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CN: Mention of own body image and weight loss chat from others.
Since the start of the year I’ve been trying to take part in, and enjoy, planning my wedding just like anyone else would. I’ve wanted to chat with vendors, browse for dresses, attend wedding fairs and, crucially, hang out in bridal spaces online. Online groups felt like a great idea, somewhere to get excited about the planning minutiae with other brides where it isn’t going to get on everyone’s nerves (my wedding isn’t as important to anyone other than me and my partner, so I’m trying to spare my friends and family a little). However, it turns out that these online spaces aren’t meant for people like me because of the ever present weight loss chat.
If it’s not someone trying to flog you their weight loss product, then the brides-to-be themselves are talking about it: worrying about back fat and buying dresses an alarming amount of sizes too small to try and fit into for the wedding. Jokes about not eating for a fortnight if the impossibly miserable task they’ve set themselves isn’t achieved.
Offhand comments about diets to plus size brides come from everywhere, even completely unrelated vendors. It’s the assumption that your size is something you want to change, and the absolute certainty that open comment about it is welcome, that has bothered me. It’s a huge culture shock, as it’s chat I simply never see any more due to the online community I’ve built elsewhere.
Thing is, I knew all this going in. I’d heard from so many people that as soon as you mention the word ‘wedding’ your body is up for discussion in a new and relentless fashion, but I still entered these spaces because I wanted the buzz that comes from chatting with cool people about a shared interest. Sadly the diet chat got to me, I’ve taken a bit of a knock to my own personal acceptance of my body and I’m pissed off about it. I was made to feel that not only does my body not belong in wedding planning groups, but that it doesn’t belong in the same context as planning a wedding at all.
So if you are reading this and have experienced similar, then please know that you don’t have to suddenly buy into anything that jeopardises your mental health just because you’re getting married. The rules ARE NOT any different now that you’re a bride (or groom) to be.
If you would not tolerate diet chat before, you don’t have to now. If you do not allow people to talk about your body, do not let them now. Your fatness was never up for debate before and it is not up for debate now that you are organising a wedding, it doesn’t matter any more than it did before. Protect yourself in this context just like you would any other.
So sack it all off, don’t put yourself in that position. Do things on your terms. Whilst I don’t have all the right answers, here’s the steps I’m taking to make my wedding planning into a positive and fun experience:
- Create an exciting, posi and encouraging whatsapp group with willing pals who want to chat about wedding stuff with you.
- To find vendors; recommendations from local community groups that aren’t wedding related are great. Also, ask around in person or on Twitter – word of mouth really is valuable.
- Similarly, a great resource for finding venues are photographer’s Instagram accounts and their blogs too. Find photographers that are local to the area you want to get married in by trawling some hashtags and see where the weddings they have photographed take place.
- If you are not able to get to a plus size wedding dress or suit shop then consider having your wedding outfit made. There a plenty of beautiful ‘made to measure’ Etsy stores, and overseas stores such as Light in the Box – which is full of incredibly useful reviews and photos of actual customers wearing the finished pieces.
- If it gets too much and you need some respite and reinforcement then read this exquisite article, browse the gorgeous photos of brides and grooms in this 105 fat/plus brides feature, check hashtags such as #plussizebrides and be sure to make regular stops back over on your own social media when you need safer waters.
Much like navigating life as a fat person, to navigate wedding planning while fat I have had to change the rules to suit me. An unexpected upside to all this is by avoiding typical wedding stuff, we are saving so much money. Thinking outside the box for one thing has inspired me to be more creative with the planning overall. I didn’t consider using a bar or restaurant before I began and now I can’t think of anything more perfect and I’m having the exact dress I want because it’ll be made for me by an incredible dressmaker.
Is operating outside of the wedding industry to plan a whole wedding ideal? Of course not. I’m still resentful that I have had to refine my experience in this way, as I shouldn’t ever have had to. Whilst I’m not grateful for the negative experience I have had (and honestly I hate that ‘silver lining’ way of thinking – the industry needs to change, there’s a demand that requires a supply), I now have the perfect plan that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of initially. The excitement and magic surrounding the day is very real and all our own.