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Already Wedding Ready: How I Felt Body Confident as a Bridesmaid

Alice Dunbar - blogging as @ASpoonfulOfAlice - shares her journey to body confidence, whilst calling out toxic diet culture. Here she shares how she felt #AlreadyWeddingReady as a bridesmaid

Bridesmaid Alice Dunbar eating candyfloss in a sage green bridesmaid dress as her partner looks on and smiles. The 'I'm already wedding ready' badge with it's orange and pink hearts is located in the corner

To be honest, I think my journey to becoming ‘wedding ready’ as a bridesmaid began way before any of the couples even got engaged, let alone asked me to be in the wedding party! 

Basically, back in 2018, I decided to ditch diet culture for good after two years on the Slimming World plan as it completely ruined my relationship with food. I’d lost weight, but I wasn’t happy – in fact, I was more anxious and depressed than I’d ever been, and I knew something needed to change.

That’s when I discovered there was a community of people on the internet who were saying things I never thought I’d hear – that fat isn’t a bad word, that people of all sizes are beautiful, and that a lot of the stuff we’re taught about the relationship between health and body size is actually not true at all. 

I learnt about body neutrality (the idea that our bodies are just bodies, and we don’t have to love or hate them – we can just accept them as they are), health at every size (because weight isn’t necessarily an indicator of health – who knew?!) and intuitive eating (the practice of removing ‘good’ and ‘bad’ labels from food, giving yourself permission to eat whatever you like whenever you like, and undoing the damage caused by years of dieting). It was mind blowing, and it changed my life for good.

Fast forward to today, and while I do still have some difficult body image days usually in the week leading up to my period – if you know, you know! – overall I’m a completely different person with a completely transformed mindset. 

How Did I Feel 'Wedding Ready' as a Bridesmaid?

Three bridesmaids including Alice in sage green floor length bridesmaid dresses walking through the grounds of a wedding venue laughing alongside a bride in a wedding dress

When my now-sister-in-law and best friend both asked me to be their bridesmaids last year, I didn’t even consider losing weight. I knew I was already wedding ready anyway! 

I did have to give myself a bit of a pep talk (and do my first fake tan in 10+ years) before one of them – because I’d gained a bit of weight and was having one of those aforementioned difficult weeks – but I knew those feelings would pass and I ended up feeling incredible on the day.

I realise my story won’t be relatable to everyone, so I’ve put together a few words of wisdom for anyone who might be struggling. If you need them, I’m sending you a virtual hug – and I really hope you find them helpful.

Feeling Pressured to Lose Weight Before a Wedding?

Alice and her partner are smiling and embracing the bride on the dancefloor as lights are blurred around them

We all know about ‘shedding for the wedding’, aka the grossly normalised practice of nearlyweds losing weight ahead of their big day – but the pressure to slim down can extend to the rest of the wedding party too. 

As a bridesmaid, you usually have to wear a specific dress (the style of which you may or may not have a say in), stand in front of a LOT of people and pose for a LOT of photos with a LOT of focus on how you look.

Not only that, but if you don’t fit the (very narrow and completely arbitrary) western beauty standards, then you may even have the delightful addition of a little voice in the back of your head wondering ‘Will I be the ugly one?’ 

But the idea that you must lose weight to be the ‘perfect’ bridesmaid perpetuates harmful stereotypes that feed into weight stigma, fatphobia and a very outdated view of beauty.

Just as the couple getting married have chosen each other just as they are, the bride chose you because of your meaningful connection – not because of the size of your clothes. 

We all have our own strengths, talents and unique qualities, and yours are the reason you’ve been chosen for this special role. Celebrate them, because they define you so much more than what you look like.

If you still feel the need to change something about yourself, make it your mindset – not your body. It’s not easy, but neither is losing weight – and in my experience, intentionally pursuing weight loss often ends up making you even more self critical and miserable than you were before.

Not only that, but science tells us that a whopping 95% of diets don’t work long term, with most people gaining all the weight back, plus more, within five years. 

Learning to accept yourself, to reframe negative self-talk and to recognise your own unique brand of beauty, however, can only lead to positive changes and are much more likely to make a long-term impact.

My Top Tips for Feeling Wedding Ready in the Wedding Party

Alice is beaming as she walks down the aisle in a bridesmaid dress holding a bouquet as the wedding guests look on from either side of the aisle

1. The Nearlywed is Still Your Friend

Remember, even though your friend/family member is now in the leading role in this wedding, it doesn’t mean they’re not the same wonderful human being they’ve always been. Be open and honest about how you’re feeling, and they’ll do whatever they can to help. They do love you, after all!

2. Open Up in the Group Chat

Build a wedding party support system. You know that group chat you kind of resented being added to? Use it to share your worries, struggles, breakthroughs and wins with the rest of the bridal party. You never know who else might need it, and you can all come together to lift each other up ahead of the big day.

3. Focus on Your Strengths

Reframe negative self-talk. The way we think and speak about ourselves plays a vital role in our body confidence. Try to focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses – and remind yourself that you are worthy of being in the wedding party, feeling beautiful and celebrating love, just as you are.

4. It’s Not One Size Fits All

Find the perfect dress for everyone. Encourage the wedding party to share their preferences and work together with the nearlywed to find a style that makes you all feel your best. Some brands even offer the same dress in a variety of different cuts, so each bridesmaid or member of the wedding party can choose their favourite.

5. Look for Positive Examples

Seek out diverse representation. People who don’t fit the mould are bridesmaids or wedding party members ALL. THE. TIME. 

You might not see them on every wedding website, but I guarantee they’re in most of your family wedding photos – look for them, and notice how beautiful they are!

6. Practise Feeling Confident

Alice takes a selfie of herself, the rest of the bridesmaids and a man in a suit smiling as they get ready on the morning of the wedding

Fake it ’til you make it. This is my absolute favourite piece of body image advice because what starts as ‘fake’ confidence (smiling, laughing, holding your head high and pretending you don’t have a care in the world) often ends up being *real* confidence as you trick your brain into thinking you look and feel amazing. Because guess what – you do!

7. Look After Yourself

Make self care a priority. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, take extra care of your mind, body and soul to ensure you feel your best on the big day. Nourish yourself with delicious food, get plenty of sleep, read a confidence-boosting book and engage in activities that bring you joy to enhance your overall well-being.

8. Don’t Lose Focus

Focus on what matters. Your role as a bridesmaid is about *so* much more than what you look like – in fact, I’d say that’s probably bottom of the list. You’re there to support your friend, make incredible memories and celebrate lifelong love. Forget about the superficial stuff and let joy and positivity shine through instead!

Want more #AlreadyWeddingReady content? Check out some others from our campaign, and follow Alice on Instagram: