Wedding attire without the commitment

It’s June, which means it’s wedding season, which means that every form of media apparently needs to start featuring All Weddings All The Time. I feel like it’s a little better this year, perhaps because there have been actually newsworthy marriage-related developments. Still, ’tis the season for meaningless wedding-based fluff pieces, and who am I to buck the trend? If you’re utterly bored by heteronormativity, you might want to look away now.

Actually, I’m going to buck the trend a little bit, because I want to talk about something that’s actually valuable: keeping your fat ass out of a bridal store. While I know intellectually that the bridal-gown-wearing world teems with sweet friendly boutique owners who would no sooner mock your weight than put registry information on an invitation, the truth is that wedding gown shopping is an odyssey of humiliation even for most thin brides. The culture of being a bride (at least in the Western white-gown context) centers around a few rather odious principles: magnifying your flaws, believing that you should fit clothes rather than vice versa, endorsing a single image of acceptable beauty, and marginalizing anyone who wears a plus size (particularly those who wear above a 20 or 22 — many bridal lines only go up to 24, and bridal sizes run smaller than street sizes). The likelihood is that you won’t even be able to try anything on, but will have to hold the dress up to yourself or stuff part of yourself in it while clerks click their tongues. The experience would be trying even to the staunchest fat activist.

You can go to David’s Bridal, which at least will probably have something you can try on, but from what I’ve heard you still have a 50% chance of being mistreated. There’s also Sydney’s Closet for the princessy stuff, but that’s online-only; you don’t get to try anything on, and you can’t return it if you make the wrong choice. Of course, there’s always the option of going to a seamstress, and you can even use the internet to find custom-made gear. I haven’t yet gotten up the scratch for one of her amazing skirts, but Vancouver designer Jane Bonbon offers a lovely, slightly bohemian wedding dress that can be custom-sized (and she’s generally happy to tweak her designs for you). UK-based Rivendell Bridal makes custom gowns that make me wish I were the kind of person who would wear that kind of gown (they’re priced accordingly, too). If you’re more punk/funky, Peach Berserk only goes up to XL in her regular sizes of custom-silkscreened frocks, but can do custom sizing above that. (A friend told me she was unimpressed with the actual merchandise, but she may just have been trying to make me feel better about not discovering Peach Berserk before making other arrangements for my dress.) But with all these options, there’s an element of uncertainty. What if you don’t like what you get? What if you change your mind? What if you just don’t feel like giving your measurements to a stranger on the internet, even one as personally lovely as Jane Bonbon?

Thankfully, there’s the sartorial standby for fat women who’ve been run out of brick-and-mortar stores: the returnable online purchase. Below the fold are some wedding outfits, from classic to courthouse, based around dresses (and one pants suit) that can be bought online and returned if they don’t work on you, thus obviating the need to set foot in a bridal store. With some of them you have to be pretty snappy on your return, but you can handle that. I’ve paired each with a shoe that accommodates a W or WW foot (mostly from Zappos — that’s the best place I know of to get a good selection of wide shoes), and a few accessories (mostly from Etsy) to give you ideas. I tried to keep everything reasonably priced, not just for wedding clothes but for clothes in general (though there are some exceptions). The purpose of the little magazine spreads is not to impose my stylistic choices on you, of course, but to express the fatshion potential of no-hassle, off-the-rack, returnable dresses.

Remember: you can always ditch the aspects of a wedding that make you stressed or in any way put you in a negative place about yourself and your body. This is true of any party (hell, any undertaking), but the wedding industry is designed to enhance your self-recrimination power to near-superhuman levels. Don’t buy in. There’s no rule book in the world that says you have to submit to the stink-eye from bridal shop owners; yeah, dress shopping is a bonding experience for some, but who says that your fun shopping-with-the-girls expedition can’t be for shoes or jewelry? Just because you’re going the heteronormative route doesn’t mean you have to let the Wedding Industrial Complex stomp all over your carefully cultivated self-esteem.

Dress: Igigi, up to 30/32

Shoes: Zappos, up to WW

Necklace: Illusion Jewels

Dress: Torrid, up to 26

Shoes: Nordstrom, up to W

Gloves: Cherished Bride

Fascinator: Etsy

Dress, Alight. The one I used for this image is currently sold out, but Alight has several breezy white dresses, like this one, available up to 24.

Shoes: Zappos, up to W

Hair flowers: Retro Glamour Girl

Necklace: Baby Girl Boutique

Dress: Nordstrom, up to 24 (but a Donna Ricco 24 is like other designers’ 26)

Shoes: Zappos, up to WW

Hat: Fascinators.net

Dress: Zaftique, up to 36/38

Shoes: Payless, up to W

Headband:From a bridal magazine, easily recreated with nice ribbons and flowers

Dress: Martin McCrea, up to 5x. They also do custom sizing (non-returnable).

Shoes: My Vintage Sole, custom-sized up to W

Earrings: Etsy

Veil: Etsy

Suit: Fashion Bug, up to 32

Shoes: Zappos, up to W

Necklace: Etsy

Earrings: Supermarket

Dress: Fashion Overdose, up to 2x

Shoes: Nordstrom, up to W

Earrings: Etsy

Bag: Etsy

159 thoughts on “Wedding attire without the commitment

  1. It was almost ten years ago, but I got my wedding dress at David’s and had a positive experience there. I went during one of their big sales, and it was so busy that I was able to try on dresses with my mother, without being bothered by salespeople. Although, if your mother is worse than the salesperson would be, that wouldn’t help. The problem with trying on wedding dresses is that in many cases you have to have somebody help you get it on, so somebody who is positive (and unafraid of tulle) is essential.

    I’d actually say that I found the requisite altering of the wedding dress far more traumatic. Finding a size-friendly tailor or seamstress would be a very smart move, IMO.

  2. (A friend told me she was unimpressed with the actual merchandise, but she may just have been trying to make me feel better about not discovering Peach Berserk before making other arrangements for my dress.)

    I was that friend. For the record, I am VERY impressed with PB’s size-friendliness — doing custom work for any size, with no raised eyebrows, and using a legitimately fat model (whom I believe is a friend of the designer and may even have worked at the store back in the day — no idea now), as well as other non-modely types. But the one custom dress I had made there was ENTIRELY the wrong size when I came to try it on — seriously, like they’d used somebody else’s measurements. Fortunately, that someone else was bigger, not smaller than me, so they altered it and got it right for free, but they seemed irritated by my complaining about how far off it was on the first go — like I was just supposed to have known that it would be a two-fitting deal, and I should have expected to be swimming in the dress the first time I came in. If you’re ordering online, that’s not going to work.

    I also, just in general, think their stuff is overpriced for the quality. But it is very cute, and perhaps it’s worth paying a premium for the size-friendliness. Basically, I was disappointed with the custom experience, but I haven’t ruled out ever buying from them again, if that tells you anything.

  3. Fun! And yeah… I went the online route because I really didn’t want to go through the humiliation of trying to squeeze into sample sizes… ugh.

    but who says that your fun shopping-with-the-girls expedition can’t be for shoes or jewelry?

    Oooh, thanks for the suggestion. I felt like I was missing out on that by getting my dress online but I can totally bring my girlfriends shopping for accessories.

    I’ve been linking this dress all over the fatosphere so some of you are probably tired of seeing it ;) but I’m so excited about it, it’s everything I’ve been looking for in a dress: Igigi white diamonds wedding dress

  4. Someday, I will write a book entitled “Marriage is a Blessing: Weddings Are a Curse.” I felt that way before I became an advice columnist (Mr. Improbable and I eloped), and now that I am one I feel pretty much the same way about weddings that ER nurses do about motorcycles. I’m sure there are times when the ride is exhilarating and fun, but the results of those don’t wind up in my workplace.

    GOOD ADVICE, FJ: “Remember: you can always ditch the aspects of a wedding that make you stressed or in any way put you in a negative place about yourself and your body.”

    I’m moderating a panel on gay marriage at the Peabody Essex Museum tonight, as an event connected with their exhibit “Wedded Bliss: The Marriage of Art and Ceremony” … should be interesting. Gay weddings seem cooler because they are still so revolutionary … but for how long? Do you think gay grooms and lesbian brides can hold out against the tide of consumerism and perfect-body-ism?

  5. Do you think gay grooms and lesbian brides can hold out against the tide of consumerism and perfect-body-ism?

    I can’t really speak to men’s experience, but I think it’s a lot easier for women who are doing something atypical, non-traditional, outside the Wedding Industrial Complex, etc. to shrug off these influences. That’s not always true — I think there are some people who put all the anxieties of a WIC wedding into their offbeat wedding, including body anxiety — but there is at least a support framework for bucking the trend, since you’re bucking so many others. Since gay weddings don’t fit into the Western Wedding Ideal anyway, there’s probably still more chance for gay couples to break away from the parts of that ideal that are harmful, including keeping a clear head about beauty expectations. I would guess that as long as gay weddings are still the exception, even once they’re being more marketed to, it’ll be easier to keep sane about consumerism and perfect-body-ism. But it’ll be easy to get swept up, too, since the industry preys on anxieties that everyone has to some extent.

  6. FJ–I wish you had been available to style my wedding!I mean it was lovely and I enjoyed my outfit, but you’ve done a fantastic job with the examples above, bravo!

    I did buy a dress from a WIC-shop, and I don’t have a body size that is commented on by others often, but my favourite thing was how insistant the saleswoman was that I “make sure [I] don’t change size!”* once it was fitted. That felt refreshing, especially because I felt quite revolutionary reassuring her (loudly) in front of others that I had absolutely no intention of that.

    * and my interpretation of this comment was to not try to lose weight, given the prevalence of pre-wedding dieting, although the comment could be read in the other direction and obviously would be less cool. Though if I had gained weight my dress would have stayed up better :)

  7. Interesting. I honestly felt like buying a wedding dress was the one time in my life when I felt like having more of me made the dresses look better. I distinctly recall there being a slender-er-type gal in the mirror area with me and having the amazing experience of pitying her for her lack of .. well, lack of her.

    I guess I’m on the smaller end of fat, particularly when it comes to clothing sizes (I’m very short, so a 14/16 on me IS fat), and I can certainly see that it would be really frustrating to not be able to put the dresses on at all, but the truth is that the samples rarely fit anybody right, so I didn’t so much mind that they didn’t fit me right.

    Now, if you can help with a way to get the salesladies to keep their grimy meathooks off the poor wedding-dress-shopper’s BREASTS …. (Seriously, I have only ever been handled more when undergoing an exam at the dr’s office!)

    That said, add me to the list of folks that love this:

    Remember: you can always ditch the aspects of a wedding that make you stressed or in any way put you in a negative place

    Amen.

  8. I wish I’d known about Sydney’s Closet before my wedding in 2005, I might’ve ended up with an entirely different dress! As it was, I found a dress I liked online (hard to find them with sleeves, and I was insistent on that issue), found a local store that sold the line, and went into the salon to order it. I think I humored the salon owner and my mother and “tried on” a couple other dresses, but I really knew what worked. When mine came in and I tried it on the first time, I cried. I think everyone thought it was because the whole bridal thing hit me – the reality was I was relieved as hell that it fit. Being so determined to have a particular feature (short sleeves) in addition to the size thing was really a factor since I’m a 26/28 to 30/32.

