I worked in formal and bridal wear for the better part of three years.
As someone who operated closely with brides and their bridal parties to bring their Big Day vision to life, I learned the struggle that is bridesmaid dress shopping first-hand.
It’s not easy. It’s actually really bloody hard.
Accommodating for a vast variety of body shapes – big boobs, small boobs, lumpy bums, no bums, different heights, you name it – can present a mountain of challenges.
When you finally find a dress that works on the entire bridal party AND doesn’t blow the budget, it’s a massive “OH THANK JESUS” moment.
But then? More than likely, a bridesmaid will float the idea of buying a dress that isn’t her current size.
“I want to buy a 10 as motivation,” size 14 women would frequently tell us around the shop ottoman. “This way I’ll have no other choice but to lose weight before the wedding.”
Sometimes, it would be a size 4 woman wanting to buy a size 8. Or a size 22 planning on buying an 18.
Regardless, I always warned against it.
Don't get me wrong - I understand wanting to encourage yourself by purchasing a different size (not that you need it, you look stunning just as you are), but I highly, hiiiiiighly recommend you don't.
I can't count the number of times, one week before a wedding, bridesmaids came into our store with tears welling up in their eyes.
"It just doesn't fit," they'd tell us, clutching their pastel chiffon gown. "I don't know what to do."
This is the most difficult part - because often there's not very much you can do at all.
Bridesmaid dress styles are either custom made, or they don't come in huge stock numbers. Organising a different size at the last minute for a dress that was bought months ago is near impossible.
It's honestly heartbreaking to watch customers feel anything less than a million bucks because they're squeezing into a dress that just doesn't fit.
While a gown that's too big can be brought in around the bust, this is an intricate and costly alteration. And if the dress is too small? Options are very limited, and the few that are plausible take a huge amount of time and skill.
So please - please - think twice about buying a size that isn't your own.