Why I Refuse to Stress about My Pre-Wedding Weight Gain


Is ten pounds really worth retriggering my disordered eating?

Slices of wedding cake on small plastic plates

The week before her big day, my friend called me in a panic. She had just tried on her wedding dress one last time, and she claimed that her itsy-bitsy waist had widened a tad since the last fitting. “It’s like I have back cleavage!” she moaned.

“Are you complaining about having DOUBLE cleavage?!” I joked. We laughed, and then I sympathized while she vented, because while I knew it really was stressful, I also suspected—and I think she did too—that she was going to be fine.

Sure enough, on her wedding day, she looked beautiful. And more importantly, it was a joyful, fun, celebratory day. She says now that she has so many happy memories of that day that the dress not fitting quite as perfectly as it might have was just a blip on the radar.

my plan wasn’t to gain weight

Of course, I didn’t want to have that same crush of anxiety the week of my wedding, so I made a plan. I was going to lose ten pounds for my wedding—one pound a week, totally reasonable. I would stick to a strict calorie deficit, work out daily, and watch the pounds melt away. It looked great on paper.

The problem is that I have definitely wrestled with disordered eating off and on throughout my life. For as long as I can remember, my relationship with food has been characterized by shame and guilt. The more I focus on my eating, the more obsessive my thoughts about food become—and, therefore, the more I eat.

Before long, I was not only failing to make progress on my weight loss goal, I was actually moving in the opposite direction—I was gaining weight. I beat myself up, agonized about how I was going to look in my wedding photos, and worried about whether I would fit into my dress.

Of course, all of this just led me to shame-eat more. The calorie-counting app I had downloaded wasn’t helping, either; it just made me feel worse.

goodbye, calorie counting app

I finally talked to my counselor about it. We quickly discovered that my compulsions around food have been with me since I was a little kid and that disordered eating runs in my family in one way or another. He challenged me to consider that it might not be my weight that was the problem but my relationship with food and, on a deeper level, my relationship with my body.

I discovered, much to my surprise, that I’ve spent most of my life profoundly disconnected from my body’s natural hunger cues. I tend to eat emotionally or because it’s time to eat or because something tastes good; my efforts at dieting have led to more distrust in my body when I’ve denied it the nourishment it knows it needs; and I’ve so often ruined what could have been enjoyable gastronomical experiences by eating too quickly or too much.

So a month before my wedding, I stopped trying to lose weight. I deleted my calorie-counting app. I quit visiting the scale on every trip to the gym. I’m focusing on getting back in touch with my body and letting it guide me instead of responding to every stressor by stuffing something in my mouth.

I definitely have moments where I am terrified I’ll look awful in my wedding dress. The day of my final dress fitting, I ended up texting my mom in tears. Of course, I know I’m being overly self-critical. The dress fits, and if I focus on giving my body what it needs in terms of nutrition and exercise for the next twenty-six days, I know I will feel better in it.

what’s wrong with this version of me?

But it’s made me think of something else. This idea that I should look different on my wedding day than I do the rest of the time. I’m shunning professional hair in favor of doing it myself; I’m refusing fake eyelashes and heavy makeup; I’m being intentional about the fact that, although I want to dress up and look extra beautiful for my wedding, I still want to look like me.

After all, my fiancé is marrying me—the woman who doesn’t know where her hairdryer is, whose makeup collection fits in the palm of one hand, who has always had a hard time finding pants that fit her figure. Although I have grown my hair out a little and am going makeup shopping with a friend this weekend, I’m not trying to make major changes to my look for my wedding because I want to be myself. Why hasn’t it occurred to me that my weight might be part of that?

you can’t change a lifetime of habits in ten weeks

For years, I’ve treated my extra weight as if it were temporary. But what if this is just what I look like? I’ve been about this size almost all of my adult life. I could definitely be healthier, and I am working toward eating better and becoming fitter, but for me, the disciplines of calorie counting and frequent weigh-ins just become idols as I worship a fictional self.

So I gained weight for my wedding. I didn’t mean to. I need to work on my relationship with food and with my body, but I can’t expect myself to get that all straightened out during wedding planning, when I’m juggling the demands and expectations of every other relationship in my life all at once. I’m already starting to eat better, but it’s going to be a process. And there’s simply no way that process is going to yield the results I was hoping for by my wedding date. And I’m okay with that—or at least, I’m trying to be.