    (Oh, and I think at least some gay couples will buy into the consumerism at some point. Right now, I think everyone has to readjust their mind set – but once marketers get involved, and once gay folks have an opportunity to think about having a “fairy-tale wedding” during their growing up years, I think the pitfalls will be exactly the same.)

  9. Lovely stuff, FJ. I especially like that Igigi wedding gown (and what a deal for $350.00!).

    Shoutz looked gorgeous at her wedding in this gown. (Note: that’s the store model, not shoutz.)

  10. I used to really like yosa.com they have beautiful dresses. But she used to not have size restrictions =\ But her sizes go up to size 26 and she does do custom fit stuff based on your measurements

    But I’ve never ordered from her, I just found the dresses are BEAUTIFUL if you want a fairy tale like wedding

    They also have cyber geisha stuff… I love cyber geisha *swoon* anyway yay lol

  11. I just bought my wedding gown, and I actually had a fairly positive experience. I’m a size 18/20, and only one place sneered me out of the store ( “I’m sorry…but ALL of our floor samples are a size SIX. YOU won’t EVEN be ABLE to try any of them on. You DO also realize that ordering them in a plus size costs an extra $200?”) I tried on several at David’s in an effort to find a silhouette that I liked (knowing that I wouldn’t be able to try on some in a few stores), and found that nearly all of the plus size dresses had “extras” (like sleeves. Y’know, ’cause fat women would rather die than show some skin), but the seamstress was extraordinarily nice and offered to take off the “extras” for no extra charge.

    Another store owner was very nice, but wouldn’t listen to me when I described what I was looking for. She would bring me dresses that were made for “big girls”, and make statements such as “corsets are nice, but the rutching hides flab so nicely,” or “you really want a wrap dress” (and the proceeded to bring me FOUR MORE wrap dresses after I told her that no, I didn’t like them).

    The place where I bought my dress, however, was an interesting experience. All of her floor samples were a size 10 or 14 (so most women could at least get into it, and pin it in place), and she herself was not a small woman. But I could see the look on her face when I asked to try on a certain gown. She didn’t say anything, but I could tell she didn’t think that it would look good on me (and I wish Wish WISH I could describe it here, but husband to be reads this blog, too, and I want it to be a surprise for him on the wedding day :) ). I tried it on anyway, and the first words out of her mouth were “That is GORGEOUS”, followed by “I will never, EVER tell a woman not to try on a dress because of my opinions. I used to think only skinny girls would look good in that, but darling, it was MADE for you. It makes you look like a GODDESS!”

    Overall, it was a positive shopping experience because everyone was more than willing to share in my excitement, only one actually made snide comments, and I actually changed someone’s attitude.

  12. Being so determined to have a particular feature

    That really limits you, hey? I needed two features: Straps that would cover a bra, and a back that would cover a bra. Almost every dress I’ve seen is either strapless, backless, halter, or a combination thereof. I would imagine sleeves were even harder to find. Although the dress you found was beautiful!

  13. Erin, I actually meant to mention Yosa, so I’m glad you did! Yosa is also fat herself, though I don’t know what her relation to it is, and a very nice person from the interactions I’ve had with her. Of course you run into the non-returnable problem there too, though.

  14. I just wanted to put in a shout out for the Not returnable but completely customizable cocomyles.com. They have both celebrity inspired styles, and top bottom mix and match customizable styles. You can order them in any color and add all kinds of details .Sometimes I go on their site and just play. Plus they give you the measurements of the gowns, and they are priced based, apparently, on the amount of fabric they use.

    I keep trying to convince my brides to get their dresses from here so I can not feel like someone in a purple mu mu. But whatever. (My last bridesmaid dress was from David’s Bridal and I had to get 18 inches taken in on top, even though it fit me through the hips. It was so yuck.)

    Also, I the Martin McCrea.

  15. PS I snuck my own wedding shoes in there, see if you can guess which ones. :) (But not my dress; a friend’s making it.)

  16. There was a large-size store in Seattle that carried full bridal, but it closed (the owner decided to retire). As it happens I’d bought a cream lace dress there BEFORE I even got engaged, and for our wedding-in-the-park it was just perfect.

    On a more practical note – the traditional big-poof-skirt / fitted bodice bridal gown is fantastic for pear-shaped gals. ;)

  17. Fillyjonk I talked to her a couple of time about my prom dress 5 years ago, at that time there were no sizing restrictions. So I was sad to revisit and see their are now but yes I did notice she was fat and totally fabulous. Seriously her cyberwear pictures are out of this world!

    But like I said I never ordered, my mother convinced me I didn’t want a 300 dollar prom dress(I did want a 300 dollar prom dress damn it!) and I ended up getting a dress from sears that looked awful on me lol good thing I was only at prom for 2 hours.

    But I get stuck with the task of finding 3 fat girls and 1 skinny girl the exact same dress that all of us can wear and look good in as my older sisters bridesmaids ich

  18. I did the whole Wedding Industrial Complex thing a year ago (my first anniversary was the 23rd!), and I actually had a rather nice wedding dress experience. I was lucky to have my parents pay for the wedding, and they were very generous, so I was able to get any dress I wanted. I ended up with an Ulla Maija dress that looked SO AWESOME. (If you go to the Ulla Maija site and click on “Collections” and then “Cathedral,” it’s the “Whirlwind” style. I can’t link directly to it.)

    Of course the sample was a size 10, so my size-16 boobs and butt didn’t fit in it very well, but it was easy-ish to imagine how it would look in the proper size. I recall that they just took my measurements and didn’t order a particular size of dress. They did order a muslin mock-up of the bodice to get the fitting just right. It took about four fittings, but in the end, the dress was perfect. After the wedding, my husband told me that my magnificent cleavage was the first thing he noticed when I came down the aisle. :)

  19. Thanks, Becky. :) I did feel terrific – and overall, I forgot that I was in a “wedding dress” for the most part… which is really the best feature!

    kate217, you are too cute. Smooch!

    I do wish we had more options, though. There are more all the time, and FJ has shown some great, great examples, but still, when you see the masses of dresses out there for smaller sizes… hell’s bells! It makes me want to start designing and manufacturing wedding attire for plus & super sizes!

  20. Oh, I meant to put this in my post above: Although the lady at the fancy bridal boutique did say she hoped I would lose some weight before the wedding (blech — I didn’t), she awesomely shot my mother down when my mother tried to convince me to order a smaller dress so that I could lose weight to fit into it. I wasn’t about to have my parents spend $5000 on a “skinny dress.”

    (My mom also gave me constant shit about my apparently hugely disgusting arms, and how I should cover them up. That’s a rant for another day, but I did manage to shoot back at her sarcastically, “Oh no! The wedding guests will have to look at my arms! The horror!!”)

  21. Haven’t read the other comments yet, but when trying on dresses for my wedding 3 years ago, I fit into a size 10 wedding dress, which is a 6/8 “regular” clothes. I found out from a friend of the people who “helped” me try on dresses that I was later mocked mercilessly for my body and choice in underwear. If I hadn’t already ponied up an nonrefundable $800 deposit, I would never have entered the store again…but after spending that much money (and it was a LOT to me), I didn’t feel I had a choice.

  22. I can’t link directly to it.

    I read this as “I can’t look directly at it,” which would be a hell of a feature for a wedding dress.

  23. I wasn’t about to have my parents spend $5000 on a “skinny dress.”

    In case anyone still doesn’t read Fatshionista.com, Lesley had a great post recently about the folly of buying clothes too small as a “motivator.”

  24. I think there are some people who put all the anxieties of a WIC wedding into their offbeat wedding

    Dude, YES. I swear, the words “We don’t want to have a traditional wedding — we want it to represent US!” strike terror in my heart now, ’cause I know it means a friend of mine is very likely to turn into a mad stressbunny for several months, and her wedding probably won’t even be that fun. (You don’t count, FJ. Either because you’re awesome or because you’re not local. :) And I fully intend to have a blast at your wedding.) I have yet to see anyone successfully pull off the offbeat wedding they wanted, without caving to parents/planners/the done thing in several respects, making the bride and groom resentful and the party a weird mishmash of WIC-standard shit and “quirks” that then read more like etiquette violations. I think if you recognize up front that it’s not going to be the most earth-shatteringly unusual wedding in history, then it’s a lot easier to get an excellent party out of it without driving yourself mental.

    And honestly, two of the most fun weddings I’ve been to in the last several years have been straight-up suburban, by-the-book, banquet-hall-off-the-highway affairs. The brides didn’t flip out hunting down non-traditional shit or trying to make everything perfectly representative of their unique love — they just got the food, booze, and music in place, and let it all happen. Everyone was comfortable and had a great time, and those weddings were memorable precisely because everyone was comfortable and had a great time, even if there weren’t show-stopping decorations or cutting-edge bands or whatever. And one of those, I might add, was a lesbian wedding. (My friends Shannon and Kim are seriously the most traditional, non-punk-rock couple I know, save the whole lesbian thing. It’s kind of awesome.)

  25. You don’t count, FJ. Either because you’re awesome or because you’re not local. :)

    Or because I don’t want to have a traditional wedding OR to have it “represent us” in every single particular. I just want to have a fun party, with jamming and Apples to Apples and alcohol, like all the best parties I’ve been to. Only with more speeches, and I get expensive shoes.

    Also, the bride AND one of the wedding party members AND THE OFFICIANT are all Shapelings, so how good does it get?

  26. I just bought my wedding dress on Sunday at David’s Bridal and all my bridesmaids bought theirs too. I had a good experience with the sales girl. The bad things were the fitting room were very hot and did not have any mirrors; and they didn’t have a bra/bustier in my size (40 DDD). I felt self conscious not seeing myself before I stepped out of the room. It was very busy that day and I actually saw more fat girls than skinny ones trying on dresses. I wish they had more styles with sleeves on them, I ended up getting a halter style that I will have altered to add a cup into the dress so that I don’t have to wear a bra. Overall it was great and I actually ended up buying a size 18. I started with size 22 because that is what size pants I wear, but I guess my upper body is smaller than I thought. It was the opposite for one of my bm, she wears size 18/20 pants and had to get a size 22 dress.

  27. This post brings me out of lurkerdom, finally, to say: I love this place. I love it so much that I deeply regret not finding sooner, particularly because of this post!

    I went the City Hall route to get married, as the first pass at wedding dresses and my exposure to the WIC started to not only stomp on, but trample, eat, then poo out, them trample over again… my very flimsy and recently ED recovered self esteem. I opted out of the wedding entirely to avoid a downward spiral. My husband I are very proud of me for saying fuck it rather than risk a meltdown; however, these options could made the day possible. I probably sound like a weakling, but I love that you note this wedding BS can impact even the staunchest FA activist.

    (As an aside, I live in a podunk hole that does not even have a Torrid or Lane Bryant! The only sleeved “wedding dress” I could find was a “mother of the bride” dress.)

