A Wedding on Your Terms

The Bridal Beauty Paradox: We’re In Weigh Over Our Heads

June 27, 2012 in
Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie Eisenhart is the Associate Editor of A Practical Wedding and Reclaiming Wife. When she's not writing about, editing, or photographing wedding stories, she can usually be found either snuggling her giant mastiff or trying to convince her husband that he looks like a young Paul Newman (which, he totally does).

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 75% 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 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 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. [pullquote]Weddings are complicated, as are our relationships with our bodies. [/pullquote]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.

  • Caldy

    Caldy says:

    Thank you for this lovely article. What truth you speak! I am getting married in ten weeks and am appalled when people ask if I'm on some kind of pre-wedding starvation diet. No, I am not, and never will be. In fact, I have gained four kilos and feel like I look perfectly fine (and am still a size ten or so). I've got a great dress that is helped a lot by the addition of boobs and bum, and it is not strapless. Women should be celebrating looking like themselves - not just on their wedding day but always -and not like some preconceived idea that brides should like frankly, like they could use a big steak and a pie. I intend to flaunt my curves proudly in my wedding dress, and my husband-to-be wouldn't have it any other way.

    8 years ago

  • GennaGirl15

    Genna Newman says:

    Thank you so much for this. Being recently engaged I am already struggling/putting off dress shopping because of this. I want to lose weight and I tell myself all the time it's because "I want to be healthy." Let's be honest, I just wanna look good in those photos I'm gonna show to my grandkids. I am fine with the way I look 90 percent of the time, but especially with a wedding looming in my future, it's hard to keep in perspective. This article did a fantastic job of that!

    8 years ago

  • LovelyAtYourSide

    LovelyAtYourSide from LovelyAtYourSide says:

    I didn't have as much issue with my weight, as I did with my skin. I became obsessed with my (bad) skin and was devastated by the thought of having horrible skin when I got married. I knew I would look gorgeous in my dress, and I knew Eric would love me no matter what, but my skin was a personal issue with me, myself, and I. Luckily, my skin was OK, and I had some GREAT photographers who made me feel gorgeous and like a rockstar! ;)

    8 years ago

  • makifish

    Maki says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am a month out from my wedding and regularly shaming myself for skipping netflix pilates which only entered my que about a month ago when I realized EVERYONE would be seeing my arms. This just brought me back to reality and a very pleasant pizza dinner. Here's to joyous occasions in every size.

    8 years ago

  • essentialimages

    Kate from essentialimages says:

    Ah, this is So Wise! Being "you" on your wedding day is so much more important than killing yourself for months to be "minus-ten-pounds you"! Weddings, marriage needs to be all about two people bringing their authentic selves together not some photo shoot for Vogue! Rock on Maddie!

    8 years ago

  • megallowa

    megallowa says:

    what a great article! i hated how i looked when i saw my wedding pictures after the fact. I had tried to lose weight, but was so stressed from family drama that it didn't happen. now im glad i didn't b/c i was able to lose weight the safe and healthy way after the wedding. did i wish i was smaller in my pics? sure, but now i am healthier and have made it a lifestyle change, not just a fashion change for one day.

    8 years ago

  • yourauntiespanties

    Genevieve F from YourAuntiesPanties says:

    this is kind of funny to me, if etsy is so concerned about us and our self image, why don't they promote a beautiful plus sized woman once in a while, perhaps in the finds or on the front page? All women are beautiful of course, but I only see one very specific kind on etsy for the most part.... :)

    8 years ago

  • BlueBrocade

    BlueBrocade from BlueBrocade says:

    I can understand why wedding photos feel so important--they are often one of the only times in life couples spend the time and money to have glamorous and high quality photos taken. Perhaps if we made a point of having other photo shoots in life, the wedding photos would no longer be the most important photoshoot of the relationship. My partner and I hired a friend who had a photography degree to do a photo shoot of us just because. It only cost $75 and she took 'engagement' style photos that looked stunning after her photoshop editting. But it wasn't about a wedding or engagement--it was about setting aside time to take special photos (photos on our phones don't count!) that captured us, that we loved. Photos mean alot to people, and I think its worth it to create other photo shoots in life, not simply wedding photos. Photo students and photographers just starting out can offer very reasonable prices, and the results are so special!

    8 years ago

  • volkerwandering

    Jess from volkerwandering says:

    I absolutely enjoyed this article. It's true, the media & mainstream ideas about weddings definitely influence women.

