You Never Have to Lose Weight for Your Wedding


FULL STOP

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

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I don’t think I’ve ever been thinner than I was on my wedding day. Through diet, exercise, and the pure strength of bridal willpower, I managed to lose about twenty-five pounds before saying “I do,” elliptical-ing my way down to a svelte size eight. When it came time to speak our vows, I felt confident and ready to take the aisle by storm.

And yet. When I got my wedding pictures back, I kind of hated them. I’d lost all this weight, but I still looked… squishy. My arms didn’t have the definition I’d seen in all the wedding ads, and my back still rolled over the top of my dress (I guess that’s what I get for refusing to acknowledge any gym equipment that won’t let me watch reruns of Saved by the Bell). And while I knew objectively that I looked beautiful on my wedding day, I still felt… disappointed.

The thing is, looking back, I have no idea what was going through my mind at the time. I was hot! I had a rockin’ bod that I’d worked my ass off for, complete with curves to inspire Sir Mix-a-Lot. So what happened? How is it that, even after gaining nearly fifty pounds of post-wedding weight, I have a more positive body image now than I did when I got married?

The answer lies where almost all of the complicated feelings of getting married lie: the big business wedding industry. Mainstream wedding media has created such an unnatural representation of bridal beauty that it’s nearly impossible to discern where “I’d like to look pretty on my wedding day” turns into “I’ll regret it forever if I don’t lose ten pounds before the wedding and get Michelle Obama’s arms.”

Just a quick glimpse at wedding dress advertising begins to unravel the complicated intricacies of brides, bodies, and beauty. First, there are the obvious issues: the lack of diversity; the untamed airbrushing; the fact that none of the models ever seem to smile. But peeling back the layers unveils an even more subtle beauty standard: these women are you, only better. None of them are runway-model thin. They are just a little thinner than you. A little taller. Slightly more polished. Like you, on your best day, at the most flattering angle.

And of course, couple these pressures with the messaging that your wedding is the single most important day of your life and you’ve only got one chance to do it right (and a limited amount of time to do so, at that), and we’ve got ourselves a problem. Before you know it, your brain starts playing a never-ending loop of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” while you paw through sample gowns trying to find your size.

And while it may be impossible to escape this harmful messaging about your body and your wedding, there are a few helpful hints I’ve learned since getting married that should ease the pain and hopefully help you come out on the other side without the emotional battle scars usually reserved for Miss America contestants.

First, let’s acknowledge the dress. Strapless dresses make up a huge percent of the wedding dresses you’ll be presented with during your search. You will have to try them on in sizes that are nearly double the number that you normally wear (and even then they still fit too small), and most of the time they invent fat. (I didn’t even know you could be worried about armpit fat until I went strapless dress shopping.) This. Is. Not. Your. Fault. I promise that you will regret it if you try and squeeze your body into a dress made for someone else. So find an outfit that makes you feel awesome and works on your body, not on some unrealistic ideal.

Secondly, it’s not all about the pictures. No, seriously: mainstream wedding media has us all convinced that the end goal of getting married is the ah-may-zing photos—which is, of course, a crock (and I say this as both a former bride and a former wedding photographer). Yes, the photos are an important way to remember your wedding, but wedding photos are not the most accurate representation of how your wedding felt, no matter how good the photographer is. Also, you don’t owe it to anyone to produce red-carpet photos from your wedding, and there is no prize being given out on Facebook or Instagram to the-bride-who-is-most beautiful-by-societal-expectations.

Finally, at a certain point, you just have to let it go. Yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to have a little bit of body shame leading up to the wedding; your willpower would have to be phenomenal not to suffer from it. But it’s a disservice to yourself to carry that into the day itself—because seriously, there isn’t a thing wrong with you. Your partner chose you for a reason, just as you are, right now, imaginary armpit fat and all. Plus, you’re getting married. MARRIED! You have already earned the right to a happy wedding and don’t owe anyone a dang thing else, no matter how frequently the mainstream wedding media tries to tell you otherwise.

That said, if your wedding day does come and go, and you do find yourself falling victim to the same reaction as I did, please know that it’s okay. Weddings are complicated, as are our relationships with our bodies. And in the same way that insecurity doesn’t undo all the good things of your daily life, insecurity on your wedding day won’t undo the magic and joy of committing to a life with your intended. So trust me when I tell you that the future of your happiness, your beauty, your self-worth isn’t wrapped up in this one day. No matter what the salesperson tells you.

This post originally ran on APW + Etsy in June 2012

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • sofar

    I started working on my fitness a few years before even getting engaged. Suddenly, after I got engaged and even mentioned that I was doing something fitnessy (as in, “Hey, I have training that night, can we do Thursday instead?”), people would say, “Of course! Gotta get those pre-wedding work-outs in!”

    It always made me so sad.

    Like, training does so much for my mental and physical health and it’s NOT about the fucking wedding! Also, stop saying stuff like that, because it’s absolute poison. I know a lot of people who used the wedding as an extra motivator to work out more (shoot, I’ve used beach vacations as a reason to work out more), and that is FINE. But that’s everyone’s own decision to make. Let’s not act like it’s obligatory.

    • theteenygirl

      There are a bunch of pictures of athletic wear on Pinterest right now, like running tights that say “getting fit for the wedding” and crap on them…. it made me start thinking like, wait is this something I’m supposed to be doing?? And then I shook my head, exited Pinterest, and logged into APW…

      • sofar

        “And then I shook my head, exited Pinterest and logged into APW.”

        A wise choice.

        I had to stay off Pinterest during wedding planning. It wasn’t safe.

      • Kate

        I get such an intense rage each time I see these…

    • Natalie

      Yup! I was rock climbing and running for years before getting engaged, but after announcing my engagement people asked me if I was working out to lose weight/look more toned for the wedding. Um, no. I was working out for all the same reasons I have always worked out.

  • savannnah

    I am actively struggling with all of this so hard right now and I’m at a place right now where Im anticipating feel like you maddie, even if I lose the 30 lbs that would get me down to straight sizes I know I’ll still not be happy with how I look. I love my dress and I generally am a pretty happy size 16 and trying to deal but ugh to all of it.

  • Emily

    The timing of this article could not be better – I actually googled “how to lose 15 pounds in four months,” a phrase never once did this body-empowered, conscious, trashed-my-scale-five-years-ago girl ever think I would do. And I’m actually heavier than I have been in a while (stress/ice cream does that to me). Between all the photos, the shopping, the trying on, and my ever present Mom’s words “I just need to lose five more pounds” my self esteem is at an all time low. So, thanks for this. I really needed to hear it today.

    • K. is skittsh about disqus

      Oh man, moms and weight can be the roughest combination. I’m extremely close to my mom and love her to the ends of the world. But she is in many ways directly responsible for a lot of my body issues, based on how she talks about her own body and sometimes mine, to be frank. It really sucks, and I’m sorry you’re having a hard time right now!

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        SAME. My mom has always been mean to herself. She’s always been really complimentary to me, but I still feel super weird about it, and I’d just rather not talk to her about bodies and weight and size and shape and diet, like, ever.

        • K. is skittsh about disqus

          My mom is complimentary to me 99.9999% of the time. But the one time she told me, “You know that one summer when you lifted weights and ran every day, you were like a 10. Right now, you’re about an 8,” like she was some kind of a frat bro? That still sticks with me.

