Size Matters.

*Hello Charlotte here *waves*… you may remember some time ago on our Ask the Experts column a piece called Drowning In A Sea Of Dresses – the trials and tribulations of shopping for your gown. Well, the first comment we received on that post was from “Jenny” and how she had really not enjoyed her dress shopping experience thus far. I felt compelled to email her and recommend some of our favourite boutiques as it should be a special time for every bride… and to cut a long story short it turns out Jenny is not only witty and intelligent but as the Sub-Editor of RED magazine (one of my favourite lifestyle glossies) she knows a thing or two about writing great copy.

And so we asked her if she could write a more detailed piece about her experiences for RMW.

And she said YES….Hoorah.

So if you’ve had a similar experience/have anything you’d like to ask then please do drop a comment at the end of this post, we LOVE to hear what you gorgeous lot have got to say.

Over To Jenny…

Trouble finding The One?

I’m not talking about your perfect partner. After all, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already found and are on your way to marrying the man of your dreams. I’m talking about The Other One. Your wedding dress.

I was imagining champagne in the showroom, trying on dress after dress. I imagined my mum crying and saying how beautiful I looked. What I didn’t imagine, was how hard it would be, as a size 16, to find my dress. In reality, I was confronted with squeezing into size 10 samples, not being able to try on my favourites, and boutique owners telling me, ‘Oh, that definitely won’t work for you’.

The first store I went in to, I was just looking for bridesmaid dresses. The owner told me that I was doing it the wrong way around, that I should have got my dress before I start looking for bridesmaids. Maybe this is the traditional way to do things, but I didn’t see how my choice of dress would affect my vision of BM dresses. Also, aren’t I allowed to do things ?

After much cajoling, she convinced me to try on some of the wedding dresses she stocked. But rather than letting me choose which ones I’d like (I told her I really wanted lace, no diamante or sparkle, and something light, suitable for my wedding in Ibiza), she picked out three for me. Three puffball, heavy, diamante-covered monstrosities. On the right person, I’m sure the dresses would have been lovely, but they just weren’t me. I felt and looked ridiculous – I could see it on my bridesmaids’ faces. (Even worse when she put a tiara on me – I am definitely not a tiara kind of girl). So my first dress-trying-on experience left something to be desired.

I was more excited about my next appointment. The dress shop came under good recommendation, and was decorated gorgeously, so I had high hopes. Again, I explained what I was after, and again, I was forced into three different diamante-detailed dresses that she picked for me. I must admit, they did look better on than I was expecting, but I’ve never met someone so bossy and pushy. I really felt like she was just trying to sell me something, and made me feel really awkward and embarrassed about not being a size 10. When I worked up the courage to point to a dress that I really liked (lace, floaty, empire line), she looked at me and said, ‘Darling, we only stock this in a size 8 for a reason.’ And then proceeded to try on the dress herself to tell me exactly why it wouldn’t suit my curvier figure. (People never believe me when I tell them that story!)

A few more dress disasters followed….A shop where I stood next to another bride in the mirror, while she tried dresses on as well, making me feel so not special. A boutique that wouldn’t even let me try on a few samples because ‘they definitely won’t work for you’, when I know they definitely would have fitted. (Ladies, the lace-up back dress is your friend when it comes to dress shopping).

So it was with exasperation that I commented on my troubles on the RMW article ‘Drowning in a sea of dresses’ about my dilemma. I was really getting worried that I wouldn’t find a dress I loved. I didn’t feel special, didn’t feel beautiful, didn’t feel like a bride.

It was then that Charlotte emailed me and recommended Mamfii Bridal, where coincidentally, one of my recently married friends, Kelly, had bought her dress. I was at my wits end, so thought it would be worth the two-hour drive. It was – and then some.

Samantha Neville, Mamfii’s director, agreed to open on a Sunday for me, and what I found was the most beautiful bridal store, in a gorgeous location, full of amazing (yet still reasonably priced) dresses. Sam completely understood what I wanted, and gave me free reign to pick out the dresses that I liked. She understood that yes, something might not suit me, but until I can try it on and see for myself, I’m never going to believe it. (I fell in love with the full-on lace dress from Justin Alexander’s new collection, but could see as soon as it was on that the material was just too heavy for me.)

I explained my worries about being a size 16 trying on sample 10s and 12s, but it was never an issue. I got into all of the dresses fine (again, with thanks to the lace-up, and some clever ivory panels that Sam tucked into the back, to give a better impression of what the back would look like). Sam is, quite frankly, a genius. An angel. A genius angel!

Needless to say, I finally found The One, and it’s perfect. (I don’t want to reveal what I went for – I wish I could, I’m so excited! – but I’ll let you in on my second choice: Essence D1220).

Overall, I didn’t really enjoy dress shopping (until I found Mamfii). My mum never cried (she said she was holding it in). And I never had champagne in store (until I bought my dress, and Sam cracked open some bubbles for me and my sister). What I learnt is not to have too many expectations; stick to your guns about what you really want from your dress (if you’re not a diamante girl, you’re never going to love a diamante-covered dress, no matter how pushy the boutique owner is); DO NOT WORRY about being a curvy lady, as you will easily fit into sample 10s and 12s if they’re lace up; and, finally, you will find The One, don’t worry about that, either. It’s like meeting your husband-to-be – when you know it’s The One, you just know.

My dress isn’t exactly what I originally envisaged, but pretty close. But more than that, I finally feel like a bride – and for that, I have Mamfii Bridal to thank.

Big ‘I hope you all find your dream dress too’ love,

Jenny Woods

Author: Charlotte O’Shea
Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.

72 thoughts on “Size Matters.

  1. Hi Jenny!

    Thanks for sharing your story, I’ve started my dress search and so far I am pleased that experiences have been good, and one fantastic. Although I too was expecting a bit more ‘hospitality’ shall we say in the boutiques, even a glass of water would have been nice. But no champagne of cupcakes so far.
    My mum isn’t a crier, or a very enthusiastic person so I take maids and friends for ‘comment back up!’
    I too like the Justin A range I think he is good for more curvy ladies – did you get a shot at one of his ‘wonder corset’ dresses? I am pretty curvy too and diff to fit due To larger chest so I have been pinned and panelled into many dresses and I don’t mind….

    Thanks for sharing today, happy Friday!

  2. Thanks for this article. I too am a size 16 and have felt uncomfortable in every bridal shop I have been in. In fact, I felt so uncomfortable, I refused to do the whole bridal shop/dress thing and ordered my dress from a high street store online and then altered it to get the style I want. I never had the trying on dresses experience and have been trying to make peace with the dress I have chosen ever since. I think I have, and am looking forward to my wedding in August, but a little part of me will always feel like I have missed out a bit.

