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What plus-size brides need to know about shopping for a wedding dress, according to an expert

Samantha Grindell   

What plus-size brides need to know about shopping for a wedding dress, according to an expert
  • Insider spoke to Shafonne Myers, the founder of Pretty Pear Bride, a magazine for plus-size brides.
  • She offered her expert advice for plus-size brides who are shopping for wedding dresses.
  • Picking the right boutique and knowing which designers cater to brides of all sizes are key.

If you're a soon-to-be bride, it's likely you've pictured your "Say Yes to the Dress" moment at least once.

You probably see yourself surrounded by your closest loved ones, standing in the gown that makes you feel more beautiful than you have in your entire life.

But the experience of shopping for a wedding dress is often less fun than that mental image indicates, and according to Shafonne Myers, the founder of Pretty Pear Bride, finding that dream gown can be even more stressful if you're a plus-size bride.

To make sure the wedding dress search is fun rather than stressful, Myers shared her expert advice for plus-size brides shopping for their dream gowns with Insider.

Find out what brands with inclusive sizing are right for you

Before you start shopping for a wedding dress, you should look online to see what type of dress you think will be right for you. Then, you can start to make a list of designers who make those types of gowns.

Not only do these designers need to have gowns you can see yourself getting married in, but they also need to have size-inclusive dresses.

Many bridal brands boast inclusive sizing, but Myers said some designers follow through on their promises more than others. She has a few favorites that she thinks consistently represent and cater to plus-size brides, offering numerous size-inclusive dresses and frequently featuring plus-size brides on their social media.

The social media element is important to Myers, as it indicates a brand is willing to celebrate brides of all sizes.

"If you're saying, 'I love plus-size,' but then I scroll on your social feeds and I don't see plus-size brides, that's a problem for me," she told Insider.

Read more: Getting ordained, rejiggering seating charts and dance floors, and negotiating vendor contracts: How 4 wedding planners are prepping for the future of the events industry

For instance, she likes and trusts Hayley Paige Gutman, the designer behind Hayley Paige Bridal, because brides of all sizes are often featured on her social media.

Hayley Paige dresses are high-end, but Myers said she likes more affordable designers, too, such as David's Bridal.

She said that if you visit the David's Bridal website, you'll see women of all sizes modeling gowns. In fact, the brand even has a "plus-size guide" on its site.

"I love them because they are showing the representation where others are not," Myers said of David's Bridal.

Myers is also a fan of BHLDN, as they've been putting effort into their size representation in recent months.

There are a myriad of size-inclusive designers, and it will make the process of trying on dresses much easier for you if you know which of them are right before you before heading to a store.

Take steps to ensure the actual experience of shopping will be positive

Myers thinks it's important that plus-size brides know they're not limited to shopping at stores that only cater to plus-size brides when looking for wedding dresses.

But at the same time, they should research bridal boutiques before they make appointments, as not every store will have their size.

Arriving at a bridal appointment and discovering a store doesn't actually carry your size would be hugely disappointing, so Myers suggests calling boutiques and directly asking them what sizes and designers they carry, as well as what sample sizes they have in store.

She also recommends stopping by a store to see the dresses before your actual appointment if you can.

Read more: Modest fashion and plus-sized fashion rarely overlap - but experts predict a combination of those two billion-dollar markets could be the next big retail segment

Checking out the store before your appointment can help you not only see the sizes the store carries, but also the attitude of the consultants. They are there to make you feel supported, and if they can't do that when you stop by, you probably shouldn't make an appointment there.

"It should always be a feeling of happiness," Myers said of wedding-dress shopping. "If you do not get a feeling of happiness, you are not in the right place."

That mentality also applies to the entourage you bring with you, according to Myers. Everyone you bring with you to find your wedding dress should be enthusiastic and focused on what you want your dress to look like, rather than people who will comment on your size or make judgments about how "flattering" a gown might be.

If you're concerned a certain person might make the experience stressful or could make you self-conscious, they shouldn't come with you.

"If you are not happy with the people who you're inviting, don't invite them," Myers said. "If those people do not make you happy, they're not coming with you."

Remember you will find the dress of your dreams, no matter how long it takes

It's normal to get frustrated or impatient as you shop for a wedding dress, but Myers wants plus-size brides to know any difficulty during the process doesn't mean you won't find your perfect dress.

Any bride might lose faith if she struggles to find the right dress, and it's even more likely for a plus-size bride because of the lack of representation in the bridal industry. Few bridal designers or magazines include brides of all sizes in their imagery, so you might start to feel like dresses that fit your shape just don't exist.

Of course, that's not true, and it's why Myers is so passionate about bringing greater representation to plus-size brides through Pretty Pear Bride.

"You cannot truly step into feeling beautiful in your skin if you don't see other people feeling beautiful in their skin," Myers told Insider. "It's an isolating experience to not see people who look like you."

"I want you to go online, see yourself in bridal imagery, and see that you can, as a plus-size woman, look amazing and see your fellow plus-size brides looking amazing," she said. "You are valuable, and that is not dependent on your size."

You can visit the Pretty Pear Bride's website and Instagram. You can also see more photos from Aubree Lorraine Photography and Nathalia Frykman Photography, LLC on Instagram.