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Plus-Size Wedding Gowns: Advice for 3 Body Types

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

Many women have worked as wedding consultants. Many have been in weddings. I, for better or worse, have been a bride several times.

So, I know more than I should about plus-size wedding gowns.best neckline for big boobs breasts

Tip: Don't go on a strict diet before your wedding.

It’s no fun to starve yourself for five months before the big day, so make sure you get a dress that will fit your true size, not your starved size. You should take your measurements on a normal day, when you are eating normally. If you go on a diet before being measured, you will be hungry, stressed, and cranky when you walk down the aisle. So, I implore you to look for a plus-size wedding gown that is easy to wear while sitting down, dancing around, drinking up, and eating all kinds of goodies.

Yes, my motto is “Always a bride. Never a bridesmaid.” I guess it's easier to find husbands than to find close friends. Anyway, let me tell you what I know about bridal gowns.

Know What Looks Good on You

Here are the rules for second time brides:

You are the bride. It's your wedding. Wear whatever color you want. Wear whatever dress you want. If you are a rebellious chick, have a wild, indie wedding. If you are low key and artsy, have a quiet, elegant wedding. Do everything you can to create a wedding that's fun for you. And, remember:

  • It's your body, you have a right to have any body shape that God gave you.
  • If your inner voice ever says anything negative about your body shape, tell your inner voice to, "Piss off."

Neckline and Backsidebeautiful wedding gowns for large women

In my three weddings, I have found that the two most important parts of a wedding dress are the neckline and the backside. I don’t mean to imply anything about the size or shape of your butt. However, in traditional services, you will be facing the altar, so the back of your dress is what your friends and enemies will be staring at while you say your vows.

And, when posing for photographs, your veil (or bridal hat) and your neckline will be the key to the correct framing of your face. Usually, the best neckline for a topheavy gal is a V-neck, sweetheart, square-necked, or deep U-shaped neckline.

Best Necklines for Plus-Size Brides:

I don't always agree with traditional advice, but here it is, so go ahead and follow this advice or ignore it.

  • casual retro wedding dress for pear shapesV-Neck: Good for lengthening the neck and for  breaking up a large chest, broad shoulders, or a wide upper-arm area.
  • Sweetheart Neckline: Good for large chests. Flattering to most women. Bad for narrow, sloping shoulders.
  • Boatneck: Good for balancing pear-shaped bodies. Bad for wide shoulders, unless very you're tall.
  • Halter Neck: Good for broad shoulders. Bad for fat arms. (Good for sex appeal.)
  • Square Neckline: Bad for narrow shoulders. Good for broad shoulders.
  • Strapless Gown: Strapless dresses can be good or bad. (Add a bolero or jacket if you want, but I wore a strapless gown with my fat arms and it was fine.)

I have not been heavy all my life, but I do have very broad shoulders, so I was born shaped like Spongebob Squarepants... and the result in the camera is the same as being fat, fat, fat... no matter how skinny I am. I have worn a square-necked wedding gown, a V-necked wedding dress, and a strapless wedding gown. And, they all photographed well on my apple body.

Wedding Gown Shapes for 3 Body Types

You, most certainly, know by now that there are many different types of curvy "body types". And, there are "rules" or suggestions about what is supposed to look good on different types of bodies, but you should try on various silhouettes because you might be the exception to the rule:

best neckline for plus size fat tummy women Plus-Size Hourglass Shape: You want to accentuate your waist, so a Cinderella-style ball gown might look great if you are tall. If you are short, don’t break up your line, but add some detail at your waist.

Plus-Size Apple Shape: Break up your upper body (chest and shoulders) with a sweetheart, square, or V-shaped neckline. An Empire-waist gown or a two-piece tunic and long skirt may be your best bets. The correct Empire waist gown will make you look taller.

Plus-Size Pear Shape: Accentuate your small waist. You will probably want a fitted bodice and an A-line skirt with a bit of flare at the bottom. Or, try a ballgown... because it will hide everything underneath.

If you don’t know where to start, most women look good in princess-shaped dresses and A-line shaped gowns.

Sleeves or Sleeveless

If you don’t like your upper arms, you might want sleeves; but if you are top heavy, the worst thing you can wear is a bodice with short sleeves. If you want long sleeves, make sure they are not so tight that you can't dance. Renaissance sleeves or flowing lace sleeves are my favorites, but 3/4 sleeves are also extremely flattering.

Try on Regular Party Dresses

My second "bridal gown" was not a "real" wedding dress at all. It was an off-white, floaty, tea-length designer dress with purple accents in all the right places. So, you might want to check out regular party dresses... especially if you're running off to Vegas and you're short on time. Wearing a veil, pinning some flowers to your hair, or adding a wedding hat to almost any dress will usually make the ensemble look like a proper wedding outfit.

