Whether you are a bride to be or your big day is long behind you, many women who have planned a wedding would admit that the self-imposed pressure to slim down can get out of hand.
It seems it is a sad sign of our times that the lead up to the ceremony can induce a panic about looking just right in that special white dress.
Which is why we loved this open letter, penned by the Managing Director of Miss Bush Bridal in Surrey, Emma Meek who aims to get women to rethink their body concerns in the run up to their weddings.
Emma has worked in the company for over 20 years helping brides to find the right dress, and decided to share a very personal and thoughtful approach about wedding dress shopping on the popular site Love My Dress.
In the piece she talks about her own weight fluctuations; pre-wedding day to her current situation, as well as the changes in pressures over time.
The bride to be concedes that "the experience of wedding dress shopping is a highly charged and emotionally loaded transaction" and that all brides feel the pressure.
However, working in the industry, she does reveal the following:
"I want brides to know that there isn’t an industry wide conspiracy to make you feel bad if you are plus size, any more than if you are older, been married before, disabled or LGBT. However from an outsider’s point of view I can see how this seems to be the case."
Not only did she share her own personal experience about her wedding day and her issues with weight but she also gave her top tips on how each bride should approach their own feelings about weight loss, and how you should shop for a wedding dress.
1. Virtually no one has a flat stomach
The only people I see that have flat stomachs are women that run Ultra Marathons and they are few and far between. Everyone has a hang up about the letterbox part of their body from their navel out to their hip bones down to the top of their bikini line. I am not expecting to see a flat stomach. Don’t apologise for not owning one.
2. Don’t wait to lose weight before talking to boutiques or designers
There are so many different options open to you – if you wait for a phantom target weight, you may have denied yourself some ranges of dresses that are time sensitive to order.
3. If you have severe body confidence issues talk to us
Make an appointment to come in and discuss what you want first before taking your clothes off. If you get on, gel or click with someone then you can establish faith and trust before moving to taking your clothes off and trying on dresses.
4. Acknowledge and tell us what your hang ups are
One person’s body art is another’s tramp stamps; I envy a flat chest while others crave more boob! If you love your generous curves let us know. More often than not we are given a list of despised body parts as part of a bride’s opening remarks so sometimes if an assistant assumes you might want a generous thigh concealed by an A Line skirt rather than highlighted by a Fishtail it is because she has heard this preference a million times.
5. Don’t always expect ‘the moment’
I did a bridesmaids appointment recently where a woman was getting increasingly frustrated that she couldn’t she what dresses looked like properly fitting. The woman was petite and a plus size, immensely difficult to cater to off the peg. I asked ‘what shape dress do you normally wear?’ The answer? ‘I don’t, nothing ever fits’. If there isn’t a dress made for regular shops that stock a range of sizes it is no more likely that I can offer this. However, unlike regular shops bridal shops offer solutions through brilliant fitting and bespoke options.
6. Expect ‘the moment’
This is not always a Hollywood style Pretty Woman moment. As a sensible grown up you will have to acknowledge there is sometimes delayed gratification if you do not fit the samples. Don’t just buy whatever fits in the store, make sure at a fundamental level you love the shop, the designer label and your stylist.
7. If you have the budget go bespoke, made to measure or couture
A brilliant pattern cutter will be able to cut ‘you’ a pattern not adapt an existing one or alter a standard size. If I were to be heading aisle-wards I would rather feed my guests cheese and pineapple on sticks rather than have a frumpy frock. Remember I am terribly shallow though…
8. Underwear, underwear, underwear
Get your bust measured in a proper lingerie shop or department store and wear said correct bra with two proper straps to an appointment or fitting. Have absolutely no faith in strapless bras. Also, people, the increasing trend for feature backless dresses, keyholes or plunge especially in very soft fabrics means there will be NO bust support. If you’re not happy bra-less move on! Don’t build disappointment into your wish list and Pinterest board. However a boutique will usually surprise you with dresses you didn’t think would work. How much more positive is that? Also if a dress requires Spanx to make it work it isn’t you it’s the wrong size or a badly cut dress.
9. Don’t blame the shop
If you look ghastly in a dress in Topshop do you blame the changing room lighting? Acknowledge that you may be over their target demographic? Do you blame Phillip Green? Generally one doesn’t go rushing to the Chief Exec complaining ‘I felt bloody awful in my pants today and it is all your fault.’ I have tearful moments in front of my own wardrobe where I vow to get skinny. Shop bashing upsets me. There are some dire wedding dress shops around but there isn’t an industry wide conspiracy to be body fascists. There are no classes in haute snobbery or couture crassness. In bridal retail virtually every store is independent. From the artisan/designer owned boutique, to the city centre label shrine; the purveyors of meringues to the restrained county set shops all bridal retailer have their own philosophy, taste and style. If you walk in feeling fragile we don’t smell blood. Similarly if you walk in with your defences up we have to spend a long time gaining your trust.
10. Look at what makes you lovely
You are not a series of body parts and measurements, this is not an autopsy. You are not defined by your size. Technically your designer and fitter has to know these things to perfect a dress, but a bride radiating gorgeousness comes from confidence, wide smiles, and being loved.
We couldn't have put it better ourselves!
Read Emma's whole story here.