The Bridal Diet Makes Me Hungry (for Vengeance)

Wedding-Diet-500x485There is great danger ahead. The bridal magazines warn of it and dress clerks speak of it in hushed, panicky tones, as though the barest mention can summon its cream-filled wrath. It is the monster they call fat and it’s the quickest way to ruin a wedding.

I know what you’re thinking. But, Grace, I’m happy with my size! Dr. Swoodilypooper fell in love with me just as I am, so why change now? Don’t ask me, dearest. Personally, I think you’re the bee’s knees and should stay as you are, but I do not make the wedding rules. If I did, there would be more elephant rides. Unfortunately, the wedding industry is against fun and your body. You are a bride, so you should lose weight. It’s in all the literature!

As soon as you get Facebook engaged, that paramount sign of commitment, you’re inundated with wedding ads. Photographers, venues, and DJs all want your money to help with your special day. None, however, seem more concerned than the personal trainers. Look perfect on your special day, they promise. Don’t you want to be a shiny, happy wedding princess? Well, princesses aren’t a size 12, so join a boot camp, fatty fatpants. A true bride prepares for her wedding like it’s a war. Death to the thunder thighs!

No matter the bride, improvements are necessary. Sure, you may already be a size 2, but are you a toned size 2? Worse, do you have a bit of cellulite, that natural way female fat is stored? Disgusting! Stop eating this instant. You’re going to be in pictures, darling. They’re worth a 1000 words, 999 of which could be variants of “chunky apple pie face.” You don’t want your grandchildren thinking you looked like a lace-cased sausage, do you? They won’t love you anymore! You are a woman, darling, and women are delicate flowers. Just because you’ve fooled a man into thinking your body is sex incarnate, doesn’t make it acceptable.

As a bride, you have certain responsibilities. Chief among them is looking conventionally beautiful. You only get this one day ever to be happy, so make it count. Heaven forbid your guests leave chatting about the great food and lively conversation! If they’re not complimenting your spindly collarbone, you have failed. And if you fail at being a bride? Barbie comes to life, knocks in your door with a magenta battering ram, and revokes your woman card. Then, who will do your husband’s laundry? Get dieting now, or else…

Or, call me crazy, you could find a dress that makes you happy and sashay up to the alter as the person you are. Shock your guests and – gasp! – look like the you they already love. It’s one thing to want to feel better or combat health problems, but why exactly are we dieting ourselves down to an unmaintainable size for one party? Your wedding photos don’t actually follow you around, shadow-like, for all your days. Despite what the magazines tell you, you are not your dress size. Not this day, not ever. You are your career, your friends, your perfectly twee impression of Zooey Deschanel. You are not a bride, you are a person.

– Grace

216 thoughts on “The Bridal Diet Makes Me Hungry (for Vengeance)

  1. Loved this entry. Yay for the irony and I could not agree more!!! I have several acquaintances that followed the mandatory diet (went hungry for a year), have precious skinny pictures, and then gained the weight back. Get a phothoshop-edited picture and eat happily!

    • Val, you are so right: if Photoshop exists, why torture ourselves? I can understand if it’s something you need to do for health, but otherwise…it seems worse to lose it all, then gain it right back, which is seems to be an inevitability with bridal diets.

  2. Yes. This. I’m naturally thin, but I am of average height, and I’ll be damned before I’m forced to wear heels on my wedding day because dresses are only designed for tall people!

  3. Hunny buns, I packed ON the pounds before the wedding, as did the hubby-to-be. Me, I had myself a slinky, stretchy brilliant blue dress that expanded to encompass my extra kilos (and fabulously extra cleavage)… hubby, on the other hand, had to do a mad, last-minute dash to the menswear shop two days before our nuptials to up-size his shirt and trousers. Nothing like going against societal convention, I say!

    • Yvette, I’ve looked at your wedding post and I absolutely loved your choice of a blue dress! It’s even better knowing that it was so darn comfortable, to boot! Your whole wedding was a testament to going against conventions – everything looked so personal and perfect. Loved it!

