I am getting married in 80 days. That is 1,918.5 hours. Some days it seems like an eternity away, and others it feels like no time at all. In 80 days I get to marry this kind, compassionate, strong, fun, handsome, intelligent, romantic, nerdy, sensitive man whom I have dreamed about and prayed for for years. All of these incredible things are happening, but do you want to know what I am thinking?
“I have 80 days to not look like me.”
I wish I could tell you that I stay awake at night anticipating our invitations being delivered, or my next dress fitting, or swooning over flower arrangements, but that is not what is keeping me from sleeping. What keeps me up at night is knowing that in 80 short days, 100 pairs of eyes will be on me as I wear a dress that shows my arms. My arms that seem to grow with each passing day and are the main source of my body shame. And then, in 84 days, I will be wearing a bathing suit for most of our dream honeymoon and that my thighs will be on display. My thighs that seem to never fit in shorts and rub together when I walk and just never seem to be as smooth as the ones in other people’s pictures.
See, this is the wedding blog no one will write, because it isn’t pretty. I have put it off for almost two months now because I just don’t want to think about it. And maybe it’s just me in this battle, but I don’t really believe that. As I search through blogs and sites for ideas (and sometimes just for some good laughs), I can’t help but notice that most of the “featured” brides look nothing like me. They don’t show women who cry themselves to sleep at night because they are afraid of what they will feel and see at their next dress fitting.
I have found three women on Instagram that I follow and really respect, @prettypearbride and @holly_dollyy and @katiehwillcox. These are INCREDIBLY beautiful women who pursue healthy, not skinny. They seem to be more genuine, more comfortable in their own skin, and just really beautiful! I was scrolling their accounts the other evening and I texted my fiancé: “Hey, I am starting to think maybe I could be beautiful as I am.” His response, “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.” But I couldn’t believe him.
After a nearly-34-year-battle with disordered eating, binge eating, obesity, and shame, I thought I would have this knocked by now. I certainly thought I would have my sh*t together before my own wedding day. I look back at pictures of my best friend’s and my brother’s weddings and think “Ugh, I looked horrible for them. Couldn’t I have done better?”
But here I am. 35 pounds heavier than I was this time last year, in spite of herculean efforts to be 35 pounds lighter than I was at that time. And I know everything there is to know healthy eating and living and exercise and macro nutrients and all that jazz. At this point it is down to me, my self-sabotage, and what is important to me. I KNOW these things. But the war wages on.
No one tells you this part. There aren’t any Knot articles on what to do with all of your wedding shame. No one poses on a beach in a flowy dress while talking about how to wrestle with body shame or plan a wedding with separated parents or how to make decisions when relationships are difficult or how to soothe yourself when you are completely spazzing out from making ONE. MORE. DECISION. that honestly, at the end of the day, just doesn’t seem important. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t care what napkins people are wiping their mouths with as long as we are dancing and Tim and I get to say, “I DO!” We could be eating pizza off of paper plates and I would be just as married and just as elated to be with this man.
Don’t get me wrong. There are things I care about, and have invested in. My mom, dad, grandmother, and I have all pulled together to buy my dream dress, and I am so thankful. I found it at a bridal outlet and bought it off the rack. I found it by accident. I went looking for bridesmaid’s dresses, when the saleswoman realized I had not picked out my own dress. She tried to convince me that needed to happen first, but I wasn’t having it. I wasn’t ready. I was alone, uncomfortable in my own skin, and not ready to see myself squeeze into a bunch of “average” size dresses that would surely send me into a full blown meltdown. Thankfully, there was an incredible woman named Vilma working that day who saw my agony and was able to see what I couldn’t see – me, in a beautiful dress, and happy. And we found it. And it is AMAZING. (Below are images I took of dresses I said, “No” to, while wondering if I should just wear a burlap bag down the aisle.)
My question is this: who talks about what happens after you say “Yes” to the dress, and the linens, and everything else in between? How do you wrestle with the expectations of #BESTDAYEVER and the realities of life? What if there was a wedding blog that showed real people in real weddings, where the sleeves had to safety pinned or the bride had a panic attack before the wedding or the groom couldn’t find his socks? Now THAT’S a site that I would follow right now, because I would feel less crazy.
We all need to know we aren’t alone in our pain. We all need to know that, in spite of culture’s expectations and third-cousin-twice-removed opinions, there are communities of people who will rally around each other and just be real, no hashtag filter.
Our wedding won’t be featured on any style blogs or wedding sites, and that is ok. In fact, I would prefer it. We are having a small ceremony for a reason. But what if someone did celebrate the less-than-perfect? What if we all came to a place where we could feel comfortable reading real stories without filters? What if I could come to a place where I could do that at my own wedding? Now there’s a challenge…