6 ways to survive wedding planning with your self-esteem intact

June 11 | Guest post by MRS KH
Mirror Mirror
Photo by Trisha Keeler Photography

I got married and I felt beautiful. From my feathery and sparkly fascinator down to my emerald-green painted toes (to match my dress!), I felt like a rock star all day. I got so many wonderful compliments, and my new hubby couldn't take his eyes off me!

Leading up to our wedding day, however, I felt terrible about myself. I'd gone and convinced myself that, during everything from my walk up the aisle to our first dance, I was going to resemble a huge, ungainly, lolloping mess, at which everyone would laugh. I grew acutely aware of my imperfections, and believed that no amount of pretty hairstyling, makeup or accessories would do any good. And, every time I cracked open a wedding magazine and saw those willowy, glossy-haired, gooey-eyed, immaculately make-up'd models gazing out at me, I'd feel like Mr Blobby in drag.

So, if you're anything like me, here's a little survival guide for keeping your self-worth intact while planning your wedding.

1. Do a media purge

The Sunscreen song said it best: "Do not read beauty magazines — they will only make you feel ugly." For any brides feeling like they simply can't measure up to the Ubiquitous Gorgeous Woman In The Media, I prescribe a media purge including anything wedding-related. Resist the urge to watch any Celebrity Wedding episodes on the E Channel, haul those wedding mags you've acquired down to the Salvation Army, or to your local preschool for the kids to chop up, and then do something fun to distract yourself. Because, if it ain't in the house, it can't make you feel shite about yourself.

2. Offbeat Bride wins

Once you biff out the glossies, head right over here. Offbeat Bride gives the spotlight to so many beautiful women, many you'd rarely see in the bridal mags — brides in glasses, brides over 40, brides with jaw-dropping tats, you name it! And, Offbeat Bride has an entire tag dedicated to women who identify as plus size brides. In my moments of self-doubt, I always headed to the plus size posts to find glowing, radiant, deliciously happy and absolutely stunning brides! Plus size women may be underrepresented in the wedding world, but they are goddesses on Offbeat Bride.

3. Get it custom made

As a bigger girl who really struggles with clothes off the rack, getting my dress custom made was the best possible decision. I ended up with a wedding dress made exactly for my measurements, and that specifically enhanced my fabulous bits.

But, whatever route you go down, make sure you're paying a professional (either a dress-maker or bridal store) who encourages and supports all body types. Vendors who make disparaging comments about weight are worth neither your money nor your time.

4. Keep your friends close

Surround yourself with loving, positive people, who will be there to build you up when you find yourself flagging. Limit your contact with anyone, however well-intentioned, who makes you feel bad. You don't need that.

5. Practice self love

I recommend treating and affirming yourself as much as possible in the lead-up to your wedding. For example, if you're feeling low…

  • Write down a list of all the things you like about yourself.
  • Paint your nails.
  • Go for a walk and grab a latte.
  • Soak in the bath.
  • Wrap a shawl around yourself and listen to some comforting music.

Think about it — you wouldn't tell your best friend all the horrible things you're telling yourself, right? No, you'd give her a hug, provide some chocolate, tell her she's going to make a stunning bride and take her out for brunch. In the lead-up to your wedding, the best thing you can be is a friend to yourself.

6. Stand by your man/woman

There's a high chance your partner loves you just as you are. I got me a man who fell in love with every last inch of me, and who happens to, in the words of Colin Firth in the second "Bridget Jones" movie, have a very high regard for my wobbly bits. He didn't propose to the blonde on the front cover of Cosmo Bride; he proposed to me.

I realise it's easier said than done, but remember, above all else, that your partner thinks you're gorgeous, adorable, and sexy as all hell. In their eyes, you don't need your teeth fixed, your tummy flattened, or a spray tan. To paraphrase yet another "Bridget Jones" — Here's to the bride! Who is loved just as she is!

  1. I love this! Thank you! I'm in the middle of worrying how I'll feel when my wedding photos come back and I'm this huge white, corsetted, steampunk mess in them.

    Thank you for this I need it!

    4 agree
    • I don't see what's not to love about being a huge white, corsetted, steampunk mess to me…. sounds like just what I wanted to be! :)

      8 agree
  2. This is so what I needed today. With 41 days left until my wedding and Things getting done and having a few set backs with all my goals this was a nice reminder to who I am and why I am marrying the man that loves me. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

    0 agree
  3. This seriously could not have come at a better time. I am a plus sized bride myself, and I'm in a frenzy right now, totally convinced that I should have gotten a dress with sleeves so that my arms would be covered. Time to take a deep breath!

