Surviving Your Wedding When You Don’t Feel Beautiful

you are beautiful

I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve cried too many tears over my weight. I had an eating disorder for ten years and although I was technically recovered by the time I came to walk down the aisle, it was still at the forefront of my mind when planning the wedding.

My thoughts of self-loathing reared their ugliest head when it came to choosing my dress of course. I was worried that I’d never find one that I felt good in. I was worried that I’d be uncomfortable all day. I was worried that I’d look back at my wedding photos and cry because I looked so enormous.

There seems to be two main schools of thought when it comes to body image, weight and weddings. There are those, like me now, that believe you should focus on being healthy and not stress yourself out by trying to lose weight before the wedding. Then there are others that go on a diet or sign up to some kind of sadistic bridal bootcamp torture as soon as that sparkler is slipped onto their finger.

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The latter makes me so very sad. I just wish these people knew how much happier they’d be without putting that extra pressure on themselves, and that on the day, how much they weigh will be the very last thing on their minds. But, believe me I get it, accepting your body the way it is can be difficult for even the most confident people.

I haven’t weighed myself since I was in my early 20s (it was a huge trigger for my disordered eating) but I think I was a little bit heavier on our wedding day. When I look back at our photographs I can see this, sure, but it doesn’t devastate me like I thought it would. I don’t look back and see the weight, I look back and see our happy beaming faces and the inexplicable joy that radiates from every single image.

I don’t think anything can prepare you for how you’ll feel on your wedding day. I didn’t think about my weight or my body once. I didn’t walk down the aisle worrying about how I looked, I practically ran down the aisle, desperate to see and marry Gareth.

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For probably the first time in my life I felt completely gorgeous. I adored and felt comfortable in my dress and everybody told me how beautiful I looked.  But more importantly, I felt loved. By Gareth, by my friends, and by my whole family who were there to celebrate with us. Nothing else mattered.

I know body image and weight can be a huge stress and burden for so many of you. I feel you, I’ve been there… in fact many days I am still there. But your size or how your body looks does not determine your lovability. Your wedding day will be amazing because you are amazing, and because you are marrying an amazing person who loves every last amazing inch of you.

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Supporting Cast

56 comments

  1. Andrea loccke

    I am bipolar and have an anxeity disorder where that makes me very self conscious of myself. Your article was very comforting to me as I am very nervous about how I look and what others will think about my big day. Well it’s my wedding day, and I w will not worry, feel pretty and have fun!

  2. Ana Cristina Doca

    Thank you for your words, Kat. I was turning into that kind of bride that is desperate to lose weight before the wedding months ago. Now I am trying to focus on what really matters.

  3. Eileen Leavers

    I couldn’t agree more! I’ve struggled with body confidence for a long time. I didn’t think about any of that on the day. I was surrounded by people that I loved and marrying my best friend. I felt like million dollars. I think the wedding and the photos after have helped me with confidence. I looked good, radiant, happy, and like myself, I never thought I’d like photos of myself and I’ve come a long way. I have been better for a while and I know it shouldn’t have taken a single event like my wedding to get to this place now, but I’m finally on a really positive road and I’m feeling good about the future.

  4. Kiki

    You hit the nail on the head with what I think we all need to hear. I struggle with my body image and when I first started looking for my dress it was a disaster. The lady in the first shop I looked in, I swear, put me in the exact opposite of what I’d asked for and then made a few negative comments (although I don’t think she realised what she was saying) and by the time I got in my mums car I was an emotional mess. I was convinced I wasn’t going to find a dress that would suit me and that I was going to be a hideous bride.
    There’s still 7 months to go but I’m working with a fabulous dress maker (Caroline Arthur) who made me feel at ease straight away. I’m now looking forward to wearing my dress as I know she’s making it for my body. I feel less worried now but every now and again I get worried.
    Kat, I love reading your articles as it’s like a friend is reassuring me and somehow know exactly what’s on my mind. So thank you x