    8 years ago

  • sarahknight

    Sarah from sarahknight says:

    I'm not a marriage-type of gal, but I enjoyed the humor and rational thinking in this article. My parents were married in '76, my mother had a floor length gown, which, get this, was long sleeved - ha! Bridesmaids dresses were ankle-length, long sleeved, pastel yellow, and they all matched. The big thing back then was apparently floppy hats. Everyone had a big floppy hat. It was apparently the union of the best of seventies fashion melded with some "Little House on the Prairie." The photos are fun to look at, not just for my father's quasi-ridiculous platform style shoes, but because everyone is just being themselves, albeit dressed up in (now dated) fashionable wedding garb. That's probably the way to go.

    8 years ago

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage says:

    Great article. I'm thinking a silk suit and City Hall when I get married. No pressure and no debt.

    8 years ago

  • GoldenSpiralDesigns

    Lola Ocian from GoldenSpiralDesigns says:

    Interesting that weddings have come up so much for me lately... I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something. I've always harbored resentment for the image that society has given weddings - the "happiest day of your life", "you only get to do this once", "fairy tale wedding". I want my wedding to be a celebration of my love, not my 15 minutes of fame. And yet, though I've carried an unfavorable opinion of traditional weddings my whole life, now that my own potential wedding looms in the distance, I feel the pressures creeping in - especially in the area of body image and beauty. Thanks for this article! Thank you for reminding me that it's not about winning a beauty contest. It deserves to be a wonderfully fun day, full of love and joy - not resentment and discomfort.

    8 years ago

  • JasmineLund

    Hannah Jasmine Tucker from TheMiddleButton says:

    *sigh* This was good to hear. I'm not anywhere near getting married, but I am pretty self conscious of my weight (I think it started when my mom finally lost her "baby fat" from all 11 of us kids and could again fit into her wedding dress, which I outgrew at 15). I'm on a good exercise and eating program for now, and I find that losing weight, for me, is less about looking hot and more about feeling more limber and fitting into my favorite clothes!

    8 years ago

  • puralchemy

    puralchemy says:

    I was in agony over finding a dress for my wedding. When I finally did enter a bridal store, I felt I was betraying all women kind by not being excited about dress shopping (in fact I almost threw up on the sales lady). After many dresses and more than a few ripped seams, I found a dress that actually made me feel very beautiful, and when I saw myself in the mirror, any flaws melted away and I just saw me, the way my husband to be would see me. Of course people started commenting on how lovely the dress would look when I lost a couple pounds or toned my arms a bit, and it was then that something clicked in my brain. Has anyone ever looked at a bride on her wedding day and though "Oh my goodness she looks fat!" I don't think I ever have, and every one I asked thought about it for a minute and realized that they never had either. Most people only see a beautiful, happy bride. Upon this realization, the wedding was a breeze and so much fun!

    8 years ago

  • ErikaPrice

    Erika from ErikaPrice says:

    This is so poignant. I made myself ill trying to reshape my body into something it could never me, but never lost as much weight as I wanted in time for my wedding day. But in the end it didn't matter one bit - I married my soulmate, the love of my life - and neither of us could stop smiling and laughing all day, we were so happy. Friends still talk about how happy the occasion was and how much they enjoyed our wedding, and that is the best compliment anyone could ever pay us :)

    8 years ago

  • lolabella14

    lolabella14 from Lolabellas says:

    Thank you for writing about this issue. I have been annoyed by the hype to lose weight before your wedding ever since I became engaged and picked up bridal magazines. The time before your wedding is supposed to be one of the happiest of your life and in my opinion, any bride will look beautiful as long as she is genuinely happy on her wedding day. I don't understand people who starve themselves before their wedding and then they don't even look like themselves. Don't you want to look back at your wedding pictures and see yourself, not a version of yourself that you only truly looked like for a few weeks in your life... Every happy bride is a gorgeous bride!

    8 years ago

  • motleyme

    Luca Kovacs from motleyme says:

    Thank you for this article. Brides really should be more laid back about their looks. It's only a week until my wedding, and I'm getting a little bit jittery. But luckily I could avoid most of the problems mentioned above. I never felt that I need a diet. Of course I tried to eat healthy, but no such "I need to loose weight to look perfect on the pictures". I also didn't make such a fuss about finding a dress. I only had a few terms: I didn't want strapless dress and I didn' want a tail. They would just make me uncomfortable, it' essential that I want to dance without always watching if my dress is all right (And I despise strapless bras.) I found a great dress with the help of my mom and my sister -in-law. I was at the salon this week for a final fitting and it needs only minor adjustments. I look gorgeous in this dress, though I gained some weight since I tried it on months ago. So I think I chose well. I'm only getting a bit nervous about the wedding, because I'd like the guests to have a great time with us.