          She’s absolutely horrible about herself though and I agree that can be the weirdest and hardest.

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            WHAT THE HELL, MOM.

          • AP

            Oh god, those little comments that never go away. WTF. Mine was “you know, I never had cellulite when I was your age, you must get that from your dad’s side of the family.” WHEN I WAS 15.

        • Jess

          I have literally been ending conversations. “I’m not talking about this.” It has done wonders.

          It took me a while to understand why what the ostensibly positive things she was saying about me bothered me.

          She’ll somehow both insult me and compliment me, like “Well, you’re a size [spits out size number angrily], so.” me: “You say that like it’s a swearword.” or use me as a measuring stick for herself which is… unfair and really unsettling.

          It also makes me feel like my size is a defining characteristic, and if I lose it, I will be less valuable and/or attractive. Which is not a healthy way to approach bodies…

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            She always talked about how I had a flat stomach, which was such a nice thing, and she never had one. At some point I said, “I don’t anymore, and haven’t for a while,” and she’s stopped making the comment. But you know what? I never thought about it until she mentioned it, and perhaps it wouldn’t have felt like a good thing I lost if she hadn’t.

          • Jess

            Yes, that is exactly it. Compliments made with a contrasting statement about her own body make me hyper aware of changes to my body in those areas.

        • Violet

          When people criticize their own body, it almost doesn’t matter if they never say anything about mine; I kinda assume they’re judging me in their head. It’s like when Person A talks about Person B behind their back. Is Person A talking about me right this second? No, but know I know they do this, so they’re probably doing it to me, too. If my mom complained about her body (thank GOODNESS she does not), I’d sort of assume she had issues with mine, too, even if she never said it.

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            YEP.

    • Her Lindsayship

      Totally in that boat with you. I’m definitely in a heavier moment of my life so far, and it’s been bugging me for a few months, but there’s this other thing happening where I’m really mad that this is a thing I think about at all. So Idk, I’m doing a little bit extra damage because I’m too sensitive about it. Like “oh maybe I’ll work out today – OR IS THAT THE WIC TALKING? FUCK IT I’m getting a burger” huh??? I know that I generally feel better when I’m getting more exercise, but there are so many feelings surrounding it that the logic doesn’t even touch me.

      • Anna

        Oh man yeah, I feel like I’m fucked either way: I feel unhappy about my current unprecedented squishiness (I don’t expect to ever have the body I had at nineteen after biking across the country, but I’m currently 40 lbs heavier than that at 5’1″ and, more to the point, get winded walking up more than two flights of stairs, which I HATE), but then when I exercise, I feel like I’m trying to “lose weight for the wedding”, which makes the always-unpleasant task of regular exercise* way more unpleasant, so I don’t exercise, and then I don’t get any of the mood, etc benefits of exercising. Plus I continue to be in lousy shape, weight aside.

        *I don’t inherently hate all exercise – I used to love cycling long distances! Which was wonderful exercise and took me to cool places. But the aforementioned cross-country ride had the unfortunate side effect of pretty much burning out any desire for distance cycling; I haven’t ridden more than 15-20 miles at a stretch since then. And indoor exercise is boring and makes me sad.

        • Lmba

          Realistically, if you *were* trying to lose weight for the wedding, exercise wouldn’t really cut it though, right? It’s mostly nutrition that shifts weight up or down. So… can the exercise just be because you want to be stronger and more capable and have a body that feels better, wedding and weight be damned???

          • Emily

            So it does and it doesn’t….they are symbiotic. You can’t out exercise a bad diet, but muscle is much less efficient than fat (Muscle burns 7-10 calories per lb per day vs 2-3 calories per lb per day for fat) so the more muscle you put on, the more calories you need to eat to maintain your weight / the less you have to cut to lose fat. Now these should still be calories from whole, nutritious foods largely, but there are benefits to resistance training (whether thats using weights or just bodyweight) in this arena.

            Additionally, there is an afterburn / Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption associated with resistance training / cardio interval training (like HIIT) that can mean you burn far more calories over the course of the day above and beyond what you burn just while doing the workout itself.

            I am not a trainer / nutritionist and if you are concerned you should talk to one but I did a bunch of research because I was trying to figure out why while embarking on a self-empowerment kick involving weight training / HIIT I ended up three sizes smaller, ten lbs heavier, and ready for a porterhouse steak by 10 AM every day…

          • Emily

            Sorry and to clarify by “less you have to cut” I mean your base resting rate might now be 2300 calories per day and you go down to 1800 to get leaner instead of a totally sedentary person needing to go from a resting rate of 1800 to 1300….1300 gives you very little wiggle room.

          • Anna

            Yeah, thinking of it that way does help on the exercise side (inspired in part by your comment, I biked to work – through a cold drizzle – today, and it felt great). But really good food is a huge quality-of-life thing for me, so shifting the stress over to how I eat isn’t always helpful on the whole.

      • Emily

        Yep. Exercise is actually one of the things that makes me feel most sane (endorphin’s FTW) but, but, but…and then I’m eating a pizza and drinking beer. Taking things one day at a time helps, and not drowning in self loathing when I don’t go is another big thing. For example, I’m not going to the gym today. Do I have a valid excuse? Sort of, but it’s thin. Am I going to beat myself up all night? Going to do my best not to. Am I going to have chocolate? Hell yes. And while I’m planning on going tomorrow, life happens and wedding planning brings up a lot of other shit I didn’t expect, so sometimes self care looks like laying on the couch eating leftover Easter candy and watching Sex and the City.

        • Natalie

          Hi, are you me? Exercise keeps me sane but I struggle with making it happen regularly for all kinds of reasons. You may already do this, but in case you don’t, I’ll suggest it: I make my exercise goals about what I do in a given week, rather than each day. That way it’s easier to not beat myself up for skipping a workout; I know I’m “allowed” to not workout today, because I can still reach my weekly goal. I have a plan for what workouts I’m going to do when, but it’s flexible, and the overall goal is total number of minutes of exercise per week, with sub-goals of cardio & strength training minutes. Doesn’t work for everyone, but it definitely cuts down on my own self-flogging.

          • JC

            Yes to all of this. Plus I just switched back to working out in the morning before work, and it makes it way easier to 1) not skip it, because it’s why I woke up and I’m not fully awake enough to make decisions and 2) see it as just a normal part of my day and not some kind of “punishment” for what I ate/not working out the day before. When I was working out at lunch or after work, it was a lot easier to skip, and when I did go, it didn’t feel like it was for the right reasons.

          • Natalie

            I definitely do better working out first thing in the morning than any other time, for exactly the reasons you said. Now my dog is conditioned to think that if my alarm goes off early, it means we’re going on a run together, and he gets super excited. And it’s so hard to skip a workout when my furry best friend is counting on it and will give me sad eyes if I skip it.

          • JC

            Well now I need a dog.

          • Natalie

            Doesn’t everyone?

          • JC

            Yes. This is the universal truth.

          • Natalie

            Dogs really are the best workout buddies. They don’t understand excuses, but they love you unconditionally even when you flake on them several days in a row. And they’re so damn happy to be awake and doing something exciting no matter the weather or ungodly early hour.

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          • lamarsh

            This plan has really helped me too. I have a calendar on my fridge and my goal is to fill x days each week with an exercise I did. The visual helps remind me when I need to work out, but also allows me not to feel bad about taking a day off.

