Wherever you are in the wedding process, welcome!
Just a few short months ago I got married to my longtime honey. Our wedding was fun, special and beautiful and unlike many brides, I actually got to enjoy it.
However, weddings (and preparing for weddings) can be a time of lots of stress and pressure, especially when you’re plus sized. As I’ve touched on many times in this blog, being plus sized (or fat, I like the word fat) can add an extra layer of pressure onto the normally stressful stuff of life. Anyone who’s ever been on a job interview while fat, seen a doctor while fat, purchased clothing while fat, navigated theatre seating while fat, etc. etc. knows that the stress of dealing with other people’s expectations of you because you’re fat can make a tough experience overwhelming.
When I got engaged last year, I felt very excited and, within a week, very stressed out. There were so many decisions to make, so many opinions to consider, so much money that needed to be budgeted for, so many pinterest boards that told me that if my wedding wasn’t a bespoke craftacular then I was doing it wrong. I know that if I had gotten engaged before I stopped dieting 7 years ago, I also would be considering how much weight I wanted to lose pre-wedding. (I am so thankful that I wasn’t in that headspace on top of everything.) But let’s lay all of that stuff out on the line right here and now. I want to give you my top ten tips for plus sized brides. These tips will save you tons of stress and help to make your special day actually special instead of stressful.
1. You Do Not Have To Lose Weight
Say it with me three times, “I do not have to lose weight for my wedding. I do not have to lose weight for my wedding. I do not have to lose weight for my wedding.”
You really, really don’t.
Try this. Take an informal poll of your friends who intentionally lost weight before their wedding and those who didn’t. I can almost guarantee you that the ones who didn’t try to lose weight had more fun leading up to the wedding and enjoyed their wedding day more.
There are a gazillion reasons not to lose weight intentionally (for 25 really good ones, check this out), but one of the biggies is that it will increase your stress and agitation (and possibly, the cost of dress alterations) leading up to your wedding. You don’t have to change yourself to meet some expectation of what a bride should look like. You are going to be the bride, so why not just be you in your current, wonderful body?
2. Practice Enjoying Being The Center Of Attention
When you first get engaged, things can feel very weird. All of a sudden, random acquaintances are yelling, “Let me see the ring!” and doling out advice about what your wedding colors should be and where you should go on your honeymoon. People who seemingly had little interest in you suddenly want to know details about a wedding that you hadn’t even thought about. Closer friends and family are excited for you too and may already be thinking about your engagement party, shower, and bachelorette party. (Not that you have to do any of that, but you may feel pressure to do all of it.)
So here’s what I recommend — enjoy it. Let people make a big deal over you. Soak it up. Because when you go with it, it’s really quite fun. And honestly, it’s good practice for being the center of attention on your wedding day. (But we’ll get to that later.)
3. Try David’s Bridal
When I first got engaged I went to a bridal boutique that was supposed to have a bunch of plus sized dresses. And they did have a bunch, as a in a handful of bridal size 14’s that looked nothing like all of the other really beautiful dresses in their store.
Unless you’re lucky enough to live near a plus size bridal boutique (like these), I really recommend David’s Bridal. In regular clothes, I’m a 24/26 on top, and I was able to try dress after dress during my appointment. I experienced no body shaming at all, and I was surrounded by lots of other plus sized brides. I walked away with a dress that I could actually afford that (I think) looked great on me.
4. Don’t Get Crafty Unless It’s Fun For You (or Stop Looking At Pinterest)
As a former camp counselor, I can lanyard it up with the best of them. Give me some colored thread and I will make you an awesome friendship bracelet. But the idea of making 100 bracelets throws me into a state of panic.
This is the effect that looking at pinterest had on me at first. I thought about making mason jar terrariums for guest favors. I really considered it. And then I realized that I had limits. Temporal, spacial, and emotional limits. And being crafty for my wedding was beyond my limitations.
Early on we decided that a catering hall was the way to go. I didn’t want to deal with a gazillion vendors. I didn’t want an outdoor wedding that would make me paranoid about weather forecasts for months. I wanted a package deal where we could pick and choose what we wanted and wouldn’t have to worry about details.
In the end, I copied a lot of the work of my wedding mentor (see tip 5 below). We used the venue she used (shout out to the wonderful Verdi’s of Westbury), the stationary store that has produced invitations for my family’s major life events for 25 years (shout out to fabulous J&D’s), the florist who my dad has been friendly with for 25 years (shout out to the amazing Wick’s). In fact, my dad’s friend Tom, who’s a professional photographer but just took pictures for fun at my sister’s wedding, did such a great job that I hired him for mine. I used my wonderful hairdresser of over ten years, Nycki, to do my makeup and hair for the wedding. Using vendors that we knew and trusted made everything easier, as did staying away from getting too crafty when it felt overwhelming.