      • Thank you so much, my lovely, for your lovely compliments. The only thing I wasn’t happy with was the makeup. I could have done better myself. The drag queen look, while one of my favourites, is not exactly how I wanted to project myself at my wedding as a woman marrying a man! πŸ˜€ It was a gerat wedding and one of the best I’ve been to if I do say so myself. I can’t wait to hear all about yours. xo

  4. Great post! i just had a conversation with my bride-to-be friend about this recently. She’s done modelling, she’s participated in beauty pageants, and she asks me if I think she should drop a size or two before the wedding? Um… only if you want to be so weak you can’t hold the weight of your wedding dress? The girl is already too skinny, and yet, according to bridal magazines, she ought to be skinnier! slip-through-the-crack-in-the-door skinny, apparently. Also – the girl who wrote this post: really regrets being ‘the skinniest she’s ever been’ at her wedding, and looks back on that time in her life as her least happy.

    • Thank you so much for linking to that post, Lexy! And it’s stories like that of your friend that make me so uneasy about the overwhelming wedding diet pressure. GIrls who are skinny or perfectly lovely to begin with are being told that they’re not good enough to be a bride, to get married. What a crock! A smaller dress size is not a prerequisite to a happy marriage or “perfect” wedding. Love is.

  5. Plus, if you really are that concerned about the wedding pictures, altering pics with Photoshop is much easier and cheaper than altering your body πŸ˜›

  6. I love this post! I just got engaged, and I’ve never paid this much attention to wedding magazines. Now that I look through them, I notice how it’s picture-picture-picture-article on how to lose 20 pounds–picture–weight loss plan–picture–water and juice diet–picture–picture. Crazy! I hope I look exactly the way I do now for our wedding in 15 months!

    • First off, congratulations on your engagement, Brianna! Hooray for love!

      Second, is it not the most ridiculous thing ever? I bought an initial round of bridal magazine, all excited that it was a think I could legitimately do, but found them so depressing instead of inspiring. It was all diet tips and crazily expensive things I don’t need!

  7. I’m getting married but since I’ve already been down the engagement road… previous relationship which didn’t work out. So I feel like I’m immune to all of this crap… but it helps that I have decided to wear a suit rather than a tiny-lacy-white-super-expensive-strapless dress like it seems most people do. It’s a personal decision but I decided I’d rather be comfortable and classy rather than fit myself into something that doesn’t work for me.

    • I adore that you’re wearing a suit. I’ve always loved the pictures of my grandmother in her wedding suit – so lovely & classy! In my opinion, the best weddings are the most personal, so chucking the “traditional” things we don’t like is the only way to get there. Congratulations on your engagement! I may have to borrow some of that immunity…

  8. So glad I married before Facebook. I ended up losing weight by accident (I was already slim) and the dress had to be altered. It was stress. I should have known. I was almost a runaway bride. Now I’m divorced and the dress is under a bed in the guest bedroom at my parents’ house, those precious pics (what’s left of them) are stored away in a box. Point is, it’s only one day, shouldn’t starve for it. Plus having some cleavage and not being dizzy might be nice on your wedding day. Enough with the boney brides. The dress should fit the bride, not the other way around. I joke with my kids that if I ever marry again I’m doing it butt naked — he’ll have to take me as I am. My kid’s response: I’m not going.

    I have no boyfriend, by the way.

    • Ha! I adore the way you think. My dear fiance would, no doubt, be alright if I similarly tried that plan, but my dad would probably have a stroke…

      Thank you for the great comment and reading!

  9. Bless you for writing this!

    I was a plus-sized bride who couldn’t even try on dresses in most bridal shops because they didn’t carry anything bigger than an “average” size for trying on. Oh, sure, I could pay half down on a dress i liked in order to have it shipped in for me to try on. Non-refundable, of course. The one store that had bigger dresses had a saleslady who made me change in a storage room so the real fitting rooms were still available for the skinny brides. And as I was about to hand over the hard-earned cash to pay for the dress, she had the audacity to reccomend a good diet to make myself “presentable” for the big day.

    I walked out without the dress and kept looking. And you know what? Seventeen very happily married years later, my husband still adores me AND my curves. I wonder how many of those “presentable” little brides can say the same,

    A wedding day is supposed to be filled with joy, not hunger pains and self-loathing.

    • A.J., I am absolutely livid on your behalf, even if it was 17 years ago. The gall of that woman! What an absolutely – pardon me – horrid bitchface. I’m so glad you didn’t buy her dress and, especially, that you and yours are so very happy!

