Just a few short months ago I got married to my longtime honey. Our wedding was fun, special, and beautiful and 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.
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… knows that the stress of dealing with other people's expectations of you because you're fat can make a tough experience overwhelming.
But let's lay all of that stuff out on the line right here and now. I want to give you my body-positive plus size bride advice. These eight 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.
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
Unless you're lucky enough to live near a plus size bridal boutique, 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 looked great on me.
4. 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 Facebook group who might give you good advice. I really like the folks in the Wide Bride group on Facebook.
5. Splurge on stuff you care about
I mostly didn't sweat a lot of the details, which is one of the reasons why I picked a catering hall venue 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. 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.
6. Looking fat in your wedding pictures is no biggie
I look totally fat in my pictures!
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.
If you need to get okay with being fat in photographs, my biggest recommedation is to take more photos!
7. 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.
8. 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.
Plus-sized brides: What are you favorite body-positive tips?