    9 agree
    • Embrace your beautiful arms! I wish I'd been brave enough to pick a strapless dress!!

      2 agree
    • Your arms are strong and able and capable of embracing your beloved! Your arms will cradle your children (if you choose to have them) and cuddle your pets (if you choose to have them!) Your arms are awesome!! I LOVE your arms and I've never even seen them!

      56 agree
  4. After attending the largest local Bridal Expo in my county yesterday, I find this post a fabulous reminder that love comes in all shapes, ages and hues:) Every love is unique ~ our weddings should be also! Thank you for keeping it real!

    4 agree
  5. Oh, fsm, thank you for this! Seriously, I've been needing this so bad. I'm going to save this to my wedding plan folder. I've been sort of freaking out lately with all the random "this is what you need to look absolutely perfect on your wedding day" emails I've been getting from a certain mainstream wedding site. Thank you, a million times over.

    11 agree
    • We really need to create an Offbeat Bride positive affirmations email list to counterbalance all that grossness!

      77 agree
  6. Thank you! Best advice ever. Download the sunscreen song now :)

    1 agrees
  7. I didn't just need this for wedding planning; I needed this for life right now. Thank you.

    11 agree
    • Amen! I've actually managed to keep myself pretty chill with regard to my wedding planning, but I've always been the type to be especially hard on all the flaws I see in myself. This was absolutely something I needed to hear right now.

      0 agree
  8. I find it both hilarious and unfortunate that we go through this. Unfortunate for all the obvious reasons. Hilarious because I've honestly never heard of anyone telling a bride that she looks horrible, so why would we ever even think that people would laugh at us? That doesn't include the keyboard warrior-fueled comments on many bridal forums, of course. I think I came out of it not so scarred, mainly because I only frequented this site (and a little Martha Stewart for some diy cake inspiration/recipes). I definitely agree that Offbeat Bride helps a lot of us get through those self-conscious times, especially since almost every comment is some form of "dude, that's/you're awesome". =)
    Remember, sometimes it's more how you present yourself in the outfit. If you have a positive head on your shoulders when you step into the ceremony, you'll look gorgeous and no one will notice the things you were fretting about before. I was self-aware of my armpit fat pockets gushing out before the wedding, but I'm pretty sure I was the only one paying any attention to it, so why should I let it win?

    0 agree
    • "I've honestly never heard of anyone telling a bride that she looks horrible."

      Sadly, I've heard some horror stories from Offbeat Brides trying to shop in more mainstream bridal boutiques, where basically they were made to feel exactly that. :(

      6 agree
      • I admit I was terrified to go shop for a dress for that reason. Thankfully when I finally did, I had a lovely experience, even if I was the largest chick in the joint.
        The worst part about people who get treated poorly about their size or appearance is that it's like they're implying "who would marry you looking like that?" >.<

        1 agrees
      • I experienced a salesperson telling me that my ideas were stupid/my dress was stupid/ and why would I want to do something a little off-kilter. I was shocked and angry, and this put me into a funk for a month! But I finally found a dressmaker who will make the alterations I want. Finding someone like that is the most amazing thing in the world.
        You will be amazing on your wedding day and your partner will be just as amazed and excited! And I hope to see your pics up on off-beat bride!!

        0 agree
        • Yes! Supportive people FTW!

          Our off-beat wedding isn't especially radical. We've gotten so many positive comments from friends and even the venue coordinator (which is fabulous).

          Still, when my dad's wife gave me that disapproving look I could feel the rage. Why would we have a church wedding? When have either or us ever been to church?

          But then I remembered all the *important people* in my life.

          It makes SUCH a difference to have a supportive team (friends, family, vendors, whomever).

          0 agree
      • I really needed to read this today, so I am so glad I came to this page! I went shopping today for wedding day undies (DD strapless bra!) and makeup. First off, Victoria's Secret only carries up to a D in the bra I wanted and have barely any styles of panties above a L. So that was a little discontenting, but worse was that I felt really uncomfortable and ugly with the makeup lady at Nordstroms. She asked me what color shades I normally wear.. um, none? I was trying to do the "one step above" thing for my beauty routine, but this lady made me feel like I wasn't being a "real bride." She even commented that I was overdue for an eyebrow wax… seriously, wth?!? I wanted to have fun being pampered and ended up coming home just feeling blue about my wedding day. It's so much pressure, even for a non-girly-girl!

        2 agree
      • "I've honestly never heard of anyone telling a bride that she looks horrible."

        The way I read this comment was with an implicit "…anyone whose opinion mattered." Rude people, mean people, insecure people lashing out, people who are catty for whatever reason – they can stuff it. The people whose opinion matters will see your love and happiness. They will see this wonderful person they love (you!) reflected in whatever (gorgeous, stylin', relaxed, freaky, fun, stunning, easy-going, whatever's-for-you) garb you've got going on, and you will look absolutely smashing.