    8 years ago

  • RunicCouture

    Kaylan Roberts from RunicCouture says:

    I've been married a few years now, & I can STILL remember the pressures of planning a wedding. My husband & I were pressured so much during the process, that we ended up freaking out, & eloping! So, I didn't end up getting "everything-I've-always-dreamed-of", but I did get a rainbow, dolphins jumping, random beach dogs humping, & the man of my dreams to spend the rest of my life with. That's what makes me smile when ever I glance at our UN-professional wedding photo on the wall... rainbow & all... :)

    8 years ago

  • metalicious

    Stephanie Maslow Blackman from metalicious says:

    I'm so happy you published this article about real women. It takes the pressure of trying to reach this false ideal we all buy into. True beauty comes from loving, not judging yourself. Be kind, we all know how beautiful you are. Once you believe it, it comes shining through.

    8 years ago

  • Ridgevales

    Lindsay from SweetThreesBoutique says:

    Very well spoken and all so true. I started my Etsy shop based along these same feelings and what a wedding should be about - a celebration of love, family, and friends. There is absolutely no need to put all of this pressure on yourself to live up to some crazy standards of these extravagant weddings with the "perfect" bride. The perfect bride is YOU.

    8 years ago

  • ellarye

    Emily from EllaryeBoutique says:

    I love this and started my wedding shop with the hope that I could make real women feel beautiful in the littlest details. Love this article, thank you :)

    8 years ago

  • TheMillineryShop

    Marcia Lacher from TheMillineryShop says:

    I think there are as many women who are disappointed with their wedding pictures as there are brides (and grooms) who didn't get to eat much at the wedding or have the fun everyone else was having. But life is not perfect and aiming for perfection is a foolish endeavor. Aim for beauty, aim for grace and aim for style because those are the traits that are attainable by every bride. And that's what will shine through in your photos.

    8 years ago

  • DarwinsDress

    Deanna Lamour from DarwinsDress says:

    Beautiful article! I never did understand trying to lose weight for the wedding, who benefits from that? As you say, your intended loves you for the way you are before the wedding, trying to lose weight just compounds the stress of pre wedding jitters. The advertising world has got to change it's negative messages about women and finally women are speaking out against the airbrushing, photoshopping, and starved sick models. Hooray! Great words of advice!

    8 years ago

  • claudiafilek

    claudia says:

    Thanks for the great article. For me, it's about the whole ceremony. I am doing a DIY wedding and am really stressing out over how the overall affect will be. So many of my relatives are very artsy and crafty. I did not inherit those particular genes! So, I am going to stop, relax and let who I am personally shine through. So what if I don't win the Southern Living Garden Wedding of the Year Award...lol! This is about sharing a special day with close friends and family!!!! Thank you Maddie for putting back in perspective.

    8 years ago

  • thehappycouple

    Brianna from thehappycouple says:

    There is so much truth to this article. It's difficult not to get wrapped up in the magazines, everyone's opinions, and what friends have. Looking back, there were so many things my friends and I worried about on our wedding days, including the photos and body image issues. It was a fun, beautiful, but stressful event. The best days have been the ones like Sunday night, making cookies, listening to the radio and being silly.

    8 years ago

  • CougarTShirtCompany

    Cougar T-Shirt Company from CougarTShirtCompany says:

    Oh my god, I was lucky. I got an $8 thrift store dress that happened to be white, and it had sleeves! I escaped the dreaded armpit fat! I am sorry to say I will probably always worry about arm pit fat.

    8 years ago

  • 26Sorts

    Alexa Sheraton from 26Sorts says:

    This is absolutely true. I was at my thinnest on my wedding day, but somehow when I got those photos back I still found at least a thousand flaws. (Despite the many comments from friends/families/strangers that I looked beautiful.) I definitely don't have it all figured out - but brides really do need to take a step back and remember that their husband-to-be wants to marry them, not the number on the scale! Great article!

    8 years ago

  • NicoleNicoletta

    NicoleNicoletta from NicoleNicoletta says:

    what a great article...definitely so much truth. there are so many strapless gowns!! no matter how small a waist you have...those toned arms are hard to achieve. i'm sure you looked gorgeous on your day and i hope you look back on those photos fondly!

