1. Calm your nerves as best you can. You got this girl.
Getting my wedding dress was the first thing I wanted to knock off my list. Not in excitement, but honestly, because I was beyond-dreading it.
Every experience I have had with dress shopping, whether it be for prom or homecoming or other people’s weddings, I have left the dressing room, feeling deflated and defeated. I have left feeling embarrassed, and often feeling like I had to settle due to availability of sizes, or simply because I was too exhausted to continue looking. I didn’t attend my junior prom because the idea of shopping was too daunting, and I was stood up for my senior prom, but that’s a whole ‘nother post for a whole ‘nother day (thanks a lot Shaun, I may have forgiven you, but I’ll never forget it).
So, when it came to the fateful day when I would have to step into the bridal shop, with a complete stranger stuffing me into a big fluffy gown like a winter coat in a full suitcase, I was showing all of the signs of the pre-dressing room anxiety. Ringing ears. Dripping sweat. Nausea. Shaky hands, you name it. It seems a little ridiculous and a little dramatic, but when you’ve spent multiple hours searching through racks and racks of clothes only to fall short, every mention of the word “fitting room” is followed with the Jaws theme song. But, alas, I couldn’t walk down the aisle naked.
Surround yourself with supportive people. Listen to a self love meditation. Do some yoga naked in your living room. Put on your super tight shapewear, no clothes on top, and dance around in front of the mirror. There is nothing more humbling and nothing better to disarm those nerves.
Here is a link to a body positive meditation that will allow you to feel comfortable in your body and appreciate your body if you need a little extra help.
2. Choose your bridal shop with your size in mind.
Being a girl who always had trouble with sizing, shopping at a size inclusive store definitely changed the game. As opposed to having to stuffed into the dresses, some dresses had to be clipped to fit. I could focus on being comfortable. I had options, which was truly a new thing for me. With each dress, the look improved. Dress one had something that I liked but left me wanting more, the same with dress two, and three, but then, with all facets combined, we reached dress number four. I obviously won’t go into too much detail because Tyler is a frequent reader of my blog (hi babe), but I will say this. I am comfortable and I am confident and I look damn good. You can look forward to my wedding pics in December!
There are a ton of bridal boutiques in Tampa but you have to keep in mind the availability of sizing, although some boutiques like CC’s have a plus size collection. Definitely do your research, and maybe even call ahead to make sure that your experience will be what you want it to be. Keeping it simple may be a great place to start, and I ended up having an amazing experience just at good ole David’s. Many online stores are a great option as well, and Fat Girl Flow has a great post about this!
3. Be honest with your stylist.
There is nothing wrong with the number on the tag of the clothes you wear. Being upfront about your size will save you a lot of trouble and your stylist definitely doesn’t want to guess your size and make you feel even worse. My stylist could sense my apprehension and discomfort. She began by asking me my size, in front of my family that was here to cheer me on, and of course, in a panic I was like, “Um, I’m not really sure, probably like a 14 or so.” Hard lie. Thankfully, the stylist was a curvy girl, caught my bluff, and said in response, “Okay, I’ll pull a couple of different sizes and we can just see how it goes!”. My guardian angel. She realized I was sensitive about my dress size and we were able to speak in private after she figured I wasn’t quite ready to shout it from the rooftops. If you truly don’t know your size, try on a few and go from there and don’t let that number get you down! It differs from designer to designer anyways. No sense crying over a tag.
4. Start off with something sexy.
The first dress I tried on, she explained, was her go to first try for curvy girls. It was a mermaid shape, a shape I had sworn off for fear of showing off my pudge in a tight fitting gown, but she assured me, wait and see. There are no mirrors in the dressing rooms, so I opened the door and was greeted by the gasps and “yes girl!” of my maid of honor. I stared at myself in the mirror, wondering where these curves have been all of my life, and where my waist had been hiding! I looked like a knockout, with the full hips of a pin-up. If it were a movie, this would be the moment where a smug smile would spread across my face and I would say something like, “Let’s go girls”, and Shania Twain would start the montage. This sexy dress was not what I was going for, but was definitely the best way to kick of the session, opening me up to new choices and a new found confidence. (This option was so tight, the first words out of my mouth were, "I can’t sit down, I feel like I’m in a Pringles can!")
