After the initial thrill of seeing the engagement ring on her finger, one of the first thoughts a bride-to-be has is: Time to go dress shopping! That in itself is a major deal, but it takes on an extra layer of complication and preparation if you're pregnant and looking for a wedding gown. Suddenly, it's not just a matter of going to the bridal salon and asking to see the dress you've had on your Pinterest board since you were in college.
When you're wearing for two, so to speak, there are certain details to consider in order to find a dress that looks gorgeous and feels comfortable on your wedding day. You'll definitely want to let your bridal consultant know of your pregnancy as soon as possible, particularly if your wedding date will be falling in the middle of your third trimester. Then it's a matter of finding the best style for you (do you want to cover up your belly or flaunt it?), determining how many fittings you'll need, and making sure you have all the right extras, such as undergarments and shoes.
To get an expert opinion, Romper spoke to Heather McReynolds, divisional merchandise manager at David's Bridal, about what brides should know about dress shopping if they're expecting. With this knowledge, you'll be saying yes to the dress of your dreams in no time.
1. Leave Room To Grow
"It's important to keep in mind how far along you'll be on the big day," says McReynolds. If you're in your first trimester and the wedding is less than a month away, you probably won't need to do much adjusting to the dress you already have. On the other hand, if you'll be close to delivery on the big day, size is definitely an issue. "My recommendation is to always go two sizes up," advises McReynolds. "We can easily take in the dress if it's still too big. If you're shopping early on in your pregnancy, you can use a maternity pillow during the initial stages of selecting the dress or size before ordering." Salons such as David's Bridal usually have pillows, but call before you visit to make sure.
2. Consider Flowy Styles
A loose dress style with a long, flowing skirt is an excellent choice for pregnant brides, says McReynolds. "Empire styles are great because they're fitted at the bust, then have a lot of room for your growing bump," she explains. "Having a flowy dress eliminates much of the alteration guesswork and allows for several months' growth when you likely won't know the size when you go in for your next fitting." Even with a roomy style, she adds, it's still wiser to order a size larger than you think you'll need, if only to accommodate your growing bustline.
3. But Don't Rule Out Form-Fitting Dresses
While some expectant brides prefer to hide their growing bellies, others want a gown that shows off their bump in all its glory. If you fall into the latter category, talk to the bridal consultant or seamstress about a more curve-hugging style (such as mermaid or sheath), and find out how many fittings you'll need to make sure the dress flatters you without being too tight.
4. Look For Pregnancy-Friendly Fabrics
Heavy satins and stiff laces can be uncomfortable and hard to get around in when you're already carrying 20 extra pounds of baby. Gowns in lighter fabrics such as crepe, tulle, and chiffon, or stretchy jersey and Spandex-enhanced polyester, will carry you through the day with ease.
5. Shop Maternity Styles
"Whether you're a bride or a bridesmaid, if you'll be in your third trimester on the big day, you should consider a maternity wedding dress," recommends McReynolds. "It will fit you better without added stressful fittings — not to mention, you'll be more comfortable!" David's Bridal has several maternity wedding gowns, as well as pregnancy-accommodating bridesmaid's dresses that can also serve as bridal wear.
6. Keep Your Shoes In Mind
Pregnancy can be tough on your feet, and it's possible you may want either to wear flats the whole day, or wear heels for the ceremony and switch to sneakers for the reception. "The best pregnancy shoes are flexible to accommodate fluctuation in swelling and structured to take some of the pressure off," according to The Bump. Whatever your choice of footwear, let your consultant know so that your hemline can be adjusted to match.
7. Time Your Last Fitting
Even though most women prefer to have the finished gown in hand long before their special day, the opposite applies for pregnant brides-to-be. "I'd recommend having your final fitting the week of the wedding, which would allow a day or two for any last-minute adjustments," says McReynolds. And remember to factor extra fittings into your wedding budget. "Some salons charge per service ($225 to shorten your gown, $150 to resew seams, etc.) while others do a flat fee (around $500 to $700) that covers anything you'll need to make the dress fit you perfectly," reported Brides. Those fees could add up quickly!