Sarah Howell

Sarah is a pastor in who spends her free time kickboxing and weightlifting, collecting musical instruments and stray pit bulls, and watching depressing documentaries with her fiancé or challenging him in Scrabble (they’re pretty evenly matched, but he’s more competitive). She has a lot of opinions and likes to sass the patriarchy and make holy mischief, preferably when well caffeinated.

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  • Kaitlyn

    Ah the first paragraph of the conclusion is perfect. I gained a bunch of weight post college (first being in a funk and then “happy fat” after I met J) and have always thought of my weight as “temporary”. I figured the wedding would be a great motivator so we planned an 18 month engagement (for practical reasons) and I didn’t want to be rushed or sad and I would take a year to lose the weight and then relax till the wedding. Well, gained 10 lbs (thanks champagne and cake), took that off, and have spent most of 2017 crying to J about how I don’t want to look like this on our wedding day.

    We’re six months away and I went and met with a nutritionist yesterday. Losing weight is a goal (for health reasons and vanity), but I decided it was time I got a professional’s help with how to actually EAT. After doing every diet under the sun, calorie counting, etc., I figured it was time I learned how to eat like a normal human being. I’m sure I’ll feel beautiful on my wedding day no matter what and I try to remind myself that the most important part is that I’m marrying J.

    • Cellistec

      I admit, I bailed on my first nutritionist appointment because I was afraid she was going to criticize my eating habits, which I’m already careful about (meaning I give them waaaaay too much mental real estate as it is). Did you find your appointment helpful?

      • Kaitlyn

        So far yes! We did a phone consultation and she was like, “My clients are normal people who drink alcohol, some never cook, etc etc” which put me at ease. She subscribes to the 80/20 approach. During the appointment, we talked about what I’ve tried (everything), family history (talked briefly about the terrible disordered eating patterns my whole family takes part in), and set some goals (cook 3x/week, two cups of fruits/veggies per every meal, track by taking photos so no number counting). I signed up for a six month program so I’ll meet her in two weeks and she’ll check in via the app that I track food. She also is available via email and will send recipes via Pinterest and email (I mentioned how we need quick and easy meals for week nights because an hour commute exhaust me). She was also close to me in age which made me feel like I was talking to a friend and not an authority figure.

        • Cellistec

          Oh, neat! Is this a virtual program or location-based? And I guess I should give my nutritionist a try before giving up on the idea…even though the office is super aggressive about calling me and that’s off-putting.

          • Kaitlyn

            She’s kinda both haha She has an office near mine in Boston, but also is on Rise (the dietitian app). I tried Rise a while ago and didn’t like it because I needed more attention than I was getting. It’s so much easier for me to ignore someone when they’re on an app than when I gotta go to her office or talk to her on her phone.

          • Cellistec

            I think I saw Rise on Instagram and got sticker shock from the price. But I’m intrigued by app-based systems.

          • Kaitlyn

            It’s $50/month but if you don’t like it after the first month, they refund you (or at least that used to be their spiel haha)

        • Jessica

          1. That sounds really cool. Working with a nutritionist helped me so much, and I like the idea of having one via email.
          2. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, do yourselves a favor and get one! I made a curry in about a half hour the other night that tasted like it had been stewing for hours. It can also defrost things quickly if you forget to take something out of the freezer.

          • Kaitlyn

            Ah yes this has been on my list! I should probs just spring for one

          • Jessica

            The first thing you should make imho (if you eat meat) is the thai beef soup from nomnompaleo. I made it with pork shoulder instead of beef the other night and my mom had a second bowl — which she never does!

          • Zoya

            Yessssss pressure cooker. You can also use it to hard-boil eggs! Easiest-peeling eggs ever, plus you can just push a button and walk away. Great if you have trouble putting together a coherent breakfast in the morning (ahem, like me).

      • Zoya

        FWIW, I’ve had the most success looking for a registered dietitian who specializes in mindful eating. (I’ve had very negative experiences in the past with nutritionists who were much more restrictive/prescriptive in their approach, to the point where one appointment left me shaken and weepy for like three days.) The person I’m seeing now is very much about paying attention to what makes you feel good, and has an “everything in moderation” philosophy, which has been a much better fit for me.