  3. Here here! I was a generous size 16 when I started looking and had a similar time in a couple of shops because I too wanted lace and they were all skimpy sizes, and I just had to “IMAGINE” how they would look if they fitted!!! Yes, I will base that really small decision on an image in my mind, I look great in my mind in tiny hotpants (I said mind!) but it doesn’t mean I own a pair!

    Anyway, like you said Jenny, lace up are defo winners for getting a better idea of how they will look.

    When I got to Suzanne Neville they got even the tiniest fitted dress on me, and made me feel good about being curvy and said not to worry about weight etc…

    I still think I wish I had gotten slimmer before going for a dress because perhaps I would have had a much better time but hey ho!

    So glad you got sorted and found your dress! And by the way, love a bit of RED on a Sat aft with a cuppa and a biscuit!! xx

  4. Hi i too had a horrible time in a bridal boutique. My sister was dress shopping and they were so rude to her and told her she was too big for the dress she wanted (she is only a size 12) and when i asked what a bigger briees options were (im a size 18) i was ushered into a tiny room and showed a selection of hideous matronly gowns and advised that these were the plus size option. Needless to say when i bought my own dress last month i got it online. I love it and i got to try it on for the first time in the safety and comfort of my own home and still had some champers to celebrate trying it on with my friend. Why are so many of the supposed customer assistants in bridal boutiques so forgetful of how special the experiance of wedding dress shopping should be?

  5. I also made the mistake of going into a recommended dress shop and there was not a single dress that wasn’t covered in `bling` not that there was anything wrong with them but they were just not what I wanted! Did find 2 amazing shops in the end but it is very frustrating when people tell you what you want or should want!

  6. Hi,
    Thanks for sharing your story! I too was dreading the dress shopping experience and put it off as long as possible! I had similar embarrassing experiences where I was made to feel uncomfortable about my curves! Then I found ‘the big day’ in castleford where I was able to try on dress after dress after dress (most of which were even too big for me!) only then did I finally realise what everyone was talking about when they were saying how special it is choosing your wedding dress! I’m so happy to say that I eventually had a positive experience and knew instantly when I found ‘the one’! Do not hesitate to visit this amazing shop

  7. I was a size 16 when I went shopping for my dress last year and couldn’t try on the dresses I really liked because I was too big for them. I came away feeling like a whale despite having been confident about my curves in the past.
    I’ve got my dress now, it’s not like I imagined it to be, but whenever I put it on I’m pleased I went with it.

    I bought my dress in a sample sale in a size 12 (risky I know) The weight is coming off, slowly but surely and I’m now a 14 and the dress fits. I think dress shopping gave me the kick up the bum I needed to fight the flab. There’s still room for improvement but I have until June so I’m not worried!

    Some shops are awful though, a couple of years ago we went for a dress fitting for my sisters wedding and there was another bride still there just finishing her fitting. She said she’d lost about 4 stone before she went shopping, and was down to a size 20. She had gathered all her favourite girls and gone to an appointment to try some dresses. The shop told her, if she wanted to try a dress on she would have to buy it first- in case she damaged it! She left in tears and did the rest of her dress shopping alone to avoid humiliation.

  8. Thanks for the post Jenny! It definitely helps to hear other less-than-thrilled-with-the-whole-dress-experience stories to make a girl feel better! I wasn’t looking forward to dress shopping either and the first two shops I went into were all about the hard sell, and not too sensitive about telling me which dresses wouldn’t be right for me! I ended up desperately trying on dresses that I didn’t even like in the second shop for fear of the woman getting annoyed that I wasn’t keen on anything she stocked! Then I found Claire Louise Bridal in Bolton, which is a tiny house transformed into a bridal boutique. Claire Louise, the lovely owner, encouraged me to try over a dozen dresses, spending time advising me on what would minimise my least favourite bits and on what would enhance my best bits. Brilliant. When I tried my Watters ‘Devenport’ organza gown on, it was love at first sight!

  9. Great article and very pleased you’ve found the one 😉

    Why are shops like this?? I am that standard size 10 but pretty tall and have shoulders like a (male) Olympic swimmer- the wrong dress and I look like a man. Yet the first shop I went to insisted that I try three strapless dresses despite this being the first thing on my no-no list. Cue cries of “oh you were right, it DOES look awful on you” each time. Thanks a lot, not only do your dresses smell of fags and air freshener, but your attitude stinks too.

    The essence is gorgeous… I hope we’ll be seeing the real thing on these dotty pages one day soon!!?? Plllease?? xxxx

  10. Morning lovelies! *waves again* (all this waving and someone will think I’m a right loon…) so nice to see so many of you so early!

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, it makes for a very interesting read. And if you’ve got any boutiques you would like to recommend then please drop me an email at so we can tell everyone else how great they are too.

    I’m sure Jenny will be along later to say Hi!

    Charlotte xxx

  11. Glad you found something. My lesson was not to rule out a dress. I tried on a lace Stewart Parvin Fishtail in Newcastle and they said the ten wouldn’t do up and I’d need a 14. I took my Mum to the Mayfair boutique (silver teapot and Earl Grey for my Mum) and they not only did the ten up but also said I’d need an 8 on my waist (two weeks later so it wasn’t as if I’d lost weight). The London Mayfair store did the dress up properly and made me feel like a princess.

    The story about the bride who had to buy a dress first is awful and the shop should be named and shamed.

  12. It’s always nice (and a bit sad) to read that other people went through the same disappointment for what should be an amazing experience. My now hubby proposed when our daughter was only a couple of months old and I had put on more than my share of baby weight. The first shop I went in, with my daughter, I was told the buggy or baby wasn’t allowed anywhere in the shop except by the door and because I was large there wouldn’t be much for me to try on. They had a stage set up for brides to come out in their dresses, but almost didn’t let me out of the changing room and certainly didn’t help make smaller sizes fit. I have to say, I have never, ever felt so ugly in my whole life!
    The second shop I went in was lovely, some older ladies who obviously knew how it was meant to be fun! I sadly couldn’t afford their dresses but they never, ever made me think there was something I couldn’t try on!
    So finally, I did the naughty thing and bought it on ebay from a Chinese supplier. Loved it and felt beautiful. Fully agree with Jenny, when you see the one, you will know. And you are beautiful!

  13. great post – I had the opposite problem to jenny in one shop I went to where the dresses were all a bit big for me so they put a black cushion down the back to make it fit at the front, although it meant when you turned to the side you were humpback – not exactly the bridal look you’re hoping for!?

    The dress shopping experience is very mixed, and all depends on the staff, some of them make the effort to find out what you’re like before making suggestions, whereas others just assume we’re all looking for the big princess dress. One shop I tried on a huge skirted grace kelly style belted dress which was gorgeous but not me at all, and the woman asked if I felt like I was 6 years old, and I thought, YES but not in a good way! Am I alone in not wanting to be a child bride???? She got quite huffy when she put me in a long veil and me, my mum and aunt all burst out laughing.

