Weddings are times of celebration, giddiness, and a blossoming of love. Sometimes though, this is overshadowed by this overwhelming fear of looking good in a dress in front of potentially hundreds of people. How will my arms look? What size should I get? Seriously, white satin, do you hide anything? It can be a time of torture for a bride.
As many of you know, I am a big woman. There are many ways I can say that, but let’s be forward here. I have been big for most of my life, and for most of my life it has been a prime source of guilt and shame. I know I’m not the only one, and I know that you do not have to be plus sized to feel it. I have done my research (yes it WAS necessary for me to watch every episode of Say Yes to the Dress). I have listened to the people around me, my friends and family who have gotten married, and there was a lot of pain around looking good in “the dress”.
I have also experienced this myself when I was engaged the first time. I remember dress shopping with my mom, sister, and best friend. I was humiliated because I could not fit in many of the samples. My only concern was how to hide as much as possible and accentuate my boobs to make up for the lack of waistline. I was so distraught that I bought the first dress that made me feel somewhat like a woman. It was a pretty dress with poinsettia cut outs on the train. It was a May wedding! How could I overlook such a big detail? Because I was too busy looking in the mirror judging my big details.
Well that wedding never happened, but try #2 had a much better result. I am married marrying a man who is perfect for me, and for the right reasons. (Low self-esteem had a lot to do with why I was going to marry guy number 1, and also had a lot to do with why we didn’t work.) I am also bigger now than I was when I bought the Chirstmas in May dress. When I decided to go dress shopping I wanted it to be different. I wanted to focus on one of the most amazing times of my life, not my big details. At first I didn’t know how I would do this. I thought about just ordering a dress online but oh my gosh that was a potential disaster I did not want to experience. Then I looked into having one made, but any seamstress I talked to talked about how much work it was, and that it is much easier to buy a dress and alter it.
With no idea how to approach this whole dress thing I just tried to not think about it. Then one day I had a long break for lunch and figured, what the heck, I’ll go look at a few bridal stores just to see what they have. I was super nervous, I had heard horrible things and remembered horrible things. I remember the first time I tried on dresses the first question I was asked was “so how much weight do you plan to lose for your wedding?” I know I was not asked this just because I was a larger woman, I heard other women being asked the same thing. I know it’s a logistics thing, but ouch. So when I went in I had a plan. I was very upfront with the woman and told her “this is who I am, this is my size, I still deserve to feel beautiful, can you help me?” Her face softened and in her best Metairie accent she said “Of course dawlin, you are beautiful, we will find a dress that shows that.” That one statement was like aloe on my sunburnt heart. I immediately relaxed despite the fact that a very small woman was crying uncontrollably because she ordered her dress too small and it did not fit because she did not lose enough weight in time.
So in a matter of a few minutes the woman I was working with and pulled out multiple catalogs and started looking for sizes. She measured me and asked what I wanted and we began to comb through different styles that came in my size. I love that she never tried to show me something that wouldn’t fit. And we both knew I wouldn’t fit in the store sample sizes so we worked with what we had. Within 30 minutes I had picked out a dress and paid for it and was walking out of the store. It was an amazing feeling.
This is what I learned about that experience:
- Be honest with yourself, be ok with who you are in that moment, you are beautiful just as you are
- Be honest with the people you are working with. When I told the woman helping me that I was ok with my weight she fully supported me and was wonderful.
- If you want, bring people with you who see your beauty and support you.
- If bringing people causes stress, don’t. I went on my lunch break by myself and no one was mad at me.
- Keep your eye on the prize, you are about to marry the love of your life, don’t let your feelings about your body overshadow that.