      • Liia Cecille Richmond

        Seeing a nutritionist was the BEST thing I ever did! To be fair, I had an active eating disorder for most of my life so it wasn’t a real choice it was just a part of recovering. But a good nutritionist (not dietician) will not judge you, and she did SO much for me about tuning into my hunger, figuring out what my specific body needs, and helping me get out of the ridiculous judgments we put on food. I can’t recommend it enough! And just like therapy, try out a couple if you need to.

    • Abs

      Yeah, the “temporary” weight thing can be so bizarre. FWIW, I gained a fair bit of weight before my wedding (I don’t know how much because I didn’t let myself get on the scale after about 4 months before), but I absolutely felt beautiful anyway–it literally did not matter. Then I went on a long honeymoon that involved a lot of delicious food, and when I came back I found that I was heavier than I had ever been in my life. That was three months ago, and some of it went away as I got back into a routine and some of it hasn’t.

      As I’m thinking about losing the weight, though, I’m sort of confused about what my “goal” weight should be. What I weighed in college? I saw a graphic once that laid out the kind of life you have to live to maintain x body fat percentage, which was really illuminating. Because I’m not actually interested in living significantly differently than I do now–maybe a bit less booze, a little more exercise, but that’s it. So now my idea is just to try to live a life that I think I can sustain, and if I don’t lose any more weight, then to put my energy toward accepting that, and buying some new clothes.

      • emmers

        As I grow older, I’m making peace that my weight fluctuates. I was one weight in high school, another in college, another pre-wedding, another post-wedding, and another post-miscarriage. It’s just kind of a sign of time passing and things changing, and growing older.

        I like the idea of a life you can sustain. Because that’s so realistic!

  • SuzieQ

    I’m going to speak my truth, cuz if you can’t speak your truth anonymously to strangers on the internet, who can you speak it to?

    I hate articles like this. I hate them because they make me feel profoundly guilty. You see, I am gorgeous. I’m tall without being weirdly tall and I’m thin, but have full hips and a full chest. I am neither the “boyish” nor the “curvy” figure. I have a great ass and great abs and my waist is tiny. As in, I have to take in every piece of clothing because my waist is too small. In a push up bra, I have Marilyn Monroe’s measurements. And, to make it even worse, I don’t do anything to make that happen. That’s just what my body looks like.

    But somehow, with all of the body hate and body talk and body shaming in the world, I feel like I’m not allowed to love my body. Or, at least, I’m not allowed to love it publicly. It feels like that if it is a victory to feel pretty or sexy or attractive in the imperfect body then it must be shameful to feel the same way in your perfect body.

    It wouldn’t be so bad if I was a gym rat or marathon runner or nutritionist where there was an excusing factor I could point to. It is as though we’re only allowed to feel good about how we look when we’ve worshiped at the alter of (1) exercise (2) food or (3) heart wrenching personal growth.

    I am beautiful. I could probably get a job as an underwear model. I had corn dogs for breakfast. So why am I not allowed to love my body too?

    • Amy March

      Of course you’re allowed to love your body. But I think you should ask yourself why, specifically, you feel the need to do so in response to a personal essay written by someone struggling with hers. There is a real privilege to having a conventionally attractive body and with the privilege I think comes some extra responsibility.

      • SuzieQ

        Because this personal essay written by someone struggling is one piece of a larger culture of body shaming. And because APW is supposed to be a place free of judgment were we can discuss all of our truths, in whatever form they take.

        • Amy March

          Is it? If someone writes a piece about her struggle with marriage, is that the place to share your personal truth that your marriage is perfect in every way with no effort? Probs not.

          • SuzieQ

            I think the point that I’m trying to make is that there is no place. Because people hate their bodies all the time 100% of the time. So there is never a place where you get to say “I look bomb and I know it.” It becomes a dirty little secret you hide from the world.

          • emmers

            Huh. I’m trying to decide if you’re for real, or if you’re a troll. If you look “bomb,” then people see that all the time. So you’re not “hiding it from the world.” So yeah, you don’t get to brag about how awesome you look if it’s natural. You just get to enjoy it. I’m having trouble seeing how the world is being mean to you here.

            I guess it’s about empathy. Your comments are coming across fairly tone deaf.

          • Alli

            Yeah I’m super confused right now.