  28. Or because I don’t want to have a traditional wedding OR to have it “represent us” in every single particular.

    Yeah, that’s what I was getting at with the, “if you recognize up front…” bit, but I forgot to apply that directly to you.

    (hard to find them with sleeves, and I was insistent on that issue)

    Dudes, the Mormons are where it’s at for dresses with sleeves. Google “LDS gowns” or “Modest wedding gowns,” and a whole world of options opens up — if you’re under about a bridal size 28, anyway. If I ever get married, this one, in ivory would be a strong contender. (I don’t care about covering my arms so much as making sure I’m not thinking about bra straps falling down or my boobs falling out. High neck and sleeves seem the path of least resistance.)

  29. I got married this past November and fell in love with a non-wedding dress I saw in a movie. I was able to find a local, reasonably-priced seamstress who was willing to cobble together the dress I wanted from 3 different patterns. I ordered the fabric and patterns online and was able to have several fittings in-person. The total cost, including materials was around $350

  30. I just wanna plug Holy Clothing, on ebay and holyclothing.com. That’s where I got my wedding dress. For the bride on a very small budget, probably made in India or Bangladesh, but completely serviceable dresses up to 5x. They’re the flowy hippie gothy paganish type dress with the fancy stitching all over. You’ll know the type when you see ‘em. I wore a “Marilyn” halter sundress in cream with a wrap I made myself. Two-day express shipping and the cost of the dress was roughly $55. My mom had to take it in for me a little on the side but other than that it was great.

    DSC01445sm

  31. I said: I wasn’t about to have my parents spend $5000 on a “skinny dress.”

    FJ said: In case anyone still doesn’t read Fatshionista.com, Lesley had a great post recently about the folly of buying clothes too small as a “motivator.”

    Yeah, Lesley’s post was great and SO TRUE. The post made me think of my wedding situation.

    Also, aside from the fact that there was no way I was going to run myself ragged trying to lose weight for my wedding day (and thus the “skinny dress” being a bad idea health-wise), it would have been a terrible idea financially, because, what if, even if I lost some weight, I didn’t lose enough? The “skinny dress” would have been a bad idea in so many ways.

    So I got the dress in my actual size, and I looked and felt so glamorous. As it was, the dress had to be taken in a smidge, because my weight can fluctuate quite a bit from time to time.

  32. (I don’t care about covering my arms so much as making sure I’m not thinking about bra straps falling down or my boobs falling out. High neck and sleeves seem the path of least resistance.)

    The boob issue can be difficult. I don’t quite have a rack of doom (more like a rack of moderate destruction), and part of the reason for the four fittings was so that we could get the bodice to fit me right so that my boobs didn’t pop out. (It was a strapless dress.)

  33. Wow, I seem to have had a very lucky wedding dress shopping experience (in Cincinnati). I just ordered mine on Sunday, and feel the whole experience overall was positive. I tried David’s and did like the selection of stuff I could try on, and they were plenty friendly, but I’ve heard ghastly things about their service. I tried Bridal & Formal, who did have a number of things I could try on and who were genuinely nice about offering to order the other stuff in plus size – but not that I could try on. But I was utterly put off by the “we won’t tell you who makes it or the style #” rubbish, to prevent me from price comparing, and didn’t find anything there that excited me. So I went with what I guess you would call a boutique, and ordered style #1701 from Bonny: http://www.bonny.com (under bridal/unforgettable). They more expensive than David’s but are well made and flattering without looking like they’re designed specifically for plus sizes. They let me order extra fabric to make shoulder straps, and the material that designer uses on other styles to add sheer, flowy sleeves. I couldn’t be happier. (Although that really was an unusually wonderful store, as the saleslady actually tried on a couple bridesmaid dresses to show us how they fit, since none of my entourage could get into those samples.) I guess the moral of all this is if you’re not happy with how you’re treated, take your business elsewhere. There really are shops that will welcome and appreciate you!

  34. Dude, Kate, that’s the cutest Mormon dress I’ve ever seen! I’ve heard the “check LDS dresses” thing before, but they’re not usually my style.

    Mine will have sleeves but no shoulders, because I’m a glutton for punishment and apparently had to find a way to make a sleeved dress still require a strapless bra. Also because I like my shoulders. But I will take strapless bra suggestions.

    I vote for the blue ones as FJ’s wedding shoes.

    Right color, wrong shoes (I doubt I could stand in those)… they’re the green ones with the Martin McCrea dress, but they’ll be blue.

    Also:
    Yeah, that’s what I was getting at with the, “if you recognize up front…” bit, but I forgot to apply that directly to you.

    Yes, I could have stood to read that whole comment a little more carefully, since the wedding you describe in the second graf is pretty much just what I was talking about!

  35. Looking at those dresses fills me with happiness that I am single and have no prospects.

    Also, I suppose if I ever did remarry, I’m the Rivendell type.

  36. Kate probably has the inside track on which shoes are the right ones… those would’ve looked marvy with my dress, too. (Navy and silver were my accent colors.) But I really, really, really like the vintage looking green ones with the straps across the instep, so I pick those. :)

  37. I wish I had info like this almost 2 years ago when I got married. I ended up going to David’s Bridal, buying a dress that I semi-liked and then had my seamstress rip it apart and put it back together, making a dress I mostly-liked.

    The dress buying was the most stressful part for me. Not because I felt the need to conform to the sizes available, but because I’m so gosh darn particular that NOTHING spoke to me. Also, all the dresses today (aside from the ones in this post) seem to be sleeveless. I kind of like sleeves!

  38. When I got married almost 10 years ago, I ended up finding a wedding dress at the Jessica McClintock outlet in San Francisco. It was so wonderful to actually be able to try on dresses in my size (I was size 14 at the time), and the price was right ($300). According to the Jessica McClintock web site, most of her wedding gowns go up to size 18 or 20, so if that’s your size range and you are in the SF area you might want to check it out.

  39. I didn’t read all of the comment b/c I am getting married on Saturday and editing my dissertation and cooking baked mostaciolli for the 20 people who will be here tomorrow night and….run on and on ….

    Anyway, just wanted to throw in my 2 cents. David’s Bridal was great (I didn’t get my dress there, though). I am a 22/24 in LB to give you an idea of my sizes, and they had tons of stuff to try on. I recently bought my dress for my lil bro’s wedding there, and it was great to be able to try on the dresses that all the other size four bridesmaids were modeling. ALL other weddings I have stood up in required me to sit and watch the thin girls try on dresses b/c they only had samples up to a 10.

    My shoes came from Zappos. I love them! Here they are…

    http://www.zappos.com/n/p/dp/28238012/c/632.html

    I wore them around town yesterday to make sure they feel good, and they do! Woo hoo!

  40. When I was planning my wedding almost ten years ago, the book I found the most helpful was “Weddings for Grownups” by Carole Stoner (sp?). Fabulous book, lots of real-life examples of couples who had non-traditional weddings that turned out lovely.

    The worst part of planning my wedding? The afternoon I spent at David’s Brutal, where the only thing that saved me from utter despair was my best friend eventually telling the sales lady that she would take over helping me get into dresses. The lady balked until my friend came up with the brilliant lie that she worked as a costumer on Broadway.

    Even so, afterward I had to go suck down a couple margaritas to regain some semblance of composure.

  41. I remember when my wife and i married, she had a devil of a time getting a dress. Not do to sizing, we had a very lucky streak in that department, but the employees of the shops.

    We didn’t spend a fortune and every time we decided against a recommendation, we were virtually clucked at, told we were making the wrong decision and would regret it.

    In the end, she was so frustrated, tearing on my shoulder and telling me these things that I went down to the store. Not in the “me a man, now listen” kind of way, but to honestly see it for myself.

    I entered with a good attitude, thinking it was a few bad eggs. One hour and a few phone calls later I was ready to strangle them.

    Long story slightly shorter, we decided that we would go simple, she customized a dress she already had with the help of some friends and we did have our happily ever after, despite what the nags at the store said.

  42. I’m getting married in a few months and I went to David’s Bridal for my dress. It was a very positive experience. The customer service person was extremely kind and treated me as if I were the most gorgeous creature she’d ever seen. Also, every girl in the store trying on gowns that day was fat. Nobody seemed to give an eff.

    The most irritating aspect of dress shopping for me is the weird sizing. I normally wear a 12; my dress, which fits perfectly, is a 16. I personally wouldn’t care if it was an 36, but it’s the principle that bothers me….it’s just one more example of how society’s already stringent beauty standards are magnified by the wedding industry. It’s almost as if it functions entirely on the low self-esteem of women.

    Also, if anyone knows where I can get a cute little shrug or bolero to wear over my strapless white dress (everything is freaking strapless these days), please let me know!

  43. When my sister was planning her wedding (which didn’t happen, long story), my mother presented us each with a tube of one of those “slow” self-tanning lotions. I didn’t really see the point in looking different – everyone who’s ever been around me in the summer knows I’m extremely pale, and my sister’s a redhead with a redhead’s pale skin – but she insisted we use it because “your arms will be bare.” Mom, I love you, but so what?

    My own wedding in 2001 was one of those nightmare mishmashes of traditional and nontraditional. Once again, long story, but the whole thing was incredibly tense and frustrating. It was beautiful, but if I could do it again I’d run off to a wedding chapel like we’d intended to in the first place rather than allow my mother to push me into the wedding she never had for herself.

    My dress was a dream, though. I’d been drooling over a white dress at Hot Topic, of all places, and after Mom dragged me to a couple of small bridal places, none of whom had anything we wanted, I dragged her in turn to the mall. I still smile looking at that dress.

  44. That Martin McCrea dress makes me want to cry with longing. If I were to get married again, I would want that dress.

    I skipped the whole WIC by making my own dress. And my bridesmaids’. And my flower girls’. Six dresses total, plus my wedding corset (cause I love corsets a lot). I saw an eighteenth-century-style dress in a bridal dress mag, but the cost was somewhere over $6000. I made my dress out of silk and lace, embroidered pearls onto the lace, and made the bridesmaids’ dresses of silk as well. Total cost was $1000 for all six dresses. I am forever glad I did it, as I got exactly what I wanted at a reasonable price.

    I’d done two friends’ wedding dresses before that. I think I might start up another fat-positive wedding dress store, perhaps through Etsy. I love making wedding dresses, and I love making it possible for women who aren’t usually catered to to have what they want.

  45. I don’t know if it’s a fluke or a fairly common sort of shop, but I got my wedding dress from a store specializing in British designers. It was the first bridal shop I went to, and I ended up buying the first dress I tried on, actually (after going a few other places to make sure I wasn’t jumping the gun, of course). I know British sizes are a bit different than American, but the samples were marked 10 to 14 or so and seemed very true to that, not smaller. So that was helpful. Once again, no idea if this is more widely consistent or not!

  46. it’s just one more example of how society’s already stringent beauty standards are magnified by the wedding industry.

    In this particular case it’s because wedding dresses are sized according to pattern sizing, which seems more or less innocuous — but, then again, why? Why not have them track with changes in regular clothing size numbering? Probably for exactly the reasons you state.