          • Emily

            That’s a great idea! I think I’ll give it a whirl. The day-to-day can be rough. I also bit the bullet and signed up with a wellness coach yesterday – just for a bit of a motivation boost. I’m not sure I’ll quite get to Michelle Obama arm level, but feeling good again in my own body? That’s a goal I can get behind.

        • Meredith

          Exercise isn’t the thing that fills me with as much guilt, because studies show that the food you eat has the majority of impact. Exercise only helps a small percentage as far as weight – it’s more of an overall cardiovascular and anti-aging benefit.

          • Violet

            Yes, exercise has a ton of health and mental health benefits, but its ability to shed pounds is extremely limited.

          • Emily

            There are two main reasons I feel so guilty when I don’t go to the gym 1) endorphin’s and 2) for the most part I do eat pretty well. I have weaknesses, but I tracked calories for years (mixed results there) so I know more or less what feels good, what I should avoid, etc. My weekends are my main problem point know. When did I start pretending that calories don’t count on the weekend?

      • Régine

        I feel that. Like, the timing of getting engaged and me already wanting to be more active (to get better sleep, to feel better, etc.) is kind of shitty. I want to know I’m doing things for the right reasons and not because of my 380 day away wedding. I’m like aggressively trying to prove that I don’t care about eating junk because I refuse to lose weight for my wedding but on the other hand, I want to be a healthier (not skinnier) person.

    • Meredith

      I was a stress ice cream eater too – just ate sugar in general when stressed. This is on top of the 12 to 15 heaping teaspoons of sugar in the tea I drank all day. Just don’t follow my lead because now I have diabetes for real with some scary symptoms. I wrote about it below.

      I don’t think we should worry about how we look. We should worry about if we are genuinely healthy.

      • Jane

        That is legit scary.

  • crock-pot-of-doom

    I know for me weight has been hard. Last year I went to the doctor (after not going for years) and she told me I was borderline obese and normally that wouldn’t bother her, but that with my maternal history of diabetes (mom, grandma, and great grandma all developed it) it was something I should think about changing. At first I was really angry and then I decided she was probably right and set out to change what I could. The thing is I hit my goal weight and everyone says I look great but I just want people to shut-the-fuck-up about my body. “You must feel so good about yourself” Actually I felt pretty good about myself before. “you boyfriend must love the new you” ummm he never didn’t love me? Like why do grown people think these are good things to say?

    • Her Lindsayship

      People suck, I’m so sorry you have to hear all that noise. I kind of hope you actually did say “he never didn’t love me?” to that second one, because damn!

    • Cleo

      Yes! I recently lost about 20 pounds for the same reasons (borderline obese, type 2 diabetes is hereditary and even my 120 lb. mother is at major risk for it, etc.) and saw my grandma for the first time in a couple years. She COULDN’T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT.

      I know she means well and yes, I am happy with how I look now – I have muscles I’ve never seen before, etc. – and more importantly I’m feeling better about my health and wellness (lowered blood pressure, lowered blood sugar, etc.), but I’m not interested in my body being a point of discussion for longer than a 2 minute “wow, you look great,” “yes, I’ve been doing this amazing new workout that kicks my ass and I can now run a faster mile than I could when I was 40 pounds lighter.” etc. exchange. There’s so much more about me!

      Solidarity, lady.

    • JennDee

      God, other people are the absolute worst!! I have a very similar background (diabetes all around on both sides, was steadily gaining weight for a few years) and when my doc first recommended that I lose a bit a weight, I was so pissed. But know what, I feel better, sure I look a little different but my actual physical body feels good!

      Screw those people, forget their comments, and if anyone has the audacity to say anything, feel free to use my favorite phrase (handed down to me by my classy af 93 yo Gram): ‘Excuse me, what did you say?’ People tend to back the fuck up pretty quickly when you question them, IMO.

    • Meredith

      I just hit the diabetes wall and no doctor warned me. They’d just say my sugar was high. My first clue is that I developed neuropathy in my feet and hands, and then red scaly blotches on top of my feet that bleed if I scratch them. All this happened in a matter of months and I’ve never been so scared. I don’t feel like developing full-blown diabetic sores. I’m pretty irritated with my own self for eating all the sugar in the world for so long. I’ve gone off all sugar cold turkey and now this is my life.

      • Vanessa

        Hey, good for you for realizing and making a change. My grandma never changed her eating or exercise habits after being diagnosed with diabetes and it cost her both of her legs, and that’s a situation you don’t want to be in if you can help it.

        • Meredith

          Thank you. But it’s hard not to be mad at my own self. I did this. I just never knew things could take a turn for the worse so quickly!!!

    • Guest

      I can’t believe people would say those things to you. That is terrible!

  • Eve

    While we’re discussing how dresses are photographed on models, can we also touch on the height factor? Fun (heh) thing that I noticed while looking at dresses online was that some dresses, especially the bigger ballgowns, are somehow magically photographed/altered so that the model is actually the scale of a classic fashion drawing. Fashion sketches are drawn so the person is 9 heads tall. For comparison, what they teach in art school, so more “correct” proportions, is that a person is between 6 and 7 heads tall. That’s a whole lot of extra height! Regardless of what size someone is, nobody has legs like that, even models! I don’t know why it was shocking to me that wedding dresses didn’t make my legs look a million miles long, but it was.

    So, yes. Those models are us, but just a little bit better. And taller, and completely different proportions. And unless you’re literally going to wear shoes 12″ tall, your dress will never look like that.

    • jem

      Yes height! I felt like such a height failure at my first dress fitting– I’m going to need to chop off like two feet of gown ?

      It doesn’t help that my future groom is over a foot taller than me, and certain ladies in my family keep telling me I MUST wear heels or I will ruin the pictures. Ugh.

      • Anna

        At 5’1″, every floor-length gown I’ve ever owned (all… two of them?) has needed to be shortened >1 foot. I figure taking length off is easier than adding it on, so it makes sense that the gowns come super long… but it still feels weird to be the special case rather than the default the dress is built for (plus with beads or any kind of fancy hem, shortening a gown is expensive!).

        But fuck that last part, wear the shoes you want. My fiance is exactly a foot taller than me and we look adorable in photos, heels or no. If you don’t want to be looking up at him in every photo, take some pictures on stairs! If you’re not bothered by it, take pictures wherever you want and you’ll look super happy and the pictures will look like YOU and nobody will care what shoes you’re wearing. (This is as much a pep talk for me as for you.)

        • jem

          Ha thanks for the pep talk! I definitely need it. They keep responding to my pictures of flats with pictures of heels!!! Gah! I walk like a small drunk elephant in heels, so I am definitely leaning towards a comfy pair of flats. Agree that pictures with my boy look super cute w me tucked under his armpit ☺️

          • penguin

            That’s terrible that someone told you that you would RUIN your OWN wedding photos! Just by being in flats! People are ridiculous. I’d say wear whatever shoes YOU want to wear, probably comfortable ones if you’re going to be in them all day. I’m wedding planning too and APW is giving me life right now.

          • jem

            Hahha I know people say the weirdest things to engaged people. It’s like a period of superlatives– everything is supposed to be the BEST for your “best day ever” and so perspectives get so out of whack. I mostly just roll my eyes at the height thing but OMG if someone sends me another link to 4″ heels I’ll weep

          • Anna

            Right? Like, what does that even mean? The photos are for you! How could wearing what YOU want to be wearing possibly ruin them?

