Lauren's Bridal Edit: My real dress shopping experience as a plus-size bride

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Wedding dress shopping was one of the parts of wedding planning I was most excited about, but also most nervous. This is because I'm a plus size bride. Almost every photo I saw of dreamy gowns on Pinterest and Instagram were on thin models, and I found it so hard to imagine then on myself. I'm 5'9 and was always a bit chubby growing up, but when I turned 18 I was an average size 14. However, over the last few years I've suffered with very severe chronic eczema which has left me in and out of hospital and on a lot of steroids which have caused me to gain a lot of weight. Another side effect of taking so much steroid is a lot of permanent damage to the skin in the form of stretch marks (in places where you wouldn't normally find them), like all the way down my arms, my shoulders and my back. This made the thought of finding my dress even more challenging as there were some things I would really to cover up. 

So in June of 2019, with 15 months to go I went dress shopping for the first time at David’s Bridal (Glasgow). The store is huge and I really felt like I was in heaven, they have such an amazing selection of dresses and accessories! I was so nervous as I was worried nothing would suit me and I wouldn’t feel good. I had always planned on losing weight for the wedding but at this point I was nowhere near my goal weight so didn’t know if trying on dresses would make me feel deflated, but I was so wrong.

I tried on 5 dresses in total and loved 2 of them. I really got to feel like a princess! One of the dresses I loved is actually in this photo (I won’t tell you which one), but there were some serious alterations it would have needed so it wasn't the one for me. However, there was one that stood out to me the most I really thought could be ‘the one'. It had everything I’ve ever said I wanted and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I was tempted to put down the deposit but I felt I really want to shop around as this was the first shop I had been to. Overall, it was an amazing experience and made the wedding seem so much more real! We spent around 3 hours in the store but it really didn’t feel like that long and we had a one-to-one stylist the whole time, and we practically had the place to ourselves. I felt so relaxed and so happy, I just couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. 
Fast forward to 12th October 2019 (with exactly 11 months to go) when I had lost a bit more weight and I just couldn't get that dress out of my head. I kept thinking about it ALL THE TIME. So I decided it was time to plan a whole day of wedding dress shopping, to try on some other dresses and to finally make my decision. I live in Edinburgh but since David's Bridal is in Glasgow and my bridesmaid Laura-Jane lives there, I planned the ultimate day of wedding dress shopping there. I can still remember our itinerary so clearly: 10am Reetas, 12pm The Bridal Courtyard, 2pm lunch at The Metropolitan, and then 5pm back at David's Bridal. This time my entourage was my mum, my bridesmaid and another close friend. The boutiques stated on their websites that they had lots of plus size styles, but I still felt so nervous. Now you might be surprised by this, but I had the best day ever!
Let me take you through the day... We arrived at Reetas and the sales assistant was really friendly and listened to what I wanted. I was surprised that when you go downstairs to the basement it's like an actual bridal heaven with hundreds of dresses. I was told to pick out a few dresses I would like to try and then we got started. Honestly, it was hard to narrow it down! It was slightly disappointing that some of the dresses I loved were too small for me to even try but that didn't get me down, and I was just grateful for the huge selection I did have. I had so much fun! 
I think I tried on around 10 dresses, some I loved and some I HATED, but I had such a laugh. The worst one that sticks in my mind was this gigantic princess dress that was all glitter and it was about 3 metres wide, I felt like an ugly step sister and the bodice was all jewels and spaghetti straps (not pictured!). I didn't take photos of all of them as the time goes so quickly.
I actually quite liked this coffee coloured one once we added the jacket (it would be made in a colour to match) but my entourage weren't fans at all. Looking back at the photos, I can see it just isn't me.
This satin meringue number was a big NO from me... the assistant was convinced my mum and friends would LOVE this one but I hated it (turns out they did too). The net is actually removable so it's strapless. 
The longer I wore the dress, the more I started smiling and began to love it! Here's my mum 'practicing' walking me down the aisle...
Myself and my entourage quite clearly had a favourite - this one was by Enzoani, and I even tried it on for as second time at the end, but I knew it didn't compare to the one in my mind. I think it was perhaps a little too traditional for me (I did love the tiara and veil though!).
Then it was time to move on to The Bridal Courtyard. We weren't allowed to take any photos here so I don't have any pictures to show, but to be honest it wasn't the best experience. We had the boutique to ourselves which was lovely, but the service wasn't wonderful. It all felt quite awkward, and they only stocked 4/5 dresses that I could actually try in my size.
I wasn't even allowed to look around the boutique and was told there was no point looking as "nothing would fit". I understand it's not possible for all boutiques to stock lots of sizes but according to their website they cater to plus size brides? I didn't actually like any of the dresses they had in my size but instead of showing me them, the assistant just brought them one after the other for me to try. It seemed a bit counterproductive because I knew straight away some of them would never be wedding dress. It was definitely a bit of a negative experience and I felt quite size conscious but luckily I'd had such a great time at Reetas that it didn't phase me much. Each time the assistant fitted me into a new dress, she would say how negative my girls were and how I'd "never please them" but actually they just knew those dresses weren't for me. It was even more frustrating because we could see some gorgeous dresses that were just my style hanging on the rails, but they were also size 10s.
Then we headed for some lunch and reflected on the dresses I'd tried so far. We had such a laugh, I remember sitting thinking this was going to be a day I would remember forever - whether I said yes to the dress or not. Then we went on to David's Bridal. It was so busy which was such a contrast to the previous time I had been, but I guess that's the difference between a Saturday afternoon and a Wednesday morning. They knew the dress I wanted to try, but I also asked if I could try my 'runner-up' dress from last time too as I did really love it. I tried that dress and felt like such a princess, and I started to wonder if that was going to be my dress! It was just beautiful and my mum adored it. 
However, as soon as I put on the other dress I just instantly knew. This was my wedding dress. I walked out and my mum and both friends were in tears, and so was I. I remember feeling beautiful, something I hadn't felt for years since my illness. I hate the way my body looks in clothes now and stopped wearing things I loved, but this dress... it was the most beautiful dress I had ever worn. Wedding dresses are expensive, there's no doubt about that, but the way that dress made me feel was priceless. My bridesmaid said to me "that's your dress, it's just you!" and she was so right. It was just me. The other gowns just couldn't even come close. I didn't want to take the dress off! So they asked the question, and I SAID YES TO THE DRESS! 
David's Bridal have this lovely tradition for when brides find their dream dress, they say a little speech about how you've found your forever person and now you've found your forever dress, and then you make a wedding wish. I was so emotional and couldn't stop thinking about what Matthew's reaction would be to seeing my dress on our wedding day. Now I'll just have to wait another year to find out...
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My mum had even brought me a mini bottle of champagne to celebrate (and carried it round all day!) for the moment I said yes which was so thoughtful. All in all, one of the best days of my life and definitely my favourite wedding planning moment so far! To anyone putting off dress shopping because you're not at your 'goal weight' or because you're body conscious - DO IT. Find a boutique with great reviews, or a bigger bridal store like David's Bridal or WED2B who cater for plus size brides and head there. You'll still feel like a bride. You don't have to lose weight for your wedding, and you don't have to look a certain way to be a bride. You just have to be you. You won't know what you look like as a bride until you try on some beautiful dresses...

From Lauren, With Love xo

Read more about my wedding planning journey here

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