        Don't take my word for it… tour OBB and see a zillion excited people telling happy couples of all sorts how beautiful they are. :)

        0 agree
    • Hi Dejah,

      I realised me being afraid that everyone would laugh at me and think I was disgusting was completely irrational. I struggle with a lot of very deap-seated self-doubt, dating back to my teenage years, and even as recent as my early 20s. It is kind of hilarious looking back on how worked up I got, considering how beautiful and confident I felt on the day. But, I really did struggle- and all the media-bombing really didn't help.

      So yeah- I don't think every bride will experience the same self-doubt that I did. But, based on my own experiences, I felt compelled to write this and share the tips that got me through it. :)
      me th

      0 agree
  9. Thank you so much for this! I can really identify with the self-scrutiny that seems to grow with each passing day. I'm a plus-sized bride as well so thanks a lot for your positive outlook! Also your toes are adorable.

    0 agree
    • Oh, just the clarify: adorable as they are, those aren't the author's toes. :) The photo is just used as an illustration.

      0 agree
  10. People tell me I look horrible all the time, because I have some eczema issues at the moment and I have genetic dark circles under my eyes. I had someone tell me this morning that I look so sick that I should go home for the day, even though I came to work this morning feeling pretty good about myself and life and stuff. I've also had someone tell me that I'll look much better in my wedding photos than I did in my engagement photos because of an assumption that professional make-up/hair will suddenly make me into a more attractive person, when I've actually made the decision to DIY.

    It's not just messages in the media, sometimes the people around us can be thoughtless enough to blurt out comments that can undermine our self confidence.

    We do need to care for ourselves, and it's good to have some practical advice on ways to cherish ourselves when the world around us is being less than affirming of our own individual qualities. I'll be writing myself a list of things to do that will renew my confidence in myself that I am attractive just the way I am, and that I will look great on my wedding day because I'll be happy, and that the people who love me also love the way I look because it is part of who I am.

    6 agree
    • Cinnamon Girl – get thee to a Bobbi Brown or Mac counter and find the right shade of peach/orange undereye color corrector, then the right shade of non-creasing concealer for on top (only if you need it after the corrector. Sometimes you don't…) Best thing I've found EV-ER to fix my genetic dark circles!!!*mwah*

      1 agrees
  11. #6 ended WELL! yes.
    Just as we are.

    Don't get caught up in the definitions and labels…be YOU and u can truly not go wrong…some of the most beautiful things…simply ARE. :)

    Truly, this post had me at the toenail polish. :)

    Much love ladies.

    2 agree
  12. aw I haven't had any angst about my wedding yet – but its still 18 months away! My vague plan was to depend on my friends to pull me through any rough patches.. they're all SO supportive of the 'offbeat' casual style we're going for. I love the part about making sure to treat yourself like you would a friend, instead of channeling negativity. stay strong!

    0 agree
  13. This was perfectly timed and awesome to hear. I'm getting so nervous about upcoming engagement photos and then the wedding and honeymoon photos that will follow. I'm worried about my chub looking awful. (I'm a plus-sized bride also) Number six was my favorite. My sweetie is so good about reminding me how sexy he thinks I am! Thanks for writing this article.

    2 agree
  14. YES! Thank you for this!!
    i'm so glad i'm not the only person who feels like i'm re-living my super critical teenage years and having like a million consultations at the makeup counters and purchasing nearly every miracle product out there (and getting the accompanying allergic reaction to them ALL! wtf?)
    Thank you lovely one for sharing and putting a finger on these emotions!

    2 agree
    • I'm still IN my super-critical teenage years, so I've got super low self-confidence right now. Oh well. Fingers crossed it clears up soon! I wish more sites talked like OffBeat because while it may not cure my problems (I have to do that on my own) it certainly can't hurt! :)

      0 agree
  15. This was amazing. Thank you.

    Also… whooooa small world. I've seen pictures of your wedding that mutual friends were tagged in on Facebook. I love Wellington moments like this :D

    2 agree
  16. I've been made to feel like a freak because I don't want the "cookie cutter" "What's hot in Weddings right NOW" wedding. My wedding is 8 months away and is going to be My fiance and I all over.
    Wedding fairs and magazines tend to upset me and stress me out because I don't fit their mould. My Mould is uniquely me.
    I'm pretty sure I'll be getting the "But Brides don't wear glasses" comments from family, But Im wearing them!

    3 agree
    • my cousin wore her glasses at her wedding and she looked absolutely stunning!!!!

