There is a not-so-short list of events in my life that, when I think back on them, I don’t think of the way I felt during them or the special people I shared the moments with, but instead I think about my body. This isn’t because I remember exactly how much I weighed then or what workout plan or diet I was doing during each and every party or special occasion. In fact, I can’t remember most of those details at all. The details I do remember, though, are tied up a bigger feeling — the main feeling that comes back to me when I think about these events: I experienced all those moments thinking I should have been thinner. I had these thoughts when I was 10, 15, and 20 years old. I had them long before I ever wore plus size clothing, and sometimes I still have them today, at almost 27 years old, despite the fact that I’ve done years of self-work when it comes to confidence and self-acceptance. Nowadays, though, this is mostly due to the fact that I’m getting married soon.
In less than six months, I’ll walk down the aisle and marry my partner of 6-plus years and I am excited. But even as someone who prides themselves on feeling good in their skin despite a number on a tag or scale, it’s easy to feel like you have to lose weight before your wedding thanks to popular advertising and societal narratives. I felt it when I was served targeted ads as soon as I announced we were engaged on Facebook. It was right then that I decided I could spend our 20-month engagement battling with the scale and ultimately feeling guilty on my wedding day for not sticking with a diet (they’re literally designed to fail, after all), or I could not diet at all. No scales, no calorie counting, just trying to find a healthy balance that made me feel my best. Sometimes when I tell people this, they seem confused, like the idea that there are other ways to prepare for your wedding than losing weight seems absurd. For me, though, it works.
Here are five ways that I’m preparing to feel amazing on my wedding day that DON’T involve losing weight.
About four months ago, I set out to find a form of exercise that was affordable, rewarding, and would help me feel strong. I wanted a consistent way to burn off steam and deal with anxiety (wedding-related and otherwise), and I had crashed and burned when it came to so many expensive gym memberships or workout programs because I was never doing any of them for any other reason than weight loss. I discovered running and began with the smallest of goals. Run by run, I felt my stamina improving and my legs feeling stronger. Now, I actually look forward to running (most of the time, anyway) and how I’ll feel afterward. I’m so thankful that I am going into the final leg of a stressful wedding planning season with a physical outlet that makes me feel great — whether it’s making me thinner or not.
After four years of working in the beauty industry, I had gotten into the habit of trying dozens and dozens of products—switching them out as soon as a new, shiny one landed on my desk. Somehow I thought that if I wasn’t using the most expensive product available to me, that I was doing my skin a disservice. In reality, though, I was dealing with consistent, painful breakouts on a monthly basis. Recently, I cut my skincare routine down to just three to four products (and stopped using cleanser), and my skin has never looked better. Now, I stick to those products and my routine no matter what, and I’m so much more confident about how my skin looks (and how much money I’m spending on it).
I could admittedly be better at this, but I try to make a conscious effort to minimize the wedding inspiration content I consume on a daily basis. I love a gorgeous Pinterest-worthy wedding image as much as the next person, and these kinds of things have helped with planning what I hope will be our dream wedding. However, they also have a tendency to make me (and anyone) feel insecure and second-guess decisions. I start to think maybe I should have had a photo booth or a bigger cake or a different appetizer hour. At a certain point, when most of your decisions about planning have been made, all this “inspo” just feels overwhelming. So I try to turn it off as much as possible so I can get to my wedding day feeling fully confident about our wedding (and bank accounts).
Listen. I want to be beautiful on my wedding day. I have a specific image in mind for how I want my hair to look and my makeup and my dresses (yes, there’s more than one) and, yes, sometimes I get nervous that all of that won’t live up to my expectations in reality. I worry that I won’t like how my stomach looks in the photos, or even that I’ll wish I did diet more leading up to the big day. But whenever those thoughts creep in, I try to remind myself of all those events I had in the past where the moment itself was eclipsed by me wishing I was thinner. I refuse to have this day be eclipsed. So I try to focus on how I want to feel—and feeling confident, happy, and full of joy doesn’t require my stomach to look any way at all.
Whenever I get stressed or anxious about my wedding day, when it comes to everything from small details to larger worries about how I’ll look or feel, I make myself go back to the why. At the end of the day, I get to celebrate sharing my life with the best person in the world with every single person we love there with us. If I hadn’t gotten into the habit of making myself do this, I think I wouldn’t be able to feel nearly as good about the wedding as I do now.