Finding your dream wedding gown as a plus-size bride can be an emotional rollercoaster – one minute, you’re pumped to be getting married. The next, you’re often feeling down in the dumps by the limited range of dresses and sizes available to you.
Sherree Rae first developed her idea for plus-size dress store Goddess Bridal in Capalaba in Queensland when she got married two years ago. As a size 22-24 bride, Sherree struggled to find a wide variety of gowns to fit her and was met with a lot of hostility from snooty sales assistants.
“I went to five stores and I had three people meet me at the door and say, ‘There’s nothing here for you – you may as well not bother coming in’,” Sherree recalls. There here was even one sales assistant who refused to let Sherree try on a dress for fear of her breaking it, despite the fact that it was one of the few size 24 dresses she found.
As a 42-year-old bride back then, Sherree considered how much pain and agony younger plus-size brides must feel when looking for their dream wedding dress and decided, “I can’t just sit here without trying to help these other women”.
“I believe that everyone is entitled to feeling like a goddess on their wedding day – you have your hair and make-up all done up and you want to look your best,” says Sherree, who offers bridal gowns from sizes 16 to 36.
“A lot of plus-size women go from being super excited about having a beautiful ring and marrying the man of their dreams to being broken down after hearing so many people say to them, ‘no, you can’t have that because you’re too fat’. Something has to change and that’s why I started Goddess Bridal. It’s not like I’m curing cancer, but I’m trying to do my tiny part in changing the perception of plus-size brides.”
Here are some of Sherree’s top wedding dress styles for plus-size brides to try.
The A-line dress
This is a great style that looks gorgeous on most body shapes, which Sherree describes as her “go-to dress”. If a customer isn’t sure of what they want, this is the first gown Sherree suggests she tries on.
A-line dresses taper out from the waist to the hem in strong, straight lines and create a flattering silhouette for most body shapes. They’re perfect for hiding hips and thighs and is often quite a polished look.
The princess ballgown
This is the perfect gown for the kind of woman who has been dreaming of their wedding since they were a little girl. Stunning ballgowns look dramatic and they’re wonderful for balancing out brides who have larger busts, too. The full skirt can also help create a glamorous hourglass shape, too.
The fit and flare
“This style is great for pear-shaped ladies because it shows off their assets at the back and it gives them a really nice line,” explains Sherree. “It tucks in at the bottom and flares out softly, so it’s enough to draw the eye from any problem areas.”
Who says plus-size ladies can’t be sexy? Mermaid-style gowns help create luscious womanly curves and highlights good areas, while detracts from the other, says Sherree. What’s not to love about that?
The empire line
This style is quite romantic – the waist rests just below the bust then flares out and flows down to the bottom. It’s relaxed and comfortable and is perfect for hiding large waists and hips if required.
Sherree’s top tips for plus-size brides
- “Don’t try on a dress just because it’s on-trend. Find something that suits you and works your shape. For instance, if you’re pear-shaped or round, try a dress with ruching that’s pulled to the side and gives you a waist. If you have a larger belly, wear a dress with a V-neck that will detract from that.”
- “Go for material that isn’t super bulky because that can add extra weight. Chiffons and satins are really lovely and light.”
- “Don’t squeeze into a dress that is two sizes too small. Try on a dress in the size that you actually need. Now is not the time to be precious.”