the largest plus-size selection in all of Ohio. This shop was definitely more boutique style, but the service still wasn’t mind blowing. I didn’t get my own private room or champagne or anything like that. Not that that’s important to me, but it would have been nice. Anyways, I went in to this appointment thinking I probably wouldn’t find much here. I had a friend that recently visited and she said the selection was minimal. I lucked out though – they just got a whole slew of Essense of Australia gowns in a couple of days before my appointment. I was even the first girl to try on many of the gowns – exciting stuff! I tried on dress after dress and was taken by surprise, because I was really liking just about everything that she put me in.
Then there was this one dress I saw, nothing like I had tried before, but it caught my eye. I asked her if I could try that one on next, she said sure, and as she was lacing me up in it, I noticed myself really admiring the gown. I ran my hands across the skirt of it, feeling the material, and really taking it all in. I think it was a moment where I felt beautiful, like a bride, and most importantly, like myself. I smiled and said to my consultant before stepping out, “my mom’s either going to love this dress or hate this dress.” It was definitely unique and probably not everyone’s taste, but I loved that about it.
I ended up trying one more gown on, but I had already made up my mind that the previous dress was my favorite from the appointment. We left and I was bombarded with questions like, “well, which one is your favorite?” and “the shops close at 5, did you decide!?” 15 minutes. That’s all I had to decide if I wanted to order the dress that day. How could I decide on my wedding dress, the most important dress I’ll ever wear, in just 15 minutes!? Well, I couldn’t. I was overwhelmed with opinions and my own thoughts and confusion.
Tip time –
- I recommend bringing your larger group along earlier on in your wedding dress shopping journey. Bring only 1-2 people along on those appointments where you think you may say yes to the dress. Not that you don’t appreciate and value their thoughts on each dress, but sometimes it’s hard not to turn around and see their reactions and only focus on that. It’s less pressure and more enjoyable when it’s just you and maybe your mom, MOH, or whoever you want there most.
The whole way home, I flipped through all the photos my Sister took. I managed to narrow it down to about four and then three and then two – the all lace from Bridal & Formal and the unique one from Belle Bridal Boutique. I sent photos of my two favorites to my closest family and friends, just to get their vote. This may contradict some of the things I’ve said about tuning out everyone else and concentrating on how you feel in the dress… but just wait, I’ll make my point soon. I even turned to a website called weddingbee.com, where I posted a board with a poll so other brides could vote on which dress they liked the best. The more votes I got, the more I wanted.
All I was doing was confirming that the choice I had already made up in my head was the right choice. Yes, that’s right – I think I knew which dress was mine all along, I just couldn’t admit to it and felt I needed confirmation from as many people as I possibly could. What I really wanted to do was show photos of it to my fiancé, Austin, but I knew that wasn’t an option. So I turned to family, friends, and even complete strangers. If you’re interested to know though, the final count for the all lace dress was about 10 and the final count for the unique dress was over 100. So, yes, I’d say I definitely felt better about the choice I had already made up in my mind.
So I said I’m down with the gown. It’s the one and only dress that I tried on and felt beautiful, like a bride, and like myself all at the same time. My mom and I drove down to Cincinnati just a few short days later, gave the dress one last try on, and then made the order! I couldn’t believe the journey of finding my dress was over – but I was soo relieved. Now I’m looking forward to figuring out what shoes and accessories I’ll be wearing!
Tip time –
- If you’re not a research type of person, then don’t even bother looking at dresses online before you shop. You’ll be better off just going to the shops and trying on whatever they pull for you. If you are a research type of person, more times than not, you’ll end up saying yes to a dress that wasn’t even on your list. That’s what happened to me!
- Keep an open mind. This goes hand in hand with my last tip. It’s hard to not want to stray too far away from what you love online, but believe me, you’ll be surprised with what styles you end up loving.
- Don’t try on too much. I was getting very close to feeling overwhelmed with everything that I had tried on. I think if I tried on much more, it would have been near impossible to decide. If you’ve gotten to a point where you’ve tried on almost 30 dresses and still don’t like anything, then you may want to consider getting a custom gown. I hear it’s more affordable than people think.
If you’re a bride-to-bee and you have yet to shop for your wedding dress, then I wish you all the luck and I hope you take my advice and truly just enjoy the experience. It is such a special time and you deserve to find a dress that you never want to take off!
Coming soon will be posts on our wedding stationary, wedding decor haul, tips on choosing your flowers, and more!
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- Lastly, past brides, comment below what your wedding dress looked like. Current brides, what’s been your favorite part about wedding planning?