            I have to wonder if SuzieQ doesn’t have friends that compliment each other and themselves? Like you’re getting ready for something and your friend says “Damn you look hot” and you can look at yourself and say “Damn I do look hot!” And if she doesn’t..maybe she should start complimenting her friends because that’s a fun and nice thing to do?

          • CMT

            Instagram is the place for this, I think.

          • lamarsh

            Or with your close friends, or with your partner…

            I feel like both the real world and social media are full of opportunities to say how great you look (and mean it).

          • Jessica

            I feel like I see a lot of “I look bomb” on Instagram. But the tone of your original comment really strikes me as similar to what I hear from white men–they are sick of being ‘bashed’ because they were born with the most privilege, and now people are talking about them as a group when they are Not All The Same, not appreciating that this is how minority groups have been portrayed since forever.

            Now, the difference between the Beauty Industry and White Men is that a lot of money is to be made for people to try to look like you naturally do, and you are in the privileged minority of not having to spend all that money. For the majority of women, we are constantly being told we are not good enough for not looking like you do. I don’t think this article is about you.

          • Cellistec

            +1000

          • AP

            This was exactly my thought.

        • Zoya

          “all of our truths, in whatever form they take”

          I’m not actually sure that’s true? Like, one of the things I really appreciate about APW is how well-moderated the comments are. If your truth takes the form of abuse or bigotry, for example, it’s not going to see the light of day. (Not saying that’s what you’re doing–I don’t think it is–but there’s a reason these comment threads aren’t choked with misogynistic grossness like so much of the rest of the internet.)

      • SuzieQ

        Also, I think you just proved my point: “Love your body, but not out loud.”

        • Amy March

          Love your body, not out loud in response to someone else’s struggles. Yes. Exactly my point.

          • CMT

            Totally. This essay is about somebody who struggles with her body image. It doesn’t follow that it’s therefore critical of conventionally attractive people. (Hence my real confusion about the whole original comment to begin with.)

          • Stephanie B.

            “My friend can’t make rent this month and I’m really hurt that I can’t talk about my trust fund.”

          • SuzieQ

            I think a better analogy is “My black colleague is making $25,000 and I’m white and making $35,000 in a substantially similar position. It isn’t appropriate to gloat about how much I’m making. Disclosing my wage likely will damage our relationship. But at the same time aren’t we supposed to be all be working toward better hiring practices? Don’t I have a roll to play in fighting inequitable pay?”

            But instead of pay, loving one’s body regardless of it’s shape or size.

          • Amy March

            But the fact that you are, apparently, gorgeous, is not hidden.

          • Jessica

            If that is your analogy, you should be discussing wages with your Black colleague about the racist discrepancy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xH7eGFuSYI

          • AP

            No, actually it’s coming across as saying, “It’s not fair that my Black friend gets to say Black Girl Magic but I don’t get to say White Girl Magic.” You’re not really talking about dismantling the system, you’re complaining about how a system that privileges you is also unfair to *you.*

    • CMT

      Huh? I’m so confused. Who/what/when/where is telling you that you’re not allowed to love your body?

    • I’m curious what in this article made you feel guilty… As far as I could tell it was talking more about comparing herself to an imagined perfect version of herself, not comparing herself to other women who are gorgeous?

      You are right that people who are conventionally beautiful receive their own set of negative messages — That you are vain, shallow, that things come easy, that your accomplishments are linked to your looks, it goes on. That is obviously toxic and should be dismantled. But that also doesn’t spring from other women learning body-acceptance, that has to do with a culture that is hell-bent on making all of us hate our bodies.

      • Cellistec

        “…that springs from a culture that is hell-bent on making all of us hate our bodies.”

        Literally all of us. Many conventionally gorgeous women become targets of unwanted male attention, who excuse it by saying that looking like that is “asking for it.” No one wins in this toxic culture.

        • Yep. IMO it’s one of those “privilege within a system doesn’t mean that the system is actually good for you” things.

          • Cellistec

            YES. That’s the shortest PhD dissertation I’ve ever read.

      • SuzieQ

        I have no issues with the article. The author’s story is emotionally compelling, well written, and non-offensive.

        It is the narrative that you hear over and over again that I don’t like. “I used to hate my body, details about how hating one’s body impacted your health, mental health, and relationships, but now I’m choosing to love my body.” You can read that narrative or watch it on tv. But what the repetition of that story again and again suggests is that it only acceptable to affirmatively declare your self love if you struggled with it. There is no room for affirmatively, out loud, loving yourself otherwise.