          • Eve

            You can always send your family those pictures that keep popping up on Pinterest of the entire bridal party looking super happy and fantastic in matching Converse or Toms. I’m definitely going to take the wedding as an opportunity to get a super great pair of impractically light colored Toms.

          • jem

            That would probably make my FMIL faint. I might try it!

          • LadyJanee

            I wore heels for the ceremony because i found a pair that were a good height for me and i adored them and then i changed into white converse for the rest of the day. It was the greatest! I was so comfy and able to dance the night away without getting sore feet. My mum hated the idea but I live in sneakers 90% of the time so it felt right to me and it was my feet that had to be in them not hers!

          • jem

            So this seems like a great option. Did you have a long gown? Did you have it hemmed with the heels in mind or the converse? I guess my worry is tripping

          • LadyJanee

            I had your typical princess wedding dress so it was floor length with a big skirt! I had it hemmed with my heels because I didn’t want my dress to be too short when I put my heels on but they weren’t super high so when i put sneakers on it didn’t make a huge difference (maybe 2 inches at most). I wore a single hoop underneath my dress to keep it out from between my legs which definitely helped me not trip. But I actually tripped on my dress more in my heels than in my sneakers! I stepped on the front of it a few times while walking down the aisle but once my sneakers were on I didn’t even notice. I picked up the front of it if I was walking some way so I could walk faster but otherwise had no issues (maybe because I was more confident in sneakers and so wasn’t worried, I worry about tripping in heels regardless of what I’m wearing!).

        • Natalie

          Opposite but same issue here. My now-husband is “only” 4 inches taller than me, so we were almost the same height in the shoes I wanted to wear. I was told I’d ruin the photos by wearing high heels and an up-do piled on top of my head, but f*ck that. I wore the shoes I loved & the hairstyle I wanted and I look the same height as him in photos and we look gorgeous and happy together.

        • Her Lindsayship

          Idk if this will make any short folks feel better, but just wanted to chime in and say that as a six foot tall woman, all clothing makes me feel like “the special case rather than the default”. I literally wouldn’t have the option to wear heels unless I went for a tea-length dress or had a gown custom made. I don’t want to wear heels anyway, and I’m certainly grateful that I won’t have to pay to have the dress hemmed. But I’m not even the tallest woman I know, and sometimes even tall size pants are not long enough for me. Women taller than me must literally have no choice but to have their clothes custom made all the time, and that shit is not cheap! I realize I’m taller than average, but should that mean I just can’t buy pants??

          Also, my fiancé is like half an inch taller than me. In our engagement shoot, the photographer was constantly trying to make sure I didn’t look taller than him. I was really nervous so I didn’t say anything about it, but I really wish I’d nipped that in the bud and told her, we love the way we look together! Even when I’m a giant!!

      • Eenie

        No only wear heels if you want to. We both wore flat comfy shoes and we’re very happy with that decision.

      • theteenygirl

        I feel you! I’m 5’2, fiance is 6’3… everyone has been saying “I hope you’re wearing heels so it’s not awkward when you kiss!” What? We kiss all the time in bare feet and it’s not awkward..?

        • penguin

          “I hope you mind your own damn business so it’s not awkward when I point out how much you’re embarrassing yourself right now” <<my internal monologue to those people. It's wild what people decide to care about when you're getting married.

    • Jess

      This is fascinating!

      • Eve

        Interestingly too, the height in fashion sketching is only added to the legs from the knee down. My theory continues that this is also why some bridal salons put you up on the pedestal in front of the mirror, so you see yourself looking like you’re way taller than you are.

        • Jess

          Is this like a “your legs are elongated by heels” thing? I’m so intrigued!

          • Eve

            The heels thing is an extension of it. Heels shift the proportion of your body ever so slightly (which is why midi length skirts and dresses usually look so much more flattering with heels on, although I also think that also has to do with current style and fashion trends). But basically, it’s less weird to see a picture of someone with super long legs where the rest looks normal. People start to look like aliens when you lengthen the body elsewhere and leave the legs “normal.” I’m not sure how exactly it came about or how cultural it is, but it’s one of those things that even if you don’t know anything about fashion sketching or human proportions, you can look at a group of drawings and pick out which ones look right to you and which ones don’t. And it’s very likely that the ones that look “right” are the ones that are either spot-on human proportions or have long legs.

    • Kate

      I was just saying this to someone the other day! The models in wedding dress pictures seem like their middle just carry on forever!

      Also I saw a genuine runway model for the first time in person a few weeks ago. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. There was something so visually off about her, and then I realized her midsection, thighs and uppers arms were just naturally VERY long, like longer than the average person. I’m struggling for the word (not wanting to call it a genetic defect or deformity) but she was definitely genetically different. And I realized that’s why “normal” people look so much different in photographs than models; because they don’t look like the average person!

      • Kara

        I always remind my friend that runway models are a genetic anomaly–not bad, just different :).

        • Kate

          That’s the word I was looking for, genetic anomaly.

          • Kara

            As a short person, I always wonder if these models have extra vertebrae. I know they don’t; we have the same number of bones, but it’s always dumbfounded me. :)

    • JC

      How does one correct for this? I’m not quite 5’4″, so am I better off just not really looking at magazine photos? Because otherwise I will believe I am short and stubby when I am average height, gosh darnit!! Or should I request not to stand on the pedestal in the bridal salon because it’s just not real life? I want to learn all the things.

      • Eve

        I’m not entirely sure if I can give a complete answer to your question, but I know for me it really helped having the drawing background (both fashion and otherwise) that allowed me to understand what exactly I was looking at when I saw those model photographs. From there, I really think it comes down to understanding and reminding myself that we mere mortals don’t have legs like that and managing expectations. So yeah, I’d suggest not standing on the pedestal (although if you want to to see what you look like on the pedestal for funzies, go ahead! But look at yourself on the ground too), but if you’re planning on wearing heels with your dress, take heels that are about the height you plan on wearing so you can get an idea of what you look like. And the dress will still probably be too long, but that’s what hemming is for and an appropriate hem works wonders.

        I also found it really helpful to get the heck off Pinterest and hang out places like APW, where you can see dresses of many styles on actual people. You may not be able to look at exactly the dress you want, but you can see how x style looks on a person who looks like y and go from there. Hope that helps some!

        • JC

          Yes, thank you! Wearing the right shoes (low, comfortable heels, for me) seems essential, so I’m glad this is a thing that is done. APW helps so much, seeing such a variety of dresses, so I will keep that in mind when I eventually have the task of actually buying a dress.

          • Eve

            And you may or may not find it helpful, but keep an open mind when you do go to try things on because things look different in person. I went to David’s Bridal thinking I would never in a million years try on a mermaid dress, no way, no how, I’m not tall enough, not curvy enough, yadda yadda. Surprise, my sister talked me into trying one on for kicks and giggles and I bought it.

          • JC

            Yes this is big. I learned this when my best friend showed me the magazine “version” of her dress, which looked completely different (worse, actually!) than how the dress looked on her.

    • I’d be really interesting in seeing the mechanics of a wedding magazine shoot, because a lot of the pictures I’ve seen have models with insanely long skirts, often in scenarios where I can’t quite figure out how they’ve pulled this off (like running up a flight of stairs). Normal head, normal torso, six foot skirt that’s barely brushing the ground… They always look so weirdly out of proportion to me, but I guess if you’re in the industry shooting a dress as though the model has normal length legs looks weird, so you get them to hide a small step ladder under the ruffles by default.

