Having a Plus Size Bridesmaid in a Sample Size World

As a larger-than-life woman myself, the whole wedding world of size 8 or 10 dresses just doesn't cut it. Every wedding I've been in (31 and counting!), comes with an incredible set of challenges to find something that fits and flatters.  Many brides dream of a matching set of coiffed and lovely ladies, looking delightful and sophisticated in every photo. However, sometimes sample sizing can make it difficult to know the ultimate look of your bridesmaid.

I was a bridesmaid not too long ago in a wedding where the bride asked us to get any Alfred Angelo dress in burgundy.  Any fabric was fine, but she begged, "Please make it knee-length."  I was excited to pick out a dress I could use again for future cocktail parties; when brides pick out long gowns, I never have occasion to wear them again.  I attempted to try on the samples as best I could, squeezing into whatever areas of the dresses they would allow.  In the end, I gave in to the hope that the strapless, fun style I chose would work out without getting to see it on me in a near-to-true size.  We even ordered it a size larger so that I would be assured there would be enough chest coverage.  The dress came in and when I slipped into it, it was incredibly low cut--even with the extra fabric. The dress didn't even cover the strapless bra I had bought. I couldn't possibly attend my dear friend's wedding in such a scandalous dress (in case you don't know this, wedding attire is almost 100% non-returnable/refundable). With little time to spare, I found a seamstress who ingeniously recreated darling cap sleeves that hoisted the bodice of the dress upwards using the fabric from the sash around the waist. If I could have tried on a sample size that was in my range, I would have foreseen that the dress material would not have covered me with enough modesty.

If, as a bride, you happen to have any women like myself with chest and hip measurements that are off the Misses sizing chart, I've put together some some tips to make everyone feel confident and comfortable for your splendid day!

  • Select a brand and a color; then let your bridesmaids choose their own styles.  It allows those of us gals with girth to determine what flatters us the most!  Consider giving them length advice (knee-length vs. floor length) when thinking about photographs!
  • If you choose something strapless, remember that most of your plus size bridesmaids will need to wear a longline strapless bra to proudly hold up their feminine prows.  Recommend they get something from Linda the Bra Lady. I won't go anywhere else--they offer a huge range of styles and sizes for busty bridesmaids.  But remember: these bras are full of boning and are awfully restrictive even when fit properly...you  may find your queen-sized bridesmaid fidgeting and shifting throughout the day.
  • When you have a wide range of sizes in your bridal party, keep in mind that non-chain bridal gown companies may be able to offer more customized solution.
  • Find a local seamstress to work with in the case of any sizes having issues with fit that needs a creative solution.
  • When in doubt, select an A-line skirt (universally flattering!) with a series of different tops to choose from. The overall look is the same but each bridesmaid can fit to their own body type--something like the Separates Collection from David's Bridal.
Every bridesmaid wants to look their best for your wedding; give everyone a chance to do that by taking a little time to think about size, style, and fit for the non-sample sized girls in your wedding party!