      • I worked as a cosmetologist for many years and did a LOT of wedding hair. It was unreal to see just how many beautiful woman who should have been happy . . . .were actually angry, stressed out and/or crying on their wedding day. I became an expert on caking on the make-up to cover the tears.

        • Sigh. That just makes me so sad, A.J.! I know that weddings are stressful and emotional for people, but I wish I could just give every bride a virtual Xanax and a pep talk. Maybe we would all breathe easier, if we didn’t put so much stress on the day? The only tears cried on a wedding day should be happy ones.

  10. My wife and I got engaged in 2001 and were married in 2002. I hate myself for admitting this, but I wondered when I proposed to her whether or not she was going to start working out or trying to tone her body a little. She did absolutely nothing and I’m glad she didn’t, in hindsight. She was and still is gorgeous. I’d hate to have photos from the wedding where she looks like a skeleton and nothing like the woman I dated and am currently still married to!

    • Thank you so much for your insightful comment, Don! Given what I see so much of in media, it’s understandable that you would be curious, but I’m so glad that you value your wife’s actual beauty. If only everyone felt this way!

  11. Love this.
    If you do loose tons of weight before the wedding, you are likely to gain it back. In which case, you have lovely photos of your thinner self, and people might think, what happened to her? Did she let herself go after the wedding?
    Everyone should be comfortable in their own skin!

    • Agreed! It’s the immediate weight gain afterwards that seems like such a bad sign to me. If this were really something women wanted to do for themselves, and not because of societal expectations of “perfection,” then there wouldn’t be such a yo-yo effect. Thank you for the great comment!

  12. This is more evidence that marriage is nothing more than an un-natural process that creates anxiety, gets people to WASTE inordinate amounts of money, and robs men of their manhood. Take whatever money you were going to spend on your dress and donate it to charity…they certainly need it more than the dress shop does.

    • Okay, I’m with you on the wasting money part. Weddings are colossally and needlessly expensive. However, I have no plans to steal my fiance’s manhood – especially considering I’m rather attached to its literal manifestation – and find nothing unnatural in making my love with him officially sanctioned. I’d want to be with Professor McGregor every day, and he with me, even if marriage didn’t exist…that it does and makes our lives easier, from a legal standpoint? Hip Hooray! He’s my person. Everything about that is natural.

  13. I love this posting! I often wonder how I would react to an engagement. I “love” how society has brought young women, such as myself, to think their wedding as the most important day of their life. I mean, what about the day I got my first career, graduated University, had a life-changing trip? Anyways, I feel as though a wedding itself would bring upon anxiety since I’m not one for attention. If that anxiety leads to either binge eating or a lack of calorie intake, I know I’ll be heartbroken about the dresses fit.
    Back in highschool, I had the unfortunate experience of gaining weight before prom… what a nightmare that was, attempting to get your dress taken out the day before prom! I cannot imagine this happening on my wedding day! That being said, I agree with the posts above about wanting to be able to breathe at my own wedding. If I pay that much for a fancy tiered-cake, I don’t just want the cake for show! I want to eat that cake slice.. or two.. or three!

    • Blossom, I had exactly the same feelings about being engaged. So many of the wedding traditions and expectations have always mystified me, so now that I’m actually engaged, the whole thing feels sort of surreal. Turns out, I still don’t like most of them and won’t buy into them, even now. I’m with you: three slices of cake and low-stress, please!

  14. “As a bride, you have certain responsibilities. Chief among them is looking conventionally beautiful” love it, so true. I have heard about people getting “bridal Botox” packages, ’cause god forbid you have a forehead line on the big day. Fair enough you want to look nice on your wedding day, but being made to feel that the woman your husband-to-be proposed to isn’t good enough, as is, to walk down the aisle, is crazy.

    • Oh my god! I just googled “Bridal botox” and am absolutely horrified. What are we doing to ourselves? Love has no beauty requirement. The whole concept of looking “perfect” on this day is undermining the day itself. Shouldn’t we, in this ceremony of joining our lives with another’s, be the most real we can be?

  15. i so agree…a bride should be happy and radiant and people should remember her as the girl who lived every bit of her wedding…kudos for spelling it out for all…
    lovely post..good work…congrats..

    • Thank you! And I’m so glad you agree. All too often, women end up in a echochamber filled with cries of “You are not perfect yet! Try harder!” and sometimes we all just need to acknowledge that it’s a load of ridiculousness.

