Hampshire’s specialist plus size wedding dress boutique

Here are 10 things you HAVE to know.. from the ladies that KNOW!

We are Michelle and Carolyn and the proud owners of Olivia George Bridal. For the last six years we have built and learnt our way in the incredible world of bridal; the heart of our business is specialising in plus size wedding dresses – we have helped literally hundreds of plus-size brides to find their dream wedding dress, and we want to empower you with the knowledge that all you curvy beauties need to know when embarking on your wedding dress journey!

We hear time and time again stories of brides going into a bridal shop and being told as she walks in “sorry but we have no samples in your size..” or finding only 1 or 2 dresses available in their size to try on.

Of course most dresses can be ordered up to a size 30 BUT what’s the point in that if you can’t try anything on?? Is being told to hold a dress in front of you in the mirror going to give you an idea of what that dress might look like on your body? Of course not – but believe it or not – this is one of the stories we hear the most!

We see first-hand the impact these negative experiences have on a bride’s confidence, self-esteem and most worrying their self-worth. They will often come in our front door assuming they won’t get ‘that feeling’ and assuming they will have to settle for ‘any old dress’.

Before you read any further, please keep in mind that YOU DO NOT NEED TO ‘SETTLE’

Now, we have always said – it’s highly unlikely that we have THE DRESS for everyone. So – with that in mind, we want to arm you with the insider know-how that can help you curvy ladies take your bridal search to the next-level… whether you come to us or not!

1. Plan ahead… and do your research!

Maggie Sottero Curve plus size wedding dress

We can’t emphasise this point enough, you need to do your research ladies!

Reach out to bridal shops in advance to ask how many sample dresses they have in your size, ask them what designers they stock, find out if they are ‘by appointment only’ and whether there will be more than one bride in the shop at a time.

All of these things will help you to make a decision on which bridal shop is best for you.

But be prepared to travel, whilst it would be amazing to have a shop suitable on your doorstep, we know this isn’t always the case. It’s worth travelling that extra distance to know you will be able to try on 20 dresses in one shop as opposed to being able to try on 1 or 2 dresses in a shop nearer to home.

We have helped brides from all corners of the UK and even further afield – a genuine, empowering & luxury bridal experience is absolutely worth travelling for, if you can!

2. Get size savvy

This tends to be the first thing we address in our bridal appointments. More often than not, wedding dress sizing runs smaller than high street sizes.

So please don’t be put off by having to go up a couple of sizes. In all honesty we tend to advise to not look at the size on the label and instead trust us to put you in dresses that we are confident will fit you!

Many “regular” wedding dress shops will be proud to say they stock designs up to a size 18, but when you think that a size 18 is generally more of a high street 14… if, like us, you’re a 16/18/20+ then you are potentially going to struggle.

Trust us – we try on ALL of our dresses ourselves to get a good idea on sizing and fit (well, the ones we can get into… ) Saying all this, there is no hard and fast rule so this is why it’s important to reach out to shops first – our designers and collections can vary quite dramatically. Your chosen shop(s) will know their brands and sizing well, and be able to advise you before you make an appointment.

3. Do your homework… Go STALK us!

Wedding dress shop in Hampshire

Do your homework before you book your first bridal appointment, heck this is one time we actively encourage you to go and stalk us!

Check us out, make sure we are right for you! From the range of wedding dresses on offer to the budget and not forgetting the personality of each bridal shop, along with checking out if the appointment is private or will there be other brides in the shop at the same time? These things all matter when it comes to finding YOUR perfect wedding dress!

This is not a normal shopping experience, this is the one time that all of the attention will be on you, you should feel confident that the shop you are going to will help to put you at ease, not judge you and most definitely be the sort of people that you will feel comfortable with!

Facebook pages, instagram accounts and our website are great places to stalk us!

4. Set your budget!

Once you have your budget, stick to it! Choose the shops that can cater for your budget and don’t be afraid to tell them what your budget is, this will help the shop to only pick out dresses within your budget and save you falling in love with a dress that is over it. Another note – we will strongly advise that you don’t get tempted to try a dress that’s way out of budget – unless you’re more than comfortable to spend above what you originally intended.

Check out all the costs up front, if you are ordering a dress, do you have to pay up front on the day? With us we require 50% to order and the rest is payable when your dress arrives with us.

In house alterations service

Alterations……Many brides don’t realise there will almost always be extra charges for alterations. Unless you are opting for a bespoke made-to-measure gown your dress will be made-to-order. Quite simply – this means your measurements will be taken and the closest size dress to your measurements will be ordered. Nearly all our dresses will need a tweak in sizing here or there when they come in to make them fit to you to perfection.

