How it really felt to be a plus size bride.
As a little girl I used to play dress up and pretend I was getting married in my bedroom, I would put a towel on my head as a veil and sheet tied with a hair band around me as my dress. My guests were my care bears and my husband my stretch armstrong doll. The reality of getting married and wearing 'The Dream Dress' is obviously so far off from what you imagine when you are five. Firstly it's much more stressful, fifty times more expensive and you can't take a nap in the middle of the ceremony like you can in your childhood bedroom. When I got engaged I thought of all the exciting plans I would make, all special experiences I would have and most importantly what my dress would like. Little did I know that being a plus size bride would also mean a whole different experience entirely.
Being overweight is looked down upon in society, we are deemed as unhealthy, unattractive and lazy and getting married is seen as not a thing that happens to those of us who fit in that tick box. We are unlovable, deemed only attractive by men who treat us like fetishes or secrets to be hidden and we are just not marriage material. In the eyes of society if we magically beat all those odds and have found love, one thing is for sure, we are expected to lose weight for our weddings.
The problem with all of that is, it simply isn't true. My size does not define who I am, it bares no relevance in why my husband loves me and it certainly shouldn't mean I have to change who I am to wear a dress for one day out of my life. When I started searching for my wedding dress I knew who I was, and I knew I didn't have to change who I was to get married to Dan.
However, I can't lie and say, there weren't times when the pressure and stress of finding a dress did make me question whether I should lose weight. The wedding industry can be a hostile place when you are plus size. There is virtually no representation in the mainstream media when it comes to plus size brides. Most boutique wedding dress shops only stock sample sizes 12-16, if you are lucky. If you want to try on a dress in your size like every other person who plans their wedding and you are bigger than the sample you simply cant which can not only make you feel awful, but make you feel excluded from experiencing something that is all part of the wedding fun. In fact when I began my search I decided to call a few London based boutiques one by one. Each time I called, I came up against that exact problem; the shops occasionally sold plus size wedding dresses but they only had them in sample sizes 12 or 18. Being that I am a size 24 that obviously couldn't work for me and each time I would ask ' How do plus brides try on their dresses?' the responses were much the same
We can pin them to you' or 'If you like the look you can order it and then we can try it on
I mean, who needs to actually try the most special dress you will ever wear on, when you can imagine how it feels pinned on to you instead. I guess it's a lot like being a five year old bride all over again. Pre and post my wedding I received messages and horror stories from other plus size women who had terrible experiences when wedding dress shopping. Women who had been fat shamed, laughed at, and even made to cry by shop owners. It upset me so much that being fat meant being excluded from something that is meant to be all about love and happiness.
When it comes to finding inspiration that is equally as shit. You can find the odd blog here or there that covers a plus size wedding (shout out to Rock and Roll Bride and Rock my wedding who actually featured mine) but if you are wanting to see someone who looks like you in the likes of Bridal magazines, think again. You can however find a ton of inspiration on how to find the perfect pre-wedding diet, everything from low carb, no carb, no meat, no gluten and even no eating full stop - what a treat!
It is no wonder that I fell pray to feeling like absolute garbage several times on the lead up to my wedding, I even re-joined a diet club that had previously caused havoc on my dangerous disordered eating behaviors in order to feel better.I quickly realised, a few weeks in that I was trying to lose weight for all the wrong reasons. I was doing it because everything I saw made me feel unworthy, unattractive and honestly not good enough to be a bride and they I reminded myself this:
All women, no matter what their size deserve love.
I count my blessings everyday that I have found someone who loves me for who I am, even if who I am is a person who sits in three day old pj's with food down my top. I'm grateful that I feel loved and appreciated for the things I do to make our life together fulfilling every day. I love that Dan makes me giggle and pinches my bum on the walk up the stairs to our flat everyday. Or when he kisses me on the forehead in the morning on a tube packed full of people even when it is sweaty and gross (that is real love right there)
I took me a while to focus on those things, rather than how hideous I began to feel about my body, but once I did I was able to step into action and start enjoying the wedding experience and carving my own happy memories. In doing so I found a bridal company that sold dresses in my size, and I tried my dream dress whilst drinking champagne with my friends at their bridal studio.
The day I tried on my dress I was a size 24 and the day I got married I was a size 24.
I realised long before I walked into the registry office and down the aisle to Dan that I couldn't care less what people thought of me, or my size because I had something far more special, something that would outlive my wedding dress. Real, true and honest love with someone who loves me for more than the size clothes that I wear.
My Oleg Cassini Dress was kindly gifted to me from Davids Bridal in Stratford London. but this had no impact on how amazing the experience was. I would recommend this place to any fellow plus size brides as the kindness and care I experiences was second to none.
Photography: Kirsty Mackenzie *Please note the link used is an affiliate