I (as you might imagine) get a lot of questions about weight and body image issues and weddings, and I never quite know what to say. So. I’ve been waiting for a long, long time for someone to come along and tell us all what we needed to hear about our bodies and weddings. And it turns out that person comes in the form of the beautiful Margaret. In this essay Margaret is talking about her weight and her wedding day, but I think what she’s saying applies to everyone in the world, because it talks about how we, through our bodies, experience weddings. And what she says is what I’ve felt since our wedding – you don’t remember how you looked on your wedding day, you remember how you felt (and part of what you felt may well be gorgeous). So with that, I’m honored and thrilled and excited to bring you Margaret herself.
In the months leading up to my wedding, I would occasionally break down and cry over my weight. I worried about how people who hadn’t seen me in years would react to the fact that my weight had doubled since graduating college. I would moan and say that my face was getting swallowed up by fat. I felt like I would never be comfortable on my wedding day, that my thighs would rub together and my bra would be uncomfortable. I would cry because for the rest of my life, my wedding pictures would show me as an enormous monstrosity. I was convinced that I would look ridiculous in white – “like a giant marshmallow.” “I have no neck,” I would wail to patient, loving friends. I agonized over the fact that my favorite necklace no longer fit me, and that I couldn’t wear a favorite pair of shoes.
And then the wedding day came, and it felt like this:
I want to write this because I feel strongly that if I can help one woman who’s anxious about her size feel just an iota calmer before her wedding, I will have done a good deed. So, with that in mind, here are my reflections as a very plus sized married woman:When we got engaged, I weighed 400lbs and wore a size 32. There seem to be two schools of thought about weight and bodies and weddings. There are people who believe you should accept your body the way it is, focus on being healthy but not worry about losing weight. This is admirable and I generally sympathize with this point of view, but a part of me still believes that I should work at losing some weight for health considerations if no other reason.
Then, of course, everyone here is familiar with the pressure on brides to lose weight. This is not news.
I wish I could say that I resisted that pressure, that I didn’t engage in frantic dieting and exercise. That when I was sick as a dog with gastroenteritis two weeks before the wedding, the thought “At least I might lose some weight” didn’t cross my mind.
All of the dread, the anxiety, the self-loathing came in waves as we planned the wedding. I lost weight, and I gained some. I thought that in the last week I might relax a little but I would still have my moments. Thankfully, my very wise and wonderful friend would calm me down. She would say “Yeah, it’s not ideal, but your weight goes up and down depending on how much energy you have to devote to it. Right now you don’t have a lot because you have this little wedding thing going on, but after the wedding you will.”
And then the wedding came. And like so many here, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for how it would feel.
My weight was probably the farthest thing from my mind. If people were shocked and horrified at my weight, they were much too busy laughing, gabbing, catching up with old friends, screaming with delight, cheering, dancing, eating and drinking to let it show. I felt stunningly gorgeous, but more importantly, I felt loved. I was making big, life-altering promises to the man I love and I was surrounded by some of the most important people in my life. And nothing else mattered.
If any of you out there have felt wretched about your weight, if you’ve felt that being thin means being loved and not vice versa, if you think that being heavier than you’d like to be will detract from your wedding – well, I hope that my experience can help lessen that burden you’ve placed on yourself.
Now, Team Practical, I do have a few practical solutions to common challenges faced by plus size women:
1) Get properly sized for your bra. It makes a world of difference. My bra was a feat of structural engineering and it was COMFORTABLE.
2) There are garments that exist for the sole purpose of preventing your thighs from rubbing together. They are non-constricting and greatly increased my comfort.
3) Necklaces can be lengthened. Our family friend/awesome jeweler fabricated a few inches of silver chain that attached to the clasp of my favorite necklace so I could wear it after all.
4) I didn’t make a lot of concessions to my weight in my clothes or anything else but I did end up wearing sensible, not very exciting shoes. Being as heavy as I am, my feet take a beating. I found a pair of white sandals with a low heel and arch support that came in double wide sizing. I was so glad I wore them. No one could see my shoes, anyway.
5) And finally, there are more options than ever for dresses in extended sizes, but we had mine custom made. I never set foot inside a bridal shop and dealt only with vendors who treated my weight like a non-issue.
But more than anything, I hope for you what was true for me, which was that on the day I got married, I felt so buoyed by hope and joy and love from all corners. I danced like a mad woman. I laughed and screamed with delight. My weight was so unbelievably unimportant. It was so incredibly beside the point. I wish I had had a glimmer of what this would have felt like, because it would have saved a lot of grief in the months I spent planning. So I wish that for you, instead.
Pictures: All by family and friends