    You know yourself what suits you and while their expertise can be great, you have to remember it’s you wearing it and you should love it!

  14. Being a size 16 I was absolutely dreading shopping for dresses, I just couldn’t see how anything long and white would EVER look good on me. My lovely Mom decided that I should try some on while we were at the Wedding Show at the NEC and it was a really horribly experience.

    It mainly involved being shoved into tiny cucibles with three other seize 8/10 girls, being stripped and shoved into dresses which didn’t even remotely fit and then being paraded around the mirrors in the middle of the packed NEC so everyone could see how uncomfortable I was.

    I ended up nearly in tears and could have quite happily given up on getting married altogether until I found an area for a bridal boutique called Silk in Lichfield. Hanging up was a beautiful Pronovias dress in a 16 (the only size 16 I saw that day) and I was convinced to try it on to see how a wedding dress could look if it was sized right. I fell in love and took it home with me. I am trying to lose some weight but mainly because I’m not a healthy weight for my height and in all seriousness if I had to wear it tomorrow I would be quite happy.

    Charlotte – I’ll send you Silk’s details because they really are lovely, brilliant ladies and I haven’t even had to go to the shop yet! x

  15. Thanks for the great post!

    The same sort of thing happened when we went bridesmaids dress shopping. Am sure you all agree that you want to make the experience the best ever for your specially chosen girls but at first I found it awful. My two girls are totally different sizes and both so beautiful in different ways. Yet every shop made them try on the exactly same sized dress either drowning one of them or making the other one feel crap for not fitting it. I was mortified as I felt I was putting them through an uncomfortable experience.

    Then we found a great shop that stocked all different sizes and colours and when they walked out of the changing room I burst into tears! They looked so gorgeous and the same dress in their respective sizes emphasised all their best bits and made them both feel great. Job done!

    It really surprised me that this was the only shop we found that stocked different sizes in the same dress. Am I missing something or doesn’t that sound sensible!


  16. So glad to hear your story! I was just about to give up wedding dress shopping, after a wedding melt down yesterday, but I decided to clear my head…. forget all my bad experiences and start again. Some bridal shop staff have bee really supportive and lovely, others very secretive and conniving – just after the sale and not caring about the service they provide for the bride. I tried hundreds of dresses on, being a size 14/16 again I have to be careful what I try on, fish tails and anything tight on the tum are a no no for my pear shaping. Lace up backs are amazing, they can cover a multitude of sins! I’ve had the cushion stuffing hump back treatment and the zip won’t go up i’ll just hold it scenario lol! Unfortunately the dress I really liked was at a local shop where the woman quite frankly made me feel pressured to buy the dress, I tried on three times and instead of being supportive, they were really arsey with me, putting up the price, demanding huge deposits and even tried to sell the same dress to a friend behind my back when she went in looking for her wedding gown, offering her free shoes and £100 off. I felt like the horrible bride that they didn’t want to help out. It stressed me out so much that the concept of looking for and even wearing a a wedding dress was upsetting me, I had nightmares every night about wedding dresses and these evil shop assistants. I have now took a deep breath and wiped the slate clean in order to get a positive experience. I think my advice to wedding shop owners is to help support the bride, they don’t realise how stressful the process already is without them adding to it. I want to feel completely at ease in a bridal shop, not walking on egg shells. I start my new ‘positive’ wedding dress search next weekend when my lovely sister in law to be has offered to take me to some further afield bridal shops. Wish me luck! xxx

  17. Being of the curvier variety of ladies myself I know what you mean. I only had two dress shop experiences which I slightly regret as I loved trying dresses on! But this was only in the first shop experience, where I visited a small dress shop in Rye called Forever Yours run by Emma, who is quite frankly a gem of a lady! Both me and my sister were trying on dresses as she got married last summer. It was great fun and I loved it. She let us try on anything we liked, even if they were way too small, she even hid behind me at one point and held it closed so my Mum and sister could see what it would look like. As well suggesting we tried a few crazy dresses just for a laugh! I would HIGHLY recommend her, my sister even got her dress from there!

    As for my second experience it was much like the majority of yours, in fact to be honest the lady seemed to just not be bothered if we brought a dress or not she just looked like she wanted to go home the whole time and she was the shop owner!

    I honestly think, if you want my money then you’d better be nice and give good service or I’m off!

  18. LOVE this post! It’s my dream to own a bridal boutique and the wheels are tentatively starting to be put in motion – and I just can not believe some of the stories I hear!! It’s such an exciting time for a bride, I do not understand why would anyone be so insensitive or pushy, it’s completely beyond me frankly. So glad you found a great boutique in the end Jenny! xxx

  19. First I would like to say Red Mag is my fave!! 🙂

    Both my sisters got their dresses from Mamfii and the service was so so fab and the new site at the barn is absolutely beautiful! You must go! Sadly, I found my dress (a Pronovias at Teokath in Wimbledon) before I got a chance to visit. Such a shame!

    Rachie xo

  20. I feel your pain…….

    I found ‘the dress’ I a shop in Bristol, fell in love and haggled the price down.
    When it came to ordering my size in I was advised to go up a size even though the sample I’d tried was a size smaller and I got into it!!!!!

    Any who, after discussion and heated conversation from my seamstress Aunt on the phone I dicided I go with my regular size.
    The shop owner then made me sign a waiver passing responsibility onto me if the ordered dress didn’t fit on arrival!

    Horrified I did agree as it was the only shop that stocked the designer. Well 5 months later the dress arrives and if any thing is a little big, even with a zip back instead of the usual corset back…..

    I really stressed for the 5 months I waited for the dress to arrive and I feel the shop needs to rethink their customer service especially when people are spending over £1000.

    I’m a size 12 by the way and felt like a fat bride that day, luckily I now feel magical every time I put my dress and can’t wait to wear it in 57 days time. 🙂

    So ladies your man is marring you for who and what you are or he wouldn’t of asked, thus embrace it and don’t conform to this magazine stick thin model look!

    Big maggie sottero love

  21. I bought my dress from Mamfii (as well as my sister, and a friend of mine) and its been a wonderful experience so far. Sam is exceptional, as are the rest of the staff, and compared to other bridal boutiques I visited they really are a cut above. They never make you feel uncomfortable, don’t flinch at your budget and have endless ideas on how to change dresses into your ‘dream dress’. They are clearly passionate about what they do and that is what is sometimes lacking in other stores.

