My advice as a photographer to ladies of all sizes:
1. Let your photographer know your concerns and specific body areas (chin, arms, etc)
2. Hire a true professional that features all different kinds of ladies on the blog/website. If every single bride on the site is tiny, realize that you will not look like that and instead try to look for ladies that look like you. Don’t show “must take” photos done with brides and grooms that do not resemble you and your Fiance (much smaller, much bigger, much shorter, much taller, much older, much younger, different style of wedding-it all applies on a “must take” list and the resulting image won’t look right)
3. Select an outfit that fits, flatters, and provides flare-thicker fabrics, good construction. You may want to avoid strapless gowns if arms/shoulders/bust is at all not toned. I know strapless is popular, but not every bride looks great in them-I know I didn’t and chose straps. A bolero (structured, not lace) can cover heavier arms. A heavily structured gown (crumb catcher, pleats on bodice, architectural details) can help provide support to a bigger upper body and distract from problem areas, whereas an empire, loose, flowy, or soft gown may cling. I’d say the biggest issues in a wedding gown would be shoulders, top of bust/cleavage, chin, round face shape, and back of the arms, sicne the gown covers the other areas.
4. Proper tailoring-the gown should not be super tight when it is zipped or buttoned, but fitted. A corset back isn’t an actual corset and you can’t lace it as such. Watch for armpit spillage, etc.
5. Professional hair and makeup-They will play up eyes to play down a round face shape, for example. They will do a hairdo that flatters your face shape, may suggest hair cascading down to camoflauge the chin, etc.
6. Realistic expectations-A photographer is not a magician. I know that many people don’t know their true size or see little flaws until they are captured on film (my nose is huge in photos!). Decide what you will be happy with (i.e. I want to look my best in formal photos and hope to have 5 to frame, not “I want to look skinny in every photo”). The camera does add ten pounds!
7. Be as healthy and toned as possible-When you look better, you feel better. You will have more confidence knowing you have been living a healthy lifestyle and working out. Consider a bridal bootcamp to focus on upper body. Watch too much alcohol the night before, or bloating foods.
8. Proper undergarments-Consider Spanx or the like. Almost everyone, even very thin ladies (like Hollywood celebs) use Spanx just for structure and to give a more toned look under the gown. You may nee a long line bra as well. These will remove any bumps/lumps that are present on even the thinnest ladies.
9. Proper posture-Stand up straight, shoulders back, chin up all day long-you never know who will be watching or taking your photo at that time! This especially goes for those candid moments we photographers can’t direct you during.
10. Bouquet size-It should be proportionate to your body and help mask a trouble belly, gives arms something to hold and therefore appear more toned, etc. So a size 10-12 lady can have a larger bouquet than a size 2 lady without it looking silly or overwhelming her. Consult with a professional florist and ask their recommendations. A few stems tied together won’t stand out. If heavier arms are a problem, consider an “arm” or “presentation” bouquet, like they do for pagaents. I did this for my own wedding and my arms looked much better!
These are what I can think of on the top of my head. I have certain poses I do to flatter every shape of bride, but they are hard to explain and I demonstrate them for my brides in person. Hope that helps!