It’s been over two years since my wedding dress went viral yet my inbox continues to be flooded with questions about “the dress.”
Upon getting engaged in the summer of 2016, I began the dress selection process and to be honest, I was terrified by what that process would entail. Like many brides to be, prior to scheduling my first dress appointment, I created my coveted Pinterest board filled with all of the designer gowns that I could not afford. From the very beginning of my dress search, I was drawn to gowns with intricate beading, texture and graphic prints and almost all of the designers that I fell in love with were Australian. I recall making jokes with my husband about traveling to Australia to pick out my dress and he of course, brought me right back to reality.
I hired my friend/colleague, Selina to help me navigate the wedding dress world. My first dress appointment was pleasant. The Brooklyn salon I visited had two dresses in my size. That alone was a relief because I was well aware that bridal stores primarily carried smaller sample sizes. So, I was so excited to be able to try on a wedding gown. The dresses I tried on were nice but did not give me the wow factor I was looking for.
My next stop was a swanky bridal boutique in Manhattan. I had a perception about the type of clientele that this salon catered to and I wasn’t confident that I would find my dress there. However, I remained open until it became apparent that I would not be able to fit most of the dresses. I have a vivid memory of being stuffed into a dress that just would not go over my hips. I can laugh about it now but in real time, I was humiliated.
My last appointment, at the most popular wedding salon in NYC, solidified for me that in order for me get a dress that I loved, I would have to go the custom route. All of the dresses I tried on there were dated, frumpy and completely underwhelming.
As luck would have it, Leah Da Gloria, an Australian based designer that I had been eyeing had a trunk show in NYC. Once I saw the gowns in person, I knew that I had found “the one.” Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try on any of the gowns because of the small sample sizes. Leah took my measurements, sketched out the style dress that I wanted and I crossed my fingers that the dress would be as I had envisioned.
If you’re a cuvier bride, dress shopping can be a nightmare. Here are my 5 Tips For Wedding Dress Shopping:
1. Own that Shit- There is a lot of pressure to lose weight prior to walking down the aisle. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look your very best on your wedding day. What you should not do however, is stress yourself to the point that you’re unable to enjoy the process of shopping for a dress. Be kind and patient with yourself. You may not be exactly where you want to be physically but that doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to look and feel gorgeous on your wedding day. Whether you reach your goal weight or not, you are still marrying the love of your life in the presence of those that support and love you most. Embrace where you’re at and the own that shit like you never have before.
2. Research is Key– Seek out dress designers that not only fit your design aesthetic but also designers that make dresses that you can fit it. You should not have to buy a dress that you cannot try on. I recognize that it’s difficult to force an entire industry to adapt to this very simple concept that women come in all shapes and sizes but they really should. Also, the reality is that some designers have no interest in dressing curvier brides. Although I absolutely loved my dress, if I were going through the process again, I would not buy a gown without having the option of trying it on. If the designer you’re interested in is not inclusive of your size and body type, find one that is.
3. Be Open To Silhouette– I started the dress shopping process knowing exactly what silhouette would work best for my body. Do you see my hips?! I was born to wear a mermaid style dress and no matter what other silhouettes I tried it, I always knew nothing would compare. That being said, I do think trying on different silhouettes could be helpful in either confirming what you already know or to offer you options that you may not have considered.
4. Don’t Be Shy– Wedding dress shopping is not the time to be shy and timid about exactly what you want. The dress buying process can be overwhelming. SPEAK UP!!! Be sure that your voice is heard and that all of your must haves are met. If you don’t feel comfortable taking charge during your dress appointment, make sure that you have someone with you that does. During my dress tailoring process, I almost let the seamstress talk me out of making my dress more form fitting, in the hip area. Good think I spoke up and made sure that I got what I wanted.
5. Have A Flexible Budget– This tip goes against all the rules of budgeting. I know it’s highly recommended that you set your dress budget prior to shopping but in my experience, setting a strict budget could prevent you from finding “the dress.” As a curvier bride, I anticipated that the dress shopping would be a challenge. What I did not expect was that to achieve the look that I wanted, I had to spend more that I budgeted. I’m not recommending that you go outside of your means for your wedding dress. I’m simply suggesting that you not be completely bound by the number you allocated for your dress. Once I realized how difficult it was to find a dress, I made adjustments to my overall wedding budget to be able to purchase my dress. I cut from my decor budget to make up for the additional expense.
I also thought it might be helpful to answer some of the most common questions that I am asked about the dress.
- Who designed your dress? The designer of the dress is Australian based designer, Leah Da Gloria.
- Was your dress custom? Yes and no. The fabric was previously used for other brides but I specified how I wanted the dress to be designed and it was created for me.
- Would you sell/rent/hire/donate your dress? There was a point that I was considering selling my dress (hence this instagram post). However, after much thought, I decided to keep my dress for my daughter, Zuri. Whether she wears it or not, I want to give her that option of having it.
- How much was your gown? I’m always shocked by this question. Perhaps I’m just uptight but I would never ask a stranger for the price of their wedding gown…I completely understand the curiosity about the cost of the dress but the best way to find out the price is to go through the designer. Also, the price that I was charged will likely not be the price that you are quoted.
- What brand of shapewear did you wear? The dress was made so well that I had all of the support I needed.
- What was the process of purchasing a dress from Australia? The process was a bit complicated. I met with the designer, picked my fabric and explained my vision for the dress. She sketched the dress based on my vision. Prior to making the actual dress, she made a muslin dress and mailed it to me. I took the muslin to a tailor to ensure that the fit was what I wanted. I then sourced nude swatches since the designer did not have fabric options in my skin tone. I mailed both the muslin and and swatches back to Australia and then waited for my actual dress to be made and sent back. When the dress arrived, I took it back to the tailor to have some additional work done as I had lost some weight. This process is not for the faint of heart but in the end to me, it was absolutely worth it.
- Did you style yourself? Yes, I did select all of the elements for my wedding day look like my shoes, jewelry and hairstyle. However, I did have the assistance of a bridal stylist to help me with the dress shopping process and to help my bridesmaids and I get dressed on the day of the wedding. That was especially helpful since the venue we selected did not include a lady in waiting.
Not getting married yet? Pin this for later!