  22. It’s really good to read this piece and all the comments and not feel so alone.

    I’m getting married in November and I’m putting off even looking for a dress. I feel that unless you’re a size 8, 5’10” 23 year old – with Daddy’s platinum card, it’s going to be a tough gig. I’m a 16, 5’4″, 41 year old (no-one’s platinum card) and I don’t think I’m what designers have in mind.

    I’ve got so worried about it that it’s turning into something approaching a phobia. I am – frankly – terrified to even start as I’m so scared of feeling worse about myself. So much so that my fiance has offered to scrap our plans (and lose our venue deposit) and run away and do it just us. But I don’t want that either!

    And just to make things harder for myself, I really want a second hand dress (yes, actually WANT one) as I can’t bear to spend so much on something I wear once. And of course, most second hand dresses are 8s and 10s. I’m dieting hard but have a hard time losing weight (medically) so am not hopeful that this is ever going to be an easy – let alone a pleasurable – experience for me.

  23. Thank you so much for this, could not come at a better time!! I am going for my first wedding dress trying on session tomorrow and i am a little terrified….i too am a size 16 and desperately wish I could be smaller at this stage, but I’m not so have to make peace with that! I am hoping that I can still have an enjoyable experience…and clearly that all depends on the boutique!! Fingers crossed it all works out ok, and thank you again for this fabulous article! x
    ps, the woman who tried on the wedding dress in front of you is hideous!!

  24. Jenny, here! *waves*

    Wow, so many comments! Goes to show how strongly brides feel about this issue. Buying your wedding dress should be a really special experience – why do so many boutique owners/sales assistants not understand this? Let’s just say thank God for all the lovely people out there, like Sam at Mamfii, and all the other ones you all mentioned, who do go the extra mile to make a bride feel wonderful.

    @onejollygirl I truly loved Justin Alexander – those corsets are AH-MAZING. Was slightly disappointed that I didn’t love that lace one. Such a beautiful and unique dress, but alas, it wasn’t for me!

    @Joanna I feel your pain. I probably would have done a similar thing if I hadn’t have found Mamfii. It doesn’t matter *how* we find our dresses, as long as we find them and feel comfortable and beautiful and all of that! I’m sure you’ll look absolutely gorgeous on your day.

    @Alex Thanks for the Red love! Yes, I had some of that ‘imagining’ to do – not ideal!

    @Claire Being told what would suit me was infuriating. I felt like saying, I have been dressing myself for 26 years now, I know what doesn’t suit me!

    @TJ Wow, well done on your weight loss. I’ve still got a few pounds I’d like to lose, but I’ll just get my dress taken in – hopefully! Cannot believe that story, that store should be named and shamed!

    @Louise Your dress is stunning. I LOVE!

    @Lucy S Aw thank you. Some of these shops have really a lot to learn! Would love to share my big day with you all (it’s not till August) – so we’ll see what Charlotte says when the photos come back 🙂

    @Joy Thanks for your comments, I knew I wouldn’t be the only one who had problems like this, but some of these stories are still so shocking. So glad you found your dress too.

    @Fiona Ha ha, that child bride comment really made me giggle!

    @Christie SNAP! I also had tears after trying on a Pronovias dress at the National Wedding Show which was obviously way too small. Funnily enough though, it’s actually very similar to the design I went for! I also have some weight I’d like to lose, but if I don’t then I’m really happy with my dress as it fits me now 🙂

    @Peggy Stores should definitely stock different sizes, it would make so much sense, although not being in the industry, I don’t know how feasible that is. There’s definitely a market for it!

    @Sam Keep going – you WILL find your dream dress, I promise x

    @Katie Good luck with your venture – I’m sure lots of brides will be raving about the wonderful service you’ll provide on RMW soon!

    @Rachie Thanks for the Red love – isn’t Mamfii amazing!

    @Vicky Very good advice – we should all remember that our partners love us for who we, not what we look like. And it’s awful that we feel pressured by some of these bridal shop owners.

    @Peridot I’m so pleased that you know you’re not alone. We all have body hang-ups and shopping for a dress really should be a nice experience. I really had a phobia about it too, and even though I had some bad experiences, I eventually did find a lovely boutique who went above and beyond making me feel beautiful. If you’re near Surrey then you should visit Mamfii just to try some on and so you can get an idea of what you like and don’t like. Having a nice experience will help you feel more confident about finding your dream dress. Good luck!

    @Jessie Good luck for tomorrow – fingers crossed you find The One! Yes, she is truly hideous, ha!

  25. Morning Ladies

    Just want to say how sorry i am that so many people are having horrid experiences, when it’s supposed to be one of the best in your life.

    I’m a size 14, with a large bust and no bum, I find it hard to get dresses for work to fit me, let alone a wedding dress. I was dreading dress shopping and so was my mum (who having an identical figure knew what we were up against).

    I have to say I was very pleasantly suprised. Yes, some of the dresses didn’t fasten up, and yes some looked horrendous when I put them on, but the majority of them didn’t.

    Super helpful Elle at Teokath asked me what I liked and didn’t like about my body and did her very best to find something that accentuated the best bits. She was complimentary about my figure and I came out feeling very good about myself.

    Ladies, don’t put up with this horrid customer service, it’s shocking, and frankly these places should be shut down.


  26. I recently went dress shopping with my bridesmaids, of which one, my sister, is a larger size. It was awful for her to have to sit and watch my other bridesmaids try dresses on when she couldn’t due to the small sample sizes. However she was great with the advice and it was so nice to have someone viewing them objectively with me. We did find a shop where she could try some dresses on so we know the style that suits her the best but we are getting Dessy dresses and it would have been nice for to be able to try on the actual dress before we bought it.
    I have to say that the shop i bought my dress from (Hilary B in Colchester) is fantastic. All the women in there are so friendly and helpful and give amazing advice (even down to a type of rose that would go with the colour of my dress! I’m wearing taupe). I did go to another shop and had a much less pleasant experience (although no where near the shop assistant trying the dress on herself!) but i went swiftly back to Hilary B’s and would recommend them to anyone. We didn’t get the champagne but we did get drinks, biscuits and great service.
    So glad you found ‘the one’ hope you come back and give us a pic! xx

  27. I am fairly tall size 12-14, and I was so terrified of the prospect of being squeezed and squashed into tiny dresses by scary ladies that I quickly decided that dress shopping the traditional way wasn’t going to be an option. I am pretty shy and insecure about myself, so the idea of standing in front of a stranger in my pants wasn’t too thrilling anyway, but as soon as someone mentioned that ‘they will hold them together at the back with elastic bands if they are too small’, then my mind was made up. I am dead lucky because my mum is super good at sewing and is going to make my dress for me, but had that not been an option I don’t know what I would have done.

    Every single bride should feel gorgeous and confident on their wedding day, whatever their shape and size. The whole deal with getting married is that you’ve found someone who loves you for exactly who you are. Don’t let anyone, especially snooty ladies in shops, make you doubt what your lovely husband-to-be knows – you’re hot stuff!

