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Bride Shaming ~ Practical Advice To End Body Shaming

By Mira East, Publisher

I’ve always been aware of body criticism and fat shaming, but it became even more apparent as I started seeing and hearing brides and bridesmaids protesting the size they should order. The pressure brides put on themselves is crazy. Not only are they planning an event for 150+ people, but most are trying to lose weight before the wedding so they can look “skinny” in their photos.

When planning, brides browse magazines, Pinterest, IG, blogs, and more. They look at the designer’s website and see a model in their dream dress and think, “I need to look that good.” Or they see a segment on the morning news on how to get rid of “flabby arms” or stop “chub rub” in its tracks. Even worse, they go shopping for bridal gowns and see another bride-to-be in a similar style. And so the comparisons begin….

“She looks so much better in that dress. I can’t buy it now! Her body is perfect. God, I look awful. Take it off. TAKE IT OFF!”

The struggle is real. Your consultant may recommend a gown that’s 2-3 sizes larger than what you normally wear. Thanks to European sizing and designers’ refusal to evolve size charts to match modern day norms, brides begin to panic in their dressing rooms. “I’m not that size!” Just try to remember it’s not you, it’s the industry.

So let’s define what’s happening here. It’s called “Bride Shaming.” This new form of criticism can put an irremovable damper on the planning process. And wedding related reality TV does not help. Let’s ask ourselves, what terminology should we avoid when referring to ourselves or others? How can we change the conversation? I’ve included “15 Things to Never Say”.  Trust me, not everyone wants to hear those words, sarcastic or not. If you’re planning your big day, there’s no better time to get a handle on your insecurities and the way you treat yourself. Someone loves you very much—it’s time to start loving yourself.

I am a firm believer that there’s a wedding dress out there for every bride—whether you have an athletic, tall, apple-shaped or hourglass figure. And this might surprise you, but you don’t have to stick to the uber-flattering fit-and-flare silhouette if you’re looking for a dress that does your curves justice. In fact, some of the trendiest styles out there—from dramatic ball gowns to sexy mermaids—look amazing on a lot of different body types. What’s the key to finding your perfect fit? Keep an open mind! What you think will look amazing might not and what you never thought you would slip into, could be the one.

Let’s break it down. First, skinny-shaming is just as toxic as fat. While I’m proud that companies like Lane Bryant and Dove are showing adoration for all figure types, sometimes skinny girls get tossed under the bus. Many models and petite actresses are told to “eat a sandwich” or that they look “anorexic.” In her song “Anaconda,” Niki Minaj has some shameful words for those skinny B’s in the club. Quite suddenly, the media has turned on the “thin” women of the world.

What about athletes? They’re “boyish,” “buff,” “flat as a board”…the list goes on. Many brides complain about their “broad shoulders” or “masculine” figures. This self-criticism is caused—once again—by the media. They’re told that ladies aren’t supposed to be muscular. Without curves and a little fat on their bones, they no longer look like a woman.



Men deal with the same commentary. The “Dad Bod” has gotten a lot of attention lately. Beer bellies are ‘in’ and biceps are ‘out,’ says social media. Leonardo DiCaprio, Seth Rogan, and Jason Segal are “rocking” Dad Bods. Perhaps Chris Pratt shouldn’t have buffed up? Would he be hotter without his new abs?

What if the people saying these things are those you love and trust most? Many women have a mother, sister, or other female family member who consistently comments on their figure.

Getting over the public’s definition of “pretty” is one thing, but ignoring your mother’s digs is another. While I understand that they’re coming from a good place, comments like, “Have you been stress eating again?” or “Those pants look a little tight, hon…” can be detrimental blows to a girl’s confidence.

Now imagine them as you try on bridal gowns. I’ve witnessed this first hand. I’ve taken a bride back into her fitting room to boost her confidence after she received unwelcome scrutiny.

How do we change this? How can we twist this culture?