  16. I didn’t know I had a woman card…but maybe it’s lost in my wallet somewhere with all the other useless cards? I loved reading this post, it made me laugh & I needed that today.

    • If you find yours, let me know where, because mine definitely went AWOL some time ago. Also, I’m so glad you got a laugh out of it! Thank you for reading!

  17. I am far more interested in being married than the wedding. As a result we are going to get married at the other end of the Country with just parents in attendace. My dress cost Β£15 and is suitable to wear to stuff my face at an Italian restaurant after.

    Great post and congratulation on the freshly pressed.

    • Thank you!

      And that sounds like the most wonderful wedding plan. Ours is, unfortunately, going to be pretty good sized – because I have the world’s most gigantic, excited family – but still very low-key. I’m with you – shouldn’t we be more excited about the marriage than the wedding, anyway? An excellent way of thinking. Thank you for the great comment!

    • I agree with Kay… Dr. Swoodilypooper?! So fun to read and say – very original! πŸ™‚

      Loved this post! While it isn’t a matter of right or wrong, I find it sad that most couples go to extremes while planning for their picture perfect wedding – anywhere from ordering the most unique wedding invitations and party favors (pinterest is evil, haha!) to booking the loveliest and most picturesque venue… oh, and I almost forgot, finding and fitting into the most coveted wedding gown of the century. But what about preparing ourselves mentally and emotionally to follow through on our committment for the long haul – “till death do us part?”

      I have learned from others, unfortunately, that picture perfect doesnt necessarily mean true happiness. I am still learning, but 7 years and 3 children later, my husband and I are happier and more in love than the day we said, “I do,” mind you, wearing my size 16 dress. πŸ™‚

      Congratulations on your engagement and being Freshly Pressed! Best wishes to you and your fiancee on your new journey together! πŸ™‚

    • Alas, it’s about a month too late for that! As it is, I’m dedicated to being super low-stress about the whole damn thing and focusing on the why, instead of the what: I’ve found my person and he’s pretty neat. I couldn’t care less about the rest, really.

  18. This post really reminded me of all the anxiety I had about my body before I got married. I went looney tunes and actually took diet pills to drop some pounds, all to look good in a stupid dress. I really don’t know who I was when I look back on that.

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed and your upcoming marriage!

    • Thank you so much! And I’m so sorry to hear that you went through that, during your wedding. Damn the pressure! Grooms don’t have nearly these kind of unrealistic expectations placed on them.

  19. I didn’t diet for my wedding, but I did diet for my divorce. That was way more satisfying. But really, it just doesn’t matter and that’s the frustrating part. Lose weight, gain weight, or sustain weight, society isn’t going to be happy with any choice, so make the choice that’s good for you and makes you happy, and to hell with the magazines.

  20. This is so funny! I’ve never understood “bridal bootcamps.” Are they way different from normal bootcamps? I suppose instead of walking lunges they might do walk-down-the-aisle lunges…

  21. I think I lost my woman card the day my boyfrind brought me home a prybar and lether work gloves as a gift and I squealed with joy and gave him a kiss.
    Normal boyfriends buy roses. Mine buys me chunks of wood, leather and metal! πŸ˜€

  22. Awesome post!

    I used to crash diet for any event that required me to wear something form-fitting or a bikini. Sure, I lost the weight but I felt HORRIBLE. I would be grumpy and hungry all the time and the kicker? I would gain all the weight back after I started eating normally again.

    With my wedding coming up next year (September 2014), I have made it my mission NOT to torture myself. I set REALISTIC diet, exercise and scheduling goals and for once, in all my years of being mean to myself, I have kept the routine up (3 months and counting). If Barbie came to my door now to tell me I’m not losing weight fast enough, I would kick her ass silly.

  23. This is so true! The Media often make places such high expectations for brides these days, when really all should matter is the commitment that two people are going to eachother. Brides or at least soon to be brides are always bombared with images on perfect they should look like or be like. When really they should be themselves regareless if thats a size 14 or size 10 !
    I really enjoyed your post.

  24. I’ve only agreed to attend one wedding so far, it was my best friend’s, and I loathed everything about the experience except the delicious cross-country road trip to get there in dangerous November–exciting! My friend, already no denser than a chicken wing, had somehow managed to shrivel away to tendons and bone in the few years since college. Her skin had no color; she was not a “radiant” bride because she contained no pink in her tone, anywhere. Finding the terminator line between the Winter Ivory satin and her skin was a real trick.

