Hi. I am Hannah, I am fat and I am getting married!
I have been on a journey of radical self love and acceptance over the past two years. I have fought so hard to get here and I am not letting it go, but unfortunately wedding planning has really tested me.
It felt like as soon as I announced my engagement, people started tiptoeing around the elephant in the room, my size.
I'm #AlreadyWeddingReady As a Plus Size Bride
Now of course people are always interested in the wedding dress: “What do you like?”, “What colour?”, “What shape?” etc.
But when I would answer, “Oh, I am not too sure yet as I am a little nervous that I won’t have many dresses to choose from,” some people took that as an invitation to ask if I was planning on losing weight.
And, before I started my treatment for Binge Eating Disorder and really worked on improving my self image and self worth, I fell for it. I believed this was my opportunity to finally ‘get thin’ for the wedding - I had the perfect motivation, right?
But when I started my recovery from my eating disorder with my therapist, I told her how I felt I should spend the next two years working on losing weight so I can be my ‘best self’ on the wedding day.
My therapist so wisely challenged me with: “Why would being a lower weight automatically mean you were your best self?” I was floored. It sounds so simple.
Graham, my fiancé proposed to me as me, not as a version that doesn't exist, not in the hope I would change my body to fit a societal standard, but for me, as I was.
I had that conversation with my therapist in April 2022 and whenever I feel that pressure to change myself, I recall it. It’s my mantra.
Why #AlreadyWeddingReady is Important for All of Us
Being #AlreadyWeddingReady for me is putting my wants and needs first, not what other people may say or what the media pushes on us.
My goal is to walk down the aisle to my husband, in a gown that makes me feel like the powerful, cool and sexy woman I am - in a wedding that puts our comfort, our tastes and our personalities first over any ‘you should do this’ and ‘traditionally you should…’.
Our wedding will be for us as we are because we were #AlreadyWeddingReady, we just needed a wedding to show it!
As I started seriously planning the wedding (not that I had a wedding inspo Pinterest board for the best part of six years or anything!), I was faced with the distinct lack of plus size wedding representation.
When I was looking for a wedding dress, all the models were straight sized, and even when designers claimed they catered to plus sizes and made to measure services - they neglected to show models with different body shapes to really show off their designs.
It is so frustrating and demoralising.
This is why I have been sharing my own wedding planning journey on my socials. It is so important for us to see all walks of people achieve these major societal goals because it allows us to see that it could be possible for us too.
Where is the Plus Size Representation in Weddings?
Even when I look at plus size representation in film and TV, very rarely is the bigger body character the protagonist, let alone the love interest.
In some of my favourite wedding films like Bridesmaids (2011) and Made of Honor (2008), we see bigger actresses taking on the bridesmaid role, either comically like the former, or in the latter, the bridesmaid is seen embarking on a ludicrous juice diet to lose an impossible amount of weight for the wedding.
I have had family members tell me they didn't want to buy their wedding guest outfits until they are a certain size and then look to me for agreement that I would be doing the same. And you know what is wild, me saying, “No I am not doing that!” is seen as rebellious.
I am not conforming with the norm. Body autonomy is a right, and if people want to lose weight for my wedding then so be it - you do you - but the expectation that everyone should feel the same way and that me as the bride should be leading the charge, so to speak, is truly upsetting.
The Reality of Plus Size Wedding Dress Shopping
This pressure and lack of representation lead to me feeling very anxious about wedding dress shopping. There is so much pressure on this event in itself, trying on all these gorgeous dresses, struggling to pick between stunning gown A or stunning gown B.
And I was convinced, because of what I had been shown, that nothing would fit me, I wouldn't find the dress that made me feel the butterflies and I would have to settle with something I did not feel 100% in - but let me tell you, I was wrong.
After searching for plus size wedding dress boutiques in my local area, I found one that looked so luxurious. I emailed them and asked if they had sample sizes that would fit and they assured me they did, so I booked my appointment.
Before the day, the stylist rang me asking for the vibe of the wedding and my own style and tastes before again reassuring me she was there to make my vision become reality. I was still nervous, but as I got into my private dressing room with my mum and maid of honour, five gorgeous dresses came in.
We tried the first one on and it zipped all the way to the top. A fluke I thought. Then the second, and the third. And that’s when I realised I would have choices!
I had a range of dresses, cool and fashionable dresses, which were available for me to wear! I felt so lucky and so relieved.
How I’m Staying True to Myself at My Wedding
#AlreadyWeddingReady is an act of rebellion. It is a statement saying we will not bend to the societal and traditional pressures that surround this day. We will do what we want, for us and no one else.
And as I feel I have overcome one of the biggest hurdles which is simply just existing as a plus size bride, I feel qualified to share my tips so you can ensure you are feeling #AlreadyWeddingReady too:
1. Don’t Go on a Diet if You Don’t Want To
Obviously, you can do what you want, but if you are losing weight because you are thinking about wedding photos, or what people might think or say - then that might not be the best reason as those are external influences that do not reflect how you actually feel about yourself.
Remember your partner wants to marry you for your mind, body and soul - don’t alter it for the sake of a day, a day where you are meant to be your truest self.
2. Wear the Dress YOU Want to Wear
I have seen too many clips of nearlyweds going wedding dress shopping and they are told by others that their lovely dress isn't ‘flattering’ or ‘traditional’. Are they wearing the dress? No!
You can hear the opinion, but it doesn’t mean you don't have to change yours.
3. Invite Who You Want to Invite
I’ll say it here in a very public forum: we haven't invited people because they are self-centred and will find a way of making it about themselves.
The only people who are allowed to do that on our wedding day are my partner and I! Yes, it has caused arguments - but I am an Aquarius, I can handle it.
4. If You Don’t Want Kids, Don’t Invite Them
The child-free wedding debate rages on, but it is a personal choice. And when I say personal - I mean it is your choice as the wedding couple, not your parents’ or your sister’s or your friend’s.
If you don’t want kids, do not invite them.
5. Choose the Right Venue for You
We are getting married in a warehouse. It's a very cool looking warehouse but far from your traditional setting. We also wanted to spend the whole day there as we didn't want to lose time going from the ceremony to a reception venue.
We want to maximise comfort on our day so if everyone knows we are staying in one place for nine hours, we can just relax.
6. Not Everyone Has to Make a Speech
Is your Dad not the most confident public speaker? Would he much rather sit and enjoy the other speeches? Then let him bow out of this activity. I know it’s tradition but hey, we threw out tradition when we slept together on the first date and we have lived together for five years prior to being wed.
7. The Night Doesn’t Have to Go On Forever
We had this very conversation with our wedding coordinator where they said they could ask for an extended licence to stay open until 2am as opposed to 11:30pm.
Now our first thought was, “Oh yeah! Party on!” But then we thought about it; the day starts at 1pm…that would mean 13 hours of wedding. Let's be realistic - no one, not even the newlyweds, look great after 13 hours of celebration.
Being #AlreadyWeddingReady is ultimately allowing myself the grace to be me as I am, the person I have learned to truly love and the person my partner proposed to - and what better day to feel my fullest self than on my wedding day!
Now I want to hear your story, so download the #AlreadyWeddingReady badge and help spread the word (and the love!) as far as we can.
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