First, thank you to everyone for your advice and encouragement in my initial post asking for what to expect in dress shopping as a plus size person.
I went to a total of three wedding dress salons, all independent local businesses only one of which was specialized in plus sizes. The first store was very nice and had a range of sizes so I got to physically try on quite a few dresses. My consultant didn’t pull any dresses she didn’t think I had at least a chance of getting on my body (clips etc to be expected. Note: I never had a personal issue about open backs and clips for sample dresses, I was more worried about not being able to get anything over my hips). We were able to narrow down what silhouette I really liked and even had a contender at that store.
The second store was more of what I was worried about, they didn’t have any sample sizes that fit over my hips that weren’t ball gowns or A-line dresses that could be mistaken for ball gowns. Their answer to this was to strategically hold the dresses up to my body to get a general idea of what it looked like. I had prepared myself mentally for this so I didn’t have a melt down or feel too bad about myself during it. Two consultants helped with this so it was very efficient, but like almost too efficient? It was a less fun appointment in general. One consultant was sure I’d love this number which was a hard no, though my bridal party has nicknamed it the Gone with the Wind dress. One of the dresses I could only hold up to myself was very pretty and my group’s reaction to it was very strong. I didn’t want to make a decision because I was wary of having not been able to see it on myself and I wasn’t sure if I liked it because I actually liked it or if it was just my group’s bias for it. I also had reservations that maybe it was too fancy for the type of wedding we are planning. It had been a long day and I wasn’t going to make a purchase that day anyway.
So still on the fence I made an appointment at the only plus size specialty store in that part of the state, bonus being that they carried the designer of the popular dress though I didn’t call to see if they had that’s specific sample. I was still open to seeing other dresses. This store had quite a lot of selection AND had a sample of the popular dress. I tried on about 5 dresses before trying on the dress from the previous store because I didn’t want my party to view everything with a heavy bias. But seeing that last dress on was pretty undeniable that it was the dress. I got teary eyed basically immediately and my mom cried and I didn’t want to take it off. Casablanca 2292 -Sedona
The price at the plus size store was $75 more expensive than the second shop but I decided to purchase there because 1) They had the dress I could actually try on 2) I liked the consultant more and 3) the location is significantly more convenient for me if I’m taking my mom to fittings and such. They actually ended up giving us a 10% discount for staying with them (consultant knew I had seen the dress at another store but the sample was too small) and for purchasing on our first visit, which brought it under the other store anyway.
So none of the stores were bad experiences. I didn’t feel judged by any of the consultants and it seems like bridal salons are diversifying their sample sizes even if they aren’t specialty size stores. I had realistic to straight negative expectations going in but was pleasantly surprised.