5. Get A Wedding Mentor
When I first got engaged, I made the mistake of mentioning wedding planning on my Facebook page. I say “mistake” because, for me, it felt overwhelming to get a gazillion different opinions on decisions I was struggling with.
I mentioned this overwhelm to my younger sister, who had gotten married the year before. She told me she learned early on to never post about her wedding planning on facebook. Instead, I started to use her as a sort of wedding mentor. I would ask her everything from how many thank you notes she ordered to what to do about undergarments to how many bouquets to order. She was invaluable, and she allowed me to ask her “dumb” questions without feeling too dumb. I really recommend finding a wedding mentor – someone close to you who was recently married and won’t mind fielding your questions. If you don’t have anyone like this available, consider a small FB group who might give you good advice. I really like, the folks in the Wide Bride group.
6. Compromise On Stuff You Don’t Care About
This is one of my favorite tips from one of my favorite books on not freaking out when you get engaged.
When you first get engaged, it’s a great idea to make a list (or at least think about) what wedding stuff is really important to you and your soon to be spouse and what isn’t. I realized that the most important things for us were: good music, good food, and a laid back, fun vibe. That was really about it. I wasn’t overly concerned about my dress, the flowers, or much else.
I initially didn’t want a shower. I felt like it was a lot to ask of people to give me a shower gift and a wedding gift. But my mom was really into it, and she planned a really fun, laid back shower at a Chinese restaurant. Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, and it some instances it was the first time that my husband’s family got to meet my family. So while at first I was somewhat against the idea, in the end I’m glad I compromised and had the shower.
7. Splurge On Stuff You Do Care About
I was never one of those people who envisioned his/her wedding from an early age. I probably thought about a potential wedding less than anyone I knew. Getting married, in fact, wasn’t really that important to me until I made the decision to do it. Therefore, I had no vision of the flowers, my dress, or anything else that you’re supposed to have all figured out.
I mostly didn’t sweat a lot of the details, which is one of the reasons why I picked a catering hall that took care of the food, the set up, the cake etc. But for some reason I really wanted a cake topper with a fat couple on it. I looked online and found nothing I liked. Then, one day, I was scrolling through the Wide Bride group on facebook and one of its members posted a picture of a cake topper that she made out of clay. I LOVED it, so I messaged her and paid her to make one for me.
There was a part of me that thought this was so silly. The florist we used included flowers to decorate the cake. I could have just gone with that. But I wanted that darn cake topper, so I splurged. And so many people told me how much they loved it. It’s now on a bookshelf in our living room and it makes me happy every time I see it. In the end, the little splurge was so worth it.
8. Looking Fat In Your Wedding Pictures Is No Biggie
I look totally fat in my pictures! Here’s one!
Here’s another. Fat and sweaty!
And, like, so what? I’m fat in my pictures. I look exactly like myself, just in a mildly poofy dress and better makeup and hair. I’m so glad I didn’t starve myself just to look a little thinner in my pictures.
It’s really okay. If you need to get okay with being fat in photographs, check out this post!
9. Set Boundaries
Getting married is like an adventure in boundary-setting. You may need to set boundaries with friends, relatives, vendors, etc. about your weight, your time, and a gazillion other things.
It’s really okay to say to people in your life that they can’t talk about your weight. It’s really okay to say to your mother-in-law-to-be, for example, that you’re not losing weight for the wedding and that you don’t want to discuss it with her. It’s really okay to tell your bridal gown vendor that you want your gown to be comfortable and that you need her to order a size bigger (if possible) rather than smaller, just in case. It’s okay to tell your make-up person, if you have one, that you don’t need your double chin contoured (unless you want to). All of it is really okay.
Those of you who have been following this blog for a while (or worked with me in the past) know that I focus a lot of time on ways to set boundaries. So if this is an issue for you (like it is for most people) check out these posts.
10. Relinquish Control And Go With The Flow
Or rather, nothing is ever perfect, but it can be great!
Stuff is going to go wrong at your wedding. People who are supposed to be early will be late. The cake might sag. You might pop a button. You might spill wine on your dress. But, you know what will also happen? You’re going to have fun. You’re going to see a few people you love or many people you love. You’re going to marry the person you’re really excited to marry. Focus on the good. Focus on enjoying yourself. During the preparation process and at the wedding, focus on fun and you will have fun no matter what.
Looking at this list, I think it could help many plus sized and straight sized brides have a less stressful experience, so please pass this on!
Do you have a body positive tip for plus sized brides? Share it below!
Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.