I struggled with the pressure of getting in shape with a “bride body” for my wedding, eventually I shifted my focus.
When I first got engaged, I was determined to get in great shape. I was all about “sweating for the wedding” and was ready to “squat before tying the knot.”
I’m already a regular gym-goer, but I thought my wedding was a good excuse to tone up my arms, get some abs, and lose a few pounds. Plus, I really wanted those beautiful, magical, perfect wedding photos where I would look toned, fit, and like I just stepped out of a magical fantasy land of unicorns and glitter.
I mean, that’s “the dream,” right?
But as time passed and I got busy with wedding planning, something weird started happening. I found that lots of people were asking me about whether or not I was doing a new workout regimen before the wedding.
Now, these weren’t friends who I’d talked to about my plan to get in shape. These were mostly acquaintances, distant family members, and Uber drivers. I would mention that I’d just gotten engaged and they’d ask questions like whether I had colors picked out, where we were honeymooning, and if I was on a special diet in preparation for the big day.
Then I started seeing the ads. Pop-ups for weight loss tips showed up on wedding websites and ads to get a “bride body” snuck into my Instagram feed. I suddenly felt a lot of pressure to have a wedding weight loss plan, and that took the fun right out of my goal.
I mean, I’m all for brides supporting brides, sharing tips and comparing notes, but this was different. It seemed like I was expected to lose weight for the wedding, or better yet, like I was expected to want to lose weight.
Then a personal challenge became a personal hell.
A fun personal challenge to get healthier and score some great pics quickly turned into a stressful situation that made me question my body and even feel a little self-conscious. I was having none of it.
So, I tried to ignore the dieting and weight loss voices in the wedding world for a while and I focused on the aspects of wedding planning that I really liked.
So far, one of my favorite parts of being engaged has been collecting old pictures of my fiancé and I for framed decorations at the wedding. Because my future husband and I have been together for nearly a decade, there’s a lot of photos to go through and it’s been a lot of fun.
I’ll look back and fondly remember that summer I got pink streaks in my hair or laugh at the time I was so sunburnt that my arms were red for a month. I’ll smile when I find pics of my fiancé wearing his old favorite jacket and my heart will melt when I find silly photo booth pictures we took during college. I love seeing us at different points in our lives, literally a snapshot of that time in our relationship.
This made me think of the photos that will be taken at our wedding: capturing our faces as we say our vows during the ceremony and forever immortalizing our awesome dance moves at the reception. Those photos will document us as we are now, on the year we’re getting married. And I really like that.
The more I thought about it, the more I wondered why I even wanted to lose weight for the wedding in the first place. I mean, sure, it’s a big event and I wanted to look good, but I couldn’t help wondering if my size really mattered.
Why do we need to be that skinny?
I’ve seen so many friends get married in the past few years (it’s that time in my mid-twenties where I’m going to weddings every other weekend) and I’ve seen a lot of brides get really thin for their weddings. I want to celebrate women who accomplish their goals, but there’s so much pressure to be skinny that some women I know ended up going on crash diets right before the big day, which isn’t healthy.
Or, even when my friends have lost weight the right way, they ended up getting discouraged when they gained it back. A big part a new regimen is keeping up the lifestyle, and if your goal is to look good for a wedding, when the day is over, it’s easy to go back to old habits.
While seeing a higher number on the scale shouldn’t be that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, gaining weight back after working really hard at the gym can be really disheartening, and I didn’t want to go through that.
At first, I told myself that I wouldn’t make those mistakes. I’d lose weight the right way, get super healthy, work out every day, and forever look like I just got off the set of a NordicTrack commercial. Hashtag: new marriage, new me.
But honestly… that doesn’t sound like something I’d do. It’s not like I have really unhealthy habits right now that need to be changed. I’m realistic with my lifestyle, I have a good balance when it comes to nutrition and exercise, and I like the way I live.
Of course, I think that brides and grooms should be able to do whatever they need to do in order to feel confident and happy on their wedding. If that includes dropping a few pounds, I say: more power to ya. But there’s so much pressure (especially on brides) to look great on their wedding day and to have those amazing pictures, and I can’t help but think that maybe I didn’t need that.
For most of those old photos of my fiancé and I, I didn’t try to look extra beautiful and I wasn’t on a special diet. I was just being me, and I think that’s part of why I like them.
Some of my favorite photos are the ones where we’re screaming on a roller coaster or wiping ice cream on each others’ faces. I like the ones where we’re just being us, maybe not even knowing (or caring) that a photo is being taken.
Some of the best pictures are ones where I don’t even look good, maybe it was taken at a weird angle or I’m making a funny face, but it’s a photo of us laughing and having fun, and that’s what makes it special.
And sure, maybe without the awesome workouts and dieting I won’t look truly “perfect” on my wedding day. Maybe I won’t look like I just stepped out of a magical fantasy land with unicorns, but I want to look back on my wedding pictures and see the people my fiancé and I are today. Not perfect, not glamorous, but definitely “us.”
I’ll show off what I have, extra few pounds and all, and be excited to look back on all those imperfect, but wonderful, photos.
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