All Curves Are Beautiful: Finding Your Plus-Size Wedding Dress

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Many women have dreamt of finding their perfect wedding dress all their lives. The search is often exciting and emotional. But for those brides with curvier figures, it can be especially trying when most stores only carry smaller sample sizes. Your consultant’s job is to be knowledgeable in the field of bridal fashion, but it is extremely helpful for the bride to do a little research first. She should know going in roughly what style of dress she’s interested in (like a princess-style ball gown or a sexy sheath), if there are any deal-breakers for her in a gown (like straps or a corset back), and have a firm grasp on what her budget is.
Yukia Walker-Harris and Yuneisia Harris. Photo courtesy of Curvaceous Couture

Yukia Walker-Harris and Yuneisia Harris. Photo courtesy of Curvaceous Couture

Enter Yukia Walker and Yuneisia Harris, sisters and owners of Curvaceous Couture, a first-of-its-kind bridal salon specializing in couture gowns to fit all body types. Yukia and Yuneisia have made it their mission to help curvy brides look and feel amazing in the right dress for their figure on their special day. The spirited sisters are living their dream as they help women of all shapes and sizes in TLC’s new reality series, Curvy Brides.

Yukia and Yuneisia first conceived the idea to open a specialty bridal boutique after Yukia had an awful experience shopping for her own wedding dress in 2008. After not being able to find a dress in her size, Yukia needed Yuneisia to try on gowns for her. With limited options available, Yukia was forced to buy a dress that she didn’t feel comfortable in. It became clear to the sisters through this experience that the market was seriously lacking. Every bride deserves a bridal moment they will remember forever and a dress that fits, no matter the size. And from there, Curvaceous Couture was born.

Obviously, the sisters recommend that, if at all possible, a bride should make an appointment with them so that she’ll definitely have samples she can actually try on. But with their salon located in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area, that might be difficult for Minnesota brides. When a girls’ weekend trip to the east coast is out of the picture, brides might find some value in checking out smaller sample sizes for inspiration.

Style W353. This strapless gown's softly ruched bodice trails to a playful ruffled skirt, with a flair for drama and elegance. Photo courtesy of Allure Bridals

Style W353. This strapless gown’s softly ruched bodice trails to a playful ruffled skirt, with a flair for drama and elegance. Photo courtesy of Allure Bridals

“Sometimes there is a dress that a bride will have seen in a bridal magazine or online and she desperately wants to see in person,” Yukia says. “It may be that a standard bridal salon in your area has a sample of that dress, but they may only have it in a size 6. The trouble is that even seeing it in person on a hanger or a model isn’t the same as seeing it on your body, which is why we encourage brides of all shapes and sizes to come to our salon.”

But it gets difficult to know where to start looking when there is no general rule on which styles to look for. Here’s the thing, “Curvy Brides” is a very broad term. Brides with all sorts of different shapes that all qualify as “curvy”, and therefore no one style will suit all of them.
“Remember, the most important thing is for our brides to feel great, so we encourage them to choose whichever style makes them the happiest,” Yukia says. “We vet the designers we carry based on the structure they build into their gowns, the quality of materials, and their grasp of building curve into their patterns. We also do our best to carry designers who have wide size ranges so that we can accommodate as many different shapes as possible. At the end of the day, the style that suits a curvy bride best is the one that makes her glow.”
Capped sleeves with a sweetheart neckline combine to create a gorgeous silhouette on this lace and beaded gown. Photo courtesy of Maggie Sottero

Capped sleeves with a sweetheart neckline combine to create a gorgeous silhouette on this lace and beaded gown. Photo courtesy of Maggie Sottero

In general, the sisters advise that a curvy bride should avoid being pigeonholed into one shape or style because of other people’s opinions. “We often get brides in the salon who think that they can only wear what we affectionately refer to as a ‘bridal muumuu’ because they aren’t a size 10,” Yuneisia says. “We’ve had brides come in and say they only want an A-line dress and walk out with a figure-hugging trumpet gown, or a waist-defining ball gown.”

In the case of same-sex weddings, the sisters say to go for styles that make you happy. If both brides want to look like princesses, then the consultant’s job is to find two dresses that complement each other, even though they will have similar shapes. Yukia says, “In our experience, brides want their personalities to shine out in their gown and rarely have our LGBT brides chosen looks that are too similar.”

Recognizing that not every bridal salon is going to have larger sizes, the sisters encourage brides to take matters into their own hands. If there is a local bridal salon that you wish would carry a larger size, the best thing to do is call or email them and share your opinion.
Style 1309. This fitted lace-up gown has a soft sweetheart strapless neckline. Pleating wraps around this form fitting silhouette with strongly beaded lace accents placed asymmetrically from one another. Photo courtesy of Bonny Bridals Unforgettable

Style 1309. This fitted lace-up gown has a soft sweetheart strapless neckline. Pleating wraps around this form fitting silhouette with strongly beaded lace accents placed asymmetrically from one another. Photo courtesy of Bonny Bridals Unforgettable

“It is important to remember that when a salon is purchasing a sample they have to guess how many brides they can fit into that sample, and what type of bride is most likely to buy that dress,” Yuneisia says. “They also have to account for the sales rep from the designer recommending a size based on the shape of the dress. If most of the girls who come to that store are between a 6 and 12, and the designer recommends ordering an 8, then it makes more sense for a standard salon to purchase the 8 or a 10 than to purchase larger sizes.”

Despite the allure of creating a custom creation from scratch, the sisters don’t advise it; having a custom dress is a big project. It involves first finding a seamstress or tailor whom you trust, seeing their work, and going through the design process with them. Then it takes months of mock-ups and fittings, with no way to know 100 percent what your dress will look like in the end. It is certainly a great option for some brides, but it will be a much calmer experience for a bride to order a dress that already exists that she loves, and have custom touches added by a seamstress like sleeves, more sparkle, or a different back.

After deciding which bridal salon to go through when ordering a dress, the sisters say the most common mistake that they see with all brides is not being aware of the timelines. “We get brides who come into our salon all the time with five months or less to their wedding and no time for us to order a gown,” Yuneisia says. “We always recommend shopping 9–12 months before your wedding to avoid limiting your options for your gown. The second mistake that some brides make is expecting a fitted dress to look painted on their bodies. Your dress can be fitted, even tight, but you still have to be able to move!”
For brides looking for designers who make gorgeous plus-size options, Curvaceous Couture carries designs from Ian Stuart, Enzoani, Allure Bridal, Pronovias, San Patrick, and more. But the most important tip the sisters can provide? Simply don’t work with salons who aren’t size-friendly. As Yukia says, “If a salon is unwilling to work with you, then spend your money somewhere that will.”

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