    (Killedbyllamas, the difference between regular American sizing and bridal sizing probably mirrors the difference between American sizing and British sizing, which I’m guessing is why the dresses seemed to be sized normally!)

  47. Killedbyllamas,
    It is EXTREMELY common for a bride to buy the first dress she tries on. I always make my friends try on an ugly dress first to avoid the primacy effect. I don’t know if it’s just that brides tend to try on the dress they like the most first, or that the first dress just sticks in their heads. (I’m on bridesmaid challenge #4 now. I think I might start selling my services.)

  48. Another alternative is to just buy plain old dress-up clothes and let the whole “wedding dress” thing go. There was no friggin’ way I was going to wear white or anything strapless (not to diss on my lovely weight-lifting shoulders), so I just went to a department store and got a longish woven blue dress with a jacket and picked up a pair of black boots (which was something I was jonesing for anyway). The spouse went out and bought a nifty black Italian suit. The wedding itself didn’t have flowers or music or religion, but it did have kick-ass food and no complaints except from parents who didn’t get to have a say in the planning. (Big hint: don’t tell anyone you’re getting married until you have the whole thing planned.)

  49. RP, oh, totes! The only reason there’s only one non-white just-a-dress dress in the spreads above is that I wanted to eventually be able to stop putting outfits together, and if I’d opened the field that much, I would have been screwed. :)

    (Big hint: don’t tell anyone you’re getting married until you have the whole thing planned.)

    You know, I haven’t been experiencing many of these problems… people knowing that I’m getting married has led mainly to a) some fun conversations about how everyone goes all crazy about weddings, omg, wtf, b) engagement presents (who knew that would happen?) and c) extra parties. I am not crazy about the extra parties, but on the other hand, parties.

  50. @ Meg: David’s Bridal had a bolero that I bought for my strapless dress. I think they have newer ones available. Mine was long sleeved, but I believe they have short and 3/4 available now. Check online. A friend of mine actually knitted me one for later on at the reception. It was lighter so I wasn’t so hot (and it was so cute)

    @ FJ: OMG! That open letter about sleeves is so spot-on. Loved it.

  51. I didn’t finish reading the whole article (cause I’m in a hurry), but I just wanted to agree with your friend about Peach Berserk. It’s a bit overpriced for the stuff they sell. I mean I guess if you really love the fabric it *might* be worth it. But seriously… go get a seamstress to make you something with fabric you’ve chosen yourself and chances are it’ll be cheaper and better than what you’d get from PB.

  52. I’m jealous of the girls getting married I wanna get married!(I’m never getting married, not because I’m fat, but because I’m neurotic and I can’t keep a boyfriend. Anyone know a guy that wants a chubby, neurotic, silly crazy girlfriend? Send them my way)

    However after looking at those LDS dresses I’m TOTALLY buying that if I ever do get married They[re so pretty…. I actually like them a million times better then the regular wedding dresses!

  53. I feel pretty lucky, really. We sort of eloped (got married on our honeymoon) and therefore I didn’t feel the need for a really complicated dress. I’m not generally fussy in the first place (though I was a bit more then than I am now) and we were basically broke, so my options were limited anyway.

    The solution was to find a pattern (afraid I don’t remember which one) for a fairly standard-looking princess-seamed dress and then just asked my mom to do it up in white satin jaquard. Total cost was probably about $150, and most of that was for the fabric. My mom has some sewing skills, but she’s not an expert or anything, but the pattern I chose was simple enough that even I could’ve probably done it.

    Here’s a terrible, small scan of a pic from the event (1997):

    The headgear is just a plastic headband with ribbons and fabric roses wired to it. The shoes I got at Payless.

    I think I was a size 26 or 28 at the time.

    It was ultimately really simple and easy and I didn’t at all have to fuss with fittings or snarky salescritters or any of that nonsense. And I even got to re-wear the dress several years later in a stage show.

  54. Anyone know a guy that wants a chubby, neurotic, silly crazy girlfriend?

    Yes, but I’m marrying him.

    I’m guessing there are others, though.

  55. As I think I mentioned before, I rented my dress. I figure, men usually rent what they’re getting married in, so why not women? (Actually, my HTB,to hear him tell it, wound up ordering some Renaissance suity thing off the Internet that didn’t arrive on time, so he showed up just wearing his white shirt, pants, and suspenders. With a sweater over it. Which I made him take off. Harbinger of things to come?)

    The place I went to (in Costa Mesa, California) had sizes up to about 32 and they would let dresses in or out depending on customer preference. The only problem was, they waited until about the last possible second to do my alterations and I had to have my mom go in there and open the whoopass-can to get them to finish it, since she’s much better with the whoopass-can than I am. But what freedom, I tell you. You go in there within two weeks of the wedding, no guesswork about what size you’ll be, and no having to worry about cleaning and storage and all that craperoo for a dress that will probably only be worn once.

    (I never got the “preserving the dress for your daughter” thing. What if you don’t have a daughter? Or what if she’s a totally different size from you? Or what if the dress is not her style? Or what if she doesn’t want a wedding of any kind? I’m a tough sell on this shit, lemme tell you.)

  56. lol a unattached guy that wants a chubby, neurotic, silly crazy girlfriend?

    Congrats though on getting married ^__^ I’m sure you’ll make an absolutely beautiful bride

  57. I passed over the entire WIC thing and got married by a county clerk in Vegas 9 years ago in my favorite pair of jeans and a white lacy t-shirt. It was absolutely perfect.

  58. Meowser, my mom “preserved” her dress hoping one of her daughters would wear it. Except that my mom was teeny when she got married. I couldn’t quite fit into her dress when I was thin, and now I couldn’t even contemplate it. My sister is still thin but she is too wide framed for the dress. And to be honest, we’re both relieved that we can’t fit into it, because it is very, very 70s style and not at all what we are looking for in a dress. It not fitting gives us a good excuse not to have to wear the thing! I plan to keep my dress because I’m sentimental that way, but I certainly don’t expect my daughters (if I have any) to wear it.

  59. I am going to save this post because I’m toying with the idea of having a party/vow renewal for our 10th wedding anniversary. Our wedding was a 5 minute elopement in street clothes. Now we have a garden and a nice kitchen and we know the marriage is working out (there was never much doubt) – a wedding-like party without the stress sounds like a good idea.

  60. My husband and I, having already been together for 11 years, eloped. I bought a long black poofy skirt of the kind often worn by women playing in professional orchestras. It cost me maybe $50 or $60 and a black, velvet sleeveless top (about $20) which I wore along with a black shawl ($15). I did my own hair and felt fabulous. My husband rented a tux. We got married along wtih another couple, outside on New Year’s in St. Augustine Florida, with the fireworks going off in the sky as we said our vows.

    It rocked and I felt beautiful.

    A lot of people say that they want to feel like a princess for a day, but from what I’ve seen, the psychological cost of that (not to mention the actual cost of that) is incredibly high, and it’s entirely possible to get the joy and happiness without going there.

  61. Becky, there was no way in hell I could have fit into my mom’s wedding dress either! Hers, though, is serious 60′s awesomeness and I was very disappointed. So not good for the body image then. *sigh*

  62. I skimmed through the comments, sorry!

    I would like to offer my crafty services to any fat brides in the Portland area who would like a custom gown. I’ve made a couple of simple wedding gowns in the past, my sewing skills aren’t up to putting together twenty yards of tulle, but if you want something like this.

    http://www.hotpatternsstore.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=HP&Product_Code=dv_1024&Category_Code=dv

    I’ll be happy to help. Fittings and all :) (If the link is broken, I’m sorry, I’m bad at putting in links)

  63. P.S. my services are cheap, I’m not actually in the business of sewing, but I have made a couple of wedding dresses for friends, no biggie.

  64. Laughing a little imagining me wearing anything that belonged to my mother-I’m 5ft 9in, my mom barely grazes five feet. I’m stocky, wide shouldered, big butted, she’s a petite, adorable, round little woman (who is convinced she’s grossly fat but that’s another story) with small feet and short legs. Not to mention she got married when she was 15, and she really WAS tiny then. A child, even. I doubt I could get one boob into anything she wore then.

  65. Coming from a bride who had her wedding at the Chicago Cultural Center for a whopping $10, AND happily wore an all-black ensemble I already had in my closet, , I find the vast majority of weddings to be frivolous and exorbitant. No thanks!

    Here’s a few other options – -silverliningplus.com specializes in plus size wedding dresses, and their boutique in Atlanta is supposed to be fabulous. Lingerie too — whoo-hoo!

    Also, check out loveyourpeaches.com for supersize wedding dresses that are totally foxy and flattering! Janelle is a real doll and definitely knows how to design dresses that not only photograph beautifully, but are comfortable as all hell. Reasonable prices too!

    Also, for Chicago/midwestern brides, check out damecouture,com for awesome custom options. The two owners are very talented, size-positive, and have all sorts of great ideas to accomodate different body tyoes and personal preferences.

    Now go get married!

  66. Lexy, did the jacket of the suit pattern on the front page of that website look like “A Salute to Your Vulva!” to you?

    I’m imagining it in fuchsia…

  67. If my daughters can fit my wedding dress after puberty, I’ll be pretty damn surprised. Half their DNA comes from a family with loads of six-feet-tall women with the width to match; even skeletally thin they couldn’t reasonably expect to fit it, and there’s no naturally skeletally thin people in my family.

  68. buttercup, Hotpatterns are beautiful but they have TONS of fitting issues that make a lot of people frustrated with them, plus the instructions are… sparse.

  69. Or pale pink with the fuchsia inside the gathers. Did you ever see a picture of that wonderful lady who was walking around Paris (if I remember correctly) dressed like a vulva?

  70. No one has mentioned hiring someone to design a dress and custom-make it for them. That’s what I did.

    ‘Course, I got married long long ago, before the internet, so there were no online plus-size choices then. And nope, there was NOTHING, zero, zilch, NADA available for sizes above about 18 or 20 then, except in mother-of-the-bride dresses, which were hideous. The sales clerks didn’t even want me in the store, frankly.

    So I found someone who did custom sewing, told her what I had in mind, and designed my own dress, which she then made into reality.

    It really wasn’t that expensive either. We were very poor, still paying off student loans, and we were paying for our own wedding so money was an issue…..yet this was still affordable. It really is more of a realistic choice than most people think.

    FWIW, we didn’t go totally traditional or totally weird either….somewhere in the middle. I used a blouse I really liked on me as the root idea for the dress, which then became a sort of Victorian-inspired flowy thing. Chose a dusky rose for the color, which was way better on pale little ole me than white or cream would have been. Looked nice.

    We rented an old Victorian house, I wore my Victorian-ish dress, and we got married by candlelight one romantic rainy evening. Our families helped out by making a lot of the food and my flowers. We did almost all of it ourselves. It was lovely….and not expensive.

    Anyhow, having someone design and sew a dress for you is actually a very realistic option. Then it can be custom-fitted to YOUR body, and you can go with your own vision instead of having to go with someone else’s idea of what a wedding dress “should” look like for a woman of size.