  • K. is skittsh about disqus

    My engagement was…not the best time for my body-image.

    So full disclosure, I’m traditionally slender. But most of my life, I had been underweight. I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was 20 and I steadily gained weight once I cut out gluten. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t, in fact, have a “fast metabolism” but that I was actually “getting poisoned on the reg” which was causing essentially malnutrition. But even at my highest weight (pre-pregnancy), I was thin by all conventional standards. But I happened to be at this highest weight during my engagement and when I was looking at great body-positive places like APW, but also browsing glamazon territory like Style Me Pretty. And reader, I went batshit before I married him. Diets, 2 hours of exercise a day, all of it. I got down to my “goal weight” for my wedding and, like Maddie, it still wasn’t enough. I wasn’t a model. I didn’t look like I belonged in a wedding blog.

    Now that I’m a couple years out of my frenzy, I can see how unhealthy my attitude was. Nothing makes me sadder about my wedding, to be honest, then the fact that on the day, I looked at myself in the mirror, in my gorgeous dress, about to marry the best person on the planet, surrounded by my best friends, and still secretly found myself wanting. The insidious pervasiveness of the WIC gets in even the most grounded, feminist brains and it can be devastating. And now that I’m having a daughter? It terrifies me even more.

    The light at the end of the tunnel has been that my attitude about my body in pregnancy has been the polar opposite. I’m in awe of it’s power and shape and all that it’s doing. I was really nervous that I’d struggle with the weight gain (and I absolutely send out solidarity to those who are!), but I think my years of actively combating this attitude (+ ya know, therapy ftw) finally got me to a place of peace, even when my body is becoming more and more unrecognizable every day.

  • Anya

    I had a lot of this when I was going into the wedding. As always someone with a “athletic build” (if one is being kind) and curves and boobs – I worried about how my arms look in my strapless dress. My underarms still jiggle, no matter how many pushups I do. I then worried about a tan line that might be visible. I worried that my waist wasn’t small enough, etc etc. My now husband started doing this exercise with me, and it helped:

    for every negative thing I had to say about my body, about my looks – i had to come up with two positives in the same vein. So if I said, “god, my ass is way too big. it’s so fat”, I had to come up with two compliments to myself about my appearance (no repeats), like: I really like how strong my arms are; I like how my boobs fill out dresses. Which meant that next time I said or thought anything negative, I needed to come up with two more comments.

    It was uncomfortable (it still is because body image is always a process), but that meant that when I put on my dress the positives I had outnumbered the negatives. I felt beautiful and proud and excited and happy.

    We still do this exercise. It didn’t help when I looked at the pictures and wished that I’d have been a bit skinnier, and a lot prettier – BUT on that day, I felt fierce. I hope it helps someone as much as it helped me.

    • penguin

      Talking it out with my fiancé drastically helps with my self image issues on any given day.

      • Anya

        Amen. Yes. All of this.

      • Guest

        Same here. He minimizes all the “flaws” that I blow out of proportion. Sometimes I wonder, though, whether I need a man to tell me I’m beautiful every day in order to feel good about myself. Sometimes I feel that way and it depresses me.

  • Kalë

    Blehhh and yuuup to all of this. It’s hard for me as-is to maintain body positivity, and with the whole added layer of *BRIDE*, it’s near-impossible. I’ve gotten comments from people when indulging in delicious food and lazy activities that I love – “ooh, you gotta squeeze into that dress” “what about the wedding diet?!” and when heading to the gym and eating yummy healthy food “losing weight for the wedding, huh?” “sweating for the wedding!”. It’s especially hard because I know logically that I actually am a healthy weight – not overweight – and live an active lifestyle, yet theoretically, I *could* lose 15 pounds, and maybe that would make me feel happier with myself on my wedding day? But also, what makes me happy is maybe hiking for seven hours one day and then being a total Netflix vegetable and eating an entire pizza and maybe some cake and drinking four dark beers the next. Again, logically, I know it’s not worth worrying and sacrificing my mental health over weight that I don’t medically need to lose… but…

  • ?

    Strapless dresses definitely invent body fat, but do they still make up 75% of wedding dresses in 2017? I’m seeing more sleeves and less and less strapless.

    • ?

      And straps. Sleeves and straps.

    • Katharine Parker

      I feel like since this was published 5 years ago, non-strapless dresses have greatly increased. There are still a lot of strapless, but I would be surprised if it’s 75%. Which is good for everyone who doesn’t want strapless!

      • ?

        Yeah, I’m paging through allllll the dresses online as we speak. Judging from what I’m seeing, I’d estimate strapless dresses represent between 40% to 50% of all dresses now. And 50% is optimistic. I think we’re definitely seeing the demise of the rule of strapless.

        • Not Sarah

          That would be amazing! I hate strapless dresses and I had such a hard time finding one that wasn’t strapless.

          • ?

            I actually prefer the dresses on Etsy to the mainstream designers. Etsy bridal has come such a long way.

          • penguin

            As someone who is dressing shopping right now and hates strapless dresses, it certainly feels like all the formal gowns out there are strapless! I don’t have any percentages though.

            I think the hardest thing for me is that I’m not just looking for straps, I’m looking for SLEEVES. That seems to be the unicorn of formal dresses for a lady with big arms who wants sleeves.

          • ?

            I was browsing the infamous “The Knot” and my estimate is 40-45% of the dresses are strapless. But look at Etsy too. Some gorgeous stuff there these days.

          • jem

            Adriana papell has some gorgeous ones

        • stephanie

          Ooh thanks for that! I’ll update the post. :)

        • Kate

          Does anybody know why this is? The strapless thing?

          • Emily

            Laziness of dress manufacturers largely…. It takes less fabric / difficulty in constructing something to make it strapless vs. with sleeves. From an alterations perspective if all you have to alter is the bodice its much simpler as altering shoulders / armholes etc which makes it more complex.

            Additionally a strapless size 8 will fit a far greater range of people than a size 8 with sleeves.

      • ?

        Ohhhhh I see. Yes, I didn’t realize this was first published in 2012.

      • theteenygirl

        I agree – I’m so happy I’m getting married now and not five years ago when literally there were only strapless sweetheart neck dresses. I tried on two strapless dresses, had nightmare flashbacks from my prom, and swiftly decided NO MORE strapless!

  • SamiSidewinder

    Just dropping by to admire those earrings. I love them!

  • Alyssa

    OMG the timing. I just picked my dress up this weekend from its alterations and it’s the same dress that I’ve loved since I bought it, but I convinced myself for a hot minute after trying on the finished product that I needed to lose weight because it “could look better”. Thank you for giving me a response to the WIC messages in my head!

  • jem

    Yes. As someone with a history of eating disorder, I have been SO CAREFUL about what wedding media I expose myself to (and which bridal shops I visited– bhldn was GREAT). So far, so good on the ed front, but other WEIRD body dysmorphic things keep cropping up. Example: I found myself googling eyelash extensions recently. Where did that come from???

    • Shout out to BHLDN as well. I got my dress there and it is very tight and body hugging (at the urging of the store employee who said “I think on your wedding day, you should show off your bod”). many of the comments online about this particular dress basically amounted to “I love this dress but it shows every curve and belly button and line…” That made me nervous but then I was like “Eff this. I love this dress and I look hot in it. So what if people can see the outline of my butt a little bit?” I’m hoping I feel that same courage the day I wear it.