I always recommend bringing a small entourage of loved ones to your appointment, but remember that their opinions are just that. Some of the commentary can be embarrassing. “You’re busting out of that dress” or “that gown gives you back cleavage” are common bride-shaming phrases. First of all, the samples you try on are unaltered and probably not your size. Second, you need to tell them to shush! These comments are not helpful or factual. As women, we need to work on how we talk about one another’s bodies so we can set an example for society.

If you’re a bride, let your family know which opinions are helpful and which are not. As a member of the entourage, keep your bride’s confidence level up and remind yourself that this is her dream dress, whether you like it or not. Ask yourself: Which one matches her personality and makes her unique beauty glow?

The moral of the story? There’s no satisfying the public. One minute you’re supposed to be 100 pounds and the next you need to look like a Kardashian.

Discover your own definition of beautiful. Drop the hashtag #NoExcuses. We have plenty of valid excuses. We have a full-time job, lots of friends we want to see, an obsession for good wine, a love for all things cheese-related, and a belief that watching Netflix is therapeutic. Does that mean we are unhealthy? Of course not! We are living a life…enjoy it.

What is important is wellness.

To me, “beautiful” should mean waking up each day and feeling strong and happy. It means looking in the mirror and seeing someone who’s taking care of themselves and focusing on all the areas of Wellness. Are you physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally healthy? Track this. Add it to your wedding planning binder.


 


Tell yourself you’re beautiful—right now.

I am thrilled that designers are offering more plus size options in their collections for curvy brides. The best part? Even if they aren’t pictured on a plus size model, they’re all available to order in plus size! I’ve partnered with Watters, one of our favorite designers for curves to bring you some of my top picks.

Illusion Neckline
An illusion style is a gorgeous way to bring up the neckline of your dress without looking too conservative.
WTOO Style Marnie

Cap Sleeves
Cap sleeves are an elegant alternative to the strapless look. They give just enough arm coverage but still draw attention to your collarbones. A lace pattern works well with a vintage wedding theme. Watters style Anais

 

Images credit Real Brides:

Liz Domingos: Matthew Leland Photography

Kate Trompetter: Nine by 9 Photography & Wheeler & Williams Photography

Editorial in collaboration with Wedding Shoppe Blogger: Hannah Arkeli

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Real Wedding ~ Linda & Edward

Married October, 22 2016

“When planning the wedding the look I had in mind simple elegance. I wanted to stick with the classic colors, black and white, and added hints of gold here and there,” explains Linda. “Pinterest was a huge help. I went to each appointment knowing what I already wanted which made everything flow so much easier.”

“If I could give any one piece of advice to future brides it would be to take a moment at your reception to really just take it all in. The planning process is so long and can be frustrating at times but it truly does flies by! When the day of your wedding comes, make sure you look at your partner and bask in the hard work you did to put it all together,” explains Linda. “Enjoy the fact that you have a room full of people who are there to celebrate your love and commitment to each other. It is so easy to get caught up in the “timeline” of day, that you forget to enjoy it and take it all in with your new husband!”

Images: Ellie Ford Photography   /   Ceremony: St. Thomas Catholic Church   /   Reception: Larsa Banquet Hall   /   Bride’s attire: Liz Martinez Bridal   /   Wedding party attire: Sorella Vita from Mira Bridal Couture, MiraBridal.com   /   Groom’s attire: Vera Wang, Men’s Wearhouse   /   Rings: Gabriels Fine Jewelers   /   Entertainment: Neil Buettner and Matt Harris   /   Traditional Assyrian Dola O Zurna with Peter Ishaya,  Romeo Esho   /   Band: Romeo Khoshaba   /   Florist: Flower Gallery   /   Speciality rentals, design, lighting: Fabric by Design   /   Caterer: Firenze Ristorante   /   Cake: Old Tyme Pastries   /   Videographer: Nor Cal Filmworks   / Hair stylist: Stephanie Marsh with 507 Day Spa and Salon   /   Make up: Emily Vieira

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What It’s Really Like to Shop for a Wedding Dress as a Size 14

By Jennie Runk via Brides.com

Image by @Photomuse

Shopping for a wedding dress as a size 14 is no cakewalk. Just ask model and advocate Jennie Runk, who married the love of her life, Andria, in October 2016 while wearing a stunning figure-hugging gown. But finding that perfect wedding dress was no easy feat. Here, Jennie details her own less-than-perfect experience.

