Ask Allie: Plus Size Wedding Guest Dresses

All my friends are getting married, I have six weddings already that I know I am or will be invited to and I know more are coming. I’m single and haven’t had a boyfriend in two years and on top of that I’m a size 20 while all my friends are tiny. I don’t want to go to these weddings and get stuck at the single people table and be the sad lonely fat girl but I know I need to go. Any advice on what to wear to boost my confidence?

It doesn’t matter what you wear to these weddings, if you feel you are a lonely fat girl and sit at that singles table looking sad you will look like a sad lonely fat girl. The best way to get through these weddings and life in general is to have a blast. When you live life completely it shows; it alters your face, your posture, your energy. So put on your favorite lipstick, slip on some heels (and a pair of ballet slippers tucked into your purse for the end of the night), and rock your fabulous self in a dress that is as full of life and joy and you and the event you are attending.

My personal recommendation is to steer clear of black unless it is a defining factor in your personal style. While black is versatile and acceptable at most American weddings these days, it can have one think you’re uncomfortable in your skin or depressed. Many choose black because they feel it looks slimming but it's not going to make you look drastically different and can give the wrong impression. On the other hand, don’t wear anything too crazy flamboyant; the day isn’t about you and you can still look fun and vivacious without too much bling or cleavage. A bit of shape is far more flattering to the figure than a loose tent and shows you know style and you know your body. And I can’t stress this enough – don’t be afraid to spend money on this dress. If you choose wisely and it’s not the same exact crowd at every event, you can wear it several times over the wedding season and also bring it out for holiday parties. The harsh truth is those of us who are larger or softer need to take more care with our purchases. Buy quality pieces, invest in tailoring for a custom fit. We’re not built like mannequins and cheap fabric, unlined garments, and poor fit can make us look bigger and sloppy. If between sizes, go up a size and then hit your local bridal boutique to find someone to tailor it to a custom fit. A few dresses that have caught my eye and I would think perfect for weddings:

plus size wedding guest dresses

  1. Calvin Klein Ruffle Front Sheath Dress: The chartreuse color is phenomenal; if you think you’re too fair to wear such a color look up pictures of pale fashionistas like Nicole Kidman who have rocked this hue. Pair with hot pink or tomato red lips and nude heels, with a statement shoe in another bold color and lots of lashes, or go glam with metallic heels and sparkly earrings. The fabric is the type that can dress up and down with ease and work all seasons of the year.
  2. ASOS CURVE Premium Placed Nautical Mesh Insert Dress: I love the bold pattern of this dress, the flippy skirt, and the fresh color combination that would be so nice at an outdoor wedding. Let the dress make the statement with nude shoes and simple accessories, or pump up the look with a bold pout and shoes. No need to stick to a nautical choice of red; orange, pink, Kelly green, and yellow would all look fantastic with this frock.
  3. Carmen Marc Valvo Floral Jacquard Cocktail Dress: This is an elegant dress that will make a statement without shouting. Keep it simple with nude or soft metallic heels, make it more formal with a rhinestone belt, or add a pop of color with D’orsay heels or a skinny belt in a signature shade (hot pink would be awesome). This dress is also available via Rent the Runway.
  4. Adrianna Papell Gardenia Dress: Tailored without being tight, a pleated skirt that is begging you to be twirled on the dancefloor, and a bunch of customer reviews stating this dress is perfect for a wedding makes this dress a winner. Wear as-is with nude or soft metallic shoes or add a bit of shine with a sparkly or metallic skinny belt.
  5. MYNT 1792 Sequin Stretch Asymmetrical Drape Dress: Don’t let the description fool you, these tiny sequins give more of a look of liquid metal than Studio 54. The silver is surprisingly versatile and can be dressed up and down with a change of makeup, hair, and accessories. In the winter wear with a black clutch and shoes; come spring choose a nude shoe to lengthen the leg and let the dress steal the spotlight.
  6. Little Mistress Floral Placement Skater Dress: This sweet dress is feminine, flirty, and figure flattering. Perfect for a spring wedding, you can also pair with a cardigan and wear to the office. Don’t be afraid to switch out the belt for one that better fits your personal style or to dress up and down the frock.
  7. Marina Rinaldi Plissé-Panel Dress: I know, more chartreuse! But it’s a seriously versatile color. Wear this dress with the included gray ribbon, switch out for a metallic or sparkly belt, or choose a belt or sash in a bold contrast color like cobalt, orange, or hot pink. The cut of this dress is also very flexible if you’re like me and may gain or lose weight throughout the year.
  8. ASOS CURVE Hitchcock Pencil Dress: Va-va-va-voom! This dress will surely make a statement, and the color makes sure you won’t blend in with all the other frocks on the dancefloor. Adjustable straps give a better fit, and the dark green works year round. Wear in the warmer months with nude or soft metallic, but bring the dress back out this winter and pair with black or sparkle for holiday fetes.

If you are unable to spend for a dress, consider renting.

  • You all know I am a fan of Gwynnie Bee – they are like Netflix for fashion. For a monthly fee you can rent everything from jeans to blazers to sweaters to dresses for work or play. The customer reviews help you decide which piece will work best for your figure and personal style, and you can send back a piece quickly in the pre-labeled shipping bag and get a new one from Gwynnie Bee in a jiffy.
  • Another option is Rent the Runway who now offers plus sizes. This is an especially great option if you’re attending a more formal wedding and don’t want to drop hundreds on a gown you’ll likely never wear again. However, Rent the Runway has dresses appropriate for weddings of all formality and the rental price is that of a cheaper dress that may not make as great of a statement. With stylist notes and plenty of customer reviews with photos, you can get a good feel of what dress would be perfect for your occasion. You can use code RTRDC22F051 for $100 off new subscribers’ 60-Day Trial of Unlimited-$50 off each month

20 Comments

  1. Ellen Lawrence Campbell
    October 29, 2017 / 6:24 pm

    The dresses are cute but none of the models are fat!