        (That said “I’m pretty and I love myself” isn’t exactly an interesting story, but the emotional response is never the less real.)

    • Maggie

      So, you’re mad/sad/guilty(?) that you’re not supposed to brag how perfect your body is, particularly in response to how someone else is learning to love their imperfect one?

      I mean, yeah, good for you, glad you’re happy with how you look (regardless of whether your body is or is not perfect), but it’s just the inappropriate time and place.

  • Zoya

    Ohhhhh right in the feels. I also struggle with disordered eating, and ended up gaining a lot of weight during the wedding planning process (and I wasn’t thin to begin with). Most of it was due to health issues out of my control, but there was also a fair amount of stress-eating. I also have female-pattern hair loss, which accelerated over the same timeframe. I worked really hard to be okay with all of this, not to feel shame over not “looking my best” on my wedding day. And I stubbornly didn’t want to buy into the pressure to alter myself and my habits just because wedding–to crash-diet, to buy beauty products I never normally use, to wear hairpieces or backcomb or whatever. On the day itself, I was actually secretly a little proud that I didn’t look like a traditional bride, with my fat body and curly thin hair and bushy underarms and glasses.

    On the other hand, I just got my wedding photos back, and it’s all so visible in every photo–the extra weight on my arms, the double chin, the bald spots in the hairstyle I’d worked so hard on that morning. So now I’m tackling yet another round of working on myself, and being okay with all of this.

    • Jessica

      The blessing and curse of photos is that it is you, and it is not you, all at the same time. I have gone through Facebook and secretly mourned that I don’t look like I did when I was 20–but of COURSE I don’t, that was almost 10 years ago. But I also remember the fun parties and hang outs with my friends, which is what I *should* be looking at the picture for.

      • Zoya

        OMG “the blessing and curse of photos is that it is you, and it is not you, all at the same time.” I have to let that sink in a bit. Thank you.

        • Jessica

          This is the most gratified I’ve been for taking an ethics of photography mini course in college

      • NolaJael

        When I hate a photo of myself one of my mantras is that not all photos are for me. My mother might love the way she looks in the group or it might capture a place when a friend is about to move away or my future children might love a photo from back when their mom was childless, etc. The value of the photo isn’t necessarily in my aesthetic appearance. (But if I’m the only one featured and it’s terrible…delete. ;-)

        • AP

          I really like this framing.

        • JC

          This makes me think about how, when I look at a picture of myself, I see only my physical body, but when I look at a picture of someone I love, I see their whole self. My grandmother doesn’t like her teeth and so won’t smile in pictures, but I’m not taking the picture to admire her teeth, I’m taking the picture to remember my grandmother, the whole package, the love and the time spent together and the personality we share.

          • littleinfinity

            Aww… that’s a sweet way to think about it. My grandma is the same :)

      • Truer words.. I’m also always struck by the difference between how I look in pictures vs. how I felt. Like, there are some things that I know for a fact I was miserable at, but I have kind of fond memories of entirely because I have pictures where I looked happy? Memory is effing weird.

  • Angela’s Back

    This was great to read today. After taking a new job with an actual commute + not being great about exercising lately (even with treadmills IN MY BUILDING), I’ve definitely been *feeling* fat, even though any actual weight gain since the move has been a couple pounds at best. But it occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that my husband and I are great weekend drinkers and I’m almost thirty–so maybe now is when I start carrying a little more weight, or conversely, have to work harder to stay where I want to be. And if that’s the new normal, that’s okay… but the important thing is to accept that as the new normal, not hate myself or feel like a terrible person because I’m a little heavier than when I was 25. So thanks for sharing, Laura <3

    • NolaJael

      I went from a 20 minute bike commute to a 60 minute bus commute and my body is *not happy.* I guess it’s time to woman up and get in some exercise another way.

    • RNLindsay

      I’ve had the same issue with turning 30! Heavier than I was at my wedding at age 28 and it’s just not as easy to lose the weight anymore. I’ve been trying real hard to accept the new normal, because my routine hasn’t changed all that much

    • I’ve found since turning 30 that though I’m the same weight, the way I carry it has changed. I think it’s a skin elasticity thing, and maybe a muscle tone thing (I might need to work on having muscles now?). Like, I’ve got PCOS, and I’ve always carried my weight around my belly, but I’ve shifted from being an even and smooth apple to a slightly saggy and all on the front apple.