 

I’m one of the most confident people I know. But I haven’t always been confident in my own skin. Growing up, I was always taller and bigger than the girls (and most of the boys) my age. I’ve been fortunate that modeling for over the past 10 years has given me the opportunity to really accept my body for everything it is: big, curvy, and beautiful.

 

However, leaving my first wedding dress appointment—preparing for one of the happiest days of my life—I’ve almost never felt worse about my body.

 

Living in New York City, I expected to have seemingly unlimited options for a wedding dress. This is one of the fashion capitals of the world, right? But in going into the first bridal boutique, I was astounded to find that they had nothing that would fit me. At a size 14 (the average size of American women, by the way), I was unable to fit into the boutique’s sample sizes of 6 or 8. The saleswoman was very sweet and tried to be accommodating—putting me in bigger skirts and holding the top of a smaller dress up to my bust to get an idea for what a larger dress might look like—but ordering a dress you’ve never tried on before for one of the biggest days of your life was something I just wasn’t ready to do.

 

The second boutique I visited in New York was an even bigger disaster. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I told the saleswoman the vision I had for my dream dress and she looked me up and down and said, “We don’t have anything like that in your size.” I was floored. So I walked right out of there, thinking to myself that she’d made a big mistake in not helping me.

 

Now, I’ve never been much of a shopper. Growing up, I was always more interested in the next Stephen King novel than going to the mall. But shopping for my wedding dress was different. I was looking forward to it! As a model, I’ve learned to be comfortable and confident in my own skin. I’m a proud plus-size woman with big, beautiful curves! But leaving two appointments not only without a gown, but without being able to try anything my size on, was completely defeating. I couldn’t imagine what plus-size women with lower self-esteem than mine were experiencing.

 

I was about to resign myself to ordering a gown from the first boutique. The saleswoman was very sweet, and I liked the idea of what the gown would look like. But, of course, I couldn’t try it on in my size until after it was purchased. I just didn’t want to shop anymore. Any fun that was supposed to come from wedding dress shopping had been sucked out by stores failing to carry a wider selection of sample sizes. It’s not like they weren’t available; the stores just didn’t carry them.

 

On a trip home to Missouri, my mom and sister convinced me to try shopping again. I was not interested in putting myself in a position to feel miserable about my body again, but still wasn’t happy with the options I’d found in NYC. I finally agreed to give St. Louis shopping a try.

 

To my delight, Maiden Voyage Bridal in Manchester, Missouri, was completely different. I described my dream dress to the saleswoman and she seemed to get it instantly. The onsite seamstress was able to open up any dress I wanted so I could actually try on the dresses to see what the final product would look like. To this day, I don’t understand why every store doesn’t do this. It seemed like just part of their process to take the sample dresses apart and then sew them back together. That’s what they’re there for, right?

 

With some slight tweaking and pulling together the right accessories, I fell in love with a gown and never wanted to take it off!

 

Image by @Photomuse

I’m thrilled with my wedding dress (and even spent much less money than I expected!), but getting there was such a discouraging process. The fashion industry has done such a great job of moving toward inclusivity for all sizes, but in my experience, much of the bridal industry hasn’t caught up yet. I wish designers included a larger range of sample sizes to send to bridal shops, which would have made my experience—and that of so many other women—much more positive. Just because you’re a size 14, or 22, or even a size 2, doesn’t mean that the experience of shopping for your wedding dress should be any less special than someone who fits into the sample sizes of 6 or 8.