    8 years ago

  • LookatthisHoney

    Eva from LookatthisHoney says:

    Great article! I didn't try to loose weight for my wedding day and on the photos I must admit - I am chunkier than I care to be (my hair is also it's usual unruly mess) - but when I look at the pictures - all I can think of is that it was one of the absolute happiest days of my life and it was having my family and friends celebrate the love that mattered. I laughed and smiled the whole day. My dress was simple and almost an afterthought. The whole wedding cost less then $2,000 - including clothing for the bride and groom, catering and cake for 50 people. Weddings are huge business - and to me - simple is best. I had at least 6 guests tell me it was the most wonderful wedding they ever attended. Who cares if the bride doesn't look like a model!

    8 years ago

  • andiespecialtysweets

    Jason and Andie from andiespecialtysweets says:

    The most beautiful brides I have ever seen are happy and smiling, and kind-of seem oblivious to anything but the moment. And then I'm usually intrigued by their style. Thank you for hacking through the clutter of inconsequential assessments that bombard women everyday (not just on the wedding day). Very real and refreshing. : )

    8 years ago

  • daniellecicero

    Danielle Martin-Cicero from daniellecicero says:

    I always tell my brides, order your size, don't worry about weight loss, and choose a gown that flatters the figure you have NOW and not the one you think you can achieve after crash dieting and P90x (which is good by the way P90x but it takes a huge commitment and if you are planning a wedding that may be the last thing you think about everyday). There are so many articles out there that tell you how to choose a gown based on your body type, so why try to make a gown that was made for a super slim hourglass type fit on your more apple shaped body? It's just stress hanging over your head! I as a woman have come to terms with the body I do have and figured out what works for my body and what doesn't. What works: empire waist, strapless, arm bearing styles (because I can get my arms in great shape easily but not my midsection) dresses that give the illusion of an hourglass figure (like anything with a more flared bottom with the waist hitting at the natural waist, and sashes and belts to cinch it all in). I can't do the fit and flare look unless I have gotten really down in weight, and at that point, my face looks gaunt. The point is your wedding is about you and your fiance's love, not your figure! Have fun, pick a gown or dress you like and stress about something else; in weddings there are at least 50 other issues besides trying to lose weight!

    8 years ago

  • vonbora

    Susannah Verner says:

    Thanks for posting this! I loved how I looked on my wedding day but I struggle when I look at the pictures with the thoughts "I wish I still looked like that." But the truth is, not only do I live a more healthy lifestyle now than I did while engaged, but I get to live it day in and day out with my husband!

    8 years ago

  • writtennerd

    Written Nerd from writtennerd says:

    This is seriously my favorite thing I've ever read on Etsy. Viva la imaginary armpit fat (omg, I laughed at that - I JUST discussed it with my sister the other day while we pinched our "bingo flappers")

    7 years ago

  • HouseOfHampton

    Claire Hampton from HouseOfHampton says:

    hooray to a wonderful article :-) I shall need to re-read this next year leading up to my wedding.

    7 years ago

  • nexusangel

    Amelia Yap says:

    Thank you for writing this article! it's now 2months to my wedding and i have not lost a single ounce of weight, my poor health and steroid intake (for my horrendous eczema) has been preventing that. And I'm so close to breaking down, stressing about being the fat and ugly bride. Does not help when people around me are asking if I am planning to get the photographer to photoshop off my fat arms. Your article helped me to get back on track to loving myself the way I am, and knowing my fiance loves me the way I am. Thank you.

    7 years ago

  • IkvothaMashiach70

    Gabrielle Knight from RuffleNBustle says:

    This needed to be said, so thank you for saying it. I feel for not only the brides but the people in the wedding party who think they need to lose a bunch of weight to live up to the expectations of society and the guests. Your wedding day isn't about how much you weigh, what kind of makeup you're wearing, or who made the dress. At the heart of a wedding is the love between the two people getting married, nothing else matters.

    7 years ago

  • ScrapHappyLyrebird

    Tess from GildedNotes says:

    This is why I my dress was a vintage gown from Etsy! High quality, unique, plus with the money I saved from the price tag, I could afford to have it tailored just to me :) I do not miss wedding planning or any of the stress and expectations that went with it; thank you for sharing this refreshing message!

