Last Friday I had my last wedding dress fitting. Instead of the elation I wanted to feel, I immediately felt…disappointed. A bit of a failure. And entirely un-bridal.
You see, I bought the dress over a year ago, in a flurry of sample sale negotiation, and then quickly pushed the thought out of my head. I was nervous about the dress, it’s slim-fitting lines, its total lack of ball gown to hide my body. I called my mom, nervous, upset, and scared. I was worried that even though I loved my new dress (it has lace. and sparkles. and an epic train.) that I would look “fat.” As someone who straddles the size 10-12 barrier, I dread the thought of being fat, and I vowed to lose weight before the “Big Day.”
Nevermind the fact that like most women in their twenties, I’m busy. The whole being a graduate-student-job-seeking-newly-engaged person? It’s a busy life. And I usually don’t feel fat. Except when I look at her. Or her. Or all the other radiant, size 2 brides that populate the WIC and bridal blogs. Somehow, the constant barrage of wedding media has convinced me that being uber-skinny is a prerequisite for being a successful bride. And if I can’t mold my size 10 body into a size 2 bride, I will have failed. And I hate to fail.
But Friday, I crumbled. I stared into the mirror, desperately hoping to feel like a radiant bride…and disappointed that I felt like myself. Because in the face of the wedding dream, feeling like myself didn’t feel like enough.
And yet, I write about weddings being authentic. I tell my newly engaged friends that their wedding is “perfect” simply because it is their wedding. I talk about not feeling jealous if you can’t have charivari chairs, and that sometimes the best weddings are small, at-home affairs instead of expensive, lavish events. I tell my own body-conscious friends that they are beautiful and that they are loved.
So why is it so hard to tell myself the same thing? Why do I worry that everyone will think my arms are fat instead of hoping that they are moved by our ceremony? Why do I dread the eventual wedding photo album, instead of realizing that everyone will look at my laughing face and not at my “fat” arms?
Why do any of us torment ourselves with feelings of inadequacy, and convince ourselves that we have failed?
I mean, we all have something that bothers us, right? A little voice inside our head that says “you’re not really a bride, unless…”. If it weren’t for that little voice, wedding planning would be easy and there wouldn’t be an entire industry dedicated to telling us how to “get it right.” I mean, really. We are so scared of getting our weddings “wrong” that we let strangers tell us how to get them “right.” I let people I have never met dictate the way I feel about my wedding dress. This has to stop.
I promise to wear my beautiful dress and to not analyze every bump & lump under it.
I promise to be present on my day and to smile as often as possible – not just when I see the camera.
I promise to fight really, really, really hard to enjoy my wedding photos.
And I promise to resist the urge to photoshop in skinny-bride arms.
Essentially, I promise to accept that my “imperfections” are not a failure, but instead what makes me unabashedly me. Oh, and I promise to like me.
I promise to be authentic.
We need to bring authenticity back to our weddings. We need to embrace our own meaning of love, of commitment, and way of celebrating with our friends. We need to encourage each other to resist feeling like a failure if our arms aren’t skinny, if we’re not serving a five-course, French service dinner, if we’re having the dreaded dry wedding. We need to know deep down that we have not failed if our weddings aren’t “perfect.”
And we need to stop aiming for perfection. The point of our engagements is not to turn our ugly-duckling-nemesis into a swan...it’s the time to bring two families together, to set the foundation for marriage, and to plan an authentic ceremony and celebration (even if it’s a celebration for two).
I am asking you to seek authenticity over perfection. And to help someone else do the same. To tell another bride that it’s okay if her wedding doesn’t look like a something out of a magazine. To tell her to stop worrying about trying to be a swan. To tell her she doesn’t have to resort to a feeding-tube diet to be radiant on her wedding day. And to tell yourself that you will not judge your wedding because someone tells you that it’s not wedding-enough. To trust yourself to get it right.
Because those magazine shoots that are perfectly styled? They. Are. Fake.