5. Don’t panic. Everything can be adjusted. Nothing is your body’s fault.
I rang the bell, I said yes to the dress, placed my order, signed for final sale, and waited a little over a month until my phone buzzed with the email that the dress had arrived. My maid of honor and I sped off to the bridal store, practically sprinted from the parking lot to the check out desk, to get our hands on the dress. It was tucked neatly in a garment bag, and with it being right around prom season, we decided just to take the dress and try it on at home instead of waiting 30 minutes for a fitting room.
As soon as we arrived at my apartment and as soon as we took the dress out of the bag, I felt as if something wasn’t right. It was my dress, the details were there, the shape was there, but the size seemed impossibly small. I checked the tag on both the sleeve and on the inside back of the dress and they both read the size we had chosen and the size of the sample that had given me more than enough room in the bridal shop dressing room. I figured maybe it was just my nerves, my perception, and my fear distorting the way I viewed the dress and my insecurities trying to ruin the moment. I slipped the dress over my head, placing my arms in the sleeves. A heat wave of agony spread throughout my entire body, as I stretched and squashed and squeezed and hunched. The dress would not move. My boobs were an immediate barricade and there was no possible way my arms were going anywhere near those sleeves. I went through a whirlwind of emotions. Confusion, embarrassment, anger, and disappointment.
The bridal shop had already closed by that point, but I was able to reach an associate before she had left for the night. Hysterically, I told her the situation, and she said I would be able to come in first thing the next day and it would be rectified. So the “final sale” stress was out of the way but this whole ordeal had shaken me to my core. I knew for a fact I had not gained that much weight in that short of a time, I knew it was a mistake, but when you are already in a headspace of insecurity, the mistake seemed like an intentional dig to my self esteem from God above saying, “watch this”. It was almost too ironic. But again, I can’t go down the aisle naked, so I had to face the issue.
I arrived at the shop in the morning in a sweat, carrying the garment bag that was now wrinkled and disheveled. I told the stylist that I had tried on the gown in store during my first appointment, ordered a size that was even one size bigger than what we truly thought I needed, just so that something like this wouldn’t happen and small details could be fixed later on during alterations. I was frantic and she was confused. We both looked at the tag, confirming the size. Our next move was to compare it to the sample I tried on in store. Holding the dresses up to each other, we already noticed the drastic size difference in all aspects of the gown. After further inspection from a seamstress and a manager, they came to the conclusion that the wrong tag had been sown into the dress. The dress was 6 sizes smaller than what I had ordered. I was definitely relieved, and the situation was neutralized, but I couldn’t get past my embarrassment and the fact that my biggest nightmare had been dangled in front of my face. I couldn’t get over how that little bit of doubt in my beauty and insecurity had grown taller than I, had consumed me to a point of complete self pity and despair. I didn’t see the obvious mistake because I was too busy blaming myself and blaming my size.
The whole experience was a rollercoaster. I was down, and then I was way way up, then I was way way down and then I was completely thrilled that the issue was resolved and I was getting married. I obviously haven’t forgotten my crazy experience, but I have definitely forgiven it and have rewired my thinking to see how silly the whole situation really was.
Placing blame on yourself for ridiculous problems like this can be so easy when you are already expecting disaster. I hope to God nothing like this happens to you, dear reader, but if it does, try your best to be objective and know that, with a little pushback and maybe a tear or two, brides pretty much can always get what they want, all can be fixed.
6. Have the time of your life! You’re getting married!
Don’t let your insecurity consume your bridal appointment. Do all you can to boost yourself up and then enlist your closest friends to partner along with you. Taking all of these skills into account can give you such a better chance of wanting to remember your fitting, not wanting to forget it. Enjoy yourself and shake off the bad feelings. Your bridal appointment may be littered with a million emotions that can seem even bigger than you feel, but don’t let this deter you from the reason why you’re even there. You found love, you did it, you beat the game! Find something beautiful, something that compliments your shape, not hides you away, and something that makes you feel like you.
I am absolutely obsessed with the Oleg Cassini gown I chose, despite being put through the ringer. The scars from fitting-rooms-past have faded and have been conquered, and no sizing mix up can stop me from being my best self on our special day. You won’t get a picture yet, so stay tuned. But I will say this. IT HAS POCKETS.