With shows like Say Yes To The Dress and all of this focus on what couples will wear on their wedding day, it’s no wonder the wedding outfit shopping experience has become one of the key parts of planning a wedding. And while it may seem like it’s all beautiful dresses, perfect tuxes, and glasses of champagne on TV, wedding outfit shopping isn’t always so bright and bubbly. In fact, for some people, it’s a nightmare.
If, like most people, you struggle with body image and don’t feel you look like the “perfect bride” or “perfect groom,” you may be dreading the wedding outfit shopping experience. And honestly? That sucks. We want you to love your wedding outfit, how you feel in it and the experience you have finding it. You deserve that.
Body positivity and body neutrality
Before we jump into our tips, we want to take a second to talk about the terms body positivity and body neutrality. Sometimes the body positive movement can feel limiting. It can feel like you’re being forced to be super in love with your body and that you have to post a bikini or shirtless photo every day. Or it can feel exclusive, like the body positive movement is only reserved for certain “acceptable” bodies.
Body neutrality is not necessarily being in love with your body, but it’s being at peace with it. Some people prefer this term because it doesn’t force them to love their body, especially if they are dealing with something like a medical condition where it feels like their body is betraying them. Body neutrality also allows the focus to not always be on your body 100% of the time.
The bottom line for us: we want your wedding outfit shopping experience to be as comfortable and as joyful as possible for you, no matter what your body looks like or how you feel about it on any given day.
Here’s how to make that happen:
Recognize that it might not be like the movies
In the movies we see the model-like bride try on the first dress and come out looking like an angel while all of her friends clap and cry happy tears. We see the macho groom try on the tuxedo that fits him like a glove. But real life isn’t like the movies. You may not have that perfect experience where the first thing you try on fits perfectly. You may have to deal with sample sizes that don’t fit at all or the stress of shopping on top of all of your other wedding planning. It may not be a Hollywood movie and that’s perfectly okay.
Do your research
If you’re worried about wedding outfit shopping, do a little bit of research before you get out there. Look up shops online to see what sizes and styles they carry. Call ahead and double-check that the store can meet your requirements. Look for sales associates that will support you and not make you feel bad about yourself.
Prepare yourself before you shop
If even the idea of wedding outfit shopping is stressing you out, you’ll want to make sure you enter the shopping experience in a good head space. Take some time to meditate, do yoga, journal, treat yourself to something special, do a fun workout or anything else that makes you feel happy. Spend a little time in front of your mirror and get comfortable with that awesome reflection looking back at you. It may even help to repeat a body confident mantra to yourself.
Don’t resign yourself to limited options
You deserve to look and feel beautiful on your wedding day – no matter what your body does or doesn’t look like. You don’t have to accept that you only have four dresses to choose from or one style of blazer jacket because that’s what they happen to have at the first store. Keep looking; you will find what you want.
On that same note, you may need to open your mind a little wider if you’re not finding what you want right away. Be open to trying on different styles or fabrics that you hadn’t considered before. Head to a shop you’ve never heard of. Or consider wedding outfit shopping in a different way by looking for your outfit online, second-hand or even getting it tailor-made.
Don’t change your body (unless you want to)
Ignore anyone who says you need to lose weight, remove your tattoos, get rid of your glasses, or any other nonsense. You are you and there’s absolutely nothing you need to change – especially not if you’re changing it because someone said you should. There is no one single ideal body type that we should all be striving for. You deserve to be happy, and happily married, however you look.
Don’t change your body (for the wedding)
If you do decide you want to change something about your body, please don’t do it for the wedding. None of these “shedding for the wedding” shenanigans! If you want to get healthy and get strong, that’s amazing. But don’t do it just for one day. That’s way too much pressure, during an already stressful season of wedding planning.
Do it because you want to live healthier and not because you’re trying to squeeze into a certain size. And please make sure you’re doing it in a healthy and sustainable way. Crash diets and miracle workouts are dangerous and not going to do you any favours in the long run.
Build your support squad
Only invite people to your wedding outfit shopping experience who will support you. Explain to your group what you want out of them and the mindset you’re trying to maintain. Don’t be afraid to take a smaller group or even go wedding outfit shopping solo. You don’t have to have a posse of friends and family with you to buy your wedding outfit.
Many sales associates and wedding outfit consultants have worked with brides and grooms who have body image worries. Let your consultant know how you’re feeling and let them offer their support. And if you’re ever feeling put down or judged by your consultant, don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and find someone else who can help you.
It’s also nice to line up some support outside of wedding outfit shopping. If you know you’ll be exhausted after trying on suit jackets all day, line up a movie night with friends. Or if dealing with tulle and taffeta makes you panic, have a friend on speed dial who can calm you down and listen to you vent.
Get off social media, put down the wedding magazines and stop glancing over at the other ladies and gents in the store trying on their wedding outfits. The focus is on you and your wedding outfit shopping. It’s about how you feel and how you want to look, even if it’s not exactly what you’ve seen on Pinterest. There is no one size or shape to get married.
Take a break if you need one
Wedding outfit shopping can be exhausting, both mentally and physically. You do not have to find your perfect outfit in one day or on one shopping trip. Check in with yourself throughout the process and take a break if you start to feel upset or overwhelmed. Your mental health, and making wedding outfit shopping comfortable and joyful, is the most important thing. Your Aunt Trudy will live if you don’t try on one more dress or one more pair of pants.
You never need to apologize for your body. Your body is not a reflection of your worth. You do not owe a sales associate, or your friends, or even your mom an explanation or an apology for why your body looks a certain way. Don’t be sorry if things don’t fit you right. Fashion is the problem, not you.
Remember: it’s not all about the outfit
Yes, the wedding outfit can be a big part of the wedding day for some couples. But remember: it’s not everything. And, more importantly, it’s not the reason why you’re getting married. Your partner would marry you if you showed up in a paper sack. They love you, regardless of what you look like in a veil or bow tie.
There’s a lot of media pressure to look a certain way and to spend all of this time and money on one small aspect of the wedding day. Give yourself permission to relieve that pressure. It’s not all about the dress or the tux or the pantsuit. It’s about you and your partner celebrating your love and commitment, and starting your married lives together.
What tips do you have to make wedding outfit shopping an amazing experience for all body types?
Let us know!
written by Riana Ang-Canning