      Side note: I also love the sentiment in this piece about photos. It’s very true that all the wedding media essentially makes it seem like the whole day is about the photos. I’ve caught myself a couple times during the planning process thinking, “Wait a minute, what is the purpose of this besides for the photo?” Example: Cake cutting. I want a picture of the cake before it gets cut because it’s pretty, but otherwise, why do I need a specific posed photo op of me and my man holding a knife together? Let’s just get the cake cut so everyone can eat it!

      • jem

        Yesss re: sentiment about photos!

      • Transnonymous

        I have really, really struggled with the WIC sentiment that the whole day is about the photos, and working on letting go of that has been huge for me. I absolutely can’t stand my photos, and I feel like this is a big taboo, but no amount of rationalizing and self-comfort is going to make me like them. I’m happy that they exist so that family can have access to them and…that’s about it.

        • Ilora

          The photos issue is so complicated! Personally I looove ours, my favourites are my screensaver on my computer, and framed all over our apartment. My husbands feelings about them range from casual appreciation to actively hating them, with a handful that he just feels neutral about. I got his consent for all of the framed ones and the few that are on social media, but otherwise we just had to stop talking about it. Having good photos was (and is) really important to me, he didn’t want at all, but he went along with it for me. It’s so hard to balance acknowledging how much he hated the process and regrets the way it impacted our day with​ how much I adore them.

    • JC

      I would love some kind of crowd-sourced list of body-positive bridal shops. I already had BHLDN in mind because I keep seeing things I like, but this makes me want to go there even more.

      • Anna

        Yeah, seconding (or thirding or whatever) BHLDN being a really great experience, in terms of body positivity but also the people were more generally just really nice and competent and on top of everything and not upsale-y at all. Plus the dresses are pretty kickass :-)

  • theteenygirl

    Crazy as this sounds.. it’s actually not me that’s going through this. It’s my mum and my sister. I’m the first of my sisters to get married and I actually had to call them each to tell them that they do not need to lose weight for the wedding as the mother of the bride and a bridesmaid. Losing weight was the first thing they started talking about when we started looking at dresses and it made me so sad.

    • Jess

      There was a good thread about this during another body-post – I’ll see if I can find it for ya. Listening to other people talk about losing weight was the hardest part of body-image-and-weddings, personally. It was really damaging to me to listen to, both in a “I’m sad for you thinking this about yourself” way and in a “I’m recovering from an ED and maybe telling me you shouldn’t be eating [thing we’re both eating] isn’t a good idea?” way.

      I have lots of strategies for telling your people to shut right the hell up about this kind of thing, or at least sneakily getting them to change the subject.

    • Kate

      Yes. Yes Yes. I had a girlfriend jokingly continue to say she hoped my BF wouldn’t propose just yet because she couldn’t get skinny in time for the wedding.

    • Kaitlyn

      Oh god, every time the wedding comes up around my grandma, she goes “I need to start my wedding diet!” and my grandma definitely does not need to lose any weight. And then my mom has body issues too and GAH no wonder I ended up with fucked up ideas in high school haha

    • Guest

      My FMIL talks about losing weight every time the wedding comes up and I want to cry. :( She is beautiful and healthy and no one cares but her, honestly!

  • Kara

    Ugg this takes me back. Our wedding was almost 8 years ago, I worked out (more than I care to admit) to look good…and I hate working out. I’m short–5′ 2″, and I’ve always been on the slender side, but man, the influence was always there. I wasn’t unhealthy, but I remember it being rough.

    I wasn’t my smallest on my wedding day. In the past, I had issues with eating and how I viewed food + weight + body.

    After the wedding though, I went completely the other direction. I ended up gaining 30lbs in a few short years. On my short frame, that was a lot of weight, too.

    Then after a health scare, I made the decision to make a change to be healthy.

    Now, a year and a half later, I’m happy to say while I’ve lost weight (2/3rds of weight I gained), I’m more happy that I’m far healthier, and my diabetes risk has dramatically reduced (it runs in my family, father’s side)! I did it all through dieting–not fad diets, not crash dieting, just good healthy food and the right portions.

  • JennDee

    Thank you!!! Thank you, thank you, thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!!

    I bought my dress and absolutely loved it, loved how I looked in it but more importantly how it made me *feel*–I felt like a kickass bride!! Somehow, though the course of the last few weeks, I’ve become fixated on how I’ll look in this dress versus how I’ll feel, and I hate it.

    So, thank you, Maddie, for reminding me that I’ve worked so hard to love this body of mine, and that it totally deserves some turkey tacos and a glass or three of wine!! Cause you wanna know how I want to look on my wedding day?? Happy! And wine and tacos??? Those make me the happiest person on the freaking planet!!!

    • Emily

      Hell yes to wine and tacos! Love this

  • Transnonymous

    This article is awesome and makes me want to raise a point: it is totally okay to hate your wedding photos and/or the way you look for any reason. I hate my body for different reasons (I would assume) than most former brides to the point where we elected not to keep any of our wedding photos – I can’t stand looking at myself in a white dress and made up. It just makes me too sad. It’s hard to be body positive in every moment, and that’s okay. In fact, I think there was a great APW article a while back on this exact subject.

    However, I don’t feel cheated out of the photos that were taken or the way that I looked on that day. It reflects a moment in time in my past that makes me very happy, and our relatives were certainly happy to have the photos. We just choose to remember that day through our written memories as opposed to our visual keepsakes.

    • Ella

      Good point. It seems some people, in the guise of body positivity, create pressure to *feel* beautiful. Like somehow if you feel happy and like a good and capable person who happens to be ugly, you must need fixing.

  • Anon

    I am finally coming to accept my body as is, which is huge for me. In the past 5 years I’ve fluctuated about 25lbs. On my 5′ 3″ frame, 25lbs make a big difference. At my smallest I was about a size 2 but I certainly didn’t feel thin or small. I was also unhealthy; I ate but not nearly enough and I ended up injuring my shoulder then getting a stress fracture in my foot within 4 months of each other.

    Then a few years later I got into powerlifting and actually competed a few times. I ate everything in sight and ended up around 155# (because I had gained so much muscle 155# on me was about a size 6-8). I decided to drop a weight class the following year (partly to be more competitive and partly to actually drop weight). I was jacked and pretty lean for me. Then, shocker, I got injured again. The worst part about both of these experiences was how obsessed I became with how I looked.

    In November, I decided to stop looking at myself in the mirror without clothing on/ try to avoid looking at my reflection as much as possible. Not because I’m ashamed or in denial but because I’d always snap to negative self talk. If I do look in the mirror I say beforehand “you must say something positive about yourself. you may not insult yourself or say anything negative.” This has basically restored my sanity around my own body image.

    As I’ve now turned 30, I have started to care less and less how I look. Would I like to lose 10#? Yeah, who wouldn’t. But do I like the way I look? Yes. Do I feel confident in my own skin? Hell yes. Am I exhibiting healthy behavior if an outsider were to observe my nutrition and exercise habits? Yes. Can I participate safely in any activity I want? Yes. Well then that’s enough for me. F*ck those 10lbs.