    • October 29, 2017 / 6:48 pm

      The photos are what I could gather from online shops in 2015. It’s wonderful how more plus size retailers are now using actually plus size models!

  2. February 21, 2015 / 12:23 am

    I love dresses 6 and 8. Any woman would feel supremely confident in either of those.

  3. Lonster
    February 20, 2015 / 9:10 pm

    Alison, thank you for blogging! I stumbled across your blog a month or so ago and I can’t get enough. I read every new post and have read many many older posts too. Created a capsule wardrobe for a recent vacation and it worked perfectly. I love your style- so classy, your voice – so positive. I have been rethinking my shapeless tunics…perhaps dresses with waists aren’t such a bad thing. I still have a waist….yes, it is bigger than I would like but it is there, and my body is healthy. Celebrate that! I even put a belt on my chambray tunic the other day! Thank you!

    • February 21, 2015 / 5:01 pm

      Aww thank YOU for this comment. You made me tear up when I read it. I am thrilled for you, you deserve to dress in a fun way and not hide yourself. Belts and dresses with waists will honor your body and flatter it! Rock your fabulous self! <3

  4. ClaraT
    February 20, 2015 / 5:52 pm

    Gosh, those are great dresses! My $.02 is try not to focus on how awkward you feel (if you can avoid it!) By all means come armed with some good conversation starters.

    I love Ginger’s “find the old people” advice. They are the best, and they are often opinionated and candid (and, if not too mobile, appreciate someone who will sit down and have a chat).

    The LW is obviously a great friend (6 weddings!), so I hope the friends-of-friends will be welcoming to you (and your gorgeous outfit).

  5. Nihongo Dame Desu
    February 20, 2015 / 3:47 pm

    That #3, the CMV dress? Drooooool.

  6. janejetson
    February 20, 2015 / 3:38 pm

    This is good advice for anyone who feels a bit of trepidation before big events. You don’t have to stay all night, leave as early as you feel is appropriate. Gwynnie Bee is also a good way to try before you buy. If you like what you have rented, you can buy it at a helpful discount.

  7. February 20, 2015 / 1:54 pm

    Oh, this is never easy. I have been the single fat girl at a few weddings in my day. The first one was rough. The mother of the groom came up to me at the end of the night with the tired old “but you have such a pretty face, you should have a boyfriend!” line. I smiled and said “I guess it’s because of my shitty personality!” Luckily she was fairly drunk by that point, so no real harm done.

    Now I’m the single average-sized wedding guest, but it is still the same game…I’ve learned that at weddings and similar events, I just need to have my armor on. I remind myself of all of the things that I’m happy with in my life, I tell myself that it is OK to not have everything I want because everyone is a work in progress, I practice my smizing (if you really want people to know you are happy, they have to see it in your eyes!), and I do my best to have a blast.

    Attitude is everything. Any one of these dresses would be lovely, but don’t rely on the right dress alone. Decide you’re going to have fun before you set foot out the door and you probably will 🙂

    • February 21, 2015 / 4:59 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experiences Alison! Totally agree, armor yourself with not just what you’re wearing but mentally too!

  8. Cathryn
    February 20, 2015 / 12:33 pm

    Good advice for enjoying all those weddings- six, wow! Glad to see you are planning ahead because finding a great outfit takes time- more if you need tailoring.
    I would like to add that when I took the time to update my makeup (and clothes) to look better specifically for photos, I felt better about being at heavily photographed events and I did not shy away from the camera like I usually do because I was unhappy about my weight and appearance. Since I don’t wear much makeup it was a bit of hunting around online to learn some tricks and practice wearing my makeup and clothes beforehand (yes, I went to the grocery store all made up and took some test photos).
    It was a great confidence booster to see photos later of the event that included me enjoying myself with friends and family. I hope you have a great time celebrating!

  9. Ginger
    February 20, 2015 / 11:57 am

    My sister just got married and she got a great dress for the Groom’s Dinner at Eloquii.

    I do not care for events where they issue you seating instructions, but sometimes it’s hard to get around. I say, if you get stuck at a table that doesn’t suit you, tough it out for awhile, but don’t feel like you have to be glued there the entire evening. Sorry all you heavy-duty Bride seating tables planners!

    My sister was going to put all her nephews at the same table as the Groom’s daughter, none of them knew one another. We persuaded her to scatter them off with their not-often-seen Aunts and Uncles, so they could all catch up. The young people got a chance to meet/greet at the cocktail hour, but they seemed happy enough to have had dinner with their known relatives.

    The Aunts and Uncles just loved it! They spent the entire dinner catching up with their niece/nephews, pried all kinds of information out of them that I heard about later, and I ended up thinking that it was good to skip the “young people” table, at least at that dinner.

    So – if you’re feeling stuck, plunk yourself down at a table full of old people. They’ll be happy to have someone young around!

  10. Heidi
    February 20, 2015 / 10:36 am

    Do you thing the AOS dress would be office appropriate?

    • February 20, 2015 / 10:38 am

      I haven’t seen it in person so can’t confirm but it looks as though it could be paired with a cardigan!

  11. Amber
    February 20, 2015 / 10:05 am

    I think there’s a “the only way” missing from the first sentence of your response. Otherwise I think it conveys something opposite of what you’re trying to say.

    • February 20, 2015 / 10:33 am

      Thank you Amber, I re-read it and it was a really confusing sentence that you’re right didn’t convey what I was trying to say. Rearranged! 🙂

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