Shopping for a Wedding Dress?
SimchasSimcha Secrets

Shopping for a Wedding Dress?

Katie shares some helpful tips when looking for that perfect wedding dress

Katie Gaffin went through many trials and tribulations before finding the perfect wedding dress.
Katie Gaffin went through many trials and tribulations before finding the perfect wedding dress.

My body and I have what you could call a complicated relationship. We’ve been friends, to enemies, back to friends, then to even worse enemies, until finally, we developed a mutually somewhat respectful relationship. Then, I lost multiple members of my family, was unemployed, and dealing with a serious knee injury all at the same time.

Now, a year-and-a-half later, enter trying on wedding dresses. Of course, there’s the typical stressors of “what do I even want? What does bustle mean? Did I just fall in love with a dress double my budget?” but the hardest one of all is not being able to even try them on. I bet a lot of you are thinking, “The whole activity is trying on wedding dresses, why wouldn’t you be able to try them on?” Which is a natural reaction to have, especially when social media is full of videos of bridal salons showing off sample dresses (a floor model of each dress the salon sells for trying on before committing to your official dress choice) as far as the eye can see. But what those videos don’t tell you is 80 percent of those samples won’t fit anyone over a size 12. This wouldn’t have been an issue for pre-injury Katie, who typically wore a size 8 or 10, but in my current body I typically wear a 14 or 16. This is something my mom, my two sisters, Jess and Maddie, and I knew and prepared for before shopping for my wedding dress back in March. Little did we know the wide, wide, crazy world we were about to enter.

Katie tried several bridal salons before finally settling on Wedding Angels.

As I said before, most sample dresses available do not fit anyone over a size 12, and if they do fit, it’s a ballgown or similarly cupcake-shaped silhouette. Again, having prepared for this, I decided to not even consider buying a fitted dress. This was for the best, I rationalized, because there’s no way a mermaid or trumpet size 12 would remotely fit my body.

Salons try their best to help larger brides, usually assuring them with something like: “We use a variety of ‘tools and tricks’ so brides of any size can imagine themselves in the perfect dress.” No offense to these salons, but if I was able to just “imagine myself in the dress,” I wouldn’t be here. Just because three-or-four employees can technically get me into a dress by tugging, pulling, shoving, and forcing the poor garment into submission, doesn’t mean it looks good and I feel good in it. “You look like a princess” rings hollow when you’re dripping sweat from the effort of getting into the dress and your arms are losing circulation from the straps digging in so hard. As you might be able to tell, this really happened, not once, not twice, but five times, and every single time I thought the dress was going to rip from them forcing it so intensely. I went through that song and dance at three different bridal salons, laughing the entire time because otherwise I would have started crying. How am I supposed to make such an incredibly important dress purchase when I can’t even tell what it truly looks like on my body?

Along came Sunday and our last bridal salon, but the Friday first appointment excitement had turned to dread at the thought of another two hours being stuffed into dresses like a sausage in too small a casing. Truth be told we probably would have canceled were it not for the $75 fee, so the four of us piled into our mom’s Suburban and cautiously set off for Wedding Angels.

Katie, joined by her sisters, Jess and Maddie, and mom, Janet, at Wedding Angels.

From the moment we stepped inside, there were images of radiant smiling models size two to 34 all over the salon. We were whisked back to a private fitting area by our bridal consultant, Fiona, and went through the SparkNotes of all the trials and tribulations dealt with at our previous three appointments. Upon hearing that all I had tried on were ballgowns, she persuaded me to change it up and try on some fitted options. I was hesitant but agreed. Without fail, every single dress fit me effortlessly. There were no tools and tricks, no team of consultants forcing a dress over my body, just me stepping into the dress by myself and Fiona cinching me in. I finally felt like an actual princess. I was dancing, smiling, and genuinely laughing, enjoying the experience I had always dreamed of but was convinced I’d never get. Compared to the pitiful plus-size selection at previous stores, Wedding Angels has more than 800 sample dresses available to try on, going all the way up to a size 34.

I said yes to my wedding dress that day at Wedding Angels. Not only that, but I said yes to a fitted dress. All four of us were crying, but they were happy tears this time. It’s easy to forget that as much as I had been waiting for this moment, my family had been waiting for it, too. We left that March 17 appointment on cloud 9, overjoyed to give this story a happy ending, but it turned out there was more in store for my Wedding Angels journey.

Katie found the dress of her dreams at Wedding Angels, which offers sizes ranging from two to 34.

The very next day, I received an email from Wedding Angels inviting me to be a model in their upcoming photoshoot. Deciding to participate in their photoshoot was the fastest and easiest “yes” of my life (next to when Kyle asked me to marry him, of course.) Two weeks later, I got to live my princess fantasy all over again modeling dress after dress, each one more beautiful than the last, and nearly all of them fitted. The entire day was an absolute dream, because women my size aren’t supposed to be models, but here we all were, feeling just as gorgeous and glamourous as the other models there size 2 and 4.

Saying yes to the dress at Wedding Angels has been one of the best parts of planning my wedding. You’ll have to wait until after Nov. 30 to see which dress I said yes to, but I can assure you it is gorgeous, fitted, and makes me feel like a princess. The best way to sum up this experience is, as Maddie said with tears in her eyes after I said yes to the dress, “I can’t believe we almost cancelled!”

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