    7 years ago

  • tintinn85

    Christin McCosker-Keane says:

    Body image was the last thing on my list of things to worry about before my wedding 2 years ago. I have always been slender & fit, but about 2 years before we were married my (then) fiance was deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months. I ate everything I could to try and keep my weight up (stress did a major number to my metabolism and kicked it into short-major-extreme hyperdrive) or at least not losing. I got him home safe & sound 6 months before the wedding and because my stress level actually dropped as we got closer to the day I was finally able to fill in again - to the point where my mom had a moment zipping my dress where it was a little more snug than we remembered at the last fitting. At the end of the day, the pictures turned out wonderfully - because you can see just how happy we all are at the end of the day. I knew from the beginning of planning that there were certain things that weren't going to worry me - chair covers, massive floral arrangements, personalized giveaways that nobody cared about...I had my friends, family and the man of my dreams beside me.

    7 years ago

  • bethany311

    Bethany Nolen says:

    Ok this article is amazing! I just got married, like this time last week lol. And my pictures are beautiful BUT I look at myself and wish I would have lost more weight. And this article helped me know that it's not what is most important and I was pretty and my husband thought so and he loves me and my body. Thanks so much for this article!

    7 years ago

  • vsc83

    Victoria from VictoriaCampAllison says:

    Nice article. It makes sense to me that women should find a dress that fits them as-is (as in, who they are normally.) Why harm your body just for one day/ceremony? Why feel guilt about who you are? I could understand if the bride wants to make a healthier lifestyle change overall and a wedding inspires them to do so, but not in hurting yourself just for this particular event and then feeling terrible about it later on. I also agree that strapless gowns certainly do not flatter all body types! I think they're just the most popular style out there, which is why so many brides think it's what they should be wearing. For one of my previous bridal collections, I chose a 'model' (a friend, not a professional model) who is a normal woman. She's not stick thin and doesn't try to be. The dress I made for her to wear in the photoshoot was a bias cut 1930s style gown - WITH straps. :) I thought she looked absolutely beautiful and made my jewelry look fantastic!

    7 years ago

  • JamieSettemeyer

    Jamie Settemeyer from AestheticJourneys says:

    What a great article! I wish I had read it before my wedding! You are always your own worst critic and while everyone else tells you that the pictures are gorgeous you only see the flaws.

    7 years ago

  • BookCraft

    Courtney Rae Dydek from BookCraft says:

    Great article. The only issue I have with my weight is the annoyance of others assuming that I should be "trying to fit in my dress". When my husband-to-be proposed to me it was not under the condition that I lose 15 pounds by the day. I think all brides lose sight of what a wedding actually is. During the entire wedding planning process I made sure that my wedding was all about my fiance and I getting married. Not about the guests having fun. Not about me being the center of attention. Not about anyone or anything else but my true love & I celebrating the commitment we just made to each other. I want to look beautiful on my wedding day for no one else but him, which takes and incredible amount of weight off my shoulders.

    7 years ago

  • jFrancesDesign

    Jillian Withee from jFrancesDesign says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I'm recently engaged and while I don't struggle with weight, I have been totally stressing about photos because I don't find myself to be particularly pretty, and I definitely don't photograph well. I am dreading the day when I get all of the photos back and they confirm that I wasn't beautiful on my wedding day. I know this is completely nuts, but I can't seem to make these negative thoughts go away. So thank you for the reminder that the photos are not the most important part. Marrying my best friend and love of my life is!

    7 years ago

  • Pseudooctopus

    Georgia Dunn from Pseudooctopus says:

    Such an honest, wonderful article thank you! (I laughed so hard at the Eminem 'Lose Yourself' loop playing in a bride's head). I was married last August to the best guy in the world and I usually love myself but still occasionally cast a sideways glance at wedding photos taken at certain angles. Meanwhile, everyone loves the photos, and my husband tells me often how much he adored my gown. Most days I do too! But then there's those 'ARE MY CALVES THAT BIG?!' days. Why do we ladies beat up on ourselves like this? I hope real articles like this and more realistic, simple, personalized weddings can start changing the tide and lead to happier brides!

    7 years ago

  • DCFraulein

    Lea says:

    To share my little bit of gained wisdom: find a regular dress (even if just online) that looks amazing on you. It might have some obnoxious lapel or a sash you would never use, but if the silhouette solidifies your knock out status then that garment should be your guide. For $500 a dressmaker recreated and redesigned a 'cotton bride' gown out of eyelet for me. The sweetheart neckline, the cinched waist, and the gathered full skirt are reflected throughout my sundress collection. In summation, make certain that what you are wearing is not so far removed from who you are every other day of the year. The strapless number with the newly discovered armpit fat? Put it down and run away quickly.

