Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

There is not a bride out there who doesn’t think some part of her body is less than perfect. Even if others look at her and think she is the most beautiful person, the bride herself will see only her perceived flaws. Just getting ready for a normal day for most women has pressure, but when you absolutely must look perfect, it’s even more daunting when you don’t have the confidence you need to look beautiful.

There are so many mistakes that women make with everyday fashion when it comes to dressing for the body they have (not the one they want, the one they think they deserve, or the one they “plan” to have by the time that big day comes) that it is easy for the same style problems to carry over into bridal fashions.

Brides want to be beautiful and look fabulous when they make their grand entrance, whether they are being escorted by their fathers in front of 500 guests or standing in front of a justice of the peace in the county courthouse.

With 40 million women wearing a size 13/14 or larger, I want to focus on finding the perfect dress for the plus-size bride. Plus-size is not a one-size-fits-all problem. Two brides might wear the same size or weigh the same amount but have very different bodies and different areas they want to emphasize. One bride might have beautiful legs but a larger, rounded middle. Another may be thinner all the way through the behind but have large thighs. Still other women may be “thick” all over.

There is nothing to worry about!  You are perfect the way you are and shouldn’t be trying to mold your body to fit the dress – you just need to find the dress that works for you. There is a perfect wedding dress out there for each type of bride.

A few secrets you should know up front

  •  Shiny materials make everyone look heavier.
  • Thinner materials outline every bump.
  • Pleats and ruffles around the waist are not complimentary for most fuller-figured women, since they make everyone look bigger.
  • Simple elegance that makes you feel great is better than intricate design that draws attention to all the wrong places.

Shopping tips

The best advice is to visit a bridal store with an open mind. Scouring bridal magazines is important, but sometimes the dream style in a magazine might not be the most flattering for you. Let bridal consultants make suggestions (they are the experts!) and try on at least three different gowns.  After all, what could be more fun than trying on gorgeous dresses? Make a day of it with one family member or friend you trust and enjoy this special time!

  • Obtain help from the professionals in the bridal boutique.
  • Take someone with you whom you can trust to give an honest opinion.
  • Once you’ve found a complimentary dress, make sure you can sit and move around in it safely and comfortably, without having to worry.
  • Buy the appropriate undergarments AFTER you choose a dress to make sure they work together.

Dress Trends

Some of today’s wedding dress trends are perfect for the plus size bride. According to, “Ball gowns are bigger than ever, ruffles are more elaborate, and covering up — it’s never been more chic.” Their top ten trends for 2012 include these perfect plus-size styles: off-the-shoulder designs, ball gowns, and A-lines. The wonderful thing about being a bride, though, is that you can choose from any style that suits you and you’ll always be the most beautiful woman in the room. The beauty of today’s bridal assortment is that there is truly a look for everyone. Brides can feel like a princess with beautifully embellished ball gowns or channel their inner diva with sleek, sexy sheaths and trumpets. Brides can choose a classic figure flattering A-line or float down the aisle in a soft and billowy chiffon gown.

Foundation Garments

Having the right foundations are key to adding support and a smooth, sleek look. A push-up garment is perfect for filling out strapless gowns while a supportive corset with boning for support can minimize while still flatter a full-figured bride. The emergence of soft “goddess” silhouettes have made sleek lycra slips important while A-lines and ballgowns still require the traditional full slip. Undergarments don’t have to be uncomfortable!!  The key is working with the consultant to get the proper measurements and fit, which are essential to the overlook look.

Cultural Considerations

Many religions and ethnicities require more coverage for the ceremonies than the classic strapless silhouette.  You can easily find a gown with a lace jackets or higher neckline.

Dressing for Your Body Type


Pear-shaped brides may want to accentuate the bust and torso while minimizing the hips. A classic A-line dress, off-the-shoulder design, or a ball gown with a strapless sweetheart neckline will help complement her silhouette.

Hourglass Shape

Brides with an hourglass shape can choose a mermaid style or corseted bodice to really accentuate her curves. (The full figured bride can show off her curves just as much as a size 8!)  Regardless of the size of your waist, an A-line dress with princess seaming and corset boning help create the “illusion” of a smaller waist and a best complement to your body.

The “Top Heavy” Bride

Cleavage can be a blessing and a curse, but finding a wedding gown can be difficult.  Depending on your size, off-the-shoulder or strapless gowns are difficult because even if you can find a strapless bra to support you, the worry will be there that it won’t.  If you are big-breasted but still have a defined waist or hourglass shape, choose a dress that has a simple bodice – extra frills around the bust only add more attention.  Ball gown dress styles work well.

If you have a large chest but you also have a thick waist, an A-line is the best choice. This style also works well for the “Bottom-Heavy” bride, as it easily disguises larger thighs, hips and behinds while still being extremely flattering and feminine.

Round Waist

Brides with a little extra around the waist should avoid sheaths which draw attention to the midsection and show everything.   Empire waistlines are perfect for hiding any imperfections and help to fit and flatter. The bride with the round waist is sometimes the most difficult to fit, depending on how large the belly area is.  While the A-line above is complementary, it may not completely hide the larger tummy.  The Empire waistline slenderizes the thicker waist and gives the illusion of a longer, thinner, smoother body.  This style also works well for those brides whose hips present an issue. Another style that works well for hiding hips is a gorgeous A-line.

Remember, this is YOUR day. This isn’t about fitting into the latest fad or being something you’re not – it’s about you being comfortable in your own skin, wearing a dress that makes you feel fabulous.