A Fat Bride Survival Guide

Guest post by Natalie Perkins
Photo of Natalie and Nick by Kate O'Brien. You can see all the pictures from their wedding here.

When I got married I was a fat bride.

In fact, I was fat when I got engaged – I was even *gasp* fat when Nick and I met!

Despite having a well-established, recognized, and loved body shape before getting married, I copped a huge amount of pressure to lose weight in the lead-up to the wedding.

For some reason, I had it in my head that my wedding day would be a celebration of love and happiness between Nick and I however it seemed that foolish me had little idea of the true wedding agenda – basically some kind of reality tv show where the ugly duckling turns gorgeous siren.

There would be no end of helpful clicks and tuts on hand to whip me into shape (I maintain that rectangular with bumps is a shape, dammit) for my reveal, wait, wedding day. My hairdresser at the time barely let her congratulations fly past her lips before she'd cornered me and asked how much weight I was losing. She lost the job.

Bridal stores have ALL KINDS of euphemisms for asking about your weight loss plans. My favourite was the ever so polite “Now, are we planning on losing or gaining any weight for the big day?” Not to mention the hushed murmurings of “big girl”, “solid build”, “flattering” and “voluptuous”.

You know what? I walked out of all of those places. I wanted a bunch of supportive people helping me look even more fancy on my wedding day, not a wake of frowny-faced vultures picking over the fat girl.

I wanted to share a few things that helped me survive as a fat bride, because if you're not used to speaking up it really can be intimidating and upsetting.

I had a crystalline vision of how I wanted to look on my wedding day and I wasn't ashamed of my body, nor did I have plans to change it consciously before the date.

Being somewhat blunt and quite confident, I had few real issues with the barrage of concerned but unhelpful people who just wanted me to look fabulous when I got married. I understood that they were coming from a mindset held by most brides, a world where a slimmer bride must be the more beautiful bride, but I was not convinced of that.

  1. Come out as fat to all of the people involved in your wedding party.

    Lay down some ground rules when it comes to your body – i.e.: it's none of your business. I also told my bridesmaids that I would not entertain negative body talk during the fittings. If they waited until I was out of the room, that was fine but I didn't want dress fittings to be railroaded by unproductive and negative discussion!

  2. Look at some real life weddings.

    Offbeat Bride is still one of my favourite wedding sites because there are so many different bodies all happy, celebrating and looking great! Glossy magazines are fine, but if you don't want to have a traditional western wedding you'll be left feeling empty! There are heaps of wedding blogs out there to help you with ideas for garments, decorations, themes and locations.

  3. Talk about your ideas with your wedding party.

    This is especially important when it comes to garments. Different bodies like to wear different things!

  4. Bridal stores generally carry two sizes in “try on” dresses – 10 and 18.

    I think I only went to one store, where I definitely did not fit in the 18. I figured that if they were going to assume that they could just grade a smaller sized pattern up to “fit” me, then they could go jump.

  5. Investigate a dressmaker.

    This is what I did – my mother and I asked an assistant at a  local fabric shop for her recommendations and she gave us the phone number of the amazing Gloria, a couture seamstress and pattern designer. Gloria only took petite and plus sized clients, and had incredible pattern drafting skills which she used to outfit women who didn't fit within mainstream sizing. Instant brownie points! Working with Gloria was a great experience – I had designed my dress but with her guidance we made it epic! We also designed the bridesmaid dresses in such a way that the design would be adapted for each of the girls' personalised slopers (a sloper is like a basic pattern created to fit your measurements). I wanted my sisters and my friend to feel special on the day, with a gorgeous dress that they felt great in.

  6. If a vendor bothers you about losing weight, drop them.

    If you feel up to it, you can always say something like “I'm not planning on losing weight for my wedding”. You don't need to  sass them back, or come back with a quip that will make them regret ever saying anything to you. You don't have time for that, and you'll feel rotten afterwards. Focus on your main goal – getting this theatrical monster of a wedding on the road.