So, march yourself down to the nearest bridal shop or department store and experiment with different styles. You don't have to choose the first dress that looks half-way decent. But, once you find a dress you love, crank up "The Hustle" on your iPod and shake, shake, shake your bootie. That bootie may be big, but it's all yours... and plus-size girls rock.

More Articles for Baby Boomer Women:

A Non-Dress for Your Wedding: Alternatives for Indie Brides

Second Weddings: Creative Ideas for Getting Remarried

6 Vintage Hippie Wedding Dress Ideas for Your Second Marriage

Wedding Dresses for Older Brides: Women Over 40

Photo Credits: prshots.com.

  • Main Photo: Monsoon.
  • All Other Photos: Mouse over photos for credit info.

What do you think of this article? Leave a message at the bottom of the page or give us a Google Plus.

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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18 Comments

  1. Christine @ Morecreativelife.com

    I wish you had shown photos of actual plus-size wedding gowns with this article. The main photo is the worst offender -- that model is no plus-size woman!

    • Tina-Boomerina

      Christine,
      Those actually are gowns that go up to size 18 or 20, but I'm unable to get free photos of the dresses on plus size models. Believe me, I hate those photos more than you do, however I refuse to post photos unless I have permission from the copyright holder. Other sites just swipe photos illegally. I would rather post a pic of a waif than to steal someone's work without permission.

      That's what many other sites do.

      Please forgive me, but I have looked everywhere for free plus size versions of these dresses (and similar dresses) in high resolution and I can't find them. I am a size 14-16 myself. I get it. That model is about a size 2-4.... but the dress comes in plus sizes. And, I want you to see this dress because I think it's beautiful.
      Best,
      Tina Boomerina

  2. Tina-Boomerina

    ps If enough people complain about the lack of plus-sized models, maybe the companies I use will add a few models that look like REAL people. Please leave a comment if you agree with Christine... otherwise, we'll just hope that PR people will come around on their own.

    T

  3. M

    Who sells the first dress at the very top of the page?

    • Tina-Boomerina

      M,

      Wow, I forgot to put the credits in the caption. It's the Breya Dress from Monsoon (UK) and they ship to most countries, including the US. This style goes up to a UK 18. If you're in America (Canada, US), check the size chart because UK and European sizes are different than those in the US.

  4. Natalie.mobley@synaflex.com

    Good Morning Gorgeous!

    I'm looking for a wedding gown and came across your page featuring the most beautiful gown I have ever seen!!! It's the photo on the page where you help us gals with body types and what styles to wear to flatter our figure. Where might I find this gown to purchase? It's "THE ONE" for me!! Have a fabulous weekend!!!!

    Thanks,
    Natalie

  5. lois

    I am trying to buy a dress and having trouble getting it could you help me !

  6. Tina-Boomerina

    I am having a problem with the caption in the main photo. The dress is from Monsoon in the UK. Tina

  7. Susan

    I see where to get the dress at the top of the page - Monsoon. What about the dress to the right of the paragraph "plus size hourglass"? It is beautiful.

  8. Tina-Boomerina

    Susan,

    It's from Phase Eight in the UK and I think they ship all over - or to the US, but I'll double check and email you.

    Best,

    Tina

    • Tina-Boomerina

      Nope, I was wrong. You'd have to go through Debenhams. They ship to the US for 10 pounds and I want you to double check the measurements and sizing because I think UK is different than US sizing. I'm not sure I see the dress on the Debenhams website, but they carry Phase Eight wedding dresses, so they could probably get it. Make sure you know their refund info, of course... but if you know how everything works in advance, it should not be a problem. I buy stuff from the UK, Europe and Oz because I like things that are different from what everyone else has. Just make sure that you verify everything by email before buying something.

      If that doesn't work, I would contact phaseEight.co.uk or phaseEight.com or whatever it is and ask them who sells their products online or internationally. I'm sure there is someone.

      If that doesn't work, I know that Asos.com sells products from Phase Eight and they may be able to help.

      Just realize that pounds are not dollars, so the dress will be more expensive than you think if you see it in pounds... on the other hand, it would be easier to buy it from a website than to have it made.

      Best,
      Tina Boomerina

      • Tina-Boomerina

        Susan,

        I'll email you and I'll help you if possible. I live in Seattle, but I shop all over the world, so I'm not reticent about emailing someone to see what they say. Sometimes, I even have my husband write an email in French. It doesn't always work, but it's worth a try.

        T

  9. elise

    Hi! I love that dress in the top photo - who is the designer? I would love to find out where to try it on.

    I love your advice too!
    Thanks!

    • Tina-Boomerina

      Elise,

      I'm sorry that I lost all my feature photo captions when we updated to the new WordPress. I'm fairly sure it's from Monsoon in the UK. They sell in the states, too. I'll email you.

      Tina

  10. Lisa

    Hi!
    Who makes the daisy dress? Where could I find it? Thanks!