What To Do if You Don’t Fit in Sample Size Wedding Dresses

First, join the club!
Sample sizes are SMALL! A regular size 14 is a sample size 8! Gah!

Second, don’t freak out. You’re not alone. The average American girl is a size 16, which means, yep, most women don’t fit sample sizes! Nevertheless, it’s easy to get frustrated.


If there’s one thing I remember from my wedding dress shopping experience, it was the frustration I felt walking into a bridal salon and only having a handful of gowns (if that!) to try on because all of them were too small. Then, when I did muster up the confidence to try on those handful, I couldn’t tell what the dress would look like in my actual size.

This photo is a reminder of that– I was at the bridal shop where my stepmom bought her wedding gown. We went together, made a day of it, and it was supposed to be a happy time… After all, wedding dress shopping should be fun, right?

But then there was the realization that this store didn’t have a large selection, and there were only 2 (maybe 3) gowns that would fit my size 10/12 frame. I was embarrassed, but I pressed on, mostly for my stepmom, she had fond memories of the place.

But then there I was- in a tiny dressing room… with a tiny dress… alone. I tried to pull the expensive gown over my head, step into it, something, but it didn’t feel right; it didn’t fit. There’s no mirrors in the room… you have to come out. It was a real WTF moment.

I got over it, tried to make the most of the situation, and stepped out. My stepmom was teary eyed immediately! She loved the dress. The bridal associate quickly pulled out all the bells and whistles- the fake bouquet and the veil. Ta da! Nobody said anything about the fact that it wasn’t zipped. Really?

In the end, I didn’t get this gown, and in fact, I tried on a dozen or more others, but the experience stuck with me; it’s part of the reason I was inspired to start this blog.

If this is something you’re worried about, fear not! Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Tips for Shopping Sample Sizes:

  • Go with an open mind: Know that sample sizes are small. It’s not you, it’s the dress.
  • If it doesn’t fit, don’t fret: There’s all sorts of contraptions to pull and tuck a gown that’s too small to give you a vision for what you’re dress will look like. Not only that, but, before it’s all said and done, alterations will ensure your dress fits perfectly on your wedding day.
  • Listen your sales associate: The sales associates are used to this sort of thing (read: you’re not alone! They’ve seen it before)! Listen if they suggest certain gowns or, if on the contrary, they discourage trying on a dress that they know is too small.
  • However, don’t be bullied: Sales associates are trying to make a sale and in my experience, the pressure to buy is intense. Let your sales associate know if you’re just looking and don’t plan to buy anything that day. Also let them know if you’re not comfortable coming out of the dressing room (for all the world to see!) or trying on a certain dress they’ve suggested.
  • Along those same lines, don’t be easily offended:The thing about those sales associates/shop owners is that can sometimes be brutally honest!  You’ll read more about this in a post later today, but head’s up: if you don’t have a thick skin for, say, suggestions for your body type, etc., let the associate know you’d prefer to pick out your own styles.
  • Bring someone who knows you well and who puts you at ease: It’s not always a good idea to bring your entire posse. If a dress doesn’t fit (or none of them do), you may be really uncomfortable if there’s a large audience. Bring your closest girl pals or your mom; people who know you and who you’re comfortable around. People that build you up!
  • Do your research and call around first: Bridal shops can be intimidating places. It’s never a bad idea to call ahead first and describe yourself and your vision, and ask questions. I went to a million bridal shops in this area, and trust me: not everyone is nice. Not all the shops were nice, either; some were run-down and old. Search the Weddingbee boards and Google places before you go to them. I guarantee it will make for a happier experience!
  • Remember, this is about YOU!For a lot of us, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Try to enjoy yourself! Make a day of it and have fun! Let your hair down and try not to worry too much! If a dress doesn’t fit, it wasn’t meant to be! There’s others!
  • Speaking of others, the last and most important thing you have to do if you’re worried about sample sizes is ditch the above suggestions and head to Curvy Girls Bridal!You’ll have to come back later today for this one, but, I promise it will be a big sigh of relief for area brides. There’s a shop right here in DC going against the grain, carrying sample sizes 12-32!
Curvy Girls Bridal Fairfax
Curvy Girls Bridal Fairfax

Curvy Girl Bridal is a unique bridal shop offering gowns from top designers in sizes 12-32! They’ve won numerous awards from The Knot to Wedding Wire to Washingtonian’s Bride & Groom Magazine, and it’s no wonder. I had the privilege of interviewing the owner, Ruth. Check back later today for that post 🙂 You won’t want to miss this!

Are you worried about sample sizes?

For the newlyweds, do you have any experiences with this?

Hey girl!

Welcome to Sincerely Sara, a Virginia-based style blog sharing affordable fashion finds for millennial mom.

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