  7. Listen to people, but don't forget that you are the authority on your body.

    Plenty of bridal (and plain old everyday fashion) assistants have plenty of things to say on what's “flattering” or “suitable”. There seems to be a metric buttload of rules and regulations and if you bother following all of them you'll basically wave goodbye to any sense of individuality. If you really want to wear a dress that's cut a certain way, ask the assistant or the dressmaker if there's something close if they absolutely veto your first choice (or, dump them). Tell them why you want your neckline just like so. Be assertive and use “I statements” – “I feel confident when I have cap sleeves” or “I feel really gorgeous in a strapless dress”. Push for what you want, or else you're having someone else's wedding.

  8. Wear comfortable shoes that fit you correctly.

    Most wedding days go on for 12 hours – you don't want to be wearing unsupportive shoes that make you snarl. Alternatively, take your damn shoes off. I did that, because my gorgeous Italian sling backs kept slipping off! Unfortunately I also stood in dog poo, but uh… what can you do when you can't see your feet let alone half a metre in front of you?

  9. You don't have to wear the garter belt.

    I really did not want Nick to dig through my skirts and pull a rotten scrunchy off my thigh, only to throw it to his mates. The whole idea grossed me out. What I did was arrange to slip it to him with my magical sleight of hand during the whole garter toss show. I was going to pin it inside my skirt, but I didn't get a chance! Of course, if you hate this part of the reception  – nix it. You're not really beholden to anyone to include anything on your wedding day besides the bits required by law during your ceremony!

  10. Have fun!

    After months of planning, your wedding day should be when you take the pressure down. If you've been true to yourself and your relationship, you should be feeling completely at ease – surrounded by all the people who love you and wish you well.

Do any other fat brides (nay, fat grooms!) have tips? I'd love to read them – post a comment!

Comments on A Fat Bride Survival Guide

  1. As a former sales girl in a bridal salon, they should NEVER ask you how much weight you plan on losing, no matter your size. A good shop will insist on order a gown in the size you are now. If you loose weight it can always be taken in, but if you don't loose weight it can be a nightmare to let it out. In fact I had several brides (oddly enough never anyone above size 10), who wanted me to order them dresses 1-3 sizes smaller because they inisisted they were going to loose weight. I refused for the reason above.

  2. I love this! I lucked out and found an amazing bridal shop on my first try. My mother was the one who mentioned losing weight and the owner of the shop quickly said, “We can take dresses in up to four sizes. We can only let them out one.” It’s ridiculous that brides of any size should have to be subjected to scrutiny about how they choose to look on such a joyous occasion!

  3. Wonderfully inspiring post, and might I say, that woman looks ravishing in her wedding photo.

  4. I had the same kind of problem when I went to davidsbridal….. they were so afraid to ask me what size gown am I looking for and I told them they looked at me. I bet they were thinking are you sure your that size ?? I looked at my daughter and she was like mom lets just get out of here. So I just tried on my dream dress but needless to say the sales lady wasnt really very helpful so I left the store with out my dream dress. I know so many stores have such attitude of how people should look when they are shopping or how to act. I hope I made sense in what I was saying here. Turns out I found a great dream dress online on ebay so luckly I lucked out on a good deal on a designer gown for much less.

    • I went to davids bridal myself and all she put me in was a-line not whati wanted told her mermaid but the consultant would not listen so i left without a dress.

  5. At first I was thinking, "tons of women modify their body in some way for weddings – diets, exercise, or even [yikes] implants – what's the big deal about a sales clerk asking about your plans, if she does it tactfully?" but then I was reminded by the other comments that you really can't let a dress out, but you can always take it in. Consider me edumacated 😉

  6. Love it, love it, love it!!! I would so be instantly gone if some skinny vendor took it upon herself to comment on my weight. Yay for Natalie!

  7. that whole article is made of win. i'm quite bony, but i find the pervading theme of "your body is no one else's business" to be so on point for anyone. right on.

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