Dear Bridal Industry, we need to talk about “looking pretty” on our wedding day

Guest post by Aurora
Wedding Boots

Dear Bridal Industry,

I will not allow myself to become caught up in your ideals of what a bride “should” look like. I will not become sucked into your standards of beauty, ones that are different from my own. I will not let you dictate to me what pretty is, and isn't.

Speaking of which, here are more things I refuse to do…

I will not let you tell me what to wear, how to fix my hair, or how I should do my make-up.

I will not spend nights in tears because I am not “beautiful enough,” or “thin enough” for you.

I will not go on a crash diet.

I will not refrain from getting my septum pierced for fear that you will tell me it makes me look less-than-bridal.

I will not try to hide my stretched lobes, or cover my tattoo.

I will not be ashamed of my lopsided breasts.

I am me. I look fine just the way I am, and I will not let you tell me otherwise.

When our wedding takes place, I will be fully present, and I will do so on my terms — not yours. When I fix my hair, it will look lovely to me and my fiancée, and we won't care if it doesn't look lovely to you. When I apply my makeup, I will gingerly avoid my multiple nose piercings so as not to irritate them, and I will love the way they look. When I put on my wedding dress, I will say to myself, “Self, you are pretty fucking hot, and you rock this dress.” When I look down at my tattoo, I will remember that I have chosen to adorn my body with badass artwork that has meaning to me, instead of trying to conceal it shamefully.

When our wedding takes place, my fiancée will be fully present, and she will do so on her terms — not yours. She will fix her kinky hair the way she always does, and I will think it looks even more perfect than it normally does, even though she won't do anything different. When she smiles at me as we see each other for the first time that day, I will love the adorable gap in her teeth that makes her smile unique, just like I always do. When she puts on her suit, she will look beautiful and sexy and gorgeous and all the words that are only supposed to apply to someone wearing a wedding dress. When I walk down the aisle and see her in her Cho'Gath hat, I will smile because she was brave enough to partially cosplay at our wedding.

In some ways, my fiancée and I will fit into your bridal mold. But in many other important ways, we will not. And even though not everyone may think we paint the picture of beautiful, blushing brides, we will resist the pressure to be anything that we are not.

More important than that, we will love the way we look, and we will rock our own individual styles. We will be proud of who we are, and we will not feel less beautiful for it. Most of all, we will not shyly ask, tails between our legs, “Do you think I would look less pretty if…”

You see, Bridal Industry, we do not owe it to you to be pretty. We do not owe it to anyone.

Our mantra, instead, will be this quote borrowed from Erin McKean:

You don't have to be pretty. You don't owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don't owe it to your mother, you don't owe it to your children, you don't owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female.”

On my wedding day, I will be beautiful in my own way, and so will my fiancée, and we won't owe you a damned thing.

Comments on Dear Bridal Industry, we need to talk about “looking pretty” on our wedding day

  1. This was the most beautiful thing iv ever read, and brought a genuine tear to my eye. It came at just the right time for me to read, iv decided that this shall be mine and my fiancée mantra for the wedding and forever!

    Thank you,


  2. This is a wonderful and inspiring article to read! All to often I find myself wondering if I will like the way I look in my pictures or if my guests will think I picked a flattering dress or if my giant back tattoo should make it’s grand appearance in front of literally everyone I know, 95% of which have no idea I have any tattoos. We need to stop being afraid and ashamed of being ourselves. If we all did that, Offbeats and Traditionals alike, maybe the WIC wouldn’t have so much power over us.

  3. Hell Yes, you are amazing!!!! I am so annoyed everytime I listen to Pandora radio and I hear an Ad for laser tattoo removal that starts with “I’m getting married this summer…” Ugh. I want to get MORE tattoos before our wedding because my dress will show them off so well, not get rid of them!

    • Seriously, that’s how they promote that service? That’s just disgusting. It reminds me of the multiple pages I found while planning my best friend’s bachelorette party suggesting that one of the activities be a group fitness class, so we can all help her with that weight loss aspect of wedding preparation. Ugh. I’m not a tattoo person, but if you are, why the hell would you hide them on your wedding day? It’s YOUR day, a day about celebrating who you are and who your partner loves. Not some Stepford version of yourself. I have scars that I could let dictate my dress style, but I’d much rather have the dress I want and not be ashamed of my own body.

