Join us behind-the-scenes on location in St. Louis when we asked, and jaw-dropping model Melinda Parrish Snare, graciously answered our most pressing questions about the life of a plus-size professional model. Here’s what she had to say:
This is the second time you’ve shot for the Michelle Bridal Collection for plus size brides. What attracts you to the brand created by Sydney’s Closet?
One of my favorite parts about working with Sydney's Closet is that all of their dresses, including bridal gowns, are designed and made to match different women's body proportions. I hope that as more curvy women see our bridal shoot photos, they realize they don't have to limit themselves in their selections.
As a plus-size model for the past three years and body positivity advocate, first it was nice to work with a company that understands we curvy women want to, and should, embrace our curves. The Michelle Bridal team is dedicated to plus-size bridal dresses, making it easy for all brides to fit into such a variety of styles.
I also love interacting with the Sydney’s Closet team because it's so tight-knit. It doesn't seem like I'm coming to work, but rather hanging out with friends and family.
And for the bridal photo shoot, the Sydney's Closet setting is so well done, it could be a studio setting in New York. So that's exciting, too! (Kudos to Melinda for leaving the air-conditioned studio to brave the 103-degree heat for shots on the downtown streets of St. Louis!)
Do you have any advice for curvy brides shopping for a wedding gown?
Don't worry so much about what other people will say when recommending certain dresses for your body type — go ahead and express your personality through your wedding dress. It is your day and your dress. Just go with it!
There are so many wedding dress choices out there now, from chiffon, sequins and feathers. There are blush dresses, even some that are printed. If textures, beads or colors is what you want, then that's what you want.
For my own wedding dress, I had chosen a rouge-oriented, satin mermaid style. I think many full-figured women try on only the wedding dresses they feel are figure-flattering and safe. But my advice to women who are seeking bridal dresses is to not be scared into trying on just certain styles because you think those are the only ones that match your body. By changing how you feel about your body, you can feel comfortable in all styles of dresses, which opens up many different options.
Give yourself space to figure out what you like. It's not about what everybody else is comfortable with and making them happy. It's about what makes you comfortable and feel at ease. It should be your decision what wedding dress you wear for your big day.
Bridal dresses definitely should be about which ones make you feel like your best self.
With so many corsets, waist trainers and shape wear, they can create a really fantastic silhouette, if that's what you're in to — but you really want to be comfortable that day. You don't want to move throughout your wedding, photos and reception getting pinched or not being able to breathe freely
So, when dress shopping, always remember what your wedding day is really about.
Do you ever get tired of modeling wedding gowns?
Even though I'm already married and so already went through selecting a wedding dress, having a chance to try on so many bridal dresses for full-figured women made me super happy all over again.
What woman wouldn't want to spend a day feeling beautiful in so many special wedding dresses, right? And getting your hair and makeup done? And trying on an assortment of shoes, jewelry and wedding rings?
Best of all, I really like the different bride "personas" I can take on when modeling wedding dresses.
When I first started modeling, it was like fulfilling a little girl fantasy of mine. I love the process of putting on all the bridal dresses. You know when you're shopping for wedding dresses, no matter how many you try on, there's still that feeling of maybe missing out on one. With modeling all these different styles, I don't feel like I've missed out on anything now.
My modeling gives me additional, new perspectives about dresses. When guiding other family members or friends for selecting wedding dresses, I suggest being open-minded to all types of dresses, no matter who is recommending them. In fact, my sister is engaged and going through the dress process right now. The first thing I told her was to sneak away and go try on dresses by herself, to get a sense of what she most wanted.
Any tips for curvy brides concerned about their body image?
In general, I hope brides can be among the women who stop fixating on changing our bodies, through fear, self-loathing and deprivation. Instead, I encourage you to transform how you feel about your body so you can step into the life of the woman you've always dreamed of becoming.
Brides who have healthy relationships with their bodies, based on love, respect and appreciation, make gorgeous "models" during their weddings, wedding dress and all.
Follow Mel on Instagram @melparrishplus