    7 years ago

  • LaModage

    Holly Lee from LaModage says:

    ahhhhhhh......thank you!!!!! I will celebrate my 3 year anniversary this september, and still haven't made my album nor do I have a single wedding photo on display in our home....due to....that's right, the disappointment of the way I look in them! I totally 'thrifted' my way through the planning, complete with a vintage $4 gown!!!! I loved my day! I felt unbelievably happy and special!!! but we splurged on a photographer, getting a discount price to not have any photos retouched....thinking I could glam them up myself with photoshop. I was thinking, ok, this is an amazing photographer, with a very expensive camera..... that should count for something. Nope. I have photos that go from dark and shadowy, to too white and blurry..... I pray the day will come when I can muster up the courage to tackle a few that can make me remember the day the way I 'feel' about it. Many many many thanks for a fabulously written article!!

    7 years ago

  • meeabee

    Jacqui Miyabayashi from meeabee says:

    Twelve years and two kids on ... I wish I were as skinny now as I was on our wedding day!! I really enjoyed this article. I too fell into the diet-before-wedding-day trap and was obsessed with my skin. Looking back I have never felt more beautiful. Anyway what really counts is that I married a great guy who loves me regardless, all these years on and is proud of the family and home we have made together. Brides I encourage you to make sure he's really the right one for you, that's way more important than being thin on the big day.

    7 years ago

  • ifanhour

    Michele Woodford from ifanhour says:

    What a great article commenting on bridal industry expectations. Most of my bride clients, I am proud to say, don't fit into the industry mold. They come to me because the industry has told them they are too tall, to short, too curvy, blah, blah, blah. They should wear strapless, they don't want to, they want sleeves but they are not "in"....I try to create something with my bride clients that will make them feel beautiful just as they are. I'm old timey, married when the pictures were about us, our family, on our very special day. Today, the pressure to make wedding photos look like fashion magazine shoots (and I am from the fashion industry) is pretty ridiculous considering that wedding photos are a record of a very personal journey to pass on, not commercial ads for products. I absolutely love so many of the wedding photos and the standard of art quality I see in today's wedding photos. But, the pressure on the brides to look like other than themselves, well, that's not right. Models ARE photoshopped in all fashion ads (except lately as women are requesting non-photoshopped pics). Maybe I'm jaded, I was lucky enough to have my photographer brother do my wedding. Sure, we have the nice traditional photos, but we also have the funky my hair upsweep fell down dancing crazily with my twin, my new husband leaping in the air from relief that it was over, and inappropriate getting ready in my underwear photos (hey, it was a family member taking the photos...) These are the photos I cherish that I would not have had from a "fashionable" photographer. They're absolutely not perfect, but, they were about MY wedding. (And I'm a fashion designer....) It's all about you, lovely ladies, and who you are. You are all beautiful on your wedding day.

    7 years ago

  • SenoritaJoya

    Dorottya from SenoritaJoya says:

    I love this article Maddie! :) I've started my wedding jewelry shop with the hope that I could make a real bride feel herself a beautiful lady in the little details. ♥ Enjoy your day! xoxo

    7 years ago

  • erikatanith

    Erika Tanith Davey from ErikaTanithPrints says:

    The pressures that women have to look unnaturally thin all the time (thanks photoshop, for so many things), are compounded so much more when it comes to weddings. I hadn't thought about it until I read this, to me it was just a continuation of what we are constantly bombarded with, but you're right, this is worse. And why don't those model brides ever smile? Even though I am a wedding photographer I hadn't considered this; I will definitely keep this in mind when speaking to clients in future. Thank you

    7 years ago

  • willowcat

    Laura Terese says:

    the day i got engaged my instant thought was ...okay i have 8 months to get into shape! Im not overweight but I am outta sorts in the muscle and svelte department. and then after months of procrastinating..i realized I am not that person. I am me...38 year old curvy me ..and my fiance forbid me to transform myself (miserably) into something i am not. the wedding is in 40 days and I know i am going to look beautiful.

    7 years ago

  • TwistedSilverDesign

    Yuen Wong from TwistedSilverDesign says:

    Great article!!! I was a bridal gown manager for many years. Love every tips in this article. "Be yourself and love who you're". Most of the wedding gown models in the wedding industry are very skinny because they hire very young models who usually are under 20 or 18 yrs old. They are not fully develop or mature.