  28. Seconding the Mamfli love, they’re brilliant. Very welcoming, lovely setting and completely unpressured style. Sadly they seem to be exception rather than the rule. I had some really bad experiences when shopping for my dress as a size 16. It was really difficult walking into shops and thinking what will fit as opposed to what do I want to try on! Strangely a lot of the lace dresses I loved only came in teeny weeny sample sizes. Def try on lace up the back styles because even if there not your size they give you an idea. And also try dresses with a lot of inbuilt corsetry, Maggie Sottoro and Benjamin Roberts both have very flattering styles. Another shop I can recommend is Proposals in Chicester, where I finally got my vintage style lace dress. They have a great range of dresses and are a bunch of really lovely ladies.

  29. @Lauren I’ve heard good things about Teokath. I actually had an appointment there but cancelled it when I found my dress at Mamfii.

    @Lisa Stores should definitely carry a larger range of sizes to combat this – it’s not fair! Glad you found dresses in the end. I’ll look forward to sharing a pic after the big day 🙂

  30. Jenny – brilliant writing! Am HORRIFIED to hear what that STUPID women said to you about the dress you liked only being a size 8, and then TRYING IT ON FOR HERSELF!
    I think you should send her a link to this most – maybe if she sees it written in black and white, she’ll stop being so pretentious and self-involved.

    Sorry – rant over!

    Sam Neville is SO lovely, and I’m not surprised that it was she who finally gave you the experience you had wanted. I met her at the RMW Real Bride hen do, and she was so easy to get along with.

    Bizarrely though, when I first started shopping for my dress, I found the exact opposite in my area. I am a 10 on top, 12 on the bot, and all the sample dresses I tried on were 14-16. After lots of trying on with bulldog clips, I got a bit fed up. It is so frustrating not being able to try on dresses in the style you like, in the right size. The shop assistants all said that bigger samples were the norm, as they represented the majority of women. I guess it’s a case of swings and roundabouts 🙂

    So pleased to hear that you have found your dream dress, and REALLY hope we get to see your wedding on RMW!!

  31. Ladies, I can sympathise with anyone who’s had a bad wedding dress try on. I became disabled shortly after getting engaged and had to face wedding dress shopping last year in a wheelchair. I’m fine with my chair (well, actually, as an ex-ultra runner, rock climber, and martial artist I’m not, but let’s just pretend ok?), and didn’t want the experience to be “chair-centric”, but it seemed to be all that people could see about me!

    I had some horrific experiences that I wouldn’t have thought I’d imagined if my mom hadn’t been there and confirmed the reality of it. From the assistant who kept emphasising how “brave” I was (you would have to be to wear the monstrosities she was suggesting), to the one who told me how lucky I was my fiancé was “going through with it”, to my all time favourites, the ones who spoke to my mom or my sister instead of me.

    Actual conversation: Shop Assistant “Does she like lace?”
    Mom “Claire, do you want lace?”
    Me, to the SA “I’m not sure, do you have anything with sleeves?”
    SA to my mom “If she likes sleeves we can’t do lace, nothing like that in at the moment.”

    Every bride, no matter her size, shape, looks, or abilities, has someone that loves them enough to think that they are pretty darn perfect, and it would be nice if the wedding dress experience reflected that a bit more. I did find a WONDERFUL place and have ordered a dress that will be perfect whether I can walk or not on the day, but I had to take a few months off the shopping experience as it was initially too depressing. My advice to any bride struggling here would be to remember that there are lots of shops out there, and plenty of people who want to help you look and feel fabulous, so don’t give up hope and don’t settle for shoddy service!

  32. I’m a size 10-12 and I can’t say that I’m loving wedding dress shopping either.

    With a very small exception of shops I have been thrust into a tiny changing room, usually with another bride changing next to me, with a massively opinionated shop assistant who expects me to take her word on what will suit me, give her over £1000 and bugger off as quickly as possible. I don’t really expect champagne on arrive (although, can’t say I’d refuse it either!) but a basic level of customer service would be nice.

    However, I recently went shopping with a friend who was looking for her wedding dress down in Brighton. She had made an appointment at a shop called The O-Zone. The difference in the service from what I’d experienced was unbelievable. The lady in the shop welcomed us in, explained everything and took us round the dresses. She knew about each designer, explained about the fabrics used and their inspiration for that collection (I’m a bit of a geek and love knowing about all the little details). She gave us plenty of time to look through all the dresses and then took us upstairs for my friend to try them on (the shop was heaving as there was a designer day but at no point did we feel like they didn’t have time for us) She was friendly, honest,and knowledgable. I’m desperate to go and try on dresses there but if I find ‘the one’ then it’s 5 hours from where I live, 3 hours from where the wedding is and therefore maybe a bit impractical (If anyone has some good Chester based recommendations then I’d be very grateful!)

    I really don’t think that this is too much ask – wedding dress shop owners taken note please!!!

    Glad to hear you’ve found your dress Jenny – I literally cannot believe she tried the dress on in front of you!! What a cow! xx

  33. Thanks for sharing your story Jenny. I look forward to hopefully seeing pictures of you in ‘The Other One’ after your big day. I too had the most amazing experience at Mamfii. The only downside was that Mamfii was the first place I visited and I found my Other One at my first appointment so my dress shopping was all over pretty quickly (although I did go to a couple of other stores just to be sure but needless to say none of them came close to Mamfii). My Mamfii dress shopping fun happend last August and I finally get to go back to Mamfii again next week for my first fitting. I’M SOOOO EXCITED!

    I’ve already recommended Mamfii to a friend, who also found her dress there at her first appointment. For any brides who are stuggling to find your Other One, one tip – go and see Sam at Mamfii! x

  34. @MrsA-to-be and @Ruth I can’t believe I let her talk to me like that, still! It wasn’t until I came out of the shop that I thought, ‘did she really just say that to me?!’ x

    @Claire Oh my, how awful some of these people are?! SO pleased you found your dress in the end, and I’m sure you’ll look absolutely gorgeous. Good advice, too. I agree, it’s just a shame there are so many places out there with absolutely zero customer service skills!

  35. @Claire – that actually makes my blood boil. Just how stupid and patronising can someone be? So, you can’t hear or understand because you’re in a wheelchair? I hope you ran your wheels over her foot. Slowly.

  36. I went to a wonderful shop called Daisy Love in Datchet. Their dress sizes start at 16 so I knew I could try nearly every dress on in the shop if I wanted!

    I loved that the dresses were designed specifically for the fuller figure – I tried on my dream dress but it just didn’t suit me but then I tried on another dress and it just looked right.

