Here’s Where to Find Size-Inclusive Wedding Attire in the Philly Area
If you want a wide selection of sizes and styles — especially if you are looking for a garment that’s fashion-forward, are queer or trans, or wear a wedding dress size 24 or above — planning is key.
Though it’s de rigueur for wedding-attire businesses to claim size inclusivity, this typically means they carry a handful of A-line samples in the smallest possible plus sizes — usually a wedding dress size 14, which will fit more like a 10, since wedding garments are cut smaller than regular clothes. If you’re a fat/plus-size person shopping for your Big Day and want a wide selection of size-inclusive wedding attire in various sizes and styles — especially if you are looking for a garment that’s fashion-forward, are queer or trans, or wear a wedding dress size 24 or above — planning is key. Here, newlywed writer Emma Copley Eisenberg shares her research.
Ed. Note: The inventory cited below is up-to-date as of the Philadelphia Wedding winter/spring 2023 issue, published in November 2022. Call each location for the latest sizes.
On Philadelphia Wedding’s last count, South Philly-based BHLDN offers more than 150 wedding styles online, including jumpsuits and sets. Of that number, upward of 33 are plus-size. This includes gowns that go up to a 26, the largest size manufactured by BHLDN, which fits more like a street-size 22. At the time I was shopping in February 2022 for my October union in that same year, the Devon shop had 23 plus-size options for try-on.
In comparison, Conshohocken brand David’s Bridal, which has seven locations within 50 miles of Center City, has a huge selection — of its 421 total dress styles, 300 plus-size styles are currently available on the website, with 247 looks in sizes 24 to 30, among them different silhouettes, textured fabrics and two-in-ones, as well as jumpsuits. In-store, David’s Bridal offers sizes up to 30 for try-on, but inventory varies based on location, the size of the boutique, the market and other factors.
Good to know: Notice how a business brands itself. Does it photograph garments on fat people and post plus-size models on Instagram? David’s, which recently underwent a major identity update, does exactly that.
As for smaller Philly businesses, there are standouts. Élysée Bridal is a new romantic line whose designers live locally and whose dresses are at L&H Bridal in Northeast Philly. L&H carries upward of 80 plus-size dress styles available for in-store try-on in size 14 and up, and 15 in size 24 and up. (Most gowns in the inventory can be ordered up to a size 32.) Lovely Bride in Old City, where I ultimately found my dress, curates sustainable garments from boutique designers. There are 95 gown styles available for in-store try-on in a size 14 and above, with five size 24 and above. And the staff was responsive and flexible.
Size inclusivity is a problem on a national scale — far beyond Philly alone. But why? According to Oregon-based designer Elizabeth Dye, it has to do with both the historical biases against making high-end clothing for fat people and the financial ways this bias manifests in the fashion industry — from manufacturers charging designers more for plus-size clothes to designers upcharging shops for plus-size samples.
If you have the time and budget, consider custom clothing. Local designers Madison Chamberlain and Ruby Gertz of Spokes and Stitches have expertise with inclusive garments. Chamberlain’s pieces take up to nine months and cost between $3,000 and $15,000. (Her bold veils are fun finishing touches, too.) Black-owned Madelange Laroche in Elkins Park is a hybrid ready-to-wear and custom salon, with most try-on gowns in up to size 24 but available to order in up to size 28. Most gowns are custom-made, which takes up to nine months and starts at $4,500. (Discover more about the shop here.)
Xavi Row Bespoke (read about the founder’s wedding here) and Style By Blain are also Black-owned but make custom suits and shoes, respectively. For suits for queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people, Brooklyn-based Bindle & Keep is expected to open a Philly outpost in 2023.
Cherry Hill-based Laura & Leigh Bridal has an inclusive ethos. Owner Laura Calderone (who is getting hitched later this year) commits to procuring samples up to a size 30 for every order, refuses to work with designers who don’t have inclusive size charts, and requires that all stylists go through sensitivity training. “Just offering dresses in plus sizes doesn’t make a store inclusive,” says Calderone. “It means inclusivity of everyone — regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, budget, religion, style or size.”
Online-only brand Sweet Caroline (owned by Caroline Adams of Cherry Hill) has fun bridal separates and sizing up to 32. For an exclusively plus-size selection, try Brides of Today in Quarryville, with sizes 16 to 32 — a truly affirming experience.
Published as “Expert Advice: Where Can I Find Size-Inclusive Wedding Attire?” in the winter/spring 2023 issue of Philadelphia Wedding.
Getting married? Start and end your wedding planning journey with Philadelphia Weddings' guide to the best wedding vendors in the city.