    7 years ago

  • tommymcconnell

    tommy mcconnell says:

    as Fred responded I didnt even know that anyone can earn $7015 in a few weeks on the internet. did you see this website [N][u][t][t][y][R][i][c][h].c O m

    7 years ago

  • jmagee83

    Julia says:

    I agree! Like others, the minute I got engaged people asked if I was losing weight for the wedding, and I am just a normal, healthy looking gal. I don't know how or why this became the expectation of brides. I would simply respond, "I'm not pleasant when I'm hungry", or "I don't want to look at my wedding pictures down the road and think-man, I got fat!" I'd rather just be me, thank you very much.

    7 years ago

  • slumshirts

    andrea from slumshirts says:

    my wedding was real simple, we kept it almost a secret, he borrowed a suit, I got a 15 Dollar white wonderful jacket that looked like a 300Dollar one. I got ready in 15 Minutes, we got into a taxi in Conakry,Guinea, West Africa, the ceremony was short and painless. The love was more important than material things. Guess what we thought it was so simple and perfect.Guess what we are not together ....anymore

    7 years ago

  • JennasRedRhino

    Jennifer Boaro from TheCatBall says:

    When I went to Apparel Design school several teachers warned us about working with brides. One instructor, with a pained expression, said, "I learned to NEVER wear lipstick when sewing on a wedding dress". Ha! We were also warned that nearly every bride will loose or gain weight right before the dress is completed. The last bride I worked with lost so much weight that I had to completely remake her bodice pattern at the last minute. It was a huge custom project, and really stressful. Kudos to her for making the lifestyle changes that she made, but I seriously doubt that she's kept this weight off.

    7 years ago

  • keatskrafts

    Keats W. from keatskrafts says:

    Love this article! While I haven't gotten married yet - I AM about to make my ninth (yes, NINTH) appearance as a bridesmaid - so I have seen my fair share of bridal worries and breakdowns! As a curvy girl myself, I have finally overcome the woes of questioning those imaginary armpit fat blunders to just making sure I'm healthy and happy :) Besides, no one likes a girl on a diet - she's cranky because she's hungry! Your writing speaks the truth but with such a great sense of humor... loved it! And I'll be passing this along to all my bridal friends as well!

    7 years ago

  • catianna

    ANNA SERDARI says:

    so true!!!!!!!and yet you are SO beautiful now.......as we say in french......ronde!and NEVER fat....it sound's so much better and TRUE!!!!!

    7 years ago

  • natalielouisefox

    Natalie Fox from LittleCornishDesign says:

    Great article, it's very easy to be overwhelmed by the 'glamorous' side of weddings and I'm sure many a bride has felt under pressure to look a certain way.

    7 years ago

  • scal12

    Payson A from SecondStarDesignCo says:

    What great advice! I love your positive take on body image and how you bring the focus on what really matters on your wedding day: feeling beautiful and comfortable as you are, and celebrating your love. It can be so easy to get caught up in the industry, as you point out, that we sometimes forget the real point of all this celebration! I also loved your "lose yourself" joke-- hilarious! Thanks for sharing these great thoughts :)

    7 years ago

  • katiekate91

    katiekate91 says:

    Great advice and I would like to offer some of my own. I'm only 21 and marriage is nowhere in my near future, but I found out how to get great photos at my 21st: Everyone I know has a digital camera, and they all come out at every single event such as birthdays, parties, any celebrations. Every photo that is taken at those events are staged and everyone poses and checks image to make sure they "look right". I don't have my own camera and so at my 21st I has 5 disposable cameras. They just kept going off and because no one could do anything about a bad photo, people stopped posing and just shrugged it off if there was a flash in your face. When I got the film developed, I received 5 envelopes full of the best photos I have ever seen. Everybody looks happy and relaxed. Obviously for a wedding you would want professional "proper" photos, and you would need more than 5 cameras (be warned: having film developed is really expensive now), but maybe by putting a couple on every table and around the room you could get some really great photos. Great article.

