Y’all, I want to be honest: My engagement was a freakin’ fairy tale. The proposal itself was a total surprise; my fiance, Tom, spent four months planning it so that every single micro-detail was customized to reflect us and our relationship. He proposed in a park in London that had once housed a cathedral and is now overgrown with ivy and flowers and giving off major Temple of Time vibes (we are both big fans of the Zelda series).
He’d told me that he wanted to do a couples photoshoot, because we didn’t have enough pictures of ourselves together. And he’d already booked it when he told me this. Interesting. Then again, he’d mentioned wanting more photos of us, so I wasn’t that suspicious. I did notice that he was nervous as we walked around the park with the photographer to warm up for the shoot, but he’s always nervous on camera, so again, I wasn’t suspicious. He made a couple of anxious comments about how there were more people in the park than he expected, but he doesn’t love having lots of people look at him, so it didn't seem unusual.
Let’s just say I was surprised.
Jodi Redhouse, Flytographer
Even though the proposal was a surprise, Tom and I had talked at length about wanting to get married, what marriage meant to us, what the future looked like for us, who should propose in our queer relationship, and what we both wanted out of an engagement, but we hadn’t actually discussed, you know, the wedding. Oops.
Immediately post-engagement, I googled “wedding prep.”
Literally what do we do? This was what I wanted to know. I am at heart a planner. And weddings are A Whole Thing, so I wanted to do what I was best at. I wanted TO PLAN. I was expecting…checklists? Timelines! First-things-first type tips! Here’s how early to get your dress, here’s how early to get your photographer, here are things to look out for when looking into caterers, that kind of thing.
Google had much more than checklists about basic wedding prep. Google gave me a ton of wedding beauty tips, some skin-care stuff, and a lot of results about nutritionists and personal trainers and wedding diet plans. Weight loss.
This was not what I was interested in, but my job is tech-adjacent, so I figured we live in a dystopian technological nightmare society, maybe the all-knowing algorithm has taken all my fat acceptance blog traffic and decided I want to lose weight. So I checked in incognito mode, and then I checked on Tom’s computer. Nope! Still the same mix of beauty, skin care, and…weight loss. Whee.
Even with all my years of fat acceptance work and therapy and unlearning the toxic body messaging that everyone, especially women-identified or -presenting people, are exposed to all the time, this hurt. In the sheer volume of results about wedding weight loss, there was an inherent assumption that when you get engaged, your body—no matter what it looks like—is not the body you want to put on display and memorialized in your photos, and moreover, that it shouldn’t be the body you want for this important event.
I’ve thought and written a lot about fat acceptance, my relationship to my body, and related issues, and yet I still did not anticipate how much more intense the pressure to lose weight would become once I started planning a wedding, or how much it would get to me. Looking at those search results, I had a moment in which I was like, Should I try to lose weight? Is my body not actually good enough for my own wedding?
It’s ubiquitous in the worst way: Every Pinterest board about weddings I poke around on has something about a wedding workout plan. I’ve seen mainstream wedding publications feature weight loss as a major pillar of their content, even if they dress it up in language about being your best self or being as healthy as possible for Your Big Day (which is ableist as hell, but that’s a different essay).
An acquaintance went so far as to ask me when I was going to start working with a personal trainer in the same conversation that this person asked where my ring was from (in retrospect, that was maybe just a rude-ass conversation in general). The first wedding website and planning service we used had a “start wedding diet” option automatically included in its checklist function for about 10 months out, right alongside “lock down your venue” and “finalize guest list.” You could turn it off, but did it really have to be an option in the first place? Can I LIVE?
I’m not here to judge anyone else’s choices, and our relationships with our bodies are deeply personal, individual, and intimate. Weight loss in and of itself is not a bad choice or less self-accepting choice than not losing weight. But there is something vicious in the wedding industry assuming that you want to change your body or that you should want to.
I do not want—nor do I plan—to change my body for my wedding. I mean, honestly, my fatness has already been immortalized in my engagement photos, where my happiness overcomes any pressure I might feel to disguise my double chin (or to at least have some awareness that it was on display like some kind of tropical bird’s mating dance). Who cares! Look how fat I look in this picture! Much more important, look how goddamn happy I am:
This imperative to lose weight for any major event in your life is exhausting. And more than that, it robs us all of our bodily autonomy, because it’s not a real choice. If you choose to lose weight for your wedding, you’re damned if you do (from all the comments about how great and beautiful you look now, as if you wouldn’t have looked great and beautiful before) and damned if you don’t (because you will be inundated with suggestions that you ought to lose weight, or ought to want to).
Normally, when I engage with content on the Internet, I try to keep in mind that I just might not be the intended audience for something. Just because an algorithm thinks that I want to read about workout gear doesn’t mean I do (particularly when said workout gear’s biggest size is a junior’s XL) or that the ad/blog post/whatever was written with an audience like me in mind. But with weddings, the audience is inherently anyone who chooses to get married. As a result, the assumption is that any woman who chooses to get married is part of a homogenous clump of straight, white people, presumably with piles of disposable income. This is so unfair to all of us, no matter what your wedding-related intention for your body is.
The choices you make for your wedding—or frankly, anything else in your life—should be the choices that are best for you, regardless of cultural imperatives or heteronormative expectations.
A wedding is a celebration of your love for your partner and their love for you, as you are.
I was fat when I met Tom, the fattest I’ve ever been due to some complications with my health. And I was fat when we got engaged. And I’ll be fat when we get married. This is what I’m choosing. This is how we are enough, just as we are right now. This is how we love each other.