Each wedding dress shop works differently with some recommending external seamstresses and some providing the service in-house. At Olivia George Bridal we can provide this service within our own workroom (whether you purchase your dress from us or not!) and recommend allowing a budget of potentially up to £300 for these alterations.

5. Pick your crew!

Bride tribe

Think about who you want with you when you come to your appointment – you want someone whose opinion you trust and do not feel pressured by. Now controversial as this may sound BUT this may not be a family member!

Make sure you do what is right for you. We often see brides that bring several people to their appointments and whilst we have all heard of the “bridezilla” reference, you may be surprised to hear that more often than not our role during the appointment is actually what we refer to as “crowd control” … Yes, we will absolutely guide you and happily be the voice of knowledge in your appointment, but if you know you will be better off without certain members there then take permission to do that at this very special time!

Choose the shops that will absolutely work with you on this – we are more than happy to do two appointments. One for you to choose and then the second for you to bring your chosen ones to see the dress you have fallen in love with.

6. Browsing for inspiration

Plus size wedding dress model

We are just going to say this… when you browse online at pictures of wedding dresses, please make sure you look at plus size models in plus size dresses. Also, be mindful that a bridal shoot (plus size or not) will include professional models, hair, make up, lighting, hours and hours of tweaking and thousands of shots to get that one photo that ends up on a designers’ socials and website!

Above all else keeping an open mind about what your wedding dress style will be is by far the best advice we can give, wedding dresses are like no other and it is only when you start trying them on that you get to see what style suits you best!

7. Ordering online…

Wedding dresses in Hampshire

This saddens us, but we totally get why a plus size bride will choose to look at ordering their wedding dress online. After all, we’ve all heard the horror stories and no one wants to experience that humiliation of walking into a regular bridal shop and there being nothing there to fit!

No one wants to experience those looks from the sales assistant that speak volumes without them even saying a word! (we’ve been there!)

No one wants to hear those words “we have nothing for you to try on in your size”.

No one wants to experience an appointment where you have to hold the dress in front of you and try to imagine what it will look like!

We totally get you and we ourselves are victims to ordering online too as it is sometimes the easiest way to anonymity and to avoid that changing room horror!

HOWEVER this is no ordinary purchase, this is YOUR wedding dress and this should absolutely be the one time that you should EXPECT to be treated like a VIP, should absolutely EXPECT to be welcomed with open arms and absolutely EXPECT to be able to try on wedding dresses that WILL fit!

All without having to resort to ordering online, so as we said before check out the shops in your area, be prepared to travel for the right shop and NEVER accept it is ok to feel less than the VIP that you are!

Do not apologise for being you – simply find the shop that ticks all of the above!

8. Surely you’re not ordering my dress in THAT size??

Owner Michelle proving that plus size is beautiful!

We’ve covered this – sizing in the bridal industry is, quite frankly, all over the place! Do not be disheartened at the ‘size’ of your dress; we promise it is literally just a number. Trust the shop to measure you and order the right size for you. We always run through our sizing decisions with our brides when ordering their dress – and the shop you visit should be more than happy to do this with you.

Thinking of slimming down before getting your dress? Whilst we hear this a lot our advice is to not let this stop you from finding your dress!

You need to have your dress sorted about 9 months to a year before your wedding date, holding off until you have lost weight may see you short of time and with less choice.

Another big no-no is ordering your dress in a smaller size with intentions of slimming into it. Our advice is to order the dress you love in the size that you are now. This way if you don’t lose weight then there is no drama or panic later down the line. A dress can always be taken in a couple of sizes so don’t put extra pressure on yourself – wedding planning can be stressful enough!

9. What about underwear? (Do I need to go and spend a fortune on sucky-in pants for an appointment?)

Quite honestly no you don’t have to! Unless that’s what is going to make you feel your confident best that is… What we want to see is the you that is going to be happy and confident in trying all sorts of dresses, not the you that is stressing about not having the ‘correct’ underwear or being a certain size! If you’re an ‘odd socks’ kinda girl then please wear them! We don’t judge – trust us we’ve seen (and done) it all ourselves!

Side note – you’ll need to have your wedding underwear etc sorted at some point – crucially for your first alterations appointment. For your wedding day underwear we (and probably 99% of brides who are already married) would recommend comfort – comfort – comfort!

10. Facebook lives… Give us a follow for more!

Michelle & Carolyn owners of Olivia George Bridal

Want to know more? Want to ask us a question not covered here? Or just want to see more of us? Then pop on over to our Facebook page and follow us to get notified of our live videos where we answer your questions and show more of what you all want to see!


So yes, we are saying check us out, check out all of the bridal shops in your area before making your appointment. And above all else don’t settle!