Real Married: Losing Weight for a Wedding

Before we kick off with Esme, who is back with more words of wisdom…let me introduce something exciting for all us bookworms. 

It’s the AOW Book Store

In our Book Store (which you can access on the right-hand side of the page), we’ve added every single book we three or you, our readers, have recommended through our Books That Made Me Me and Book Club posts.  Go browse, buy…and enjoy!  I’ll be adding Kindle versions in slower time, and also announcing the Great AOW Book Swap details over the next few weeks.  Back to Esme…   

In Esme’s Real Married column so far, she’s tackled a humanist ceremony, the minefield that is bridesmaids, and now she’s taking on the Demon of Skinny.  I love this post, because Esme writes about a topic close to many womens’ hearts in a frank, funny and matter-of-fact way that makes us realise that the whole thing is a charade, but that, you know, we’ll probably do it anyway. 

(I also want to punch Esme’s ex-colleagues’ lights out and stand over their fallen bodies scoffing Dairy Milk but that is by the by.)  Over to Esme:
When Tom and I got engaged I was a size 12 and felt good because I knew my boy loved how I looked. On my wedding day, I was a slim size 8. Not exactly a huge difference and certainly not enough to be life changing (or even really that noticeable in most outfits). So, the question is, why on earth did I lose weight for my wedding?
The dress
The first reason was that I bought a sample sale dress that was a bit tight. In the interests of being completely honest with you all, here is an incredibly unflattering picture of me in the first time I tried on my wedding dress (please be kind!):

I fell in love with the dress straight away and had to trust my Mum when she said we could easily alter the dress to fit me. Right there, in that shop, I realised that I was going to have to go back on the one rule I had set myself – that I wouldn’t lose any weight for my wedding. I was happy the size and shape I was and I knew Tom loved how I looked. I have never dieted, never really cared about my weight, always been able to eat sensibly and not had to worry about having an extra slice of cake. I had promised myself that this was how I was going to look on the day. But then the dress came along and I told myself that it would be alright to just lose half an inch around my waist. That was it.
The pressure
So a few months after finding The Dress (and discovering that we could make it slightly larger by moving the A-Line skirt up a few cms, which made me feel a lot better) I started to get used to the idea that loosing a few pounds would be fine.
And then I started to feel The Bridal Pressure.
Nine months before my wedding day I had started watching what I was eating (more on how I did lose the weight below) and so had everyone else. At coffee breaks at work, my colleagues started asking me whether I really should have another biscuit. When it was someone’s birthday and there was cake, nobody asked me if I wanted a slice. There were comments along the lines of ‘it’s so nice to look your best on your wedding day. How much weight are you going to lose?’, ‘Who’s going to do your hair and make-up – it’s so important that you get a professional’ and ‘I didn’t lose enough weight for my wedding and now I look back at the pictures and wish I’d made more of an effort’. I really felt the pressure and started to criticise myself. Tom hated it – he thought I looked great and he started to worry that I was going to starve myself. I’d always been the girl who had a really healthy attitude with food, so much so that I took it upon myself to try and help my friends who had food-related issues. When one friend who has struggled in the past with her weight noticed that I had lost a bit of weight, she took me to one side and warned me not to take it too far. I was worried about myself, I didn’t want to get addicted to losing weight and start the long spiral down to endless dieting and always thinking about what I eat.
Looking slim after our registry office ceremony
Finding a happy medium
The crunch point came about two months before the big day. I knew I had lost all the weight I wanted to and I just wanted to maintain it. I had had my final fitting and felt amazing in my dress. It fitted beautifully and I was feeling confident. My friends were commenting that I was glowing and Tom thought that I looked better than ever (although he made sure that he emphasized he would love me however I looked). One day at work someone was leaving and there was going to be my favourite cake. I had been “good” all week (gosh, I hate that phrase!) so I decided to have a piece. Slices were being offered round and I very loudly said that yes, I would be having a piece of that one, thank you very much. Silence. Finally, one person said ‘Are you sure that’s a good idea?’. I laughed it off, but I was mortified – did I look awful? Did all brides virtually stop eating months before their wedding? Was I going to regret how I looked at my wedding for the rest of my life? I text my Mum and got the reply ‘F*** ‘em and eat three pieces’. So that was it, no more weight loss for me.
What now?
I felt absolutely amazing on my wedding day. I looked beautiful and I’m proud to say that. I am glad that I lost a little bit of weight because my dress looked even better than I had hoped. Four months on I’ve put on a few pounds but am still slimmer than I’ve been in years and I will admit that I do like it. I wish that I hadn’t bowed to the pressure because I thought I was above all of that rubbish, but turns out I was like pretty much every bride and worried about how I was going to look at my wedding. The irony is that the one thing everyone commented on was that the best accessory I had on all day was my massive smile. I was the happiest woman alive on that day and would have felt like that whatever size I was.
How I did it
Are you ready for the big reveal? How a girl who already ate sensibly and was pretty active dropped about two dress sizes in eight-ish months? Drum roll please…
I ate less food and drank less wine.
Seriously, that’s it. I consciously decided to really cut down on drinking (only having one glass of wine a week usually), had slightly smaller portions (which is not difficult in my house as Tom will eat everything I leave on my plate) and only had biscuits or sweet treats when I REALLY wanted them. Simples.
Right, now I’m off to buy a whole new wardrobe because none of my clothes fit me anymore…