    • Jane

      Fluctuating also sucks because it’s so hard to keep clothes around that you feel good in. In the last 5 years I’ve been anywhere from a size 2 to a size 10. I’m not made of money. How do I keep having clothes to look good/professional/casual/etc. in.

      • Anon

        This is definitely true! I’ve developed a uniform of sorts. I basically only wear sleeveless dresses. Pair it with a cardigan and flats. In the winter add a scarf, tights and boots. Boom. Done. This generally covers about a 15# fluctuation.

        I also have a weird body type/ athletic body with big thighs, big butt, small waist, giant arms.

        But yeah, my fiance loves custom clothes and I’m just like… never… that does not work for me. In any capacity.

        • Jane

          See, and I want to give myself a literal uniform – as in buy several of the same pants and shirts and just wear them every day. Like a cartoon character. But I’m afraid to invest in them yet because my weight is still in flux.

          Your uniform sounds more flexible than mine, so maybe I should consider that. Dresses are definitely easier than pants for fitting, I just don’t know if I want to wear dresses every day. Decisions decisions.

          • Anon

            I can understand that. I was already wearing dresses everyday because pants do not fit me and I don’t care about clothing or fashion or shoes or anything. So the fewer options and decisions the better. But if you actually care about it/ don’t want to or can’t wear dresses everyday that definitely makes it more difficult.

          • Jane

            Well, it’s more a function of movement and how I sit. But I can probably work that out. Definitely on board with the fewer options/decisions the better. I also think the weight stuff has contributed a lot to wanting to have a uniform – I would really like people to just not pay attention to how I look when I’m at work.

          • Natalie

            I have a rather active lifestyle at work, such that my movements & preferred sitting position would reveal way too much if I wore a dress. However, dress plus leggings = TOTALLY APPROPRIATE to bend over, sit cross-legged, do somersaults, whatever. And leggings are way easier to fit than pants on a changing body (which is why I shifted from practical pants & shirts to dresses & leggings for my work-wear).

      • Anna

        Yeah, in college my parents were kind enough to pay for my “professional” wardrobe, and when I was interviewing for jobs senior year, I put together a pretty nice set of suits/work dresses/etc, specifically thinking that I’d be able to wear them for years afterward. Inconveniently, I gained about 15 lbs within a year after graduation, and those clothes were almost immediately useless. Which mostly led to me continuing to wear them for a while because they were what I had, but being horribly uncomfortable >.<

        • Jane

          Right! And you look and feel worse in clothes that are too small for you.

  • Jane

    Reading this at my desk at lunch and I found myself tearing up. So… it got kind of long.

    I hate hate hate the weight struggle. Three years ago I gained about 25-30 lbs in 1 year, at about the same age at which my dad started gaining weight, which scares me because he ended up becoming very obese. I want to lose weight, for my wedding and for general health. And I have lost A LOT of that weight in the last 2 years. But it’s been a struggle and it hasn’t been this nice linear graph of losing losing losing over the last couple years.

    The thing that just kills me is how often I get complimented when I lose ANY weight (as judged by appearance – I’m not telling people anything about my weight!!). One, I just don’t want to talk about it. But, two, and more importantly, it lets me know how much attention people are paying to my weight. Apparently, it’s a lot. So, they are undoubtedly noticing when I am gaining back weight too.

    And my FILs are the worst offenders. Being overweight is basically a moral failing in their eyes and also always equals being unhealthy. I knew my FMIL when I was a teenager &, even then, she used to compliment me on weight loss. Which was ridiculous because I was, literally, unhealthily too skinny.

    I’ve actually talked to my FILs about the weight comments, and they kind of get it, and have mostly backed off. But they say things about other people’s weight in front of me, and I just KNOW they are thinking about it. I just have to stop caring what they think, but it’s really really hard.

    [My FH helps when and where he can but I see them pretty regularly without him and this is so engrained in their habits, I don’t think they can change much.]

    • LadyJanee

      I hate when people give compliments on weightloss without knowing the context of it. Maybe the person has an eating disorder, or is sick, or really stressed… Weight loss is not always a positive thing for every single person and yet society treats it as such. Once I started noticing this I would call people out on it straight up and if it makes them feel uncomfortable then great – if I haven’t spoken to you about my weight and wanting to change it then you absolutely should not be commenting on it.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        Made that mistake once. Complimented a friend I hadn’t seen in months on her weight loss, told her she looked great. “Yeah, that’s all from stress. I can’t eat.” Oh. Never again.

      • Ashlah

        Agreed. And frankly, even when weight loss is a positive thing, my experience has been like Jane’s: I still don’t want to hear about it. I was fortunate that when I started running and lost weight, most people didn’t notice, or at least didn’t say anything. I was actually able to come to the opposite realization as her, that people aren’t paying that close attention to my body. Then my grandma complimented me on it, and I was so uncomfortable. While I was proud of the changes I made, I also wanted to live under the assumption that no one is paying attention to or cares about my body weight. Because what happens when it goes back up?

        The only people I’ve ever complimented on weight loss are ones who have brought it up first, or who have been chronicling it on social media.

        • LadyJanee

          Yeah unless someone specifically talks to me about it and I can tell they want to be complimented on it then I will say something about their hard work or their energy or something. Complimenting weight loss without being invited to do so by the person just keeps reinforcing the idea that everyone is better when they are smaller and everyone should be trying to get smaller. But what about when people put weight on? They feel like a failure because everyone has been telling them how great they are for losing weight.

      • Guest

        Thank you. I had severe GI issues for a few years and got lots of remarks/compliments on my thinness and I was NOT about it. People still comment on how I should be eating more/what I should be eating, which should between me and my nutritionist and no one else, thanks. Now I don’t even remark on weight loss even when I know a friend is trying to lose weight because 1) their weight doesn’t matter to me, I like them no matter their weight and frankly don’t pay much attention and 2) you just never know the full circumstances of weight loss/gain. I don’t want to insult anyone or encourage unhealthy body image issues.

        • LadyJanee

          This is exactly it. What a person weights does not effect how I feel about them. My sister is regularly going through phases of trying/wanting to lose weight and I never comment on it unless she specifically says “I’ve lost this much weight and I’m really happy about it!” and then I will say something about her hard work, or how healthy she is looking or how much energy she has. It’s never about the weight because that doesn’t change her as a person.

  • Vanessa

    Ooph. This wedding stuff will get you right where it hurts. I had bad scoliosis as a teen, so bad that at 14 my doctors told me if I didn’t have surgery I would be in a wheelchair before I turned 20. I had major surgery, spent a lot of really difficult time recovering, learned to walk again after having my spine rebuilt and my core muscles cut open from my shoulder blades all the way around to my pubic bone, and dealt with the consequences of coming off 6 weeks of heavy narcotics post-surgery. One of the results of this experience is that while I don’t really give a fuck about my weight I care a lot about being physically healthy and active.

    Or, I should say, I didn’t really give a fuck about my weight until now, in the months leading up to my wedding. Even though I am a perfectly healthy weight, active, moderate exerciser, I am the heaviest I have ever been. I ping pong between being pissed at myself for even caring about this and being pissed at myself for not having more willpower to stop complaining about it and change what I don’t like.

