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Plus Size Wedding Dress Shopping Tips: 9 Important Things You Need to Know

The experts at Lush Curve Bridal have spoken - here's what you need to know before you go plus size wedding dress shopping...

bride wearing a plus size wedding dress and holding a bouquet of flowers
Unsplash / Joanna Nix

bride wearing a plus size wedding dress and holding a bouquet of flowers
Unsplash / Joanna Nix

Choosing your wedding dress isn’t a case of waking up one morning and popping to a few bridal boutiques near you - it requires planning and preparation, even more so if you’re on the hunt for the perfect plus size wedding dress.

To help you on your way to finding that dream gown, we’ve teamed up with Hannah & Tania from Lush Curve Bridal to give you all the plus size wedding dress shopping tips you'll need.

Plus Size Wedding Dress Shopping: 9 Things You Need to Know

From knowing who to pick and doing your homework (the fun kind!), to having the right inspo and fighting off those nerves, we have everything you need to know before you go plus size wedding dress shopping. Let the fun begin!

1. Do Your Homework

This could be the most fun homework assignment you’ve ever had. Researching your plus size wedding dress boutique before going there is paramount. Hannah and Tania say, “The most important part of plus size wedding dress shopping is to know where you’re going. Make sure you have done your homework on the shop you plan to visit.

"What are their reviews like? Does their style and their ethos fit with yours? Does it look like somewhere you would be comfortable and confident? What do their social media channels say about them as a brand and does that fit with your vibe and style? These are all things to consider when looking for a plus size wedding dress shop to visit if you want to ensure a positive and empowering shopping experience.”

As they say, knowledge is power. It’s also important to note that a lot of wedding dress shops are appointment only so be sure to book to avoid disappointment on the day.

READ MORE: 32 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Wedding Dress

2. Check The Shop’s Sizing 

A gorgeous tulle and lace applique wedding dress hanging on a mirror
Pexels / Tara Winstead

It’s staggering the amount of plus size brides who feel pressured to buy a wedding dress they haven’t even tried on because a store doesn’t stock their size. It’s important to do some research on the boutiques you plan to visit and check what sample sizes they stock.

No matter what size you're after, or if you're buying a wedding dress online, you should have the chance to try it on in person before deciding if it's 'the one'. 

If they don’t have wedding dresses in your size, there’s no point in going there. It won’t make you feel good and as we know with any item of clothing, how it looks off the rack can be completely different to how it looks on. When doing your research on sizing, don’t just rely on what a wedding dress boutique says on their website as it may not be up to date.

Call them and speak to someone yourself, give them your size and ask how many plus size dresses and in what styles do they have on the rack to try on. With this information, you can make a decision about whether or not to make an appointment.

3. Give Yourself Enough Time

Hannah and Tania advise, “As an absolute minimum, you should be shopping for your plus size wedding dress eight months before your wedding but in an ideal world, you should aim to begin the process of choosing your dress at least 10-12 months before the big day.

"This allows time for you to actually find your dream plus size wedding dress, have it made and allow for any alterations needed. A lot of brides are surprised at this time frame but it’s a realistic time span that will allow you the opportunity to enjoy the process of plus size wedding dress shopping."

4. You're Already Wedding Dress Ready!

A man putting shoes on his plus size bride in her wedding dress
Pexels / Ana Madeleine Uribe

In the words of Alex Light, 'You don’t need to lose weight for your wedding'. Period. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel your absolute best on your wedding day, but this doesn’t mean you have to go on a crazy diet and it absolutely doesn’t mean you should be asking your plus size wedding boutique to order your wedding dress in a smaller size.

Any trusted wedding dress retailer won’t agree to ordering a wedding dress more than one or two sizes smaller than you are at the point of ordering. There are two reasons for this. One, you are just as worthy of love and a beautiful wedding day the size you are and you don’t need to alter yourself to feel any more beautiful.

And two, once your dress arrives, if it is too small, big, short or long, the seamstress may not be able to make the necessary wedding dress alterations leaving you with a gown you can’t wear and a panic about finding one in a matter of months.

Order the dress that makes you feel the most beautiful, and order it in your size. In the words of Hannah and Tania: “It's the dress's job to fit you, not your job to fit the dress!” - we couldn’t agree more.