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  • Emily

    Photography is such a big topic both in the WIC and here at APW…Do we put too much emphasis on wedding pictures? On one hand I understand the desire to have something to remember an important event. But on the other hand, emphasis on pictures takes us out of the moment and makes weddings feel like a performance. I also feel like emphasis on pictures is big part of the pressure to worry about physical appearance.

    • Alli

      This is a good thing to bring up! Obviously there will be brides and grooms and photographers who are like “No, good pictures are important because it’ll capture the feel of the day.” And I don’t think they’re wrong, but if you’re spending a lot of money on photos I can see how that pressure to look good in them can weigh on you.

    • emmers

      Maybe it’s because it’s one of the easiest things to share about a wedding? That’s my theory anyways! It’s also my theory why there are so many pictures of “details” at weddings online, when they may not be something you’d actually notice if you were at the wedding, because you’d be too busy hanging out. I think that there is too much emphasis on photos (for me). I think, for me, they cultivated a preoccupation on details like centerpieces, when now, looking back on my wedding, I mainly care about the feelings from it.

      • Alli

        Omg the preoccupation with centerpieces thing just made me laugh at my desk. My centerpieces were not cute if you looked at them closely. Our original plan (gold painted wine bottles) literally fell apart (the paint fell off 3 days before the wedding) and we last minute hot glued gold ribbon to 16 wine bottles. They were sparkly and they held our fake flowers just fine, but I wasn’t excited to see them in our photos, because the ribbon was kind of wonky and you could see the creases and chunks of hot glue.

        ANYWAY, 2 days after the wedding I’m looking through the photos and come upon a close up centerpiece photo, and somehow the photographer missed that there were some really prominent pieces of cat hair stuck to the flowers. It’s in like 5 pictures. Like not only is my centerpiece definitely not blog worthy, but its got cat hair on it.

        • NolaJael

          I feel like someone should make a whole Pinterest board called “chunks of hot glue.”

          • Alli

            I would follow it for sure.

          • CMT

            Or chunks of cat hair!

        • emmers

          This made me chuckle. #reallife #weddingmemories

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          HAHAHAHAHAHA now I know how to incorporate our cats into our wedding.

    • NolaJael

      I have wondered this as well. I know that photos are the bread and butter of modern blogs, but there are also almost never “Real Weddings” that didn’t have an amazing pro photographer (or free-to-the-couple friend who is a pro).

      • rebecca

        I know, I almost felt like my wedding photos wouldn’t feel specific to this moment in time, if I didn’t get a certain kind of amazing photographer if that makes any sense? I don’t care much about photos in life but thought I might feel differently about my wedding photos once I saw them. I don’t. They’re nice, the photographer was fantastic, but I just wasn’t raised to be very nostalgia oriented. Maybe in 50 years. My dream scenario would be to be able to book the fancy photographer but only for like 3 hours bc that’s all we really needed, of course the nature of weddings mostly being at the same time makes that really hard to make sense for the photographer.

    • Kara

      I understand your point.

      Besides being married to my husband, I’m most grateful for the photos of loved ones at our wedding that we’ve lost since. Not the photos of us. The photos of my grandfather smiling even after several strokes are powerful to me.

      • Jessica

        cosigned. I’m not super happy that my wedding photos of my grandfather include my ex husband, but I’m grateful that my grandfather was able to be present at my wedding–and that it was the last big family event he was able to attend. So I may do some creative collage of the photos, but I will be grateful that we have high-quality photos of my whole family from that day.

        • Alli

          Is it weird to paste Ryan Gosling’s face over your ex’s?

          • Cleo

            No.

          • Jessica

            Absolutely not weird.

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            I’ll bring the magazines and scissors. You bring some wine.

    • Alexandra

      I have really nice wedding photos, and I don’t care. There I said it. I don’t care about the wedding pictures. I have a great marriage and I love my husband, but I actually don’t really even like looking at my Very Nice Wedding Photos because my wedding embarrasses me now. I went too crazy on the wedding pinterest blog obsessions (I mean, jeez, I’m still on APW four years later) and my wedding was just one big stress fest. When I look at my wedding pictures all I see are my sleep-deprived eyes and all the stuff that went wrong and all the stupid, “precious” little details I obsessed over.

