When I started A Practical Wedding (APW) almost twelve years ago, one of the most conservative parts of the (very conservative) wedding industry was wedding dress companies. If you wanted to look like a (thin, white, blond, straight) cupcake in a strapless dress, they had you covered. If that wasn’t you, and wasn’t the dress you wanted, you were out of luck. And while the wedding industry as a whole has come a long way in twelve years, wedding dress companies by and large have come… less far. Often, the way it works is that you’re standing on a pedestal (literally) in front of an entourage of some of your favorite humans, clipped into a sample dress several sizes too small and feeling like you’re bending over backward to accommodate the wedding industry, rather than the other way around. The experience isn’t designed to fit everyone and a lot of people are left feeling emotionally (and physically) exhausted post-wedding dress fitting.
So when our friends at Maggie Sottero reached out and told us they wanted us to do a shoot with dresses from their size-inclusive Rebecca Ingram line representing all bodies we were like HOLD THE PHONE. Our first question to them was “but do you really mean it?” And they did. Like: THEY DID. They have three lines of dresses: Maggie Sottero, Rebecca Ingram, and Sottero & Midgley—and they all offer dresses in sizes zero to twenty-eight, so we asked them if we could feature a plus-sized woman in the shoot, and they said, “Yes please.” Then we went way out on a limb and asked them if we could feature a gender non-conforming man in the shoot, and they said, “Absolutely.”
Y’all. I’m still a little bit in shock. Delighted shock. Maggie Sottero may just have my life long allegiance (as many of you know, my oldest is a “gender creative” seven-year-old, so this is very near and dear to my heart).
Our goal for this campaign was to photograph real people, not the fresh-off-the-runway models that you see in all the glossy wedding magazines. What do you do when you know what type of content you want to (and should) see but doesn’t yet exist? You go on and create it yourself. We knew we needed a man in a wedding dress, because, hello, there are men out there looking for gender nonconforming wedding options, with no or limited inspiration to pull from. And if I’ve learned anything from my son’s journey, it’s that the world is more than willing to provide more “masculine” presenting options for “girls”, but almost nobody is repping for “boys” who want to wear a fabulous dress.
And as the team at APW knows all too well, finding fashionable images of plus-size brides is like finding a diamond in the rough. The industry is doing a better job of being more inclusive, but it is just not good enough. But lucky for us, Maggie Sottero is an industry leader and not scared to go outside of the box and was all for us putting a man and a plus-size model in their dresses and letting us roll with it. If you ask us, we did pretty damn good.
When we reached out to Matthew about the possibility of participating in this shoot, we honestly had no idea what he’d say. Ya’ll, we are too lucky to have (a) fox like Matthew in our network—here’s his response:
Reclaiming the rite of marriage for all people is possibly the best mission statement we’ve ever heard and pretty neatly encapsulates everything we believe about weddings. Feel free to use it often yourself while wedding planning. Whenever you’re being told that a certain dress style isn’t 'right' for your body type or that you have to wear this or that on your wedding day because of gender constructs or that things simply aren’t done that way, just take a breath and intone 'Excuse me, but I am reclaiming the rite of marriage!'