    These days with the internet, we really have sooo many more choices. But having a dress custom-made for you is still an option, even if you don’t sew, and it’s more reasonably affordable than a lot of people think.

  71. No one has mentioned hiring someone to design a dress and custom-make it for them.

    Except for all the custom links in the post. :) And that’s what I did too, as I mentioned above… but I might have felt some discomfort if it weren’t being made by a friend of mine. Well, I probably would have been all right, but I imagine not everyone is into the fairly intimate experience of being measured and fitted. The other down side is that some people like to be a little limited by availability… if I hadn’t had strong ideas about what I wanted, the idea of going to a dressmaker would have overwhelmed me because there were too many possibilities. Personally, though, I’m thrilled that I went that route, and it’s a GREAT option for the people above who were complaining (rightly) that having even one strong idea makes it extra impossible to find something good.

  72. I had my wedding dress made by a local dressmaker I tracked down. To be honest, that was more to do with me wanting it in an unusual color; not many boutiques even sell anything red. (I thought matching bridesmaid dresses might be marginally easier to find, but no go – I married at the end of a summer where every bride in Britain, it seemed, wanted her BMs in lilac – so I had to have them made too.) Unfortunately, I still wasn’t as happy as I could have been because somewhere along the line, the bodice ended up without the boning I’d originally asked for, and I had to rush out at the last minute and buy different underwear.

    I hate the bridal industry generally, though. Apart from the size thing, it is all geared to making you spend as much money as possible, much more so than the fashion industry in general. I generally got laughed out of stores for asking if they had anything a little cheaper because I was on a low budget (fool that I was, I was sure you should be able to get a tiara for under £50, for instance, right? Wrong.).
    I gather now, some wedding boutiques over here are actually charging brides £30-50 a throw to try dresses on. Some of them have admitted that this is to discourage ‘the wrong class of customer’. Assholes.

    I wanted the princess thing, to some extent – there were things I couldn’t have cared less about (fireworks? dove release? Hello?) but I did want the ‘floaty frock’. I suspect this is to do with coming from a family where weddings are really played down, plus I personally was always steered away from wearing anything frilly and noticeable. (This isn’t down to my size – my mother spent most of the period prior to my first wedding encouraging me to drop the frock and wear a ‘nice’ navy blue suit, and I was painfully thin then. Second time round, I didn’t tell her what I was wearing till I turned up in it.) So I’m afraid I’ve jumped at that one chance to be the center of attention, although I’d certainly wear something similar at the drop of a hat if I ever had an excuse. For an ordinary woman who doesn’t go to the Oscars or meet the Queen, and in the UK where we don’t (until recently) do proms, it’s the only chance most of us get.

  73. No comment other than to say that I absolutely love the images and am passing this on to my plus-sized brides. Thank you!

  74. My mother saved her gown… I spose because it was the thing to do. So as it was totally Cinderella and I was partial to satin over piles and piles of lace, she sewed me up a dress and we used the lace from hers as trim for the bottom of the skirt/train as well as for the tight bodice. I had big puffy satin sleeves with fitted sleeves from just above the elbow and the fitted part of the sleeves had the lace on it too.

    Since it was November, all that cloth was not overly hot. Still though the neckline although it was flattering, made me wear an underwire bra. BOO!

    It was a lovely dress, but even having the dress made for you by family you don’t always get out of the WIC. I was having my hair done, and the stylist, an old friend of my grandmother was absolutely appalled that I refused to wear any sort of makeup.

    But you must! It’s your wedding! I told her, I never wore make-up and I wasn’t starting now, but she went on and on until I started crying. Finally we got out of there and my mother calmed me down, but that’s all someone needs the day of the wedding… sheesh!

    Then it started to rain! Thankfully by the time it really started coming down all of us wedding party folk were already installed in the church.

  75. that Rivendell dress website makes an absolutely gorgeous gown, the one at the end, bereth style. Its definately a plus sized one, and oh man is it ever lustworthy in all its medieval beautiful glory. It was one of the first dresses i REALLY wanted when i was looking.

    I actually bought an Alfred Angelo dress, and apparently they go up to a uk 32 in all their designs. which is 1. awesome and 2. awesome because most of their designs are grand but tasteful at the same time, and usually come in at under £1000 (which im told is well, the lower end of the price range. I bought mine second hand for £200). they also have a little bit of variety in the shape and styles they make.

    However when I did go to a bridal shop that stocked the make, they had very few of the dresses in sizes larger than a 16. I had to try on a different dress in an 18 to check it fitted me so i could buy the one I wanted on the cheap. (although the shop assistant was shocked I needed an 18 – she estimated me at a 12-14 when she saw me – I immediately contested her and said, nope better start with the 18s. I think she found my eagerness to go for a ‘large’ size straight away to be both strange and refreshing…)

    (my beautiful dress is style 1755 if you’re curious ;P)

  76. I did the same thing as Emerald, also partly because I didn’t want white (or strapless, and strapless was *all* there was 3 years ago). I probably qualify for ‘tweenie’ status rather than fat, so I likely wouldn’t have had the struggles to find a dress that fit, but at the time I was really feeling negative about the weight I was putting on.

    I’m so *so* glad I went with a dressmaker who designed and built the dress to fit me, rather than traipsing through an interminable number of bridal stores and feeling bad about my supposed flaws. In the end I never even set foot in one until I was looking for a headdress – two weeks of trawling the net when we first got engaged was enough to convince me I just didn’t want to put myself through the trauma!

  77. After reading all these stories I feel like I got off so EASY when I bought my wedding dress.

    I had only one attendant, and she and I went to some tradtional bridal store or other. Like many others have mentioned, they had no large size samples, so I had to hold up dresses and “imagine” what they’d look like. After about 3 dresses, I said forget it and we left.

    The one thing I learned from them, though, is that I look like death warmed over in stark bridal white, and I looked warm and happy in ivory.

    So we went over to the mall to the Jessica McClintock store. After checking their web site I can say with some certainty that the Jessica McClintock of 14 years ago isn’t the same as today – the sizes they carried ran a LOT larger, and they had sample dresses in ALL the plus sizes (not every dress in every size, but one of each size). I’m so glad they did – I found out that the size I technically was according to their measurement chart was actually too big, and the next size down fit me almost perfectly.

    The only issue was that they were discontinuing the dress I wanted (long sleeves, lace, beads, ivory brocade, floor length), so they had to do a floor check at the factory to make sure they still had one. Not only did they, I had it in hand 3 weeks later. The wedding was 11 months away. I’m so glad I didn’t change size! And it only needed shortening.

    The rest of the wedding….I second Thorn’s recommendation of”Weddings for Grownups” because it’s got a lot of good ideas on how to decide what you want and what’s important to you. We decided that we wanted our wedding/reception to be a very nice dinner party with excellent food, and we wanted to skip most of the traditional folderol. So that’s what we did – we put our resources into the food and the cake (wedding cakes CAN taste good!) and people seemed to appreciate it. Ok, we did recess to the theme from Star Wars – hey, it’s a great march!

    But if I ever have to get married again, I’m calling a resort in the Caribbean and saying “I’m coming with a dress and the groom. Here’s my credit card number. Make the rest happen.” I’m glad I did it all once, but Never Again.

  78. I love http://www.ariadress.com which I think I’ve plugged before. They don’t go super big, although I think they could be talked into custom making something for ya, since the dresses are all made to order anyway. It’s great because 1) each bridesmaid–if you have a nice bride, I was a nice bride–can either buy any dress in the color of choice or the dress of choice in any color. 2) I went to the store and they had at least one dress in each size –that is there was something in a 1, 2, blah blah blah. I’m a 12/14 or a 14/16 and a lot of them had to be binder clipped onto me – yay! Huge difference from my cousin’s wedding from hell where even the skinny bride didn’t fit into the sample size. 3) Neither of my bridesmaids lived near an ARIA, both were in New Orleans so they got samples mailed to ‘em for size and style and loved it. Both are bigger than I and had no trouble finding a dress to fit and a style/shape they loved. 4) My wedding dress was the strapless, a-line, bridesmaid dress in white and I got extra fabric in fuschia/sunset gold or orange (bridesmaid colors) and had a sash made – with alterations and the sash being made, not even $350. Tons of compliments.

    And, I had the best wedding – but mostly because it was in New Orleans and the list of things I needed were: no tacky hotel ballroom (courtyard, I worked in a hotel, blech), kickass band, open bar, second line and some food. I think the band, the venue and the florist will all tell you that I was their favorite bride ever because I didn’t care. And I got my own parade, who doesn’t want her own parade??

    I want to do it again. maybe I’ll set up a website for donations :-)

  79. I hate weddings but love the receptions. Nothing like getting sloshed whilst all dressed up in wedding guest attire :)

    I haven’t been a wedding in years. All my friends “live in sin” with their partners.

  80. Noe, mine too! A friend was complaining the other night about “all these people” getting married, and I was like, are you kidding? Two couples are getting hitched six months apart. We’re in our late 20s. We (or at least I) know basically NO other married people. I don’t think there’s some kind of epidemic.

    I do have two sets of friends who are newly shacked up, though, and congrats to them!

    (Actually, come to think of it, we do have some married friends — all of them people we know from Dan’s lab. Maybe scientists get married more. :))

  81. Tal, you look fabulous in that picture!

    Right color, wrong shoes (I doubt I could stand in those)… they’re the green ones with the Martin McCrea dress, but they’ll be blue.

    Dammit! Those were my second choice. And they’re awesome.

  82. Alfred Angelo is pretty kind, size-wise. I had opted to let my attendants pick their own style of dress, as long as it was long and navy, chiefly because I had two plus-sized friends and one size six sister-in-law to be. I recommended Alfred Angelo, because they had a lot of styles in that color and really covered the gamut in size. Everyone not only looked beautiful, but loved their dresses, which was comforting, since I didn’t want to be a bride from hell. :)

  83. Shooot… I didn’t even BUY my wedding dress, it was GIVEN to me. It was kismet, I swear. The Hubster and I decided we had to get married Right! Away! So we announced it to my grandmother and planned it for the very next weekend. As much as I would have loved to have had the whole nine yards, there was no way we were going to do that in a week. So I figured I’d just get myself a nice dress to wear – something better than what I usually wore, but I wasn’t going to go nuts. Well, a couple of days before the wedding, a co-worker brought in a dress for me to try on. A pink, satin & lace dress. I took it into the toilet, tried it on, and it fit perfectly! Then she tells me I can just have it – her sister had given it to her, it was too big, and when she found out that I was getting married, she thought it would be a good choice. And it was. :) Here’s a

    I loved the way my aunt “recycled” my grandmother’s dress, though. There was no way in HELL it was going to fit her (she was a size 12 when she got married, and although I don’t know what size Grandma was when she got married, I DO know she was TINY), and the lace was literally crumbling away from the dress (it was nearly 50 years old by the time my aunt got married!), so she ended up taking it to a seamstress (friend of my grandmother’s) and having her use different parts of the dress to make a whole new dress out of it. It was absolutely gorgeous. (They recycled an old bridesmaid’s dress of my aunt’s to make a flower-girl dress for The Little Helper, too.) They had a “unique” wedding, too, but my aunt didn’t go nuts over it like a lot of brides do. There was definitely stress in the days leading up to the wedding, but that had more to do with my stubborn-ass family trying to tell her that she couldn’t do X or Y. When it was HER wedding!