  • many times

  • Sarah

    Thank you for this. I am getting married in 4 months and despite generally being quite positive about my body, I admit that I’m down on myself for “only losing 6 lbs” since January. I know that I feel stronger and healthier than I have my entire life but somehow that little tiny voice creeps up on me saying “You’re a failure because you haven’t lost 15 lbs and you’re going to look terrible on your wedding day.” I know it’s bullshit and at the end of the day, my wedding is about marrying the person I love, surrounded by my friends and family. But still, it’s so reassuring to remember that I’m not alone here and that whatever I look like on the day of my wedding, I will be beautiful. Thank you.

  • Monica

    *literally cries with relief after reading this*

  • I didn’t worry too much about the weight loss thing (another benefit of eloping last minute), but I found it interesting that you brought up “the fact that none of the models ever seem to smile” in wedding advertisements. I hadn’t even thought about that, but the first time I saw my wedding pictures, my immediate response was, “UGH — TOO MUCH SMILE! Look how wrinkly my face looks! I look like an insane person with all those teeth.” And then it kindof dawned on me that I always lightly smile in my posed pictures so I don’t show any wrinkles, so it’s not often (read: never) that I fully show my joy in photos. I don’t even think I knew what my face looked like in unedited happiness–and knowing that I fully did not give AF about how my face looked because I was so damn happy on my wedding day makes me love my pictures, eye wrinkles and all.

  • Pingback: You Never Have to Lose Weight for Your Wedding | Wedding Adviser()

  • CH

    In some ways, this was still hard to read for me. Because in front of the wonderful (and accurate) message that losing weight for your wedding is unnecessary, it opened with how you did lose a bunch through “bridal willpower.” And that’s the problem I keep running into with wedding resources. I find great, feminist stuff filled with messages about how you don’t need to lose weight. Even though the author did. Or maybe just make healthier choices. Or just exercise more so you feel good about yourself. You might not be trying to drop 40lbs, but you’re going to do something to improve yourself, right? Where’s that Bridal willpower?

    I have 18 months, and knowing that that is enough time to make a body change is hard. Because I don’t want to. But I also know I will regret it come the wedding. And come months of staring at myself in mirrors, squeezed into dresses, and just feeling terrible about myself. Forget the wedding, how do you get through that process?

    It doesn’t help when your fiance is a sleek and tall goddess, and your mom and aunt are talking more about losing weight for your wedding than the brides combined.

    • Ashlah

      For what it’s worth, I didn’t make any body changes during our 22-month engagement, unless you count my metabolism naturally slowing during that time-frame and my dress fitting much, much more tightly on my wedding day than it did when I tried it on. I was at my heaviest weight on our wedding day, and I felt beautiful and confident. I’m not sure I could 100% identify how I got to a positive place around my body, and I’m not sure it’d even be helpful to share if I did because everyone’s experience is different. I just wanted to share an experience outside of what you’ve been reading. I had no interest in “sweating for the wedding,” I gained weight during our engagement, and I felt wonderful.

      If you truly have no interest in changing your body for the wedding, then why should you regret that on your wedding day? Why should you feel terrible about yourself? If 18 months is enough time to pick up an exercise habit, then it’s also enough time to start working on learning how to love yourself, or at least find a place of general contentment, to embrace yourself as you are. Maybe you need daily affirmations, maybe you need to force yourself to compliment your body, maybe you need the support of your partner, maybe you need to work with a therapist. One thing I can wholeheartedly recommend is telling your mom and aunt that you are not discussing bodies and weight, and end conversations when they try. I know this is all deeply ingrained, and is far easier said than done, but it’s certainly something you deserve to try. You deserve to not feel terrible about yourself on your wedding day.

  • Brynna

    I so appreciate this – the whole set of expectations is weird. My wedding is on Saturday and yesterday I found myself panic-Googling “spray tan wedding do I have to” even though this is never something I’d considered before being told that it’s something all brides do?

    • penguin

      Definitely not something all brides do, although some people enjoy it. No shame either way. Good luck on your wedding Saturday, and congratulations!!

  • Fushigidane

    My husband was so cute. When I mentioned losing weight together since he wanted to lose some winter weight, he told me “You dont need to go crazy losing weight. This is the weight I fell in love with you”

  • Olga Mikhailov

    Here’s something I really wish people would have told me before I got married: That while, yes, your wedding day is probably one of the most *emotionally* important days of your life, that doesn’t mean it has to be one of the most *visually* important days of your life.

    On my wedding day, I was breaking out like crazy, I was puffy from lack of sleep and I definitely didn’t have Michelle Obama arms. The pictures are nice, but they’re not the magical pieces of art I imagined. And you know what? I kind of don’t care! I realized wedding photo album is just one set of a million borjillion photos that will be taken of me in my lifetime.

    If you care about looking beautiful in photos, which is totally legit, remember that you’ll have tons more occasions to get fabulous professional photos of yourself taken. Think other people’s weddings, family portraits, work galas, just-because photoshoots. So even if these photos don’t turn out like you wanted, it’s absolutely not the end of the world.

  • nutbrownrose

    So, when we got engaged 18 months ago, I was like “okay, I’ll buy a dress that fits now, and IF I lose any weight I’ll take it in. No big.” Bought the dress in January ’16, went on with my life, didn’t lose any weight, all was good. But then I GAINED enough weight that the clothes I bought the summer before we got engaged don’t fit, and then I went to a dress fitting this march and my $500 dress doesn’t zip. So now I’m working out like a madwoman simply to avoid buying another wedding dress last minute (for more than $500, I’m sure) and also it would be nice if my closet as a whole fit me. I feel like a failure, not only for gaining weight and putting my dream dress and the wedding budget in jeopardy but for caring and not being feminist enough or something.

    • HaleyCB

      Hi! Ex bridal gown consultant, here! Just wanted to pop in and tell you not to panic–depending on the cut of the dress in the back, your seamstress may be able to take the zipper/buttons out of the dress and add a lace-up back. That would give you up to a few extra inches, if need be.

      Please don’t feel like a failure–weddings are stressful on so many different levels. Everything will be fine! xx

      • nutbrownrose

        The ladies at David’s told me I could either go lose 10 lbs by June 6 or they would take it out an inch. They offered to do it then and there if I didn’t want to, and were very concerned that I would cry, actually. So I have a backup, but I still want the damn thing to just zip. And with it, the rest of my clothes.
        Thank you for the support!

  • notquitecece

    A few months before our wedding, I ran into an acquaintance at the gym, and in the course of catching up on our lives, I mentioned the engagement. He asked “oh, are you working out for the wedding?”, and I said “NO CAUSE FUCK THAT NOISE” and now I think that dude is kind of scared of me?

    In conclusion I have no regrets.

  • Bought my dress on friday, and the assistant (actually quite tactfully) brought up weightloss in terms of budgeting for alterations. My sister lost weight, and had to have a lot of alterations at the last minute, which was stress she didn’t need. I’m not planning to be skinnier at the wedding than I am now, but I am concerned that since my wedding is shortly after Christmas I might gain some, so I’m sort of hoping to lose enough to balance that out! We went shopping at one of those shops that gets all the leftover dresses from the boutiques and shows, so everything is cheap and you actually get a range of sizes, which really helped with shopping. In the end, it came down to two mermaid dresses, and I know my choice was partly informed by the fact one fit and the other was a little too large – I have no idea how I’d have made a choice surrounded by teeny dresses.

    (what I really want to do now is find a picture of my dress online to share with family members, but all the designer labels are cut out of the dresses at the shop, and “ivory mermaid beads sequins train strapless” is too vague for google to find it for me!)