Weddings and weight loss seem to go hand-in-hand: whether you’re a bride-to-be, a bridesmaid, mother of either party or even just a guest, there is this unwritten rule that you need to lose weight before a wedding. It’s a subject that keeps cropping up for me lately – some positive points of view towards it, but mostly negative.
I am starting out on my own wedding planning journey, and while our big day is still two years away, I’m already planning on the kind of dress I want. I have fallen in love with one online, and in a few months I’m going to check a couple of bridal stores that stock the brand so that I can try it on. It’s definitely my style, but I want to make sure I look perfect in it. Because that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Us brides have to look perfect on our wedding day. I’m certainly not skinny; in fact, many auld fellas would refer to me as ‘a fine girl’ (in a thick Kerry accent), this might be more commonly referred to as ‘junk in the trunk’ by the Americans. That’s fine by me; I love my curves and my husband-to-be loves them too. I did however give birth nearly 6 months ago, and my body has changed a lot. I have the ‘squish’ around the middle, and thanks to ongoing medical treatment of post-natal depression, I’m finding it very difficult to lose the extra few pounds. Normally I don’t mind, until I see myself in a photograph and I think I look huge. Certainly, I won’t be going anywhere near a bridal boutique until I’ve managed to lose this extra weight, because I’m afraid that I’ll be standing on a pedestal in a plush dressing room, and I’ll feel terrible about myself.
So that’s my story, and of course there are many others out there like me – it’s a completely personal thing, nobody else has told me that I’m too heavy. But there are also brides out there who are being pressured into losing weight by others. This pressure can be applied in very obvious or very conspicuous ways. A smart comment from your mother is a particularly devastating one, and I’ve heard of many mums who saved this gem of an opinion for the bridal shopping appointment. Magazines are full of diet and weight loss tips; I’m not a fan of the weekly gossip magazines, but usually have a flick through when I’m at the hairdresser. One ‘rag’ had Cheryl Fernandez-Versini/Cole/whatever on the front cover, berating her extreme weight loss and speculating on what personal issues must have caused such a drastic body change. The article encouraged readers to be healthy and not be pressured into losing weight. The same magazine, a few pages later, was ridiculing other celebrities for gaining weight. ‘Incredible’ diet and weight loss features were also among the pages of this rag. How is any woman supposed to love their body, when they are being sent mixed messages from all around?
The worst place however, in my opinon, is the attitude of bridal sales assistants. The most beautiful, happy bride could be standing in her dream dress, in front of her bridesmaids and her mum. Of course, this is a sample dress – measurements will be taken, alterations can be made, so you should not worry if the sample doesn’t zip up. But then, a teeny tiny comment can change everything. “A good pair of Spanx will fix that”. Or even worse, and this does happen, “sure, you’ll be losing weight before the wedding anyway.” Even the most confident girl can suddenly feel that she’s too fat. Crash dieting ensues, and many find when they go for their first dress fitting a few months later, that they’ve lost too much weight and suddenly the dream dress that was perfect for their curves, is now hanging limply on their new frame.
Kat Williams, superstar wedding blogger and magazine editor of Rock n’Roll Bride, wrote about the issue recently in her guest column for Closer magazine. She speaks about how bridal boutiques are encouraging girls to order their dress in a smaller size to encourage them to lose weight, and weight-loss promotions at wedding fairs. This is so worrying. Of course, if you genuinely want to get healthy and lose some weight, go for it! But be smart about it. Do it for your health, not for a dress. If you want to lose some weight for your wedding, do it before you try on dresses, and get advice from a health professional so that you can maintain your goal weight. Don’t buy a dress in a smaller size and cause yourself immense stress as you try to lose what you need to fit into it.
I called into a new bridal boutique in Galway recently, Simply Weddings, and was really pleased to hear their attitude to the whole issue. One of the owners herself had experienced body shaming at a bridal boutique, and when she set up Simply Weddings she vowed to never put anyone in that position. They specialise in off-the-rack dresses from previous seasons at budget-friendly prices, and have an expert seamstress on hand to ensure your dress looks incredible.
Remember two things. Firstly, you should change the dress to fit you, not change yourself to fit the dress. Secondly, your fiance didn’t propose on the condition that you lose weight. They proposed because they love you, just the way you are.