    I’d love to do a vow renewal/second wedding. Our 10th anniversary is next year, and I think that would be a perfect time, but unless we win the lottery, it ain’t happenin’. If we ever DO get to do that, I’ve got a million different ideas in my head now, thanks to you guys. :)

  84. Dammit. I tried to do html code for the link to a pic and it didn’t work. Here:

    I give up. No more linky html for me. Hell, I’m lucky I can figure out bold and italics!

  85. I have been invited (or at least semi-invited — “Hey, do you want to come to my wedding in Buttfuck, SD?” “Well, I love you, but not really”) to four weddings between now and November! Everyone in Chicagoland is getting married. Sure, they’re leaving town to do it, but still.

  86. Oh one more – - check out peglutz.com for beautfful flowe vintagey dresses. Her prices are moderate-expensive but her desgins are quite timesless and and you can definitely finesse any of her “wedding” dresses into other eventwear. Bella!

  87. Ugh – I was in a friend’s big wedding last year, and it convinced me that, in the unlikely event that anyone asks me to marry him (or I ask him!) we’re getting married at the courthouse and then having a big kegger in my backyard. The dress buying was the worst…constant body critiquing and beauty/diet exhortations from sales people to the bride and all of the bridesmaids, none of whom is a plus size. For example, when scheduling a second fitting, the seamstress – who had demonstrated no knowledge of English when I asked her to stop sticking me with pins – asked me, “Do you need time to lose weight?” When I said no, she pinned the waist corset-tight to make her point.

    I’m NOT trying to say “but thin girls have it bad too, wah wah wah” – I’m saying it to underscore how I’m impressed with everyone on here who didn’t just start smacking people around in those stores.

  88. A pink, satin & lace dress. I took it into the toilet, tried it on, and it fit perfectly!

    Okay, this is one of those moments where the difference between American and British terminology is disturbing. (Pretty dress, though!)

  89. lol

    Sorry, Kate! You know, if you heard my voice, I still sound TOTALLY American… I just say those British-isms an awful lot more now than I did when I still lived out there!

  90. AnotherKate- We are totally having a kegger! I have a traditional wedding dress, because I love to dress up even though I live in Chacos and jeans. But the reception is out in the woods with my good friends Blue Moon and Sierra Nevada. We have bocce and bags and BBQ! I can’t wait! The weather is looking like rain for Saturday, but I don’t care.

  91. in some ways I got off easy, too, because I was thin. I could fit most sample sizes when I got married. I ended up buying it from a designer, this warehouse/outlet place. It was hanging on the end of the rack, discontinued, the only thing left was a sorry little floor sample for $59. Since it had a skirt that didn’t skim the hips, it fit.

    I say that about the hips because I did get snorted at by a saleswoman at another bridal shop for having too much breasts for this dress and for having such big hips I was going to tear the silk! stop pulling! you’ll tear it!

    did I mention my wedding dress is a 6? and by you my hips are too big? nice. I think everybody really does get it one way or another. Granted, I only got one snarky salesperson but I also didn’t get to eat anything to week before I got married. Because, you know, it was a six.

    Meanwhile, I would have loved to wear my mom’s wedding dress because my grandmother made it and it was simple and lovely. I would have removed the sleeves, I think, but it fit nicely and would have been very nice on me. But my mother wouldn’t allow it. She hates my father. ah, well. I’m happy with how it turned out.

  92. I knew enough from going with my cousin for her wedding to stay away from bridal shops. The only time I went into some for my wedding were for my bridesmaids, to look at styles with them. Since we’re fairly young (21 at the time) and not with a “real” adult we were completely ignored and left after about thirty minutes of waiting. And I hate David’s from school dances (I actually always found the best stuff at Dillards) but would go there in a pinch. I got my dress from Cinderella’s Bridal Shop, an ebay store. They make all custom gowns (Which tend to be of the traditional/princessy variety) and have instructions showing you how to measure. My dress cost about $300 with shipping, arrived within a month (not rushed), and fit so perfectly I didn’t need it altered at all (so I’m not sure of the refund policy).

    Aww, now I miss shopping for and putting on my gown….I need more “gown” events.

    Oh yeah, here are a couple of pictures:

  93. I got here to late to read the whole thread…

    but wanted to say my best (thin) friend who is a designer made me a latte colored silk dress with an organza bodice and sheer sleeves. It was so beautiful. I didn’t even think of going traditional and my friend has always thought me beautiful so it was a delightful experience.

  94. I got married in an Aurora d’Paradiso gown that was just absolutely gorgeous, but the story of getting there is kinda long.
    Long story short: ordered a dress online b/c I didn’t think I could find anywhere in Lancaster County that carried plus-size gowns. Thanks to one of Mom’s coworkers, we found one amazing store owned by a plus-size woman herself. She carried gowns in all sizes in the store!!! (I wear a 30 or 32, so that in itself was wonderful.) And she clipped the dresses to my bra if they were too small so I could still see what they looked like.

    I didn’t want pearls or appliques on my dress, but when it came down to the final two choices – one very simple and one with, you guessed it, pearls and appliques – one of the girls asked if I had seen the dress under reception lighting. When she turned the lights down, wow. The dress just sparkled.

    Since the first dress I had was made by Aurora, same as the one I wanted to get, I was able to return the first dress and get some credit on the second. Elizabeth, the boutique’s owner, was kind enough to buy two sizes of the dress since I didn’t know which size would be best. My mom did the alterations, and my husband still to this day cannot get over how stunning I looked in that dress. :-)

    You can see Aurora d’Paradiso gowns here: http://www.formalsource.com

  95. I got married a hundred years ago (it feels like!). I also had an Alfred Angelo dress that I got at a department store for $250. I was only 150 pounds then, so about a size 12, which made it easier, but even then I suffered from the combination of no rack of doom + lots of arm fat of doom. No matter what size I’m at overall, anything that fits my torso well has sleeves too small for my upper arms. Grrr. Anyway, all by way of saying that even after alterations, two days before the wedding I realized the sleeves were OMG too tight at the base. They were puffy short sleeves (I was 21 and didn’t know any better), with huge detailed cuffs at the base, and I didn’t know what to do. My aunt, who’s a professional seamstress, bless her soul, thought to split the cuffs up on the underside and put a matching decorative trim on the edges. Voila! I’ve used that trick on shirts more than once since.
    The dress itself, I don’t know what to do with. It’s in the basement in a ‘preserve’ case, just sitting there. I couldn’t alter it to be something else now that there’s 70 more pounds of me, and I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting a cutesy ivory wedding dress circa early 1990s style.

  96. Oh, I also wore my grandmother’s headpiece from when she got married 55 years ago. My mother sewed a veil I bought at AC Moore onto it. For my cake topper, my mom refreshed the lace and ribbon on the same grandmother’s cake topper. It was totally elegant because it wasn’t that chintzy plastic stuff they sell nowadays. I felt so special using those two antique items!

  97. My perfect wedding is elopement but unfortunately (or maybe not…) I have many relatives that may never speak to me again if I eloped. I totally agree with Miss Conduct: “Marriage is a Blessing: Weddings Are a Curse.”

    I have never had so many people telling me what I “have to” or “can’t” do in my life. For instance “You have to have flowers at your wedding!” “You can’t get married in Target underwear.” Nobody’s interested in what I want, they’re only interested in their idea of what a wedding must have. I’m not listening to anymore shoulds!

    I am not having a dress for my wedding, it’s too much hassle – but I am wearing a veil that I made myself as a nod to bridal wear. They are so easy to make even if you aren’t fantastic at sewing! So my wedding attire is costing me all of $20 and a fun nights sewing!

  98. I’m not getting married any time soon, but I found my wedding dress randomly and bought it. I dealt with WIC stores when shopping for a prom dress and *shudder* NEVER AGAIN.

    It’s easy, suits me, and is perfect since I’m the, “lets us just nip down to the courthouse and get it over with” type.

    I was in Marshall’s and shopping for a suit for a job interview. I found a gorgeous Jones New York suit for $60. It’s white and lacy and perfect. (I’ll also be wearing it for graduation this spring.) I just need to take in the jacket slightly.

    http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=5n3ev9&s=3

  99. Robz wrote: “You can’t get married in Target underwear.”

    How about Target $2 canvas flats for shoes? I had planned to wear satin bedroom slippers (look, it was a long dress and I was not going to wear uncomfortable shoes that no one would even see!), but the five year drought had broken 5 days or so before the wedding and the outside site was a bit damp. So I got a pair of cheap socks and my $2 Target shoes and that’s what I wore when we said our vows.

    I changed into the slippers at the reception site and tossed the cheap flats. It worked great!

    I also agree with making your own headpiece – I made mine for less than a quarter of what bridal stores were charging for the same thing!

  100. Many moons ago (14 years) when I was wedding planning, I went into one bridal shop with a picture from my Bride magazine of a dress I thought I could get; it said they had it in my size, which at the time was a 16. Of course, they didn’t have it in the store, I would have to order it and by then I’d be stuck with it. I never went back.

    I did see a seamstress about making my bridesmaids dresses, and she asked if I wanted her to make my dress, too. We talked about it, and I decided yes. I brought her a picture in a magazine, and she made one very similar, but perfectly fitting me. It was wonderful. $275, custom, less than half of the (relatively) low-priced gown I’d looked at in the store. Custom is often less expensive than you think. And when you figure in time and frustration and gas money going from place to place, it might actually feel cheaper in the end.

    Here’s a thought–what if plus-size former brides who didn’t want to hang on to their dresses forever started a Flickr group with pictures of the dresses, and we could bequeath them to the new crop o’ brides? I don’t really need to hang on to mine; I’ll never get into it again, and I won’t have a daughter to try to strong-arm into wearing it. ;)

  101. Some of those outfits make me want to propose to my boyfriend right now! Well, not ONLY the outfits, but you know what I mean.

  102. Made my own veil, too – that’s one that if you don’t want something specific in mind, you can get away with cheap. I got a padded off-white headband for $2 at Wal-Mart, got an 8 inch piece of wide lace ribbon for about $1 at a fabric store, a yard or so of tulle and a packet of beads at the same place. A hot glue gun and an hour of work, and the whole thing was done for under $10 total. Plus I had extra beads for repair if anything went wrong.

    Kristie, I think that’s a great idea!

  103. I have a plus sized friend who went into a local plus size bridal store and was treated well – and they insisted she try a strapless. We were both pretty strapless-resistant, having Racks O’ Doom, and therefore being bra dependant.

    That strapless was the best thing that ever happened to either of us – the dress was out of this WORLD it looked so good. With good structure (and boning, snork) in a dress, a strapless is a nice thing on a rack o’ doom; it means all this skin between boobs and chin. And her arms (which she was worried about) looked fabulous.