    When I laid eyes on her for the first time at that mansion in her voluminous dress that weighed just a little less than she did (I think the crinoline was actually holding her up) a lightning bolt of actual fear went through me. She looked ill, in real danger. Wherever the fabric touched her body, there was actually space left over, like the whole thing was only floating on her. I hugged her after the service and was about to mutter some concern for her health in low tones during our embrace when she exclaimed happily, “I lost so much weight!” She said it like she had just won the Olympics.

    I painted on a smile, told her she looked beautiful, and turned to find the buffet table.

    • Stories like yours are precisely why these articles enrage me so much. I’ve seen friend after friend, each lovely, diet themselves down to unreasonable weights. It’s just so gut-wrenching that they think that’s what they need to do, just to have a wedding.

  25. Wonderfully refreshing. I got married back when people cared more about the love-filled life on which the couple was about to embark, than the show of the actual wedding day. Imagine that! Probably you are thinking this was hundreds of years ago, but no, we had electricity back then and everything. It was 1974. I doubt that time will ever return, but one can hope. Perhaps when more people having a refreshingly common-sense outlook such as yours? Nah, that will never happen. Congrats.

    • Thank you so much! You know, I was having a very similar conversation with my mom the other day. My dad and her got married in 1979 and everything was so much simpler – nice ceremony, followed by cake & punch in the reception hall, and everything pretty stress-free. The expectations placed on modern weddings are ridiculous and, at the end of the day, not even traditional. Common sense, please return!

  26. Pingback: The Bridal Diet Makes Me Hungry (for Vengeance) | thenewakay

  27. How strange that slim women want to lose more weight for their wedding. But…..I heard about a guy who just sits on the other side of my workplace cubicle: he is losing weight for his wedding. And he’s not fat. He probably has a slight beer belly.

  28. I am a traditional woman but an unconventional bride. I want to eat and drink and dance at my wedding with no guilt (and I’ll do it for less than $10,000 thank you very much). The wedding industry makes me gag! (or is it all the food that Im shoving into my mouth?) either way I loved this post. Long live the “person” πŸ˜‰


  29. I so agree with you! I’m getting married in September and this past year or so I’ve hit my highest weight. The thing is- I didn’t notice I was “fat” until I looked into wedding dresses and realized I wasn’t going to be fitting into those “regular” sized dresses!

    I try to be healthy, and that’s been my goal over the last year so that I could feel better and be less exhausted at the end of my day at work! So I hope this summer I feel healthier, other then that, it’s not my goal to be skinny!

    I don’t appreciate all the being told to lose weight messages I’m being sent all the time though- they really do get in your head!

    • We are in an echochamber of these messages, as brides. It’s exhausting! I’m so glad that you’re not letting it get to you either. Congratulations on your forthcoming nuptials! Hope they’re a smash!

  30. This is great, thank you! I recently purchased my wedding dress and bless my mother, would not let me buy the size that “almost fit” for fear I would be worrying about weight the next 9 months and told me to get the next size up. It can always be taken in, she told me. Already knowing that this dress will fit me without worrying has relieved a lot of stress. Now I can enjoy being engaged and planning the big day! Thank you for reinforcing that and taking society’s image head on!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! And congratulations on both your engagement and finding the dress! As a sew nerd, I’m a huge believe in buying the bigger size. Taking it in is so much easier for everyone!

  31. I loved your post Grace! And your blog! I know a bride who fainted in the alter because her dress was too tight and she hadn’t eaten properly that day. If you want to enjoy the day and make it unforgettable, you need to be healthy and feel good about yourself, besides your weight. You need to be true to yourself πŸ™‚

  32. When I bought my gown I chose based on two catagories, price and comfort. i actually bought up a size so i would be able to have room to breath and dance and if the stress of everything made me gain weight.

  33. Here in India, the pressure is worse, but the underlying thread is the same.. Why be someone else on your most important day? I would have loved to get married wearing one of my mothers silk sarees, but had to put up with a heavy embroidered bridal lehnga and lots of chunky jewellery. And i dont look like myself in my wedding photos at all ! πŸ™‚

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