As with many Offbeat Bride readers, this blog was a welcome antidote to the bridal mags and blogs that represent all brides as being white, thin, tanned, and perfect. Not that there's anything wrong with those things, but when you don't fit into that round hole, the bridal industry can make you feel a bit like Square Peggy.
Aiming for perfection in any aspect of a wedding, whether it's your letter-pressed invites or sun-dappled forest grove location, is asking for tears before bedtime. Even so, it can often be easier to forgive imperfections in our homemade confections than it is to forgive them in our bodies. We can ask a lot of ourselves in our relationships, careers, homes… and appearance.
How far should we be going to be our “best selves?”
Even the most offbeat, laid-back, thrift-shop, doing-my-own-hair bride can become victim to vanity. After all, there's an unspoken rule that a bride should look her best on her wedding day. But when and what is your “best,” and are you aiming for something that's unattainable, damaging, or just plain not right for you? How far should we be going to be our “best selves?”
There has to be a point where enough is enough. Here's what to ask yourself when considering something that will change your body or appearance for your wedding day.
1. Will I look like me?
Do the nail salon ladies know you by first name and rush over with the latest designs when you arrive? Do you change your hair's colour/cut/extension more often than LiLo changes rehabs? Do you wear contacts regularly? If not, then why consider fake nails, hair extensions, and contacts for your wedding day? Don't get caught up in what brides should have. The only things you should have are ones that make you feel comfortable and like yourself.
For example, I've never had fake nails in my life and am naturally klutzy. Adding talons to my hands before spending hours in an expensive dress was something I vetoed straight off. Sure, my nails by themselves are nothing special, but a bit of paint and ooh, the pretty.
Knowing where to draw the line is up to you. There's a difference between “I've always wanted to get that chip in my tooth fixed” and “Maybe I should get liposuction.” You don't want to end up unrecognizable in your own wedding photos.
By all means, though, don't hold back on being you if there's a beauty treatment you really want. Tattoos faded? Get them re-inked. Love a bright mop or fierce chop? Tell the hairdresser to turn it up to 11.
2. Can we afford it?
This may seem mercenary, but every wedding has a budget. Can yours stretch to cover your beauty regimen? Really? (No, stop upping the amount — I've got my eye on you.)
Before my wedding, my dentist suggested I get a full set of porcelain veneers for my gappy, slightly off-colour teeth. Quite apart from being hurt by his clinical assessment of my teeth (I thought they had character), veneers were a significant financial commitment that just wasn't possible before our tightly budgeted wedding. However, an inexpensive whitening treatment was, and I'd wanted to whiten my tea-and-red-wine-stained teeth for ages. Was it vanity? Yes. But was it worth it to me and possible in our budget? Yes.
3. Even if no one will notice, will it make me more confident?
When someone (usually a partner) says, “Why bother? No one will notice,” generally the inevitable, slightly shirty answer is, “I'll notice.” That's how it worked with getting a few warts removed from my hands a few months before the wedding. It's likely no one would have noticed them anyway, but I would have, and felt better knowing that they were gone.
4. Does my partner want me to?
This is a trick question. If your partner wants you to alter yourself so much that whatever physical change you're considering is a deal breaker if you don't do it, then that's a relationship issue that a few gym sessions and a Brazilian won't solve.
This, of course, is different from wanting to do something to surprise your partner or just generally look completely banging for them on the day.
5. Are my “best self” measures going to take up too much time?
Organizing a wedding is stressful enough without adding the extra pressure of a time-consuming beauty regime. If your plans involve only seeing your partner on FaceTime between sets at the gym, then that could cause issues. All going well, you'll only ever be engaged once. Save some time from obsessing over how you look to looking at your partner over dinner on a romantic night out (or in…).
6. Will it reduce my comfort level on the day?
Oh, tightly laced corsets, I love the way you put my boobs around my ears, but you give me shooting pains in my chest. As much as I would have loved to wear you on my wedding day, I also love breathing. So let's just be friends, huh? It's not you, it's me…
Sadly, some things, though lovely, aren't worth it. Do you want to spend your whole reception standing because you can't bend enough to sit down? Other common bridal discomfort culprits include extremely high heels (unless you're a pro at them: see “Will I look like me?”) and those extreme hold Spanx. Try out whatever you're considering ahead of time. If you feel uncomfortable after a few minutes, you'll be in agony after a whole day. Don't be the only one not having fun at your wedding.
Corny though it is, the thing that's going to make you look in-freaking-credible on your wedding day isn't a facial peel or Bridget Jones-style stomach-holding-in underwear. It's the glow that comes from the true happiness of marrying the person you love.