Categories: Body Image, Engagement, Politics and Feminism, Real Married, Wedding Planning
26 interesting thoughts on this


  1. mahj
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Oh Esme, how I love thee, let me count the ways.
    Love it every single time you write a post and this is no exception.
    Firstly can I say that you look amazing in all your photos. Both size 12 and size 8. And even though you did lose some weight, you still looked healthy and gorge.
    Secondly, I too would like to be violent towards these colleagues of yours. Brain mouth issues people!
    And lastly, I too suffered the pre- wedding weight comments. A friend of my mum's told me 6 weeks before our wedding that I'd put weight on. She came right out and said it. To my face. And Martin's. I was so shocked that i just gaped at her. As did he.

    I stewed and fumed over it for the remaining 6 weeks (but still carried on stuffing my face!). But what really peeved me was that she thought she had the right to say this to me. I don't even know her. Needless to say both Martin and I ignored her on the day and I made it a point to always look in her direction with a mouthful of food during the meal!


  2. Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Mahj! I would have walked over and smooshed a huge piece of wedding cake in her face.

    People are awful!

    I lost about a stone in the run-up to the wedding. I really hated myself for doing it, and felt like a complete sell-out. But hands up, I did it, and I liked that I looked good in my photos. No-one gave me hassle about my weight, for which I am eternally grateful.

  3. Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Esme, you look stunning in your dress in both pictures. Absolutely gorgeous, and just infectiously happy.

    I can't believe what your colleagues said to you! That's awful. Well done for eating the cake anyway, and for not smushing it in her face. I think a lot of these comments stem from jealousy over how well someone looks, or that they've managed to lose weight.

    My Aunt recently made some snarky comments about me eating too many biscuits (I ate three, if she thinks that's too many she ought to have seen me demolish a packet of custard creams in 10 minutes flat during my 3rd year revision psychosis!). Weirdly these moments are what make me want to NOT lose weight, just to show these people that they're wrong!

    Mahj, I'd have gone over to her at the wedding, taken her piece of cake from her hand and eaten it in front of her face. Slowly. I can't believe how rude people feel entitled to be!

    Hm… where's the cake?!

    K x

  4. L
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I lost weight to be a bridesmaid for my friend, but never really planned to lose any fro my wedding. When I got engaged my tactless former boss used to ask about my wedding diet all the time. I just laughed it off but occasionally I would wonder if I should be on one.
    I'm glad I didn't lose weight and just looked like me, but I'm now on a honeymoon diet so my shorts fit for Mexico!

  5. Jessie
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    God we give ourselves so much grief!

    I'm in the 6 month count down to our wedding now after a 2 year engagement which has given me PLENTY of time to think about things like this. And you know what, I came to conclusion that hell, having a really good and concerted effort at losing some weight was something that I wanted to do for ME, MYSELF AND I! In fact I'm getting grief from some corners for doing it at all!!

