When it comes to wedding dress shopping, most plus-size brides will tell you that it's difficult to find salon samples that fit and flatter. Because the gowns they try on in-store aren't made for their bodies, women are forced to envision what the wedding dress will look like in their actual size. It's frustrating, discouraging, and unfair, which is why the indie bridal boutique Lovely Bride, founded by Lanie List, is stepping up to redefine the plus-size wedding dress experience entirely.
Noticing a real inequality in bridal boutique sizing, List launched the Lovely All-Sizes Initiative, complete with an exclusive plus-size bridal collection called Lovely Curve. "Over the past year at Lovely Bride, we have seen an increasing amount of curvy, body-positive brides in our shops, and we just didn't feel good about the cool options we could offer her," says List. "Now, she can just slip right into so many dress options! We made sure her experience would not be any different than any other bride in a Lovely shop." If you can't make it to one of the brand's 12 (soon to be 15!) salons, you're not out of luck. Here, Lovely Bride's founder shares shopping tips every plus-size bride-to-be can benefit from.
Figure out which boutiques carry a wide range of sample sizes.
Simply put, most bridal salons don't carry plus-size samples, but Lovely Bride is here to change that. "Up until now, we had to really use some styling tricks to help a bride to 'envision' what a dress would look like in her size. It was not ideal," says List. "It was not only hard for a bride to get excited, but it made the decision feel like a gamble since she never really knew exactly what it would look like on her until it came in." While it's certainly possible to try on wedding dresses at any salon, visiting one with plus-size samples will make the process so much more enjoyable.
If you visit one of Lovely's stores, you'll have tons to choose from. While the amount of plus-sized sample sizes and wedding dress offerings will vary from location to location, the New York City location will house over 40 gowns, in sizes 18-24. Priced between $1,800-$3,500 and with options from six great designers—Studio Levana, Lovers Society, Dear Heart, Louvienne, Watters, and Theia—there's something for everyone.
Trust your stylist.
List encourages brides-to-be to always lean on their stylist. "Let them guide you! We give extensive training to our stylists so they know the best fits and details that work for certain body types," she says. "It's a game changer when the first gown you put on makes you feel like a knockout."
Choose your crew carefully.
Before you hit the bridal salon, make sure to tap a supportive group to join in on the fun, List advises, especially since wedding dress shopping is so personal and emotional. Surround yourself with women whose opinions you value and trust.
Bring the right undergarments.
That supportive system just limited to people, though—you'll also want to take the right undergarments with you to your appointment. "Having everything 'organized' via your favorite shapewear will help you understand what the gown will look like on your big day when you are looking your best," she explains.
Keep an open mind.
List can't emphasize enough how important it is to be open-minded as you shop. "You may have a particular designer or style in mind, but when you try a gown that makes you look and feel beautiful, you may just change your mind and that is okay!" Most importantly, check the self judgement at the door. "Accept the 'you' that you are today, because we do! You are loved just the way you are, as evidenced by the fact that you are getting married!" says List.