    The dresses can be taken in 2 dress sizes so if you lose weight before the wedding, great, but if not…well you don’t have to lie awake at 4am wondering if you will get into your frock on the big day.

    For some people the thought of wearing something that people will look at and comment on all day is very stressful so I would advise you to take your time – seek out specialist shops (they are not all expensive) and find the one that will make you feel comfortable and look beautiful 🙂

  37. I’m so glad other people have been through this – I thought it was just me! Why are they so horrible?

    I’m a size 16 and every shop I went in to I was only allowed to look at one rail of dresses (in the far corner at the back of the shop). I too wanted a lace dress, but the dresses were all huge, puffy, diamonte covered monstrosities! In one shop the lady made me stand in my underwear in front of my friends while she chose the dresses. Apparently I’d split the seams if I tried to squeeze into the ones I liked. I ended up shopping on my own to save some of the embarrasment. Then I gave up altogether…then I found out about the 6 month thing and panicked!!!

    I finished work early one day and popped into a bridal shop down the road to have a look. They were amazing! They listened to me, helped me pick some dresses to try on – I could pick from all of them!!! I knew as soon as I tried it on that the first dress was the ‘one’, but she still made me try on more just to be sure. I think I have tried on nearly every dress there, but I kept going back to the first one and have now ordered it (in a size 14). Thank you so much to Eira at Ellie Sanderson in Beaconsfield – I can’t recommend them enough.

  38. I genuinely don’t know why women in Bridal shops are so awful, I also had the lecture from a woman telling me that I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to look for bridesmaid dresses before my own dress, and that if I wanted my dress to be ready for my wedding in 18 months time I’d have to order it in the next few weeks. Almost all looked appalled when I asked for ‘no diamanté and sequins please!’ too! I’m sure they’d sell more if they just listened to the brides and were just a little bit nicer!

    Thankfully then I found the Bridal Suite in Fareham – beautiful dresses and Beverly was so so lovely. I’d recommend it to anyone!

  39. @Mimi I also thought about going to Daisy Love but found my dress before then. And it’s actually a myth that dresses can only be taken in two sizes – it depends on the skill of the person doing the alterations. Sam at Mamfii has altered a dress from a size 22 to a 14 before. You just need a skilled seamstress who knows where to reposition any detail etc!

    @Sian I know exactly what you mean. As the saying goes, you attract more bees with honey than vinegar – why can’t they understand that? Mind boggling.

  40. Brilliant writing Jenny! And so pleased you found a store that was willing to actually help you find a dress you love.

    I’m a newly engaged size 18 and I’m going to my first bridal shop on Monday. I’m dreading it. Having spoken with the shop on the phone, they already know my size and they have pre-advised that I won’t be able to try most of their stock on. So I fully anticipate that I’ll be holding dresses up in front of me, imagining how they might look if I was a perfect size 10, while people stand around pitying me.

    I’ve heard so many horrid stories about bridal shopping that it doesn’t seem at all like a rare situation. On the plus side, I am now expecting a bad experience, so at least I’m mentally prepared for it. Wish me luck….

    @Max – I live in Beaconsfield and I’ve often walked past Ellie Sanderson, thinking how pretty it looks. Will definately have to pay them a visit now.

  41. I am so glad that I am not the only one with these experience! I went shopping for the first time last Saturday. The first shop I went into, couldnt have done anything more for me and did their best to put me at ease, reassuring me that I would still look beautiful at size 18. I didn’t find a dress i loved in that shop but was given free reign to find out what suited & what didn’t.
    The second shop was more upmarket and a different story all together. I wasn’t given time to look at dresses properly & ended up with a haphazard selection of things I didn’t particularly want to try on, apart from one. Which was a size 8 and despite me telling the girl it wouldn’t fit, she insisted I ‘try it on’ which basically resulted in me standing in my underwear with my arms through the sleeves ‘to see what it looked like’ totally soul destroying when you see all these gorgeous girls out at the mirrors in the changing rooms. Saying that I did fall in love with the final dress I loved in that shop when she came back with a similar dress in a bigger size.

    I can’t stop thinking abotu this dress and am now searching to find somewhere else to buy it that might have slightly better more caring customer service!
    I am

  42. Great post Jenny, I am glad I’m not the only who feels dread at the thought of wedding dress shopping!

    My worries however are my height, I am SHORT, as in 5ft (barely). When I look at dresses I just can’t imagine how they would look any good on me as they all seem to be made for lovely tall slim people. Most people I talk to this about say I should go for a short dress, and although there are some gorgeous short dresses out there and have seen many a bride looking gorgeous in one, I know in my heart I would love a long dress, it’s just persuading them of this.

    At the moment I’m avoiding wedding dress shopping but I know I will have to pluck up the courage soon, so all these recommended boutiques are amazingly helpful!!


  43. What a fantastic post, gives you a heads up on what to expect, I wont now think Ill be greeted with a glass of bubbles when I arrive at a boutique now.

    I haven’t started the search for my dress yet, well I’ve looked at lots of pretty ones on the internet but not stepped foot in a bridal shop. I’ve just booked an appointment for the end of March in hope I can lose some weight before hand so it not only comes off my tummy but also my bust, I have big bangers totally natural but big for my frame, think size 10-12 with 30ff knockers I think that’s why Im dreading it in all honesty as I know what suits me and Im not sure how Ill cope with some size 8 model body telling me what to try on its nice to know that Im not the only one xx

  44. I too was dreading wedding dress shopping, thinking there would be very little choice for my 5ft size 16-18 frame and unfortunately I was right! I can’t say I ever had terrible service or any of the ladies were really horrible to me, so I’m lucky in that sense, but I just couldn’t get a feel of how anything would look with someone holding the back of the dress together while I did my best not to trip over in a dress way too long for me while I showed my knickers off to the rest of the shop!

    Being so tiny in the height department, I was convinced tea length would be the way I’d have to go, until I tried one on and just didn’t feel like a bride (which may have something to do with the fact that I’m barely out of a 50s style tea dress, so it didn’t feel too out of the ordinary!) but having been laced into a beautiful full length lace dress to within an inch of my life by a very patient and determined lady in one bridal shop, I decided that full length was for me but still couldn’t find my dream dress.

    Instead of ever finding anything close to ‘the one’ I found lots of bits of ones I liked and was looking for a dress that I don’t think existed.