    If I could wear nothing but strapless dresses with the support built in, I totally would. *g*.

  104. (And I’ve asked her for the designer’s name, because all of that designer’s dresses look better on bigger women. If she gets back to me I’ll pass it along. It was costly, tho’. She had other people buying the dress.)

  105. My partner and I already got married twice (the second time was actually legal) so now I have no valid excuse to buy yet another wedding dress–although I wish I could. I want one of those Rivendell dresses or that Martin McCrae “Fiona” dress, maybe for our 10th anniversary we could renew vows or something.

  106. Having been through my own (3) weddings, I promised my daughter that I would sit back and enjoy hers without comment or criticism. We found her dress at Action Liquidators here in Vancouver, BC. (why pay retail? But they had a dearth of plus sizes) I also found my dress there. Something that has not been mentioned is the problem finding nice-but-not-too-matronly Mother of the Bride outfits.
    Her brother is standing up for her, so no nightmares with ugly BM dresses.

  107. I’m getting married in October. We decided to have a traditional Irish wedding, and I wanted something really special. Only I was having a hard time finding something. I had read a suggestion about buying a plain dress and having some celtic embroidery put on it. I couldn’t find a plain dress I liked…so with a bit of research, I found a seamstress with a great reputation who specialized in Irish dancing dresses–she also made wedding dresses.

    I made an appointment to meet with her. I didn’t take any pics with me–as I hadn’t found any that I liked.

    She’s awesome. Not once have I felt the slightest bit judged by her. And I’m getting the dress of my dreams–we designed it together, and she’s making it. (She’s also making a matching one for my fiance’s 5 yr. old who is our flower girl.)

    She’s even told me to expect my weight to go up and down–because that happens with every bride, and as part of the cost of the dress–I’ll have a final fitting right before the wedding, and any alterations needed.

    For me this was definitely the way to go–mostly because I wanted something very unique. (It’s going to be ivory with celtic knotwork on the front, a harp on shamrocks on the back. It’ll also have a sash made from the Irish National Tartan…my fiance is wearing a kilt in that tartan!)

    I will say…glad not to have had to go through the craziness of trying to find something I like only to find it didn’t come in my size!

  108. I think Kristie’s idea of posting pics of wedding gowns people are willing to give up is terrific – my wedding gown was the “something borrowed.” When I couldn’t find anything in the stores that remotely appealed to me, my maid-of-honor offered me her mom’s wedding dress. I had to wear four inch heels because her mom didn’t want me to alter it, but aside from that it fit perfectly!

    I knew before I’d lucked out, but hadn’t realized by how much until I read through this thread. I’d wanted to elope but I knew my family would be disappointed, so we did have a fairly standard wedding, but it was pretty casual. The bridesmaids gowns were home made and looked lovely. My thin friend I’d wanted as a bridesmaid couldn’t make it, and my sister and the MoH had simliar builds to mine so I picked a pattern I thought would look good on them – they ended up using the dresses for concert performances and stuff so that worked.

    Although some years later hubby and I attended a wedding together and halfway through he leaned over and whispered, “I had no idea our wedding was so austere!” Heh.

    One thing we did personalize were the vows – we both said the same thing, but if I’d run across them in time I totally would have had my husband include the old Episcopal vow, “With my body I thee worship.”

    Someone was wondering about a bolero or short jacket to wear over their gown – would a shawl do? I like them better because they’re cooler, myself. This one comes in ivory or white:

    Made in Bali, I’m afraid; she says her stuff fits up to 5x although I’m none-too-sure, however she offers specific measurements for most things. From here:

    http://stores.ebay.com/lotusinthemoonlight_Scarves-Shawls_W0QQcolZ4QQdirZ1QQfsubZ11QQftidZ2QQtZkm

  109. And ZOMG, those Renaissance dresses from Rivendall….*clunk* If I get married again I so want a dress like that. Not from them, probably, unless there’s a Powerball win in my future, but I’ll bet I could find some Renfairey seamstress to whip up something like it. DROOL.

  110. Another vote for Alfred Angelo… shopping for a dress there was a great experience for me. They pointed me to the (multiple!) racks of store dresses that might fit well enough to try on, and that could be ordered in my size if I wanted them. And I had a fabulous saleswoman helping me, too – I never felt anything but gorgeous in the dresses, and it was always clear that if the dress didn’t fit it was because it was cut wrong/the wrong size/just not right for me – not because of my body!

  111. Oh my goodness, THANK YOU for putting in the picture of the Martin McCrea dress. I clicked through to their site and everything on it is so much more my idea of what I want my wedding dress to look like than ANYTHING else I’ve come across.

    (And it will be my size!)

    Luckily I don’t have to worry about this for a while, but when I do (crosses fingers) at least I have that figured out. :D

  112. De-lurking to say thank you, thank you, thank you for the link to the Martin McCrea dress. I thought that I was going to have to put aside my wedding dress dream of a vintage-style lace bias-cut dress with sleeves – and there it is, looking like it escaped directly from my brain.

    And, of course, out of all the thought-provoking and helpful and important posts that I’ve been spending far too much time reading here… I choose to de-lurk on one with frocks.

  113. My wife and I had a horrible experience with wedding dress shopping in Oklahoma City. On top of being big,my wife is also 6 foot 1. We went to David’s Bridal, and I was helping her find the perfect gown. After all, the wedding day is the one day that everything is supposed to be as the bride wants it. We finally found the perfect gown, it fit well, and was within her price range. It only took three or four hours, one crying jag, my wife getting me to stop crying, and finally the two big insults of the day, right at the end:

    One of the salesgirls said to a coworker “it is so nice when we can put someone in a gown, no matter what size they are…” She didnt expect anyone to hear her. I was livid because my wife had heard as well. I am still trying to get her to understand that there is nothing wrong with her body….SO I call the salesgirl on her rude comment..
    She looks at me, abashed….and says “Im sorry. It is so nice when girls can come here with a gay friend to buy her gown…..”

    “I am the groom.”

    Sometimes stupid is just too thick to break through.

  114. The existence of dresses such as made by Rivendell are almost a reason to get married… I just wish I had an excuse to drop over a month’s income on a single piece of clothing. That sort of thing is worth that sort of money though – the expense of the materials and the amount of skilled labour that goes into making something look perfect is just very large.

  115. oh my god, I had always said I’d never buy a wedding dress–just an awesome, beautiful cocktail dress that I’d want to wear again. But I am fully in love with that Jane Bonbon cotton jaquard wedding dress! I want to buy it now, even though there will be no wedding in my life for the foreseeable future. I want to marry that dress while wearing that dress.

  116. I just got married this past April 26. I was married before — when I was much younger — and having gone through the WIC and related I-hate-my-body angst, I was determined to avoid that this time.

    I bought a dress off of eBay for $35 and loved it, but it was way too long. The only alterations it needed was the hemming. I found a local tailor, put the dress on, showed her where I wanted it hemmed and told her that I would like the dress done by April 5 because I was leaving on a 2-week work trip that day and wanted to pick the dress up before I returned. I called to remind her of this on April 4 and she said that she hadn’t even started the dress. Why? “Well, there’s still three weeks to your wedding and I figured you would want to lose more weight.”

    I was not a nice person. I still feel slightly bad about how I freaked the fuck out on her. I later learned that she was planning her own trip out of the country to take care of her sick mother and that was the “real” reason she hadn’t started the dress. But, still. I told her that I wasn’t dieting, wasn’t planning on losing any weight, and I just wanted her to hem the dress that was my size and fit me FINE already.

    The whole experience just sucked. I’ve done a lot of work to become more at peace with my body, but it only takes one random comment to send me into a tailspin.

  117. I want to marry that dress while wearing that dress.

    I know! I just saw that one the other day, and it edged out the Mormon dress as my #1 pretend wedding dress.

  118. I want to marry that dress while wearing that dress.

    I would be busting into full-throated laughter but a) I’m at work and b) my mouth is full. So you’ll have to settle for choked giggles.

  119. fillyjonk, to be truthful, we did let some details slip to folks before we had everything signed, just so we could make sure the date was ok and that the caterer could know about all food allergies. I was a little scarred, though, from the interference from relatives with my brother’s wedding – *those* people found out only after everything was irrevocable. Another big help was having my fiance in charge of wedding planning while I did the honeymoon planning. Funny how people don’t feel so free to tell a guy “but you *have* to do this”….

  120. I’m glad I’m a goth girl. WIC, begone! I’m getting married (when/if I do) in black velvet and spiderweb lace!

  121. I’m getting married (when/if I do) in black velvet and spiderweb lace!

    I love telling people I made first communion in a black velvet dress. My mom kinda forgot to enroll me in CCD at the right time, so the priest let me study all the crap I was supposed to know at home, and I got to take communion solo, with only moderate fanfare, on a regular old Sunday morning. That meant no flock of other little girls in white dresses, which meant my pragmatic mom decided I could just wear the nicest dress I had at the time — a little black velvet number with a tuxedo front and red bowtie. (Hey, it was the eighties.)

    Of course, when I hit puberty and wanted to wear nothing but black (because black was how I felt on the inside), she insisted that good girls wore color, and I looked like a woman of loose morals. I was just like, dude, IT WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR JESUS WHEN I WAS 7, REMEMBER?

  122. Another nod to HolyClothing.com — I fell in love with what ended up being my wedding dress, and my parents surprised me with it for $WinterHoliday that year, only about a week and a half after I’d met my husband in person for the first time. The following August, there I was, saying “I do” in purple cotton viscose, heavily embroidered, with a 188″ hem. I was so grateful not to have to go through the WIC (great term, btw) nightmare. I didn’t deal with a single wedding-service provider, in fact — we had about 20 people including the priestess, some punch, some wine we’d made ourselves, a bunch of hors d’oeuvres (am I the only person who finds it amusingly ironic that “hors d’oeuvres” translates, loosely, to “out of work”?) from the grocery store, and a sheet cake. The dress may still be my favourite part of the whole day, though, other than my hubby.

    Incidentally, I want everything HolyClothing has to offer.

    Now, when I perform weddings, I see everything from shorts and flipflops on the deck at the cottage to full-fledged princess fantasies. I married a couple of plus-sized gals who came up from Michigan a few weeks ago, and they wore sort of old-fashioned dresses and carried matching flowers. I should really start a flickr gallery of wedding shots at some point…

  123. Of course, when I hit puberty and wanted to wear nothing but black (because black was how I felt on the inside), she insisted that good girls wore color, and I looked like a woman of loose morals. I was just like, dude, IT WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR JESUS WHEN I WAS 7, REMEMBER?

    I love everything about this paragraph.

  124. I’m going to be a bridesmaid for the 6th time this summer. i’m so sick of this process, I’m going to have to turn down the next friend who asked. It doesn’t help that this time I’m the fat bridesmaid and as much as I’m working fat acceptance into my everyday life, I’m dreading standing next to three other women, all outfitted in the same pink dress, and being the widest one in the photos. I know I’m healthier and stronger than I’ve ever been, but it’s still hard. So I’m trying to just look at myself in this dress and appreciate the fact that I look good on my own terms – and just not worry about the rest. But it’s hard – probably the hardest thing I’ve dealt with in this relatively new, fat acceptance mode I’ve been in.

