Big Girl Wedding Gown on a Budget

When I got engaged in 1998 I weighed over two hundred pounds. I didn’t let that stop me from planning my dream wedding in the Nantahala Gorge near Bryson City, North Carolina. I had a vision for my wedding that included a beautiful wedding gown. I started my search in some of the most popular boutiques in Atlanta. Most of the saleswomen in those stores looked at me as if I was crazy. Their sizes started at 0 and stopped at 12. They grudgingly offered to order a size 14 or 16 for me. That is, if I wanted to pay in advance, with no chance of a refund if it didn’t fit. Since I was a size 22, I didn’t think that was such a good idea.

I went online, though back then there was a lot less available. Most of what I found that would fit me was actually intended for cross-dressers. Not quite what I was looking for!

I was pretty discouraged and I had only been looking for a few days. I’m not a girly girl; I like plain and simple, but I did want pretty and feminine. I wanted to feel as beautiful as possible when my fiancé saw me walking down the aisle. I started to think that perhaps I should wear a cocktail suit or something else that I could find in a larger size.

My sisters and bridesmaids were outraged by that and dragged me off to the David’s Bridal store. It’s a big chain and had a huge selection. Most of their selection was also in sizes 0 to 12, but they did have a small women’s department. The first few dresses my friends brought in were hideous. Big, layered, beaded, sparkling and every one made me look about twice my already large size.

The saleswoman was terribly kind. She listened to me, really listened to what I was looking for and then she went on the hunt. She came back with three gowns. The first two were beautiful and simple and I was pretty excited until I saw the price tags. Those dresses cost about half what we planned to spend on the whole wedding. Then she held up the last dress and I knew it was my dress. I held my breath as I reached for the tag. It was a bit much, but not too far out of reach. Then she smiled and told me it was on the clearance rack for 75% off. I was too stunned to do the math in my head, so she rattled off the discount. The total was less than $400 – even less than I’d originally budgeted.

Of course, my friends thought it was too simple, too plain, but I knew it wasn’t. They argued that it was too big and hung on me, and they were right, but I could see the potential. It was my dress.

I found a seamstress who specialized in wedding gowns and went to see her. She pinned and tucked and then I left the dress with her for a week. When I went back, I couldn’t believe the magic that she’d worked. I have a very short waist, so she’d brought up the skirt to be more of an empress style. That camouflaged my stomach and gave me a flattering shape. She’d tailored the arms and shoulders to fit to perfection and when I put it on, I felt beautiful and ready to walk down the aisle.

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