    For me the wedding's the goal that I've needed to do it properly and I'm throwing some money at the situation in the form of a personal trainer (just what works for me!) and I am astounded at what actually works is just completely opposite to how I'd tried it in the past. That is a very liberating experience!

    So what I'm trying to say I guess is that really, if you want to lose weight – do it, but if you don't – don't. Just make sure it's for yourself and know that every now and then you CAN eat the cake because your body will deal with it without ill effects. Sweet huh?!!

  6. Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I have a long running battle with my weight and have to admit to losing some for my wedding. However I did it for myself as I wanted to look back at my photos and not regret how I looked. This was purely for me, my Husband always tells me I look gorgeous no matter how I look but I was not comfortable.

    I did get some of the comments when I was working if people seen me eating something nice, like was I going to fit into my dress if I carried on eating! I mean what the heck gives anyone the right to tell you that. People should really think before they speak.

  7. Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Wow! Your colleagues sound awful! I have been a bit of a salad dodger in the past though and have always dieted and yo yo'd etc…

    I decided in Feb last year, wedding based initially, to lose weight for good and get healthy and finally feel good about myself.

    I have lost 4 stone! Weight watchers and excercise!

    Two more stones to go for the final healthy weight for me but I am happy to have got to this for the big day. For myself.

    Well done Esme, but you did look great before!

  8. Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Oh ladies. We give ourselves a hard time don't we? Are there any men out there on pre-wedding diets? (Genuine question, not rhetorical).

    I bought a corseted wedding dress so I ate what I wanted in the run up to the wedding. It was great.

    That said, I'm generally happy with my size so I wasn't bothered about looking super skinny on my wedding day. Both hubby and I accidentally lost weight in the run up to the wedding, probably through rushing around and not drinking very much alcohol. Plus we were eating very healthily as I was anxious about us getting ill for the wedding…!

    It's good to hear about how others address this issue but I really, really hope there are some more 'WHATEVER' people out there who didn't feel the need to suddenly look like a model…! (This is an issue I generally have about wedding days, not just to do with weight but to do with the whole 'looking like a superstar and not yourself' type thing – it doesn't sit easy with me!)

  9. Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    PS. Esme you looked fab before and after – and I LOVE the dress!

  10. Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Frankie, my H2B is trying to lose weight before he buys his wedding suit, so in our household at least, it isn't just me. Of course I don't think he needs to lose a pound, he's gorgeous now, but then he doesn't think I need to either!

    K x

  11. Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    "F*** ‘em and eat three pieces."

    I think your mum and my mum would be friends.

  12. Anonymous
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Great post. In answer to Frankie's question about men & wedding diets. My husband decided to loose weight 6 months after the wedding. As his wife I much prefer that he lost the weight to be healthy & live longer than to have lost it temporarily for wedding aesthetics & put it back on.

  13. Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I lost a stone and a half for mine in 8 weeks, and while I'm happy I did looking back on the photos…I didn't 'need' too. I got the same stupid comments though!

  14. Jessie
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    OOh here's one – my H2B is actually trying to put on some weight before he goes in search of his suit.

    Let's just say there's a lot of protein in our house right now!!

    (P.S. none of this is being done in any extreme way – I feel I need to qualify that one as it can sometimes sound it in my head!!)

  15. Anonymous
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Katie here, on client's computer.

    Esme, you looked gorgeous on your wedding day, and I also thought you looked stunning in the shop. Effortlessly beautiful.

    I never lost weight for wedding (size 14), as I hate dieting. I love my food. Although I'm far from Miss World, I'm perfectly happy with my curvy figure. It might be better if I was unhappy, and then I would put more effort into being slim! Every now and again I have a fitness drive where I do early morning bootcamp, aerobics, start running and basically try to tone up. It tends to last a couple of months, and I enjoy the energy it gives me, and being fitter, but then it starts to wane, till it becomes once a week aerobics, and then finally my exercise is just walking the dog and working in the vegetable garden. I've recently started my 2012 fitness drive, but it'll be over by the summer (always is).

    My husband went on a pre-wedding diet, and lost loads of weight, just exercising more and smaller portions. If he was hungry he ate fruit rather than unhealthy snack.