  125. I have now spent the last two days looking at pictures on the Rivendell Bridal website. Now I’m way behind on my baby donut eating quota. It’s all your fault Fillyjonk.

  126. Oh, and there was someone looking for a bolero or a shrug for a strapless… I actually did a google search for “bolero jacket” and hit a bunch of stuff, up to a 4X or a 26. Dunno if that helps!

    (I also stumbled across some fake white fox shrugs… damn, if I’d seen those before my December 18 wedding, you can bet your money on what I’d have been wearing to leave the reception!)

  127. I used to make a good part of my living playing for parties and weddings and stuff. (I played viola). One of my favorite weddings was when a family rented an entire small motel on a river. The motel had a long porch with long tables full of food the family had made. The wedding party all wore nice but not “bridal” — and not new — clothing. They said their vows by the river and walked back up to the motel and it was all music and food and dancing from then on. No WIC in sight.

  128. Katia, that sounds so nice. My favorite wedding so far had a similar vibe — my friend’s parents had a country house in Oregon with some land, so they just invited everyone to come camping at their house for the weekend. The ceremony was nice but it only lasted about 5 minutes, and then it was just a big cookout/outdoor party/camp-over for the rest of the time.

  129. I just registered an email for guests to RSVP to as ‘elopingsoundsgood’.

    Hee.

    p.s im in the middle of frantically trying to get invitations out. I desperately want to write:

    “OI, we’re getting married. come along if you want.

    AND BRING YOUR OWN DAMN ALCOHOL.

    rsvp facebook ta.”

    … sounds good, no?

  130. I got married on February 29th this year, in a twelve-year-old sundress that was faded and full of holes. :P We needed to marry and couldn’t afford fluff, so that was what I went for. Maybe we’ll get rich and be able to do it with the dress some time in the future, but I’m not sure I’d want that.

  131. I know I’m late with this, but I wanted to recommend a strapless bra for Fillyjonk (and any other brides reading)

    It’s the Goddess longline strapless bra, which is available various places – I suspect the smooth version is nicer, but I had the lace version because it was what I could get my hands on in the time I had – anyway, it very effectively held up my roughly 42F breasts for my wedding, and was surprisingly comfortable. I think the longline nature of it makes it more effective than a standard strapless.

    http://www.goddessbra.com/product.asp?range_id=592&season=cl2007

  132. HolyClothing is going to eat a lot of my money some day really soon. I wanted to get the Romeo & Juliet dress in silver when I was going to get married, but we ended up just going to the JOP in between packing the moving van and ordering dinner that night. I’m still going to get one, of course. (I wish they’d use a bigger model for that dress, it’s falling off the woman they’re using. It sure wouldn’t look like that on me!)

  133. Jeannie Nitro has some really gorgeous gothic/medieval dresses (and a Bridal section that has some traditional-white, but unconventionally designed gowns). Some are available in her “Voluptuous Vamps” line, which goes up to about a size 22. She does say she accepts polite custom-sizing requests, but I’ve never had the money to order from her, so I can’t speak for the service quality. Unfortunately, there are no returns on custom sizes, but you can return off-the-rack stuff within 10 days for a refund or 11-30 days for store credit.

  134. I know http://www.cocomyles.com is primarily a bridesmaid dress shop, but I still thought I would throw it out there, since I had excellent service when I ordered a dress from them. They go up to a size 30, they do a variety of custom options, and the quality of the work is quite good.

  135. I got married last year, and had a great experience at David’s Bridal. I had the attitude Kate expressed above – I didn’t really care about the details, I just wanted to have a big party with all the people we loved. So my fiance and a friend and I went to David’s Bridal, I tried on maybe 5 dresses, bought the second one I tried on, and it didn’t even need alterations. It actually looked fabulous, and the store personnel didn’t bat an eyelash at my size – I got to try on actual dresses, none of those samples that you can’t even get one leg in. I had been nervous about the experience but it was as painless as I could have hoped for.

  136. I have to say that never having spent hours imagining my wedding because I thought nobody would ever want to marry me, when I did actually get married to my darling boy last year I was lucky enough to end up with the wedding of what would have been my dreams if I’d ever dreamt about it!

    Both of us live in Israel while my parents were in England and his in America so we had the stress of organizing the whole thing (in 3 months, for various reasons, although *not* of the shotgun variety!), but everyone was so flipping delighted that we were getting married that we got free rein on just about everything! Also, a stunningly beautiful wedding here is about a tenth of the price it would be in our countries of birth, so money was far less of a problem as it might have been. We found a gorgeous ‘orchard’ events place just outside Jerusalem, the whole thing took place outdoors, the ‘canopy’ we were married under was under a sort of trellis thing that had grapes growing on it, we had 250 people, the funky band I wanted, great food, a wonderful photographer, my a capella group performed two songs, one arranged just for me by the director of my favourite song… it was a truly perfect day.

    The dress was probably the most stressful thing. I’m not really a plus size now, but I also wasn’t a normal size – a real hourglass, with a G cup bra size and larger hips but relatively tiny waist, and I knew I’d probably find nothing here to even try on. At 146lbs at the time I was still in some of the largest sizes in regular shops here – lord knows what plus size women do (there is *one* plus size shop here. ONE) When i was in plus sizes living here i did all my shopping when i visited england, and that’s hardly got a huge choice.

    Anyway, for the dress I went for a seamstress and designed my own dream dress – good thing I didn’t see the rivendell.com site or I might have ended up spending too much because medieval/fantasy is *just* up my street. But I did my own variant of the medieval princess look. I wanted long sleeves not just for modesty reasons but because I love love love long flowy sleeves. The problem with designing your own dress is that what you see in your mind’s eye is not necessarily what you’ll get when it’s done, and you can’t change your mind at that point. But luckily I was happy with mine in the end even though it was only ready TWO DAYS before the wedding! Here there are many places where you can get a dress custom-made to your design but then they keep it at the end, which makes it $1,000 instead of $2,000 (I imagine custom-made seamstress dresses would cost more in America etc than they do here so it’s not a cheap option). My dress needed big ‘ol hoops, which I wasn’t going to buy too, and where would I store them and the dress anyway, and I agree with Meowser – even if I have daughters, who says they’ll ever have my relatively unusual figure or will want my dress?! Although my 10 year old niece did say immediately when she saw me that she wanted to wear my dress when she got married. :-) I told her she coudl have one designed exactly as she wanted it. I guess if she turns out to have a figure like mine she can always go back to my dressmaker and rent the dress! I didn’t have time to go and try on different styles to see what I liked but the dressmaker had a few things that helped us decide together on shape of skirt, position of waist etc.

    I knew, incidentally, that no matter how many people told me that brides lose weight from stress I wouldn’t be one of them, and I was right – I was exactly the same size when we got engaged as I was when we got married. Of course I’ve no idea if I’ll ever be that weight again now I’m five months pregnant and fast packing on the pounds!

  137. Hey! I disappear for a little while (some personal issues which are now, thankfully, straightening out so I can start branching back out again) and FJ links to my open letter to wedding gown designers behind my back! LOL! Thanks, FJ!

    Count me among those who bypassed a great deal of the WIC…which is somewhat ironic when you consider that I now write for a wedding planning blog. Still, over at Manolo for the Brides, we are firm believers in the concept that if you’re not having a good time with your wedding, then you’re doing something wrong for you.

    A wedding (at least here in the US) requires two consenting single adults (we’re working on that bit about making gender irrelevent), a license, a legally-authorized officient, and one to three witnesses, depending on state law. That’s it. Everything else is a matter of tradition, fashion, innovation, or imgination.

    When I married Mr. Twistie, there was never a question of me stepping foot in a bridal salon. See, I was making my own wedding lace, which meant I needed a custom gown. Luckily, I had a good friend who could do almost anything with a sewing machine who was willing to recreate the perfect Regency-style gown for me using my lace trim. I wore my mother’s Dress MacDonald tartan arisade and my scarlet Scottish dancing ghillies. I worked out my headpiece on the morning of my wedding when I realized that while I’d bought several things I thought I might use, I’d never actually decided which ones I was and wasn’t using. I just knew I disliked wearing a veil, so I bypassed it.

    We had a beautiful ceremony in the redwoods followed by a low-key picnic reception. My father and I made nearly all the food, the flowers were simply hand-tied sheafs of long-stemmed cheap and cheerful flowers I found at the local open-to-the-public florist’s supply house with a few red roses added in because they’re the flower Mr. Twistie always gives me. We had all our formal photos taken before the ceremony so we wouldn’t have to wait to get to our own party. No rented cars, no rented tuxes, no diamond rings, no ring at all for Mr. Twistie because he doesn’t wear any jewelry under any circumstances, period.

    We had a great time at our own wedding, and fifteen years later friends still tell me it was one of the nicest weddings they’ve ever been to. Not bad for roughly two grand.

    Whatever color you want to wear, whatever the gender of any attendants you have, whether or not you have a cake (Mr. Twistie hates cake, so we had fruit tarts instead), whether you carry real flowers, fake ones, or none at all, whether you speak traditional vows or write your own…all of that is pure window dressing. Once you accept that, it frees you to use, ignore, or adapt tradition to fit both your budget, your beliefs, and your tastes.

    I think the worst thing the WIC harps on is the idea of ‘the perfect day’. It won’t be perfect. Something will go wrong. Compromises will have to be made. Letting go of perfect is the best thing a bride can do to keep herself sane and happy during the wedding planing process. It allows you to laugh when something trivial goes wrong, and prevents the post-wedding let-down I’ve heard some brides describe after they’ve invested too much emotionally in that one supposedly perfect day.

  138. Damn! I leave town for four days and there’s a topic I want to comment on!

    But if I ever have to get married again, I’m calling a resort in the Caribbean and saying “I’m coming with a dress and the groom. Here’s my credit card number. Make the rest happen.”

    That’s what I’m doing for the wedding/honeymoon, but I’m having a remarkably traditional reception. Why? Because my dad’s in a wedding band. (An awesome one, btw.)

    I’m wearing a black-and-white party dress that looks ridiculously fabulous on me. It was $30 at Filene’s Basement. The groom is wearing a charcoal-gray Brooks Brothers suit that he got on fantastic sale. I really don’t care what anyone else wears, since there will be no wedding party to speak of. (We’ll have been married for a week and a half already . . . why bother?)

    But let’s not talk about engagement rings . . .

  139. Well, I didn’t see it until yesterday…and then of course I wrote a novel to make up for my recent silence. Then again, it’s not like I have anything to say about weddings on anything like a regular basis.

    (sticks tongue firmly in cheek…pierces own cheek accidentally)

    (psst! NtB is lacking access to Word Press today, so there will be another Twistie article over at Manolo for the Brides today)

  140. Oh, doh. That link totally won’t work unless you ares signed into myspace. Shucks. I wish I knew how to post pics somewhere else..

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