    And so, after lots of research, I’m going bespoke – in fact I’ve just got back from my first measurement and design appointment about 10 minutes ago! My amazing dressmaker has listened to everything I’d love to have, advised me on which fabric, cut and style will suit me best and is about to start making the wedding dress of my dreams. It is so exciting to know that my dress will be a one off, unique to me and hide all the lumps and bumps that looked even bigger than before in the dressing room mirrors at the bridal shops! Plus, my beautiful bespoke gown will actually come in quite a bit cheaper than the lace dress that convinced me a shortie like me could pull off full length – so its a win win! So my advice would be don’t restrict yourself to bridal shops, as there are lots of other options out there and some lovely people who will make you feel amazing instead of being rude and bringing you down.

    p.s. From one shortie to another – you stick to your guns Tabitha! Don’t let anyone else tell you what dress you should have for your big day, hope you find the full length gown of your dreams to knock the naysayers socks off and prove them all wrong x

  45. @Cassandra Oh, I feel terrible that you’re now expecting a bad experience. Don’t get me wrong, I met my fair share of the stuck-up, bossy, know-it-all variety, but there are some lovely people out there too, so I really hope they’re nice to you at your appointment on Monday. If you don’t like them, then don’t lose heart, as there are some wonderful boutiques out there that will be more than happy to help you. Read all of these comments, as there are some fab places recommended.

    @Tabitha This is what I hate – people telling you to get a short dress when that is clearly not what you want! I see no reason for you not to have a long dress, it’ll just be a case of finding a shape that suits you. I think I read on these dotty pages a wedding where the bride had a similar worry about her height, but I can’t remember which wedding it was. @Charlotte, can you help?

    @Faye Thank you! Well it sounds as if you have a fabulous figure so only lose weight if *you* really want to, not because you’re worried about wedding dresses. My advice? Don’t put off finding a wedding dress because you’re worried about your weight. Find a dress that suits you and that you love as you are now, then if you do lose a bit of weight, the dress is only going to look better. That way you’re not putting heaps of pressure on yourself to lose a certain amount! x

  46. I just wanted to say that while far too many lovely ladies have had shockingly bad experiences don’t let the worry of what might be spoil something which is meant to be fun and enjoyable because its not all bad. As a size 26-28 I was truly dreading shopping for my dress. I expected to be treated like many others have been and thought i’d have no choice but to put up with it because of the few shops around that actually have large sized samples of the ‘plus’ size ranges they advertise. Then I found Curvaceous Brides in Weston-super-Mare who not only had a fabulous range of dresses available to order in my size but also to try on! They were also lovely, friendly, funny and kind, letting me try on just about every dress they had and finding ways to get me into dresses that probably shouldn’t have fit! I couldn’t have had a better experience and can’t wait to wear my dress!


  47. Jenny thank you for sharing your story. I thought it was just me that had such a bad experience!! In my case it wasn’t all the stores/boutiques/shops whatever you are supposed to call them! Some were fabulous, but overall i really disliked the whole dress buying experience! And i didn’t appreciate being squished into dresses that will “just suit me” when I knew I did not want a big puffball princess dress.

    1 – my mum didnt cry
    2 – I bought the dress I had in my head from the start it was jsut a case of finding it
    3 – I didnt have a “the one moment”
    4 – I never want to go through that again!!

    I bought my dress at the National Wedding Show. and I got nearly naked (bar the knickers!) in a cupboard with 4 other women. interesting experience. so I cannot say I had a good experience even when I found the dress. But alas! its over, i love the dress, (i don’t love the credit card bill) and I bought what I wanted and what I think suits me.

    There’s a lot of pressure on brides to cry and have this epiphany moment and in reality we’re just not all like that. I am much much more likely to cry when we choose the cake! x

  48. oh and i forgot!! one of my friends was told “you’re big boned for a bride”.

    I don’t need to comment further!

  49. @Jenny – Not at all. I was already expecting a bad experience! But your post has made me feel so much better and realise that I’m not alone in my worries.

    If it doesn’t go well, I just need to pick myself up take myself (and my money) to somewhere where I feel comfortable! Afterall, I’m not a million miles away from Mamfii Bridal! 🙂

  50. I’ve been following the comments on this all day as I’ll be jumping into the muddy waters of bridal boutiques and dress hunting next month… when my older sister comes down for the National Wedding Show at the Olympia and I shall be scheduling a few appointments around the same time. (We’re planning a super-girly weekend as it so happens that my fiance will be away!)

    The very thought terrifies me – as though I can already feel the chill of standing in the dressing room in my undies, whilst someone explains to me why I could never wear that dress… Though I really hope it won’t be like that, the insecure part of me worries quite a bit. When I’m feeling happy I know that I’ve got a great figure, and at (mostly) as size 12 I’m pretty lucky. The things is though, that in the chest department I’m probably not unlike the lovely Ms Hendricks above, although having lost some weight recently I’ve dropped down from the HH cup I was wearing last summer… So, although the bra world has improved dramatically for the large chested in the last few years, the thought of trying to find a dress that will hide the scaffolding I require does fill me with a fair bit of dread.

    All of which reminds me, I probably ought to schedule a Bravissimo appointment, so that at least when I am standing around in only my undies, they will be decent ones that fit me!

    1. @Ruby – Well done for dropping from an HH! I am 36HH and neither Bravissimo nor Rigby & Peller do strapless up to that size. I have found one on SimplyBe though 🙂

  51. Ooh and regarding the standing round in undies dilemma, I always made sure I was wearing nice bra (not strapless, as I’m of the big boob variety too) and leggings. I kept my leggings on the whole time, and it made absolutely no difference to the dresses and reserved my modesty nicely 🙂

  52. Mimi Rigby and Peller will make a bespoke creation. As a 32GG I was told that I’d need a size 18 dress and they would ‘take it in’ and to ‘trust them’. Needless to say I’m insisting on a toile fitting and going bespoke.

  53. I needed a size 16+ dress and had resigned myself to being pinned into size 10s with random bits of fabric at the back, or elastic bands. In the end, I found my perfect dress, in a sample size, that was reduced and from a lovely shop (Mia Sposa in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham) – they were always so friendly and helpful, they completely redid the jacket that went with it to make it exactly how I wanted it, and they always listened to what I wanted. I did have a couple of mediocre experiences at other shops but nothing horrendous like Jenny or the other commenters – so good luck to everyone still looking!

    (oh and I always wore leggings too!)

  54. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I too commented on said blog post about my dress-shop-disasters. It is really surprising how these owners just don’t seem to ‘get’ it!!!

    I too have also met Samantha from Mamfii and think she is wonderful, if I didn’t live so far away, I would so make a visit 🙂

    Can’t wait to (hopefully) see you and your dress on here once you are married. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  55. Being a size 18, I’ve been dreading the thought of going dress shopping and after reading these comments I’m shocked to hear of people’s experiences, and rather scared. It makes me sad to think that one of the nicest experiences is going to be ruined by opinions of others.

    I’m currently on a strict diet and am hoping I lose enough weight to fit in at least one dress in the shop!