    P.S. Love the AOW Amazon page, promised myself I will read all the books in our house before buying any new ones (went on a charity bookshop spree before Christmas), but once I've done this, I will be visiting AOW book shop.

  16. Posted January 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I (accidentally) gained weight just in time for my wedding day. I was writing a dissertation, sat at my desk all day with my head in books and my fist in a family-sized bag of doritos. It wasn't ideal.

    I'm lucky that my dress was actually a little big when I bought it, so it fit me beautifully. I'll be honest though, in the days running up to the wedding I did really regret having let myself gain weight. On the day, however, I didn't care one bit! My dress looked ace, and my shoes did some kind of magic to my legs… so yeah, wedding diets can be great, but cake always wins.

    p.s. Esme – you looked ace, and your mum sounds awesome.

  17. Becca
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I'm in the minority here but I don't feel ashamed or that I'm selling out to lose weight for the wedding. I went from sixteen stone to eight and I felt AMAZING and I radiated confidence. That was about two years ago and I've lost that because of work or whatever and now I'm two stones over what I consider to be OK. I'm using the wedding as an incentive. And I have issues with the way I look (always have always will) and am insistent on having a photographer who will take nice pictures of me. THAT I hate myself for.

    The whole weight thing has made so much difference to my dress choice. TBTMMO is teeny tiny thin and tall and modelesque in a Dior kind of way (the thin kind, not the buff kind) and I've had to pick a slinkier dress so my arse doesn't look four times wider than his.

  18. Posted January 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Oh Esme you gorgeous thing, you are so right about people (especially women) – why do they feel they have a right to comment about personal things because its a wedding?! Same with babies and pregnancy I suppose.

    I hold my hand up, oh my god am I greedy. A large family sized spag bol/ pudding with cream and ice cream/ bag of chocolates with coffee? Tom and I can happily polish it off between us. Yes those three things in a row even. On one night.

    So whilst my husband is lucky not to put on a pound I do put weight on easily. I'm not big but im bigger than I could be if I wasnt afflicted by insatiable appetite (block of cheese after work as pre dinner snack anyone?)

    So by eating healthily I lost 2 stone for my wedding. Sounds like we achieved it in a similar way too. Not rocket science. I was still a 12 in trousers though, just a slimmer 12 than I was 2 stone heavier. God knows what id have to weigh to get in size 10 trews?!

    I dont feel bad about losing weight for my wedding, just as I dont feel bad for losing weight for a holiday (as im doing now) I feel healthier, my skin looks brighter and my clothes look nicer. But thats a personal choice and not up for discussion when it comes to cake being passed round with colleagues ta very much. I'm with your Ma, make mine a double sized portion please!

  19. Esme
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Wow, thanks for all the comments guys! I had a feeling this might stike a cord…

    Isn't it amazing that so many of us have had colleagues/family 'friends' etc commenting on our wedding diets? How is their business?

    It's great to hear that pretty much everyone was happy with their choices at the end, though.


  20. Esme
    Posted January 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and yes – my Mum is amazing.

  21. Posted January 23, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    I lost a stone and a half before my wedding… but it was actually for the honeymoon and for ME. I knew my boned and corseted dress would pull me in in all the right places, but I just so wanted to go on the holiday of a lifetime with my new husband and feel good in a bikini, instead of trying to launch myself from the sun lounger into the pool like I usually do so no-one can see me wobble!

    I put on half stone whilst on said honeymoon eating whatever I bloody well wanted and now I am working to shift it again so I can have that amazing bikini feeling for this summer's holiday too!

    Really the wedding was the kick up the bum I needed so brides-to-be don't feel bad about losing weight, as long as you're doing it for YOU.

  22. Posted January 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Strike a chord? There's a whole bloody symphony clanging away in my head!

    Firstly, Esme: you say you were 2 dress sizes larger in the first pic but honestly? You look great – it doesn't look at all tight. And I heart your mum (mine – although I love her dearly – is a complete diet nazi and would tell me NOT to have the cake and not even to THINK about it).

    I'm getting married in November and I am really anxious about how I will look. I'm a size 16 (at 5'4") and I hate the way I look. I cannot tell you how much I am dreading shopping for a dress as I think that designers assume you're 23, a size 8 and 5'10". Oh and you have Daddy's platinum card. I tick none of these boxes.

