Jul 24, 2013 0
Did you know that the wedding industry (couple and guest costs) is worth a staggering £10 billion? Weddings are big business, even in this ongoing recession, and big business means loads of companies trying to get a cut of the share. It is, however, a specialised market with a limited choice of marketing channels. As a result, wedding fairs have started to pop up all over the UK and have become a regular event.
Neither Mr Minx nor I were too keen on the idea of attending a fair. However, they do offer a great opportunity to conduct your own market research, so we decided to bite the bullet in order to receive quotes and gather ideas. British couples spend an average of over £18k on their wedding, and before the fair, we were ignorant of some of the needs created by canny wedding companies. We had details highlighted to us we never considered important enough on which to splash out. For example, there are entire businesses dedicated to the art of creating cake toppers. I have also recently spotted cards specially designed to pop the question of being – wait for it – a bridesmaid. We didn’t last long at the fair: After 50 minutes of rolling eyes and sensory overload, we collected our goodie bags and exited stage left.
It was at unpacking the goodie bag where I was met with another common wedding preconception: dieting. Part of the bag was a jar of diet pills. In fact, the diet pills were the dominant ‘gift’. I felt furious and personally attacked and could not shake the nagging feeling that the pills were aimed at me, the blushing bride. However, I have since learned that slimming down for your nuptials is not just a pressure felt by women. In a study released by Confetti in 2013, 79% of brides and 49% of grooms said they planned to lose weight for the big day (pun intended).
When starting the search for the wedding gown, I was a size 16, which, if popular opinion is to be believed, is the average size of a woman in the UK. Things run differently in the wedding industry, alas. During my first trial, I was informed that wedding dress sizes came one size smaller than high street sizes (a 14 is a 12, a 12 a 10 etc.) I also learned that designers decide in which size they provide their sample dresses. It’s the ‘Gucci Situation’ all over again: A few years ago, when shopping for a little black number at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, I was informed by Gucci staff that I was not the body type the brand wished to cater for. Translation: We don’t want a fat bird like you wearing our clothes. Certain designers don’t want their wedding gowns to be worn – and thus advocated – by fuller brides. It is a humiliating experience.
Buying your wedding dress should be a joyful event. An assistant trying to squeeze a bride into a gown two sizes too small is not an experience that fills any girl with confidence, let alone joy. Talk about ruining an appointment and – from a business point of view – losing a sale. A curvier bride is left with the choices of going on the hunt for an ‘oversized’ dress, having a dress made to measure or to lose weight. I tried the made to measure path at a high-end boutique but again, I did not I did not fit the size 14 sample size, even though at that stage I had gone down a full dress size. I was told by the staff not to worry: “All brides lose weight.” – it sounded more like instructions than words of solace.
As much as I would love to say that my body confidence is strong enough for all these experiences not to have an effect, it would be a lie. Nothing has made me reach for the water bottle and the running shoes faster than the thought of looking like a stuffed pumpkin in those wedding pictures. I wish I could claim that I stood my ground, embraced my curves and stayed the size I was. I didn’t. My recent weight loss has little to do with trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle. I have been dancing to the wedding industry’s tune, not standing up for my shape and falling into the diet trap. So far, I have stayed away from crash diets and opted to follow a strict daily exercise routine. I must admit though that temptation is always present, like a little devil sitting on my shoulder.
Having suffered from bulimia for a decade in the past, I know I am walking on thin ice. My fiancé and I have talked about the experiences mentioned earlier and he knows of my former battle with an eating disorder. He is very encouraging, cooking healthy meals for me and praising my success so far. Having said that, he also made me promise that I won’t go beyond a size 12, and I know he will intervene should I spiral into past behaviour.
The beautiful lesson for me in all of this is that I am getting married to a man who doesn’t see the extra pounds and believes I am as beautiful now as I was when we got together. A man who has been a rock, supports my career choices, deals with the black dog beautifully and loves the feisty me. Still, there is a part of me sad about the fact that I don’t believe that curvy me is good enough; it leaves a bit of a shadow on such a magnificent occasion.