  5. Diana

    I was so stressed out about looking right on my wedding day and although I was definitely in the camp of “he loves me no matter what size my jeans are” and I didn’t make any attempt to lose weight; I still had days where I wanted to scream and cry because I didn’t look like Angelina Jolie. Which would’ve been ridiculous because Ben doesn’t even like her. It’s a hard issue to get over and on a big day that is all about YOU; it’s even harder. But I was the same as you, Kat. Not one thought about my weight on the day. Not one. I was so excited and loved every single second of it. We are all beautiful. Every single one of us. What better day to believe that of yourself than the day you marry the person who loves you more than anything? :)

  6. I’m 5 months away from my wedding and am trying terribly hard to lose weight. I feel fat and old. I loved that you wrote this and it made me think who cares if I’m big!
    Also, I have those irregular choice shoes for my wedding day too, they’re fab :)

  7. I remember when I announced my engagement to my mother and almost everytime we talked she would always say I should get down the gym and “tone up” for my wedding day so I would look good. It got to the point where I would dread calling her as it felt like she didn’t like how I look even though I am a uk size 12! It is not like anyone is going to notice my wobbly leg muscles under a floor length skirt and as I was wearing a corset why bother in that area as well? In the end of the day, I stuck to my guns, had a relaxed time planning my wedding and enjoyed my ice cream. As for the wedding photos, I am sure I look good but it is more important to look towards the future.

  8. Rebecca

    As a plus size bride-to-be, Thank You for this article. I’m fairly confident with my weight, and I know how to dress to best fit my body, but I know I will question myself a million times until the day of the wedding about if I will look good. On another note, where did you find the gorgeous dresses for your models?

  9. Clarissa

    I feel like I have to lose weight for everyone else. It’s like they are the ones who have the problem with me being chubby. Thank you for this :)

  10. Oh I love these dresses!! When I first showed them to my mam she actually said I looked like the model in the blue dress(I was really thrilled with this!!)I think every woman should feel gorgeous and love herself regardless of size and shape!! xx

  11. awwww Thanks Kat xxx so ace of you to feature our frocks in the article, I know this will help lots of your lovely brides to be :)So many brides come into the shop saying “obviously I wont be this size” or “obviously I am going to lose weight” errr WHY obviously girls??? your partners love you no matter what , enjoy your wedding planning and stop bloody listening to the media, there is no such thing as perfect, even the celebs get airbrushed to feck xxx Don’t worry be Happy x

  12. Oh I do like an honest tackle on a a subject like this. You can’t beat a truly happy bride who beams through her wedding day rather than worries about how she looks. Felicia & Sarah look FABULOUS ! I’m so happy to read that the main feeling you experienced on your wedding day was that of being loved.

  13. nikki austin

    god! i too worried so much about this that i nearly wentwithout a photographer, cos i thought ‘whats the point? ill hate the pics’ and its a lot of cash to cry over. but fortunately i found someone i was happy with. who ‘got it’! so many were patronising when i explained my anxiety. it was awful.
    i’m not happ wit all the photos, but id be so sad if i didnt have them. great memories. and im sure that when im 90, ill think that theyre all beautiful.

    you look amazing by the way xx

  14. P.S. Though I’d be classed as a standard/’normal’ size 12-14, I’m marrying an extremely fit, racing string bean who hangs out with similarly shaped friends! Weight-wise, I’m coping but off and on I’ve felt anxious at being a much older bride than practically all the ones I’ve photographed and that are featured on most blogs.

    Mostly though, I shrug my shoulders and tell myself to remember to have fun – before and during the wedding day.

