Maternity Wedding Dresses - Your Complete Guide
— By Raashka Mannie
24 November 2022
There may be more than one “big day” coming up for you, and you’re going to glow for them both.
Being a pregnant bride might have you a wee bit concerned about what you’re going to be wearing when you glide down the aisle. As your figure naturally changes over the months, planning out your wedding outfit can seem trickier than usual.
If you’re on the hunt for a guide to a maternity wedding dress, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we chat with Auckland-based sewist and designer, Nazneen from Alter Me, touching on her professional background styling and dressing pregnant brides. We also talked to one of her pregnant brides about her experience and must-have tips. Read on to find out how to style yourself as a pregnant bride so you’re both as comfy and as gorgeous as you’ve always dreamed of on your wedding day.
Table of Contents
Image by Le Image Inc.
The maternity wedding dress timeline
The maternity wedding dress journey doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might imagine. In fact, Nazneen said to us, “Designing a maternity wedding dress has a similar process as a regular dress but just requires more fittings to allow changes as the body grows.”
The ideal time depends on you
If you’re buying and altering a maternity wedding dress, start the process 3 to 4 months before your wedding date. If you’re designing a piece from scratch, start planning and designing your maternity wedding dress 4 to 6 months before your wedding date. This is the perfect time to start the process, according to Nazneen (although it does depend on the complexity of the design).
“A mock-up will be made and we will keep doing regular mock-ups in order to incorporate the changes of the body to our patterns,” she explained. “Until finally, we move on to making the actual dress with 1 fitting remaining prior to completion.
There’s no way to know your exact size as you progress through your pregnancy, but that is all accounted for by your designer. When you approach them with your ideas and due date, your dress will be mocked-up depending on your wedding date and how far along you are.
Images by Alter Me
6-month pregnant wedding dresses – or more
When it comes to brides that are further along with their pregnancy, the process does not alter besides perhaps having a few extra mock-ups in order to make sure you’re comfortable and that everything fits as it should.
“We work closely with all our brides to have regular mock-up fittings in order to have the dress completed and fitting perfectly for their wedding day,” Nazneen said.
Fittings for the pregnant bride
Ultimately, being pregnant means that you will have to have extra fittings to ensure that your dress sits on you like it should.
“We always make a mock-up of all our bespoke dresses prior to making the actual dress. So for our pregnant brides, we will keep making mock-ups prior to moving on to the actual dress,” Nazneen shared. “Usually, we require 3 to 4 mock-ups depending on where in the pregnancy they are and how close the event date it is.”
Your comfort. As a pregnant bride, it’ll be of utmost importance.
“Comfort is my topmost priority for [expecting] brides,” Nazneen said. “She will already be feeling uncomfortable from her pregnancy so we want to make sure we alter or make a dress that is comfortable for her to wear.”
Image by Dani Drury
Designing maternity wedding dresses
Whether you’re after a designer maternity wedding dress or something custom-made, the process is going to come down to attending more fittings than usual and being open to stylistic choices that make you feel as lovely as you look. As the process with choosing any bridal outfit – outlined in our complete guide to wedding dresses – the starting point begins with you and your preferences.
Boho maternity wedding dresses are a popular choice for the flowy, free look that keeps things elegant. Some brides prefer the mermaid cut for a fitted piece that highlights their bump in all its beauty. Choose a style that makes you feel good, above all else, and communicate with your designer about how best to embrace that.
Boho maternity wedding dresses
Vintage maternity wedding dresses
Images by Lionel Tan Photography & Alpine Image Company
Plus-size maternity wedding dresses
Images by Wanderlusting Lovers, Studio Infinity & Jenna Zane Photography
Colourful maternity wedding dresses
Images by Mary Costa Photography, Pronovias, Galería Events, Bubear Photography & Avodah Photo + Cinema
Maternity wedding dress hire
Some soon-to-be-wed folk aren’t looking to keep their wedding outfit forever – especially if they’re pregnant. Wedding dress hire is a common practice in today’s day and age, especially when you can rent out designer maternity wedding dresses or find the exact maternity wedding dress patterns you admired online somewhere.
Alternately, some people look for used maternity wedding dresses, searching for someone that was in a similar stage of pregnancy and altering the outfit to their needs. If you’ve got an expert like Nazneen behind the wheel, altering is way more accessible than you think it is.
Image by Katie Emanuelson Photography
Used maternity wedding dresses
If you’ve made the choice to repurpose a maternity wedding dress, then good on you! This is a sustainable practice that can also help you save some money – and you’ll still look like a million bucks.
You can find used maternity wedding dresses in all sorts of places, from thrift stores to online bidding forums where couples are looking to sell or pass on their pieces.
For used maternity wedding dresses in New Zealand, check out:
- Facebook Marketplace, because it has a thriving user base and tons of brides looking to share their style.
- Trade Me, because it’s a tried and trusted way to find anything in the Kiwi-sphere.
- Local op shops and thrift stores like To Wahi or Red Cross, and help a cause in your quest for the perfect maternity bridal look.
Maternity wedding dress hire
Of course, if you’re after maternity wedding dress rental, that’s also a viable option. Some companies (online and offline) allow people to rent fabulous pieces, including maternity wedding dresses.
You can find designer and custom-made pieces among the options, donated or sold by other brides who want to pass down the magic. The trick is to take your time searching for the dress that is the most ‘you’ out of the lot.