 

My advice? Call the boutiques before venturing out to see if the stores have wedding dress options in your size. Someday soon, I hope to see every bridal boutique carry a wider range of sample sizes. But until then, set yourself up for success by just calling ahead.

 

Jennie Runk, an American model represented by New York’s JAG Models, has graced the cover of fashion magazines and starred in H&M summer swimwear campaign. Born in Georgia and raised in Missouri, Jennie was discovered in a Petsmart while volunteering for a cat adoption service. A proud (and recently married!) member of the LGBTQ community, Jennie is passionate about inclusion and empowerment for all people. Considered plus-size by the fashion industry, Jennie will be starring in the Straight/Curve documentary where she’ll share her compelling perspective on the future of her industry.

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Real Wedding ~ Rebecca & Adam

Married September 24, 2016

After months of house shopping, Rebecca and Adam decided to drive by one of Rebecca’s favorite homes on the market. As they pulled up, Rebecca was heartbroken to see the house had a “Sale Pending” sign. Adam convinced Rebecca to take one last look, just in case. Rebecca walked in and was immediately greeted by two banners. “Welcome Home,” and “The Schott’s”. She turned to find Adam on bended knee. During his heartfelt proposal, Adam told Rebecca a story she had never heard. Days before Rebecca’s father had passed away, Adam asked for her father’s blessing. A year later, he decided to purchase the house of her dreams as a surprise. Rebecca was overwhelmed with joy.

Planning kicked in immediately with help from Rebecca and Adam’s mothers. “I went to a bridal store in Campbell, CA and thought I found my dream dress. It was the third dress I tried on, explains Rebecca.” “When we went back three months later to pick it up. I put it on and I just felt so upset. It wasn’t my dress. My mom knew something was wrong and told me we would find the right wedding gown. The next day we made an appointment at Mira Bridal Couture and I found my dream dress within minutes. It was the most beautiful dress I’d ever seen and I felt like Cinderella in it. I still am so in love with it! Mira saved my wedding.”

From that point on, all if the wedding planing was simple. For their wedding venue, Rebecca and Adam booked the Galas Barn in Oakdale, CA.  Shades of lavender were selected for the bridesmaids and blush pink and ivory for the floral arrangements. “I have simple and clean taste which played a big role in my decorating and I wanted the least amount of clutter as possible,” says Rebecca. Simplicity was key. “Our wedding was perfect and exactly how we wanted it to be. It truly was the best night ever.”

Images: Ashley Crook Photography    /   Bride’s attire: Essense of Australia from Mira Bridal Couture   /   Bridesmaids attire: Bill Levkoff   /   Groom’s attire: Vito’s Tuxedos   /  Florist: Country Shelf Floral   /  Entertainment: DJ Rod Riley   /   Videographer: White Raven   /   Rings: Rogers Jewelers   /   Caterer: La Huerta Vieja   /    Photo booth: Treadwell Photo Booth   /  Cake: Dawn Hamman   /   Stationery: Dainty Arrow Designs

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Featured Wedding ~ Kaitlin & Camilo

Married March 25, 2017

Kaitlin and Camilo met each other in PE class on their first day of high school. The two clicked instantly and remained good friends over the next four years, then went their separate ways for a year just before Camilo joined the Air Force. “We reunited just after Camilo registered for the United States Air Force”, explains Kaitlin. “Our friendship turned into romance immediately.”

“Our planning process was tricky,” says Kaitlin. “In April of 2016 Camilo and I were stationed in Minot, North Dakota. We decided to plan our 2017 wedding in Modesto because we both grew up there and all of our friends and family were there. Since we were over 1500 miles away, I turned to my mother, Mira. She has been in the wedding industry for over ten years, so of course it made perfect sense to have her plan with us.”