READ MORE: Common Wedding Dress Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

5. Nerves Are Fine, But Don’t Let Them Win

You’re about to buy, arguably, the most important dress of your life, of course you’re allowed to feel nervous. Nerves are completely normal when it comes to wedding dress shopping, but if you’re someone who struggles with body image, these can quickly turn into feelings of dread and wedding anxiety which you absolutely don't need in your life.

Don’t let your nerves get the better of you and definitely don’t put off wedding dress shopping because of them. Delaying the process will only add to your wedding stress and leave you with less time to find your dream plus size wedding dress.

If you are feeling nervous or anxious, speak to your nearest and dearest, especially those who will be accompanying you on the shopping trip. It’s also worth giving our favourite body positive influencers a follow - there’s nothing like some inspirational words from a self-love guru to put a pep in your step. You've got this!

6. Pick Your Crew Wisely

A group of women on their way to do some plus size wedding dress shopping
Unsplash / Joel Muniz

Speaking of nearest and dearest, the people you choose to come plus size wedding dress shopping with you are absolutely key to making your experience the best it can be. Hannah and Tania are experts in knowing who to invite, and who to leave at home:  “Definitely take people that empower you, make you feel happy and excited and have your best interests at heart.

"Don’t invite people at a detriment to yourself just because it would be nice for them. Your wedding dress shopping crew should be your cheerleaders and be there to support you in voicing your opinions - not theirs! This is not the time to bring bad energy and your harshest critics along for the ride.”

Our opinion? Keep your wedding dress shopping group small and intimate - you don’t want your own gut feelings and thoughts on a stunning plus size wedding dress drowned out by lots of contrasting opinions. The only one that matters is your own. 

READ MORE: How to Fire a Bad Bridesmaid and Deal With Wedding Party Problems

7. Be Open Minded About Styles

When wearing ‘normal’ clothes, everyone has their go-to shapes and styles they know they feel comfortable and fabulous wearing. Some people like a long sleeve, some will always do a V-neck and others are short skirts all the way. But when it comes to choosing a wedding dress style, the rules are different.

Having worked in a plus size wedding dress shop, I can’t tell you how many times a bride came in saying, "I don’t want anything short-sleeved" and left with a stunning strapless wedding dress. Be open minded and try on a range of styles before opting for your go-to.

What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t like it and move onto the next one - simple. You may surprise yourself and those around you and fall head over heels in love with something you never thought you’d go for. 

READ MORE: Designer Wedding Heels That'll Make You Feel Like a Celeb

8. Use Plus Size Models as Inspiration

A bride wearing an illusion neckline plus size wedding dress in all-over lace
Unsplash / Karen Willis Holmes

When researching plus size wedding dresses ahead of your shopping trip, use images of plus size models in wedding dresses as your inspiration. This will help you to give you an initial idea of what style and design you think will suit your figure. It’s important to look at dresses on plus size models because gowns will fit a curvier figure slightly different than they will on a non-plus size person.

We have an article filled with gorgeous plus size wedding dresses worn by stunning curvy models for you to browse through but we’re warning you, you’ll want to wear them all!

9. Glam Beforehand

Hannah and Tania have a top tip that you definitely need to hear, especially if you are nervous that you won’t feel fabulous in a wedding dress, “When it’s time for your appointment, we’d recommend doing your hair and makeup in a way that makes you feel confident - maybe even a style similar to how you might have it on your wedding day.

"It doesn’t have to be perfect or over the top, but having a bit of glam will give you that added oomph and confidence boost during your appointment.” 

What Size is Considered Plus Size in Wedding Dresses?

An important question before you go shopping! Wedding dress sizing tends to run smaller than high street sizes, so you often have to size up. Many non-plus size wedding dress shops will stock designs up to a size 16, but often only have sample sizes of 8, 10, and 12 available to try on.

Plus-size wedding dresses are considered size 18 and above. Most plus-size ranges go to size 32, with some going up to size 40. Due to the tight-fitting nature of the wedding dress, you may be considered plus-size from a size 14 or above - but remember, the numbers are different to high street sizes, and you are not defined by the label on your clothes.

Now you have all the tips, it's time to talk budget. Find out how much wedding dresses cost here!