Tearful plus-size bride hit with cruel remark in dress shop – but she gets the last laugh

By Staff


A bride felt snubbed and like she had to lose weight when she walked into bridal shops to find her perfect wedding dress – there was ‘nothing’ for her to try on but ‘frumpy’ gowns

A newly engaged woman excited to go wedding dress shopping was left feeling “so anxious” after being “looked up and down” as bridal shops “couldn’t be bothered with her” as a plus-size bride.

Your wedding day is all about committing to your partner for a lifetime, but high ranking on most bride’s wedding priority list is the dress. There’s a lot of pressure for it to feel perfect for the big day, plus the endless fittings and stunning gown can cost a fortune. So, feeling comfortable and being able to enjoy the experience is important.

But bride Hayley Brooks sadly did not have the experience she had dreamed of. With a beach wedding on the cards the 39-year-old was hoping for a floaty dress but a number of shops only provided “frumpy” frocks for women of her size, she explained. Left feeling unconfident and “like c**p”, Hayley began panic exercising and attempting to lose weight – just to feel comfortable enough to walk into a wedding dress shop.

“As soon as I walked in the shops it was like ‘we haven’t got anything for you’,” she told the Mirror. “They looked me up and down as if to say, ‘you’re not going to fit in anything in here’.”

The mortgage broker from Halifax, West Yorkshire, said that some shops she went into only had sizes 8 to 10 on display. She added: “They had nothing in my size, it’s not a nice experience. It made me feel so rubbish about myself, there was nothing for me to try on. Everything they had for my size was frumpy, like one of those dolls that’s a toilet roll holder.

“The Pretty Woman scenario is rife in the wedding industry, it makes you feel so anxious and gives you butterflies walking into those kinds of bridal shops. The average size in the UK is 16-18, but you go into a bridal shop and there’s nothing larger than a size 12.”

The mum to nine-year-old Beau says she hadn’t planned on changing her body for her wedding, but trying on dresses made her feel like she had no choice. She commented: “I was dieting just to try dresses on, it’s not nice. I was so stressed and looking back I wonder why I did that to myself. I’d panic if I didn’t do 10,000 steps a day, I was eating clean, I wouldn’t have any bread.

“I put myself under a lot of pressure, while organising the wedding, working full time, and looking after my son. There is so much stress around a wedding, the last thing you need to be worrying about is losing weight.”

Luckily, Hayley had the last laugh when she wowed in a stunning corseted, A-line gown which was a “game-changer” for her. She added: “All the comments on the day [were about] how gorgeous my dress was, how beautiful the food was – not about how much weight I had or hadn’t lost. Nobody even notices. People are just there to enjoy your day and have a good time, they don’t think ‘oh she’s too big for that dress’.”

When Hayley visited Dotty Bridal, everything changed. The bridal boutique, owned by former star of The Apprentice, Shannon Martin, prides itself on catering to women of all sizes. Shannon has launched a campaign to encourage brides-to-be to accept and love their natural body – no matter their shape or size. The business woman says she experiences brides worrying about their weight every day.

Shannon said: “There is so much pressure on brides to lose weight, and why? People ask me all the time if they need to lose weight before they come in [to the shop] – it’s awful.”

Shannon advises that brides do their research before attending a wedding dress shop to ensure they cater to their sizes and styles. She explained that brides often order their dress two sizes smaller for their wedding day in hopes they will fit into that size. “It’s the worst thing you can do,” she added, and explained that dresses can be adjusted two sizes, up or down, but should be ordered in the size you are when trying on.

She said: “I’m here to make you look incredible in a wedding dress, whether you have lost weight or put weight on. It’s my team’s responsibility to be trained and have the knowledge in personal styling, to dress the bride to suit their body shape as they look now. We think others in the industry should be adopting the same approach.”

Speaking about how different her experience was at Dotty Bridal, Hayley said: “I wanted something floaty and comfortable and not too heavy, also something quite simple. I didn’t want the big diamante dress. Dotty made me try absolutely everything and in the end I went for something completely different to what I thought I would get.

“I was welling up as the experience was so amazing. I was looked after so well, it didn’t matter what size I was, they didn’t look at me any differently, I was just a bride. It’s such a special time when you’re looking for your dress, and you should enjoy the experience just as much as your wedding day.”

Hayley married her now husband Lee, 45, in Ibiza, Spain, on June 4, 2022. They had a small wedding with 50 guests and described the day as “amazing” in their “happy place”.

Hayley said she “felt like a million dollars”. There is no ‘right’ way to look or dress on your special day, there is beauty in variety,” added Dotty Bridal owner Shannon.

Do you have a wedding-related story? Get in touch via [email protected].

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