      0 agree
    • I'm another glasses bride – I can only see eight inches in front of my face without them. If anyone gives me grief about it, I'll point out that it's the only way I can make sure I'm marrying the right guy.

      7 agree
    • Ive worn glasses since the 4th grade, my fiance fell in love with me in glasses, my eyes are so bad contacts cant correct them enough for clear vision, I am not me without my glasses. Why on the day that you want to SEE every single second would people think you'd want to ditch the glasses because its "whats done"? Plus with glasses you get to do that sexy "librarian wink" pose for pictures.

      0 agree
  17. amazing article!! I'm not engaged yet so I can't say much. But we are talking about it alot!!! So of course here I am trying to find anything that isn't a typical wedding and I stumbled across this. I absolutely love this article. You are a great writer and Thank you for saying what everyone is thinking

    0 agree
  18. Ahhh, love this as a pale, glasses wearing bride who has already been asked, "Well are you getting contacts for the wedding?" (I can't wear contacts due to hormonal issues changing my eyeshape very often) and "Are you going to tan?" (My skin doesn't tan!). I got so worked up I research laser eye surgery, thought about budgeting for that versus our wedding, worried about the potential scarring ruining my vision for the wedding… all because of my glasses! I have nothing against laser eye surgery, and know it works… but my priorities got super skewed just because of little comments people drop and just slip under your skin without you noticing!

    1 agrees
  19. I just keep telling myself I will be the sexiest, best looking, big bitch in the building and in the words of Latrice Royale the rest of them can EAT IT. :)

    3 agree
      • YESSSSS!!!!!!!!! Latrice Royale is my personal drag Oprah. She makes me feel so much better every time I'm down and feeling un-pretty about the wedding.

        0 agree
  20. Oh my, this post was perfect! Wedding planning was exciting, but still a stressful experience. My husband and I got Tungsten Wedding Bands and they broke!! Imagine that? It caused us a lot of stress and anxiety, but like you said it's important to stay by each other. We have now been married for almost a year now, and I couldn't be happier!

    0 agree
  21. I'm crying…right now. I don't even know why. I don't have any worries about looking good, but there's many more self esteeme issues out there and I think I may need o address them! Thanks for the article.

    3 agree
  22. Thanks so much for all the love and encouraging comments, laydeez! I'm super chuffed that so many of you have been inspired and comforted by my little post. You are all awesome- and this site is one of the best I've ever stumbled across! Thanks agian. <3

    3 agree
  23. Thank you for sharing this. The media sets us all up for failure, I think this is a subject that everyone struggles with, regardless of size.

    Cheers to you!

    0 agree
    • Tiny reminder here: Offbeat Bride is part of the media. "Media" is not the problem — it's just a format.

      3 agree
      • As a journalist/recent bride, I needed your comment, Ariel. EVERY wedding website has people bashing 'The Media" and I felt like a villain every time I would get on to plan my wedding. It became distracting as I fought the urge to defend my career choices instead of looking for things I wanted. I stuck to the Tribe for the last month leading up because it was the only place I felt comfortable talking about weddings.

        0 agree
  24. Well said! Love your wobbly bits comment as well – so true. :)

    1 agrees
  25. This is perfectly timed for me. My wedding is exactly a month away, and although I swore up and down I wouldn't be a bride who worried about weight, ever since I scheduled my final dress fitting I have been a mess. The big problem is that my dress fit *perfectly* at my first fitting, and the dressmaker told me that if I gained or lost any weight they would charge me more.
    Just have to keep my eyes on the prize, which is a wonderful day with my friends and family, and a lifetime with the person I love.

    0 agree
  26. I just might have to print this up and tape it to the bathroom mirror so I can keep looking at it and reminding myself of these in the coming months.

    1 agrees
  27. Thanks for this. In the early stages of wedding planning, I attended a "wedding planning seminar" that included a long (advertisement) presentation about having plastic surgery, botox, etc. procedures before the wedding. I was seriously in shock. I want to look my best, but I want to be MYSELF. Fuck plastic surgery!

    1 agrees
  28. I think the biggest self-esteem thing I learned from wedding planning was "Don't compare your before to someone else's after." Whether it's your half-finished DIY projects to someone else's professional photos of their decor, your "I just woke up" look to someone else's already-done hair and makeup, or anything else like that, don't stress about it when it's not even an equal comparison.

    0 agree
  29. I needed this today! I'm not a plus sized bride but the self-esteem issues are still there. I think it's easy to feel like you won't be as beautiful as you imagine, because (it feels like) the bar is set so high! Thank you for reminding me that my man proposed to ME!

    0 agree

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