CW: Discussion of Disordered Eating, Exercise, & Dieting

Wedding weight loss has gotten a bit out of hand. If I see one more “Sweatin’ for the Wedding” shirt on Pinterest or Instagram, I just might scream. There is entirely too much pressure on women already to look a certain way and be a certain size, and that pressure seems to double once they are engaged. We need to change the dialogue surrounding wedding weight loss which promotes dangerous dieting behavior and poor self-esteem. What matters is that you are the “most you” version of yourself for your wedding!

A few years ago, I was a Weight Watchers member and Leader. I joined back at the beginning of 2012 after a health scare and some severe depression and anxiety. I wanted to lose 45 lbs and I did it in 10 months time. Weight loss and exercise had developed into an obsession for me during 2012 -2013. Some of the habits I formed in those years were great and I am healthier today because of them, but others were not so great. The restrictions I put on myself were exhausting and I found myself valuing thinness at all costs. The pride I had originally felt in accomplishing my weight loss goals morphed into an extreme fear of gaining the weight back. And even still, the old habits started to creep back. After two years of hard work (both personally and for my WW members) I was once again depressed, binge eating, and avoiding the gym. Fast forward to today, and I have gained the weight back, but overall I am much healthier and happier (and I don’t use Weight Watchers anymore).

The reason I bring all of this up is that in addition to being a Wedding Planner, I also recently got married. My husband is an amazing person who has helped me to rebuild my physical and emotional health. When it came time to go dress shopping, I initially panicked. I did not WANT to care about my weight on my wedding day. I wanted to believe I had overcome all the stress about my body and size. I am all about loving yourself and the body you have, but when every Wedding Planning Checklist seems to include “Begin Work-Out Routine” and other weight-loss related items, it starts to feel like a non-negotiable part of the wedding planning process.

Body Image & Dress Shopping

Leading up to my appointment to try on dresses, I was super stressed out that nothing was going to look good and that the girls at the bridal salon were going to ask about my weight-loss plans. I didn’t want to explain that due to my past inclination to over-do it with the weight loss, that I am just going to keep exercising and eating healthy and if I lose weight, then I lose weight. Super! Thankfully the saleswoman was chill and didn’t mention weight loss at all.

To my disappointment, the dress style I thought I wanted, didn’t really look great on my body type. Though we kept trying on others and ultimately the dress I picked was MEGA CUTE and felt so right for me. There are so many options available today for wedding gowns and the right style will make you look amazing, no matter what. There is something for everyone, you just need to be open to try different styles until you find the most flattering look!

The Dangers of Extreme Dieting

A 2007 study by researchers at Cornell University surveyed 272 engaged women between 18-51. 91% of the brides-to-be reported that they were worried about their weight, and 70% wanted to lose weight before their wedding, averaging around 21 lbs of desired weight loss. Only 62% of non-engaged women in a similar age range reported being worried about their weight, indicating that putting a ring on it does trigger inflated concerns about body image and weight in some women. The most frightening thing found in this study was the degree to which extreme dieting practices were employed by the women in their pursuit of their ideal wedding weight.

“Nearly half the brides-to-be were willing to adopt extreme dieting strategies to reach their goal weight by their wedding day. Among extreme dieters, skipping meals and taking unprescribed diet pills and supplements were reported most frequently. About 10 percent of the women used liquid diets, while a fraction of the women started smoking, took laxatives or induced vomiting in order to lose weight.” – NY Times

Simply don’t do shit like this. It’s just not cool and not worth it to play such risky games with your health for the sake of a dress and some photos. Another study found that the average weight of the women in the study didn’t change leading up to their weddings and actually increased after the weddings, and resulted in lower self-esteem and body image issues.

One thing I learned in my time with Weight Watchers is that if you go super hard with a diet, you are more likely to rebound or experience yo-yo dieting, which is physically rough on your body and horrible for your self esteem. I saw it with my members, and I saw it happen in myself. Crash dieting for your wedding is not a sustainable practice for maintaining weight-loss after the cake is cut and all the guests go home.

Your Wedding is Just One Day

The best plan if you want to be healthier overall is be as physically active as you are able to be and eat good, nutritious food. Be wary of fad diets, cleanses, and overly restrictive lifestyles that are unsustainable and can be mentally and physically taxing, they are simply not worth it!

I hope that my own personal story and experience can help you make healthy choices and feel great about yourself on your wedding day! Also remember that weight-loss is not mandatory for your wedding (or life in general). Your wedding is about love and celebration of the life ahead of you, not a dress size!  I would love to hear from you about your experiences as well, feel free to share your stories in the comments or shoot me an email!

Featured Image courtesy of Kolaya Photography