For a lot of brides, finding that perfect wedding dress is almost impossible. According to ABC News, nearly 70% of women wear a size 12 or larger. But at most stores, sample gowns are typically a size 8. Even worse, since most wedding gowns are cut small – that size 8 is gonna feel like you’re trying on a size 4! Which makes for a frustrating and humiliating experience. And the designer dresses splashed across bridal magazines aren’t made in anything close to ‘plus size.’

Also, every bride wants to feel like a princess. But plus-size women find they get treated differently when they go into bridal boutiques - they don’t get the attention that thinner women get. And it can ruin what should be a wonderful experience. Let’s face it – the bridal industry hasn’t caught up with our expanding population yet. So, here are some tips for finding “real-size” wedding dresses:

  • Check the big chains. David’s Bridal carries larger sizes. Lane Bryant recently added a wedding dress collection. Kleinfeld’s offers full-figured high end designer gowns. And the website PlusSizeBridal.com offers sizes up to 32.    
  • Call ahead and find out if the boutique you’re going to carries women’s or plus sizes.  
  • Choose a full-service store that does everything from dress selection to final fitting. Any dress you order based on a sample will probably have to be significantly altered.
  • Most boutiques do not give refunds. And online stores that accept returns have very strict conditions, so read the fine print.
  • Don’t buy a dress in a smaller size assuming you’ll lose weight. Some gowns cannot be let out. Which means if your diet doesn’t work, you might be forced to find a last-minute replacement dress.
  • Choose a style that flatters a fuller figure. Bridal consultant Lisa Lemay suggests avoiding strapless dresses, and going for high-waisted gowns and A-lines. Also, consider sheer jackets that elongate the body, and wraps that flatter the arms.