  15. Sarah

    Can’t find the right words to express the love I have for this post Kat. I really think there should be a handbook for brides and this post should be written in big bold glittery writing on the first page! A girl has to love themself first and foremost, and although that journey can be anything between a short or long one, the end result is lifechanging. My world changed forever when I realised/accepted that I was happy just as I was, I spent years and years a wreck because of other people’s opinion of me and my body. I had been on a diet from the age of 10, and 3 years ago I was offered money to get a gastric band by my own mum (completely out of the blue, i don’t think i could have felt any worse) and when I refused, she asked me to go to gastric band hypnotherapy. I agreed and went but the lady who I met actually talked me out of it, and helped me deal with some issues which started my journey in a major way! It took a bit of coaxing to get to where I am now, but without people like you Kat, Jo from The Couture Co and of course my hubster, I would still be miles away. You guys will always be my fairy rockmothers! ♥♡ Hey…i guess i found the words! ;-)

  16. caroline hulland

    Ive been married almost 11 years and im still not happy looking at my wedding pictures. It all started with the dress shopping…. something that is meant to be fun and meaningful…. well i hated it. It made me even more consious of my size. Having to fight and squeeze my way into really tiny dresses in the hope that i could tell what it might look like in my size. And nothing inspired me. I knew i didnt want a traditional white dress, but it was hard to find anything else. I think i only went to 1 shop and spent the rest of the day eating cake.
    On tge day i was fine. Pushed all tge negative self image thoughts aside and had a great day……
    Then the photos arrived…. i was ok with them but when i showed them to my gradmother she was very quick to say oh you are a big girl arent you…. i was devestated. I still cant look at them now.
    I now make wedding cakes and love nothing more that meeting brides who want something different. Of course all my brides are special regardless of what cake we design but i have a special place in my heart for the altetnative bride.
    Can i still get in my dress????? Yes in fact its too big. But i still dont enjoy looking at my wedding pictures and im not sure i ever will.

  17. Yes yes yes! I have a very pear shape body and power calves but so wanted to wear a short wedding dress, so I did, I bared my legs and didn’t once think ‘Oh god everyone will see my skinny arms and chunky legs’ I just felt awesome and happy and Everyone loved my hemline! You’ll feel amazing whatever your body hang ups xx

  18. susan thomas

    Perfectly timed article Kat! With 6 months to my wedding I’m constantly swinging between “christ I need to lose two stone” and “feck it! My dresd fits perfect and I feel fab”. Today is a good day, and the article has highlighted that for me. Telling myself that no matter my size (uk 14/16 depending on the store, time of the month and sometimes the weather too it feels!) Im still pretty damn fabulous is getting easier and while afirmations like this do sound cheesy, making it a habit to be complimentary to myself has paid dividends. I’d recommend it to anyone, and I’m bookmarking the article for future use too. Thanks Kat.

  19. I love this post. It should be required reading for all brides-to-be, whatever their size. So true about enjoying the day, and looking to the future. Also, presumably your beloved wouldn’t have popped the question if they didn’t already think you were the most beautiful woman in the world? And fab dresses! You both look beautiful!

  20. Jenni

    I read this after being weighed in at slimming world before the group started. It wasnt a good weigh in. For all of my efforts i have put on 1.5lbs this week :( im having a down/fat week and this hasnt helped. I am terrified about having a fat day on the wedding day (11 weeks away).
    We have just recieved out engagement shoot photos and have a couple if gorgeous ones, however there are a few im really unhappy anout and now am worried about the wedding day photos.
    I can totally relate to this post and the advice has been fab. The women in the photos look amazing and i hope to look as lovely as them.
    Any advice on what i can do in the next 11 weeks to get some confidence as i have been at a lost for the last 26 years!
    Thanks
    Jenni

  21. Lindsay

    I have been putting off dress shopping because I am so worried about my weight and my wedding 7 months. I know I should not stress about it and focus on being healthy, but the plain truth is that I am unhappy at this weight, and no, I will not be NOT thinking about it on my wedding day. It will consume me, and my worries and body image has been known to ruin other should-be fun times for me in the past. I read body positive things like this and I appreciate them, but I just can’t let go.

    I don’t feel beautiful in other ways, too…I’ve struggled with cystic acne and oily skin for years, and I have never found products that will cover my acne AND stay on despite it being so oily (and believe me, I worked in beauty retail and I have tried EVERYTHING). I am so worried that my makeup will look horrible on my wedding day! I almost didn’t even book us a photographer, and even though I did book one, I’m not expecting to do much with the pictures.

