WASHINGTON — When Yukia Walker got engaged six and a half years ago, she didn’t waste a minute before dreaming up her perfect wedding dress.
“The first thing I wanted to do, like most young ladies, was figure out what I was going to wear on this special day. … I knew I wanted something different and amazing,” she says.
But Walker’s fairy-tale expectations of finding the perfect wedding dress quickly shattered once she started visiting bridal salons. Even with a “generous budget,” most places didn’t carry her size, a 16. She says the experience was “awful” and “humiliating.”
“I ended up with a dress that really didn’t wear my curves well,” she says. “I was not comfortable on my wedding day and I was really unhappy.”
Plus-size brides-to-be come to Curvaceous Couture to find their wedding dresses. The store carries sizes 12 through 34. (Courtesy TLC)
Walker did not want other brides to go through the same thing, so she and her sister, Yuneisia Harris, decided to open their own 5,000-square-foot bridal salon in Columbia, Maryland — one that sells designer labels and caters to plus-size brides.
Curvaceous Couture opened in 2009, and Walker and Harris have since fitted thousands of curvy brides from the D.C. area and all across the nation.
But even more people are about to find out about the sisters’ business — TLC is profiling Walker and Harris in its summer special “Curvy Brides,” airing at 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1. Similar to the network’s hit show “Say Yes to the Dress,” brides on the new show come to Curvaceous Couture to try on wedding gowns in front of family and friends.
“We just want our brides to walk in and leave feeling beautiful,” Walker says.
Both sisters say that when TLC called about filming the show, they knew they had to seize the opportunity.
“It was one of the coolest experiences of our lifetime,” Harris says.
When brides come to Curvaceous Couture to try on dresses, Walker makes sure they “check their insecurities at the door.” She advises the women to trust the staff and to be open-minded when it comes to trying on a variety of styles and fabrics.
TLC will feature Maryland bridal salon Curvaceous Couture on "Curvy Brides." (Courtesy TLC)
The gowns at Curvaceous Couture range in size from 12 to 34, and many come with desirable designer labels. But finding plus-size couture hasn’t always been easy. Harris says when she and Walker began building the business, it was downright scarce.
“A lot of those designers feel like they don’t want to make their gowns in plus- size, or the structure [of the dresses] wasn’t fitting well for a woman with curves,” she says.
But over the years they’ve developed relationships with bridal designers such as Ian Stuart and Pronovias to expand their collection. Walker says the boutique has also expanded its price range to accommodate more brides.
“When we started out, I think our dresses were a little bit more in the higher end, and then we would feel bad because the girls would come in and the budgets weren’t exactly there, and we felt like we weren’t helping,” she says.
Gown prices at Curvaceous Couture start at $1,000, and the most popular styles typically fall under $4,500.
“Beauty comes in all shapes and all sizes. We want them to walk out the door loving themselves and knowing that they’re going to feel so beautiful the day that they get married.”