    7 years ago

  • josephinegratiana

    josephinegratiana says:

    I got married in May of this year, on my wedding day I weighed 240 lbs and the dress I got laced into was a size 18. Let me tell you, I was beautiful! in 2005 I broke my back and my already "plump" physique just got heavier and heavier. I fought with how I looked and finding "the dress" and it wasn't until the wrong person asked me what I was going to do to loose the weight that something inside me clicked. I looked at her and flashed the biggest smile I had in months and said "what's wrong with my weight?" I went home, kissed my fiance and got dessert after dinner for the first time in months. When we got married we were both so happy that we didn't care how we looked and you know what? It showed in our pictures. We both look wonderful, chubby cheeks, pudgy legs and all! Be true to yourself and the one you love and when that big day comes you will look at your photos and see that happy, giddy glow come shining through. That makes everyone beautiful.

    7 years ago

  • peppermintstreet

    Dana Street from DanaStreetDolls says:

    I hated my dress. Hated. It. The sad thing is that I sew! Really, I can make a bridal gown, I just didn't have the time. So, what did I do? I went and found a white dress, added some beads and beaded fringe, and went with it. The best photos are the close-ups because you can't see the (hideous) dress. Oh, well....I'm just as married as those who had a bizillion-dollar dress that they loved. In the end, it didn't really matter. :-)

    7 years ago

  • Mrodio

    Melissa Rodio says:

    Thank you for this article. I get married in 25 days, I needed to see this is writing.

    7 years ago

  • SimplyJEM

    jessa e. marie from SimplyJEM says:

    Exactly! Well said. A wedding day is about being comfortable! and in being true to yourself as an individual and as a couple; a dress is just a small part of that equation - women need to just find what they LOVE and FEEL GOOD about always (no matter the size or shape!)

    7 years ago

  • limelightdesign

    limelightdesign from limelightdesign says:

    Thank you! So simple, so wise and so well put :)

    7 years ago

  • dollphnfreek

    Emily Richards says:

    Thank you. That's all I can say is thank you. I am getting married in 16 days and have been struggling with body image and "wedding perfection pressure"! My dress fits and I've been trying to "lose just a few more pounds" before the big day. This helped me realize that its not worth it to be miserable for a fe more pounds because the magazines make me feel like I need to look a certain way. I just need to be me.

    7 years ago

  • reflectionsjewelry

    Emily Delfin from reflectionsjewelry says:

    Ahh, thank you - what a real, honest, and sweet post.

    7 years ago

  • underthewire

    Cyndie Miles from underthewire says:

    I found this article at precisely the right time (just a few weeks away from the day). Thank you for your insight and cheeky take on this almost universal struggle.

    7 years ago

  • LALq

    LALq says:

    i love this!!

    7 years ago

  • MonsterCardsbyMV

    Monster Cards from MonsterCardsbyMV says:

    Thank you for this! Very helpful and definitely something I needed to hear(read).

    7 years ago

  • MademoiselleAdriana

    Adriana Ostrowska from MademoiselleAdriana says:

    I would say just be yourself and don't stress to much over the diet. All responsibilities and preparations before the wedding will take so much of energy that some pounds will go away any way:))

    7 years ago

  • emmamorgan

    emmamorgan says:

    Thank you! I couldn't have read this at a better time. Going in for my final fitting on my thrift store dress that I fell in love with and only recently started having doubts about. You are absolutely correct, it's a nasty pool those advertisers try to throw us into. It's nice to read some common sense right when you need it. Thanks again!

    7 years ago

  • Karadoratti

    Kara Doratti says:

    Thank you for this, it made me smile and grounded me. My wedding's in 28 days and I started stomping on small buildings with my bridezilla feet because I gained about 10lbs. But! my dress still fits (hasn't been altered yet), and it looks great! so I needed this as a reminder to chill out and enjoy the day. Thank you!

    6 years ago

  • riohays

    Rio Hays says:

    12 weeks away, before reading this article I was literally looking at weight loss boards on pinterest. I have not had a carb in 4 months. This changed everything. THANK YOU!

    6 years ago

  • MountainMommaGems

    Shannon Duffey from MountainMommaGems says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this article! I am not, nor have I ever been, a bride (that may change someday). But I have officiated my friend's weddings and will be officiating my brother's wedding in May. I have been spinning out about it because I put on some weight after having my son 16 months ago, and I'm just not feeling so fabulous about how I look in the mirror, let alone photographs. Thanks for the reminder to pull it back, to love myself unconditionally how my body is NOW and to go find a rocking outfit that fits me NOW. If I happen to hit the gym between now and then, then it will be because I WANT TO and not because I am going to be seen in public and there will be photographic evidence.

    6 years ago