  22. You are 100% on the money! I too suffer from an eating disorder – binge eating disorder – and in the run up to the wedding it spiralled completely out of control – mostly due to all those horrific targeted ads on the likes of Facebook and YouTube. I was desperately trying to lose weight and actually ended up gaining almost 2 stone and was a size 24 on my big day.

    I actually cried the first time I tried my wedding dress on – I could see nothing but fat. But when it came yo the day and I had my hair and make up done and my whole outfit came together – I felt great and it was the one time when people told me I looked great, I actually believed them. All you can see looking at our wedding photos is how happy I look.

    It makes me sad to think that other women may feel the way I did in the run up to their wedding, knowing how it actually did feel on the day. Everyone at your wedding already loves you for you, especially your partner so brides should try to hold on to that!

  23. Andrea

    I’m really glad I read this post. My wedding is less than 8 weeks away and I’m 21 weeks pregnant with my second son. I’ve put so much pressure on myself trying to find a dress that works for my fast growing figure and the alternative feel I’ve always wanted. My first dress was made wrong (she knew there was a chance I’d be preggers and showing but still cut the dress with a waist) that’s in the cupboard. I bought a maternity wedding dress and which I’m customising, but I still feel it’s not right for me. I’ll never find my perfect dress as there isn’t one.
    The good thing about being pregnant is my current lack of acne, which I’ve suffered constantly from since my teens and always had big issues with.

    Those ladies in the pictures look truly amazing and beautiful. No matter what issue people have, physical or mental, you’re completely right about remembering the person at the other end of the aisle loving you for who you are.

    And my little lad will be the center of attention anyways, which I’m secretly happy with!

  24. Wow, what a comment provoking post, fab post and fab comments! My mother once called me Chubillina, (I was slightly podgy but not overweight) which has tarnished me with and unjustified complex about my weight. Although I’m mostly body confident today, I do have up and down days. Really great advice Kat and such an inspiring post for so many (not just those who are engaged). Thank you so much for sharing. x

  25. N

    I’ve fought with my weight my whole life too, and have yo-yoed my way up and down the scales. I know what you mean about being recovered, but still having that little gremlin at the back of your mind clinging on. It thankfully doesn’t rear its ugly head too often, but when it does, I remind myself about exactly how far I have come.

  26. These gowns are so lovely and so are the ladies in them. Being a makeup artist in Los Angeles, I’ve seen some brides do nutty stuff to lose weight for their weddings. I’ve not recognized brides because they’ve lost so much weight. Isn’t it better to be who you are. I mean that’s the woman he fell in love with.

  27. Kate

    I am sooo relieved to read this. Crazy thing is, I did go straight onto weight watchers after my engagement even though I never thought I would!
    I have PCOS and a side effect is a stubborn area of fat around my middle and I was absolutely convinced that there is a not a dress out there that I will look good in. This all changed when I went to a fitting and found styles that were flattering, but I still have days where I feel guilty for eating and I am not even getting hitched for another year!

  28. Lisa

    Hi I got married last august and I tried hard to loose weight. With everything going on I didn’t and I was anxious about it before the day too! I completely agree that the overwhelming euphoria I felt on the day from the love and support of my family, friends and partner. Future brides please don’t worry, there is nothing more beautiful than two people in love. Ps my hubby can’t mind as he is now lolkng forward to me getting even bigger with our baby on the way!!! Xxx have fun ladies it goes far too quickly not to enjoy! Lisa xxxxx

  29. Rachel

    Thank you for this fab post. I am getting married in two days (waaaargh!) and am also recovered from an ED. I am now much heavier than I was during my bad years (which is good, I need to be!) and haven’t lost much weight (despite gymming it up regularly). I’ve got more toned and strong but I am still curvy and don’t feel ‘thin.’ I am so scared on the day that I will feel fat. Isn’t that stupid? I would say I am fully recovered and have been for several years now, but still that Fword has reared it’s ugly head the past few weeks. So thank you so much for this post. I am going to believe it and look to own it on the day, feeling beautiful because I am a real, healthy version of me and my family and future husband love me!!! Xx

