Belfast Telegraph

How a Belfast bride's wedding dress nightmare led her to start up plus-size shop

Rebecca Bryson, owner of Curvy Chic Bridal, in the new boutique
Rebecca Bryson, owner of Curvy Chic Bridal, in the new boutique
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

A bridal shop catering for plus-size brides has opened in east Belfast following a £150,000 investment.

The Holywood Road boutique is owned by bridal make-up artist Rebecca Bryson.

She launched Curvy Chic Bridal in 2016 and had been running the business from home.

A plus-size is categorised as anything above a size 16 - and Rebecca, a size 24, wore a dress by plus-size specialist Studio Levana when marrying last year.

Rebecca, who lives in east Belfast with husband Colum, said the business had quickly outgrown her home, adding: "We found we were having to turn people away, so we realised we needed a shop if we were to keep growing."

The Holywood Road unit, which employs three other people, has a private bridal suite, two large changing rooms for mothers of the bride and bridesmaids and the largest collection of plus-size gowns in Northern Ireland.

Rebecca said her shop caters up to size 44, and is bringing her own experience of shopping for a wedding dress to bear on her dealings with customers.

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She added: "I never really thought about it a whole bunch until I met my husband, and then I thought, where will I get my dress? As a bridal make-up artist, I was always hearing from girls about how hard it was to get plus-sizes.

"Before I even got engaged I phoned around, and everywhere would tell me they were plus size. But when I got there, they didn't have anything, and would say, we don't have a sample dress in that size but can get you one in.

"One place even put my arms through a dress and held it in front of me. I'm reasonably body confident but most of our brides aren't, and we do have brides who have gone somewhere else and have had such a bad experience."

Rebecca said wedding dress sample sizes tend to be smaller than a high-street size as there is generally no give or stretchiness in the garment, adding: "I found myself trying on a size 28."

She said her shop only stocked dresses especially made for curvy women, instead of other bridal brands which 'upsize' their standard-sized dresses.

Pricing of her dresses is in keeping with the average cost of a dress for a big day - £1,500.

"The majority would be in the £1,000 to £5,000 bracket, but we also have some in the £795 to £1,000 bracket," she explained.

Rebecca is an exclusive UK and Ireland stockist of Roz La Kelin and the exclusive Northern Ireland stockist of Michelle Bridal. She said her customers are now preparing for weddings next year, as well as mothers of the bride and bridesmaids for winter weddings.

But she said her range for bridesmaids comes in all sizes, from 6 to 44.

Belfast Telegraph