    • Can relate to that, my partner and i are getting wedding tattoos instead of rings, so YES to more tattoos on your wedding day ! ^_^

  4. I have to work so, so hard to look back at my wedding photos and not feel terrible. Everyone and everything looks so nice__except for me.

    I do my best to be accepting of my body in all other aspects of my life, but for some reason wedding photos ruin me. I really hope that people can hear this message and take it to heart. You have gotta give yourself some room to feel your feelings, but also don’t let them eat you up inside! Even if you don’t look your most beautiful (in your own mind, or in someone else’s) you can still have a WONDERFUL day you will treasure.

    • I think it’s awful that our society puts so very much emphasis on this horribly perceived idea of “conventional beauty” that any bride can look back on photos of what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life and think nothing but how ugly/fat/plain/non-bridal/whatever she looked. It’s just not fair.

      I photographed a friend’s wedding a week ago, and when I sent her a few preview pics while I work on her album, the response I got was, “Oh, it’s beautiful! The pictures, the venue, the groom, everything. But god, I’m so FAT!” This after she lost so much weight before the wedding that we had to let her corset out and pin the dress up to keep it on.

      Frankly, she looked gorgeous. I think she would have looked every bit as gorgeous if she hadn’t spent the months before the wedding starving herself and working out every time she got a few minutes to spare. Because every time she smiled that day, everyone else in her vicinity smiled too, because she was just that happy. I *hate* that she looks back and only sees her size, rather than that infectious happiness.

      I just wish we could stop giving ourselves such a hard time. You’re a real person, and those photos show you living a wonderful moment in your life. You’re not some model in a one-off designer gown worth more than my first three cars combined (I assume). You didn’t have multiple takes of your ceremony to get everything “just right” like in the movies. So why should your photos look like a perfectly posed mannequin in a shop window? Take a step back and focus on the memory those photos represent. Think about the music that was playing, or the way Great Aunt Ida was crying from happiness, or that time you glanced over at your new husband (or wife) and caught him watching you with a dopey smile on his face. Because those are the really important things to remember.

    • My wedding is 2 months away and I am terror-struck. I am so afraid that I won’t like how I look and it feels like this looming monumental disappointment. 🙁

      • I’m so sorry you feel this way! I just want to reach out and give you a big cyber hug. I have super self esteem issues, so every day I try to repeat out loud (saying it out loud helps drive it in, or so my therapist says) that I am beautiful, worthwhile, and loved. Maybe ask your fiance(e) to give you a little boost as well?

  5. I like your sentiment as my bride and I will also not fit many bridal “musts,” however your use of the word “Nazi” in your bio is a bit offensive. I would encourage you to rethink this way of describing yourself.

    • Whoopsie! I did not know that was a movie quote :/
      I still think “Nazi” is an unfortunate choice of words though.

      • I agree that it’s an unfortunate choice of words, but I wanted to keep the quote as close to the original as I could. It’s not necessarily meant to be offensive so much as a social commentary on tabloid news fodder, wherein the term “Nazi” is used to describe so many people who are so far from that kind of dogma. Sensationalist media is what’s being made fun of here. I think it’s also important to note that as a Noahide and a gay woman, in all likelihood I would have been placed in a concentration camp (a lot of people don’t realize that in 1920’s/1930’s Germany they had a much more open attitude toward gay people than they did in the US, so it was really easy for the Nazis to, say, raid a gay bar that was out in the open and find people to throw in camps).

        • I actually ended up getting another query about the term “Nazi” on my personal blog, so just to reiterate, I’m going to cross-post what I responded with on my blog here:

          I’m not actually a Nazi, nor do I condone anything Nazis have stood for. It’s a quote from the film “UHF” starring Weird Al Yankovic, and it’s meant to poke fun at sensationalist media. Although the movie predates this phenomenon, I would interpret it as commentary toward referring to certain presidents (George W. Bush, Barack Obama) as Nazis when really they have never done anything nearly as terrible. It could probably also be interpreted as commentary toward things like saying, “Oh, she’s a feminazi”, or, “That guy works us to the bone, he’s such a Nazi.” So while it probably sounds pretty terrible, when you think of it as making you question throwing the term “Nazi” around like it doesn’t mean anything, it makes more sense.

          • Just so everyone knows, I had the bio changed. As much as I love that movie and that quote, I ultimately decided that it wasn’t worth including if it was going to offend people.

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