  30. We’ve worked with several couples struggling with weight and the associated self esteem issues. It’s sad when a number on the scale keeps them from having the wedding they’ve dreamed of and we do our best to encourage them and photograph them in a way that (hopefully) makes them see that they are truly beautiful. -Jayson and Rachael

  31. Alex

    Lovely–I agree completely. Honestly, the most difficult thing for me since I got engaged is OTHER PEOPLE’s questions about my weight loss, as if it were a given and expected of me. My grandmother, god bless her daft sadistic heart, has especially poured on the “you’ll look so much prettier if you only (blah blah blah). It’s hard enough planning a wedding, balancing my stressful and demanding job, finding time to work out and cook a healthy meal after commuting over an hour every day…at some point the extra pressure to ALSO be unrealistically gorgeous is enough to make me scream. Trying to stay positive though!

  32. Caz

    Thank you. So so much. It brought tears to my eyes. Its somthing that has been on my mind a lot. I didnt want a big fuss on my wedding day and I have asked my g/friend many times cant we just go and do it on the quiet with our parents, siblings and nobody else?? But shes insistant on the whole day and im petrified that I will have one of my ugly meltdowns on the morning of my wedding day and ruin it for everyone. Its somthing that a lot of people cant understand so its conforting to know that its not just me.

  33. I love this article Kat. I am always trying to help brides, mothers, boudoir ladies see the beauty in themselves! I myself struggles with body image issues and had an eating disorder (narly!) for years and regret how much time I wasted not loving myself. I makes me sad to see brides stressing themselves out even more before their wedding with a diet plan. It’s such a relief at this point of my life to be in recovery and loving myself and FOOD, and it warms my heart to see this post about beautiful brides at any size. So much of health is just about that self love and self worth, that is what people who have never struggled with their weight don’t often realize. We have one wedding day and one life- we go on to have babies and our bodies change so much- it’s a day to embrace our one’s beauty and what is most important, that love from within. The most beautiful bride is the one that walks with confidence and carries herself with pride!

  34. Audrey

    From the moment my wedding date was set, it became about dieting and weight. My mum immediately announced to friends and family that she, my sister and I were all going on diets and that we’d be thin on the day. It’s always been a tense topic between my mum and I – her issues with food have long been projected onto me. I’ve kept her away from the dress situ as it stresses me out so much.

    However, I’m learning from this experience how much I don’t want dieting and self-hatred etc to dominate my life the way it has my mum’s. I’ve also learned to block out the fat chat and not participate. I do enjoy a bit of exercise and want to be healthy, but decisions I make about what I do with or to my body are a private matter.

    Yup, it’s an old habit so at the mo I suppose I am pretty paranoid that people will be judging me, but how I look on my wedding day, well… is how I look, so no one should be that surprised!

  35. Rachel

    I was plus size 32 on my wedding day and I was fat and fabulous! I had a full on rock star Victorian purple and French black lace silk dress with corset and full on bustle and rock hair and I didn’t care one bit what anyone else thought, I felt beautiful. And that shines out girls, people responded with positively gushing compliments because I felt fab and it showed. Make sure you have your wedding your way and knickers to what people may or may not think, its your day and you are celebrating love, not public opinion or approval

  36. What a fantastic post Kat. For years I was told I was “fat” and “ugly” by people I thought were my friends. This definitely left it’s mark on me. But ever since I met my now-husband, he has done nothing but made me feel beautiful as I am, and I’m actually bigger now than before I knew him.

    I thought about losing weight for our wedding – doesn’t every bride-to-be?! – but, when it came down to it, I just didn’t have the willpower, or inkling, to go on a diet and start an exercise regimen that would just make me miserable. Instead, I found a fantastic dressmaker who made a dress for me that fit perfectly and made me feel like a million dollars.