    I have been wondering how far in advance I have to order my dress…and after reading this,I think every day of my diet is going to count! :’-(

  56. Being a size 18, I’ve been dreading the thought of going dress shopping and after reading these comments I’m shocked to hear of people’s experiences, and rather scared. It makes me sad to think that one of the nicest experiences is going to be ruined by opinions of others.

    I’m currently on a strict diet and am hoping I lose enough weight to fit in at least one dress in the shop!

    I have been wondering how far in advance I have to order my dress…and after reading this,I think every day of my diet is going to count! :’-( xxx

  57. Can definitely second Proposals in Chichester. The most lovely staff who made me feel completely at ease. I was a size 20 to begin with but lost weight to a size 16 by the wedding. They gave really sensible advice on actually picked the dress I ended up buying. It was by Sottero and Midgely and I can vouch for the amazing effects of their corsetry.They made fantastic alterations and I ended up with the dress of my dreams. I cannot recommend them highly enough!
    Also had lovely times with my mum in Chichester going for fittings with good shops and restaurants nearby. Such happy times 🙂

  58. I’m emerging from the shadows of lurkdom especially to say…I can’t begin to tell you how relieved I am to read this post and all the comments! I’m a pear-shaped size 12-14 (in Topshop, anyway) and 5’11 in my bare feet, which I’ve always been pretty fine with. I wasn’t looking forward to doing the wedding frock thing as I’ve only seen about 2 I like despite looking at probably thousands of pics online and in mags – and my first frock experience last week reinforced my apprehension to the point of actual tears when I got home! The first question I was asked when I arrived was whether I had looked on their website to decide which frocks I wanted to try – erm, no, no I hadn’t. All the pics on their website were non-emlargeable 2″ copies of designer press pics, so it was fairly impossible to see exactly what each frock looked like and even harder for me, as someone who has never worn a wedding frock, to imagine how it might look on my body instead of a size 6 model. No matter how I tried to explain to the assistants that I didn’t really know what I wanted, and I’d heard that most wedding frocks look totally different on the body to on the hanger so I was open to suggestions, they JUST. WOULDN’T. LISTEN. They quizzed me on whether I liked lace, big skirts, fishtails, sleeves, no sleeves, veils – I felt like I was being psychoanalysed, and I got the distinct impression that the shop wanted their customers to arrive with a clear idea of what they wanted so all the assistants had to do was pick it off the rail. Some of the frocks cost more than my actual car and most of the samples were size 8 or 10 – I can’t being to imagine how they do any business if you can’t try something on before ordering it. I’m now scouting around for Jesus Peiro stockists in the North-West and hoping that someone might be nicer to me!

  59. A friend has been updating her FB status about her wedding dress search, she’s drop-dead gorgeous and tiny and she was finding it stressful… I’ve already started planning my witty comebacks for any awful sales assistants when I go dress hunting. I am a size 16 and I want to find a dress that makes me feel fabulous, I think that having a dress made might be my way of enjoying the process and ending up with something I really love.

  60. Well Jenny I found my dress!! One shop, second dress I tried on….it was perfect and thankfully a wonderful experience! So ladies I can fully recommend Aphrodite in Knutsford, Cheshire for gorgeous dresses (Stewart Parvin, Jenny Packham and more) a wonderful owner who is honest and knwoledgeable but super lovely (her name is Terri!) and a great experience in a beautiful little boutique! Get down there on 25th Feb for a Stewart Parvin day!!!

  61. I know everyone says ‘you never end up with what you set out to get’, ‘ try even the styles you dont want, you never know what might click’ when it comes to finding your dress, but I personally thought that was all tosh- and have stuck to my guns. I wanted a tea length 50’s number even before we got engaged(!) I know what I like and what suits me and that is what I’m getting.

    I feel very lucky that I’ve not had any disastrous experiences in the 3 shops I went to (perhaps as a size 14, I’m getting off lightly!) but it is all so generic, and too many of the sales assistants seem to want to push you towards a classic ‘bridal’ look regardless of what you’re actually after.

    They might make some sales doing this, and earn their commission, but how much good does it do the reputation of their boutique to leave a trail of disgruntled women, or even worse, brides who (if they admit it to themselves) are unhappy with the dress they were forced into spending lots of money on?

    I have two recommendations- firstly there is a shop in Wallington, Surrey (sorry I cant remember its name) where my friend got her dress and we were all kitted out as Bridesmaids. So helpful and friendly, and even when one of the BM’s broke her dress at a fitting by literally bursting out of it (moi??) they were really nice and understanding.

    Secondly Courtesan it is online and also in the flesh in Worthing. Amy and Katie of Courtesan Boutique are magic in every way and have helped me have the best bridal dress experience ever!! They really listened and got genuinely enthusiastic about what I was after with honest but kind steering when needed. And they are in the process of helping me make my dream dress come true, while also keeping well within my extremely tight budget. I cannot recommend them highly enough (especially to quirky/budget brides!)

  62. I think everyone’s experiences can be quite subjective, I’m lucky I had no problems fitting into the dress samples, I’m a high street 8-10, just quite short so ended up standing on a few boxes!

    I’m pleased that two ladies here have said how good their experiences were with Proposals in Chichester, but my appontment with them was the worst of all the 8-10 shops I went to. There were 5 or 6 other brides in the shop at the same time, vying for mirror space. The sales assistant looked as though she was about 16 and doing a Saturday job, she gave no advice other that “this one’s pretty” before shoving something at me which was the complete opposite of what I wanted. She paid no attention to my budget at all.

    I think you just have to keep going until you find a shop and ladies that are right for you!

  63. @Jessie CONGRATULATIONS on finding your dress!

    @Caroline You’ve summed it up nicely – you just need to find the right shop for you.

  64. I am so sorry to hear so many women like myself having had such bad experiences when shopping for their wedding dresses, its so off putting and humiliating to find boutiques that only stock small sizes. I found a lovely bridal boutique in Enfield called Sara French bridal that stock fuller figure gowns,(up to size 32). This for me was the primary reason l visited, but l have a far more important reason for recommending them to any bride to be, the staff are quite simply the loveliest women l have met. Nothing was too much trouble for them, l didn’t feel judged for being a size 18, and they were so very helpful and genuinely nice, I lost count on how many dresses I tried! They made me feel completely at ease, and were so approachable and friendly that l didn’t felt intimidated or awkward. The changing rooms were spacious and they also had bridesmaid dresses in plus sizes too. This wedding boutique is a gem, they helped me find the dress of my dreams, l honestly can’t rate them highly enough, Sara French’s Bridal Boutique is definitely worth a visit !

  65. This thread is a godsend! Thank you ladies for sharing your experiences. I went to a shop and felt big hipped, chesty and frumpy when the samples wouldn’t fit. Rather embarrassing! Off for another try tomorrow. Feeling refreshed after reading funny, brave and completely relatable experiences. xx

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