    It's exacerbated by the fact that I really want to buy a second hand dress – but of course, all brides (it seems) lose weight for their weddings! So I may not be able to find any that fit.

    I just want to feel great – and look good for the photos. I'm dieting but I see a specialist as I actually really DO have an abysmally slow metabolism. (Apparently I'd be a wow in a famine…)

    I'm actually putting off looking for a dress as I've got myself in such a funk about it.

    Deep breath….and shutting up now.

  23. Posted January 23, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Right, Peridot.

    Email me – anna.m.kasparian at gmail and we will sort this out…I was a ridiculous shape when I started looking for dresses and also had a complete freakout. And I've wanted to write a post about it without being all patronising to "the larger lady" etc etc. What I will tell you is that loads of shops cater to people who aren't coathangers, and also you can get into a size 10 sample gown, it just won't do up, and the shop assistants are used to adding extra fabric at the back to give you an idea of what the dress will look like.

    Dress shopping is an experience unto itself. You're going to be in your knickers in front of strangers who prod you and hoist you. It's not, and I swear not, as bad as you fear.

  24. Sara M
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I too went on a massive wedding diet before the big day and worked myself up until I had a "thinner the better" mentality.

    I was going to the gym 5 days a week and cutting back on everything and then the worst happened. 10 weeks before the big day I fell down some stairs at a friends wedding and badly broke my foot!

    Suddenly I was stuck on the sofa in a plaster cast up to my knee, unable to walk to the shops let alone pound the treadmill. Pissed off and miserable I put all the weight I'd lost back on.

    And then I realised my priorities had to change. It didn't matter that I wasnt going to be stick thin on the big day; what mattered more was being able to walk down the aisle.

    Thankfully my foot recovered quickly and with the help of some flat shoes I managed not just to walk at my wedding, but dance a bit too. Yes, my tummy looked a bit podgy in some of the photos, and my arms weren't super toned (you'd have thought all that crutching would have helped!)

    Ultimately what I'm trying to say, is in the end, it really doesnt matter.

    (and don't get me started on the friend who fell over and broke her jaw/smashed up her face a week before her wedding- what can I say… we're an unlucky bunch!)


  25. Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    "I also want to punch Esme's ex-colleagues' lights out and stand over their fallen bodies scoffing Dairy Milk but that is by the by."

    Best sentence ever, especially now I've read the post. What is wrong with people that they have to be like that? Especially when Esme was a healthy size in the first place!!!!

    I am a big girl. I have no problem saying that. I have wanted to lose weight for a long time now and I am using the thought of getting into a wedding dress as my encouragement. For the first time, after years of yo-yo dieting, I have started eating sensibly and am really enjoying it. I know I'll never be a size 8, and I'm not trying to be, but I would like to be more comfortable in my clothes. I only hope that my work colleagues don't behave the same way as Esme's, because I don't think I'd be able to bite my tongue!!

  26. Posted January 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Esme, you look gorgeous in all the pictures and I love your dress. Don't think I've ever said that on any of your other posts but it is so unusual and unique, love it! Also, great post.

    I can't believe your old colleagues treated you in that way. I'm so glad they are now your ex-colleagues! No wonder you wanted to escape that job!

    I wanted to lose weight for the wedding just because it seemed like the thing to do, dam those magazines! The only comment I got about it was from my auntie who, when talking to me about finding a second hand dress, asked how much weight I planned on losing. I didn't know what to say because I didn't really think I needed to lose any weight. Then it made me think that I should be. That's what society thinks is the norm, wedding = must lose weight!

    Anyway I did try to eat better (I exercise regularly anyway) and workout to tone up. My incentive was actually more the honeymoon than the wedding day. At least the majority of my body was covered up with my wedding dress, can't say the same for my bikini! Anyway my love of food is too great to be able to suppress my appetite enough to lose significant amounts and in the end I lost a bit of weight in the last couple of weeks before the wedding because of stress and running around (and probably being too tired to bother to eat!) but it wasn't from my half-hearted attempts at dieting.


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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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