    Like you, I look back at my wedding photos now and don’t see the belly or double chin but I see the huge smile that was plastered on my face the whole day and I love them all. I never thought I could be so happy at this size but I realise that, actually, I am and that’s all that matters.

    A great post and amazing photographs. I’m so going to share this!!!

  37. What a fabulous article. It’s so sad that the exciting time of organising ones wedding is so often tainted by the disappointing experience that Curvy & Plus size brides face when searching for their “perfect” dress.
    This should be a wonderful memorable time – often a rebounding between Mother & daughter, sisters, best friends – but all too often it is nothing short of humiliating. Every bride deserves to look and feel beautiful on their special day regardless of their size. We spend an awful lot of time building our brides self esteem, but it’s so rewarding seeing them transform into the beautiful, confident, radiant bride that glides down the aisle to begin the next chapter of their lives.
    So remember ladies – do your research, go to a specialist outlet. There are gorgeous dresses designed specifically for the bigger. beautiful bride. Do not accept second best, this is your fairy tale & simply by virtue if the fact you are getting married – you are adored & accepted for who you are, not for what society dictates you should be !

  38. Gem

    So true! I have terrible body image and have struggled my whole life feeling like a second class citizen, ugly, fat and undeserving of the things ‘normal’ people have. Everyone rants on about wedding diets (I am a size 14 and fit, although my love affair with chocolate and sauvignon blanc means I am a little soggy around the mid section)… I hate dieting, I always fall off of the diet wagon and then cue more self loathing and worse than before self esteem… What is with the world today?! I am quite happy being a little bit fat. It doesn’t make me a bad person! my friends don’t look at me and think ‘Gem would be so much more fun / a better friend / a nicer person / a kinder person if she was a little less fat’… So why do I place it so highly? The Boy doesn’t care either so sod it – I am not going on a diet before my wedding and if I look fat in some of the pictures, we just won’t buy the pictures ;-) I am sure all of us will look gorgeous in our dresses and have a fabulous day – Congratulations everyone :-)

  39. Katy

    Having massive dress wobbles, really needed to read this again today, thank you for writing it x

  40. Charlotte

    I’m getting married soon. I’m dreading it because I hate how I look. I wish I had the will power to stop eating all together. I cry every day about my figure. My wedding is making me anxious and I find it hard to look forward to it.I get angry with how obsessed Iam with my weight but I can;t stop thinking about it.

  41. Rachel

    Oh my god I cannot thank you enough for writing this! I am getting married in a week and have been feeling very self conscious. I am worried about all the little flaws I see in myself being on show for my guests. A lot of the comments from the other brides mirror my own feelings. It’s difficult to just surrender to how I am. I want to be positive and happy and present on my wedding day. I want to stop worrying about things not being “perfect”.

  42. KM

    A fantastic post and so many agree!! I have always been a “big girl” ranging from a size 16 up to a size 30. When I married my now ex husband,20 years ago I had an awful experience…I couldn’t find wedding dresses in my size to try on, so I was put in bridesmaid dresses “to fit you better” or when I went to get my wedding underwear I was rudely informed that Id have to lose a lot of weight to get into “pretty” items. Im glad times have changed and availability of the larger sizes is much more common.
    Don’t diet because others think you should…do it for you if you want to. It rarely works if your under a deadline anyway or you end up starving yourself and making yourself ill. My advice is concentrate on your skin and hair…get facials, eat well, pamper yourself…if you look good on the outside layer, it usually has an positive effect on the rest of you x

  43. Heavy and hopeful

    I read your article because I am marrying a very handsome musician soon, who is the love of my life. We have opened our home to his brother who is also a musician and thus we have had to put our wedding off 4 times due to extreme poverty. I am having such a hard time finding a used dress that is in my price range, as I am a 16 to and 18 and pretty sure I can’t get any more weight off due to thyroid issues. I have cried many a tear over this wedding business and have finally come to terms with my weight and my issues and our pocketbook. Thank you for this article. It made me very happy to see the beauty that is not a size 6. Now to find a used dress before Dec… Hopefully I don’t loose my mind again.

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