Shopping for a wedding dress can be as daunting an experience as it is exciting for any bride. Especially for women with curves, most wedding dresses aren’t made with plus size girls in mind. When the average woman wears a size 14, yet many bridal stores cater to a size six and even sometimes don’t carry gown samples in plus sizes. My suggestion, don’t be overwhelmed by your size. Remember that every body type is beautiful and no one should settle for anything less than their dream wedding dress.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing THE perfect dress for your big day, being plus-size bride shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when choosing a gown. Your silhouette is actually much more important than your size. So for all brides-to-be, regardless of size, you can always find your ideal dress as long as you know what to look for. Here are five must-read wedding dress shopping tips, along with great ideas from five exclusive bridal stores, focusing only on their plus size bridal selections.

1. Determine A Budget
As excited as you are to start shopping your perfect wedding dress, it’s important to work out your budget first, or at least to know your price range. Especially for plus size gowns, they are usually more expensive than other sizes – even if both sizes come in the exactly same design. Manufacturers often charge a higher percentage on plus size dresses for extra material, embellishment, beading and lace.

Not to mention, don’t forget to think of your budget if you also need to factor in extra such as alterations, shoes, veils, jewelries and other accessories, which can easily run up to $500 or even more. It’s best not to even try on gowns outside of your price range because you’ll either end up falling in love and being disappointed by every other dress you see (even if they’re just as beautiful), or you’ll blow your budget.

If you have limited budget, do some priorities and alternatives. First thing first by getting your wedding dress altered to fit you personally (even if the dress has to come with much simpler details), then you may think other embellishments if you still have extra budget for it. For example, if you do find yourself pining for a gown that costs more than you can afford, ask the designer if they can limit the beading to the bodice only, and skip embellishment entirely on the skirt or train. Or ask if the dress comes in another fabric that’s less expensive. Be free to subtle differences in how a garment fits you can make worlds of difference.

2. Know the Right Time of Shopping
Since many factors can influence the style of the dress, think carefully the perfect time to purchase a wedding dress. If you shop too early, usually you will easily fall in love with one before you can truly shop for a gown. On the other hand, don’t delay shopping. Remember that you need to give yourself plenty of time to get the perfect gown – if you feel rushed, you could end up making a quick decision that you may regret later.

Make sure to have everything well organized on your wedding plan checklist considering you need to determine your budget first, as well as things that related to your wedding venue (including decoration, colors, theme, and formality of the wedding) before you can decide your dress style. Most brides-to-be start shopping around 8 to 10 months before the wedding. It can take up to three months to find the right gown and then three months for the dress to be tailored to fit your body. You can sometimes place a rush order if you need it in under five months, but it’ll cost you

3. Decide Where to Shop 
There are starting to be a few salons specializing in the plus-sized bride. But, before you decide to choose your bridal boutiques, figure out up front how important the dress is to you. To some brides the dress is not important. And if it’s not, find a site online, order cheaply, and have it altered. Make your decision and move to other plans.

But if the dress is super important, you may need to travel to find the perfect dress. Ask friends, family, or wedding experts to get information of bridal boutiques in your town. If you don’t have one of those near you, get your Google on, do more research and don’t be afraid to go past the 1st page. Look at department stores, at various wedding websites, and at designers who specialize in plus-size wedding dresses.

Here are top five boutiques I chose with their plus size wedding dress collection:

As for cheaper bridal dress alternatives, start out retail chains like David’s Bridal and Td Bridal as they offer pretty affordable yet super fabulous gowns for your special day.

Additionally, here are three basic suggestions when you have finished searching and found a salon that carries your favorite gown:

  • Call ahead before you go to the store. Book an appointment and make sure the store will have the exact dress you’ve been dying to try on. Most designers do offer plus sizes, but many stores only carry samples in sizes 8, 10 and 12. Ask if the store really carries your sized samples to ensure that they’ll be able to accommodate you. Remember that trying on the dress you love in your size will eliminate return policy fears. Also, let the salon know about your personal style, plus the time and location of your wedding, to help the consultant pull options in addition to your body type and personality.
  • Prepare yourself before fittings; (a) pin your hair up as necessary, because usually the fitter will need a full view of your neckline, front and back, to properly fit the gown; (b) bring footwear you know will be similar to your wedding shoes, both in heel height and in silhouette. Various shoe structures can dramatically alter the way clothing falls, especially dress hems; (c) bring undergarments that you are comfortable in, especially if you’re planning on wearing Spanx, a special bra, or a long line corset on your wedding day. If you don’t have a clear-cut picture of what dress type you’d like, bring a few different options, such as a strapless bra, a push-up bra, a thong, and various pieces of suck-it-in shapewear; (d) do yourself up a little. While you don’t need to go full-out with beauty when trying on dresses, it’s better to have a good hair-and-skin day to give a much better picture of how the dress will look at your wedding day. Plus, a simple, yet well groomed makeup and hairstyle can boost confidence, likely making you more amenable to looking in the mirror all day long.
  • Bring partner who has your best interest in mind. Someone who can give as unbiased an opinion as possible, making you to feel confident and look great on your big day. This shopping partner should be someone you trust, who listens to and supports you, but isn’t going to overly sugar coat things or try to sway you into decisions you might not feel comfortable with. If you want to bring more than one person, limit them only for two of your closest friends – or family members – so that there won’t be too many clashing ideas. It’s also recommended to have a solo shopping trip first to form your own opinion about what you like and don’t like

Continue to article “Plus Size Wedding Dress Shopping Tips and Ideas from Five Bridal Stores (Part 2)” to get more shopping tips when you do the fittings.

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