Kaitlin worked closely with her mother and expressed her ideas for decor, fashion, the guest list, food, and music. Through hundreds of text messages and emails, Mira was confident she understood their vision. Kaitlin and Camilo flew home for the holidays and spent several days squeezing in appointments with venues, caterers, photographers, and their DJ. They finalized their wedding party attire, and of course, Kaitlin found her wedding gown at her mother’s bridal salon. 

The bridesmaids wore floor length Dessy dresses in blush, her mother served at Matron of Honor and wore a champagne and blush ombré sequin gown, and the groomsmen in black tie tuxedos.

The couple selected The Century in downtown Modesto for their wedding venue. “I traveled to New York Bridal Fashion Week with my mom several years ago,” says Kaitlin. “We stayed in the cutest four-story brownstone, and when Camilo and I walked into The Century for the first time I was reminded of New York’s brick structures highlighted by the city lights at night. It was perfect!”

Kaitlin has been fortunate to grow up in the wedding industry, making it easier to select some of the vendors she hired. One of the first vendors she hired was George, the owner of Sounds in Motion DJ. Kaitlin has known George and his wife Erin since she was ten years old and she was thrilled to have him emcee the entire night; and since Erin is the owner of The Century, Kaitlin knew she would be in good hands. 

“I traveled to New York Bridal Fashion Week with my mom several years ago,” says Kaitlin. “We stayed in the cutest four-story brownstone, and when Camilo and I walked into The Century for the first time I was reminded of New York’s brick structures highlighted by the city lights at night. It was perfect!”

Following the ceremony, guests were entertained by local musician Neil Buettner, The Platinum Photo Booth, and tray passed hors d’oeuvres.  Hand made scrolls with each guests name hung from the champagne flutes filled with pink bubbly as everyone was escorted to the reception.

The evening was intimate, with a selective guest list of 90. Ghost chairs lined the aisle with a variety of ivory flower arrangements and candles. Six flower girls dressed in mix and match beaded and feathered tutu dresses with capes dropping rose petals as they preceded the bride. 

Kaitlin wore an elegant Martina Liana gown with an illusion racerback and grand train with lace-edge detailing. Kaitlin was escorted by her father, and her mother served as Matron of Honor.

 

A special treat for Kaitlin was their three tier round wedding cake. Debra from Creative Cakes by Deb has been making cakes for Kaitlin since her 13th birthday and it was meaningful for her to have Debra create her wedding cake too. Kaitlin and Camilo chose red velvet and chocolate layers draped in ivory and gold frosting.

Throughout the planning process my mom would send pictures that included her dropping our Save the Dates in the mailbox, the assembly line of invitations she worked for hours on, and various add-ons she was pulling together. It was difficult to not be there with her but we could not have pulled off such an ornate and stylish affair,” explains Kaitlin. “We are forever grateful.”

Shortly after their wedding, Camilo was deployed. Kaitlin temporarily moved back to Modesto to be close to her friends and family until her husband returns safe.  Congratulations to Kaitlin and Camilo and thank you for your service.

Images: Will Khoury   /   Venue, floral, decor, and specialty rentals: The Century, Modesto, CA Bride’s attire: Martina Liana from Mira Bridal Couture   /   Wedding party and flower girls attire: Badgley Mischka, Dessy, and Tutu Du Monde from Mira Bridal Couture   /   Groom’s attire: Michael Kors, Mira Bridal Couture    /   Musician: Neil Buettner   /   Entertainment: Sound in Motion  /   Stationery: The Paper Habit   /   Escort scrolls: Hi Note, Etsy   /   Caterer: Fuzio’s Universal Bistro   /   Cake: Creative Cakes by Debra    /   Bar Service: Mobile Mixologist   /   Photo booth: The Platinum Photo Booth    /     Alterations: Sewing & More   /   Hair stylist: Aliesha  Lechuga, Bella Vagos   /   Make up: Make Up by Katie C, Brittney Jenkins   / Favors: Coffee Bean Bags, West Coast Promotion   /  Calligraphy: Melissa Rayl-McManis

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