Image by Elope Asheville
Altering rented or used maternity wedding dresses
Don’t you worry – it’s possible in both instances.
“Altering a wedding dress for pregnant brides can only be done a few weeks before the event date,” Nazneen told us, “as the body will always keep changing. We keep a quick turnaround [for alterations] for our pregnant brides, which is 2 weeks. This allows us to alter the dress to their true size.”
When it comes to used or inherited wedding dresses, you can transform them into a maternity wedding dress with your designer. Hand-me-downs from loved ones or a vintage masterpiece you found online can be altered to fit your body and requirements, leaving you with the perfect bridal outfit.
Maternity wedding dresses you’ve hired, on the other hand, may come with a few caveats. Be sure to check with the supplier for how much you’re allowed to alter and amend your dress. Experts such as Nazneen will know just how to get you fitted and fabulous without overstepping any of the supplier’s rules.
An expert’s tip:
“Wear small heel shoes that you can balance in,” Nazneen advised. “This is for comfort as well as safety of the bride and bubs.”
Image by Dear Grace Weddings
Bridal talk: our bride’s maternity wedding dress journey
It’s the other side of the coin, with our bride Natasha. She has taken the time to talk to all the pregnant brides out there about the process of finding, altering and wearing her wedding dress throughout her pregnancy.
“It’s hard to buy a dress online or from a store for expecting brides as you don’t know how big the bump will be on the day or how much your body will change,” Natasha said to us. “Usually, people order their dress months in advance, but for expecting brides, months in advance means a big difference in size.”
Image by Dear Grace Weddings
Natasha’s bridal team:
- Designer & sewist: Alter Me
- Photographer: Dear Grace Weddings
- Florist: Sweet Blooms
- Hair & makeup: The Beauty Hub
The dress vision:
- Have it fall around the baby bump in a flattering way
- For the bump to be on show but not the main attraction of the dress
Was it easy to find suggestions online for dresses/outfits for expecting brides?
“There were some suggestions online for expecting brides,” Nastaha shared, but most of them were horror stories of buying maternity dresses online that didn’t fit properly and looked so bad that they spent so much getting it altered, so they may as well have just got a custom dress made.”
Image by Dear Grace Weddings
What was the process of getting your customised maternity wedding dress like?
“When I first contacted Alter Me, I came in with a very odd request because I was going through IVF at the time and wasn’t pregnant yet and wasn’t sure if I would be pregnant, or when and how far along I would be come the wedding day,” Natasha said. “So I came in with some ideas of potential wedding dresses, that would change depending on the outcome of my IVF journey.”
- Initial meeting: Nazneen and I talked through a few different styles that would work with a bump or no bump and planned to start the process.
- First fitting: By the time our first fitting date came around, I was pregnant so the maternity wedding dress journey started.
- Subsequent fittings: The process for a maternity dress was a little different for Nazneen because a [larger] number of fittings needed to occur with the ever-growing bump and changing body.
- The finished dress: The final dress could only be created last minute to ensure no major changes needed to occur. However, Nazneen made the whole process enjoyable and I had full confidence that the dress would be perfect on the day because of how much care she put in to ensure the dress fit in all the right places.
What was the highlight of getting a bespoke maternity wedding dress?
“Obviously the best part of the process was having a beautiful dress for my wedding day!” Natasha said. “But it also was going to the fittings and seeing how much the baby had grown between appointments. At the end of the journey, Nazneen made a card with the photos from my fittings, which also showed my bump progress. That was so, so special to see.”
Image by Dear Grace Weddings
Natasha’s biggest piece of advice when choosing your maternity wedding dress? Well, it’s simple: “No matter what style dress you decide on, just make sure it’s easy to go to the toilet in!”
Maternity wedding dress FAQ
Got questions as an expecting bride? Nazneen is here to answer what you’re most curious about, whether it’s how to conceal your bump or style it.
1/ What if I choose a dress and then fall pregnant? Can I alter that dress for pregnancy?
“We have had many brides who have gone through this (like Natasha), and yes, we can alter the dress for you. There are many ways we can do this – the most popular way is to turn the back of the dress into a corset back.”
2/ How do I hide my baby bump, if I want to?
“If you don't want your baby bump to show, then tight-hugging dresses/silhouettes are not the way to go,” Nazneen said. “Ball gown silhouettes are primarily the best or also sheath silhouettes, so it flows beautifully from the waist down.”
3/ Do you have any examples of maternity wedding dresses for me to look at?
“Yes, we do! We have made one bespoke dress for one of our brides that was pregnant, but have altered many gowns for brides that found out they were pregnant after purchasing their dress.”
4/ What about accessories for a pregnant bride? Is there anything I should avoid or definitely include?
“I personally like flower crowns on my pregnant brides,” Nazneen said. “They have their natural pregnancy glow and a crown enhances that beauty even more!”
5/ Is there anything that, with your expertise, you’d like to include when giving advice to pregnant brides?
“The most common question I ask a bride is, ‘Are you comfortable in your dress?’ Because if you're not feeling beautiful and feel the dress isn't moving with the changes of your body, then that might not be the right dress for you. We suggest they come to see us; we specialise in bridal gowns and can help all brides (especially pregnant brides) to look and feel their best.”
Image by Katie Iredale Photography