      One thing I will say about wedding photos…it’s nice showing my 3-year-old son the wedding album. That’s actually pretty meaningful. So never mind. Photos are nice.

    • guest

      I think so! We didn’t have professional or any other photography during the ceremony, did minimal staged shots, and hired a talented, low-key, low-cost single photographer to explore and take pictures to take any pressure of others to feel the need to “capture the moment.”

  • topscallop

    I worked out nearly 5 times per week on average for the three months leading up to my wedding. I only lost 4 pounds but built a decent amount of muscle. The seamstress took my dress in about an inch from my ribcage down to my thighs, and I felt much happier and more comfortable in my body than I had when I purchased it. But when I look at the few preview pictures, my eye still goes right to the arms I wish looked more toned, and the small stomach pooch that never disappeared. The more I look at them, though, the more I see how happy I look, and the way my husband and I are looking at each other, and instead of beating myself up for not looking like an Instagram model, I am transported back into the moment when the photo was taken.

    I’ve returned to the gym post-wedding because, go figure, I ended up forming a habit with my wedding shedding plan, but this time I’m kinder to myself because I don’t have a deadline where I’m going to be the center of attention on the most-photographed day of my life. Instead I can focus on strength training and how much energy I have and feeling good in my clothes.

    I’m not sure where I was going with this but I guess my takeaway from my own experience is: do what feels good, not in a hedonistic way but in a good-to-your-body way, and remember that the wedding is just one day. The pictures will last forever if you want them to, but hopefully they’ll be a reminder of your happiest moments, and you can release yourself from the ideas you had about what you “should” look like on that day.

  • Jess

    The idea of “What if this is just what I look like now?” hit me with some reality while I was reading this post.

    I’m feeling not all that comfortable in my body currently, and struggling with that a lot lately (both feeling that way and my feelings about feeling that way, with the added bonus of “worrying about disordered eating coming back”).

    This is what I look like. Maybe it doesn’t say anything about me at all.

    • Zoya

      This. Exactly.

    • Anneke Oosterink

      I’m sort of okay with how I look, I’ve looked like this for my adult life, but at the same time I am also trying to eat better and ideally lose some weight too. I feel in limbo sometimes. Not really “me” yet, as if I will be more myself if I lose some weight. I am feeling more okay with my body as I get older, so I hope that trend continues. There is so much judgement when our society talks about bodies and it is so very hard to not internalise all of it. I hope you get to a place where you feel fine with your body. <3

  • jem

    I have a history with ED but also the kind of constitution that loses weight rapidly when stressed. I accidentally lost 10lbs in the couple weeks between my last dress fitting and my wedding and it devestated me. Partly because my dress didn’t fit right and was all gapey where my boobs used to be, partly because it made me second-guess my recovery, and partly because of the weird-as-fuck things people think they can say to women about their weight loss. So, I guess the cloth can cut both ways. I STILL haven’t been even able to gain the weight back and every time I worry about this to my mom, she acts like it’s some sort of humble brag.

    • Jess

      Re mom’s – I do not talk to my mom about weight anymore for similar reasons. She tries a lot and I will nope right out of that conversation.

      People say weird-as-fuck things about women’s bodies, indeed, and it’s magnified even more when they are people close to you.

      I am sorry, and I hope you get your boobs back. :)

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  • mui

    My weight fluctuated before I got married. I guess that’s what a cruise with non stop eating, best friend and another good friends wedding and being in their wedding parties, my own celebrations all added up to things changing quite a bit! I tried to focus on exercising and (sort of) tried to eat healthy, although that’s hard cuz i love food. BUT, all that has caught up to me and I need to watch my diet and lose weight for my health ::sob:: why can’t I just eat all the fried things forever and not worry about cardiovascular health and blah blah blah. My body, it is a changing.

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  • THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR THIS: “For years, I’ve treated my extra weight as if it were temporary. But what if this is just what I look like? I’ve been about this size almost all of my adult life. I could definitely be healthier, and I am working toward eating better and becoming fitter, but for me, the disciplines of calorie counting and frequent weigh-ins just become idols as I worship a fictional self.”

  • Huckleduck

    I needed to read this today! Thank you.

  • Kara E

    Sarah – GREAT read. Thank you. Sounds very similar to my own path. Best of luck to you!