The Perfect Bridal Body…

Hello Gorgeous!

Will you be losing weight for your wedding day?


A question you will be familiar with no doubt and one I was asked many times as a bride-to-be, which was usually greeted by a rather large and exaggerated eye-roll.

While everyone else is talking about how they’re getting on with their New Years resolutions to lose weight & get their gym on, I’ll be encouraging you to bust out the camera and have an impromptu boudoir photo shoot instead.

As you can probably deduce, I am not fond of weight loss fads targeted at gorgeous brides-to-be and this isn’t the first time I’ve discussed the pressures of weddings and weight loss on here.

When I think about it, I suppose I have never been a fan of weight loss fads which originate from my professional dancing days. From the first day of dance training, I remember one teacher would single out aspiring dancers and call them fat in-front of all of us. I didn’t like that teacher much….It was drummed into us as young, impressionable 18 year olds, (whose bodies had barely even developed), to have these teeny tiny flat bodies and anything other than that was unacceptable.  I remember one ballet teacher constantly smacking me on my derriére telling me it was too big and to tuck it in.

Back to weddings….

I was at a wedding show observing some unhappy looking brides turning down teeny tiny bite-sized portions of sample wedding cakes. They all stated they were on a diet and ‘needed’ (not wanted) to lose weight, because they wanted the ‘perfect’ body for their wedding. It made me sad.  Being engaged is incredible, I had a constant smile on my face for the duration. The euphoria was epic. What were these gorgeous women looking so sad about? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I admire their determination to stick to a goal, but why did they look so sad, they were getting married, their bodies, to me, were gorgeous, what (or who) made them think their size was undesirable (and why turn down the free cake!)

l&c_W033© Binky Nixon Photography

I hate to break it to you, but, the perfect bridal body does. not. exist.
It’s a meme created by, society, Photoshop and mainstream media and magnified by our mindsets.

I became even more irritated when I started to plan my own wedding and was suffocated by advert after advert suggesting that I ‘MUST’ ‘lose weight and change my body shape in order to get married. As if loosing weight was a pre-requisite to walking down the aisle.

What is it that upsets me so much about the pressure to lose weight?

It is the ideal that women (and gents), ‘need’ to change (not enhance, change) their appearance in order to be acceptable. In order to be beautiful.

But surely there is more than one version of beauty?

During my own planning, even some assistants in wedding dress boutiques would ask me if I was intending to lose weight for my wedding (except one, who told me I ‘needed’ to gain weight, I’ll never forget that moment – felt completely inadequate). Of course some of this line of questioning would be to help with size ordering, but come on, regardless of what end of the ‘weight spectrum’ you fall, why is there this default expectation for brides-to-be to have to shed weight? Why is our weight suddenly everyone else’s business? Even Facebook was telling me to lose weight. What the what?? What’s happening here? Really? Why?

Jenny Packham© Jenny Packham | New Collection


Just to put things straight, this isn’t an argument against exercise. I love to exercise, exercise is great for overall physical and mental wellbeing, a balanced healthy lifestyle and also happiness, so I am not suggesting we should all cut it out. Absolutely not. But exercise or lose weight if YOU want to, not because society tells you, you have to be the perfect size bride, with no imperfections.

You don’t.

Start with your self-esteem.

Just be the gorgeous self who your friends, family and your other half absolutely adores.

I understand walking down the aisle is a big deal on both conscious and subconscious levels. Even the most confident of gorgeous ladies and gents are riddled with nerves, insecurities and worries about all those eyes being on them.

Feeling that every imperfection is suddenly magnified (it’s not –  darling that’s a hallucination). Feeling nervous and insecure is normal and changing your weight won’t obliterate that feeling, changing your mindset will.

Those love handles you hate, are sexy, they are delicious to snuggle up to and others find them beautiful. That flat chest you despise, others will see as gorgeous (and it means you can wear hot backless dresses!) I always have and always will advocate that being and feeling beautiful comes from how you ultimately feel about yourself, your appearance, your self-worth.

This video showing four ‘real women’ taking part in a photoshoot says it all. You might be surprised at their reactions when they are ‘given’ the perfect body.

Young Photographer Jillian Powers agrees with my ideal about celebrating your body and your beauty and has launched a rather gorgeous campaign (Disclaimer: naked bums and boobies alert) “I Woke Up Like This‘ that celebrates the raw beauty, the imperfections, the wonky boobs, the dimples, the varicose veins, the love handles and all those gorgeous bits of a women’s naked body we often feel are too unbeautiful to show, so she takes out her camera and captures them.

What I love about Jillian Powers is that she recognises we all have insecurities, regardless of our size. As someone who has always been bony and wishing to have a little bit more meat on my bones, she recognises that thin people are self-conscious too. There is no battle between skinny v’s large – one is not better or more desirable than the other, there is an incredible beauty in all of us, we just have to realise it.

Jennifer Powells©  Jillian Powers | I Woke Up Like This

Even the most perfect looking person still retains the ability to criticize themselves. Do not tell them they have nothing to complain about, do not tell them to go eat something, and do not label them with an eating disorder simply because they are thin.  Jillian Powers Photography | I Woke Up Like This

Another photographer Anne Almasy reports clients often asking her to “make them look skinny” or to “make me look beautiful” in their wedding pictures…..

Bandele Zuberi Photography_Wedding_London_Marriott_Hotel_Grosvenor_Square_Mayfair_Amelia_Rotimi_Jamaican_Caribbean_Nigerian_004© Bandele Zuberi

Anne’s response?

I cannot make you beautiful. But I can tell you how to be beautiful.

Hold your loved ones like this may be your last photograph with them. Squeeze your babies against those pounds you keep saying you’ll lose. Wrap your gangly arms around your partner like you’re never letting go. Smile with your entire face. Laugh with all your breath. Kiss with your eyes closed. Say I love you too many times. It will still never be enough.

I asked Nu Bride readers what they think makes a bride beautiful and not one of them said being skinny or thin: the almost unanimous response – ‘happiness and her smile’.

Bandele Zuberi Photography_Wedding Photography_Chinese_Vietnamese_Stephen_Souwah_046© Bandele Zuberi

So if not one person said being skinny – why do we place such ridiculous pressures on ourselves to unnecessarily lose weight for our wedding?

It is not about whether it’s better or more attractive to be thin or curvy. It’s definitely not about following the crowd and joining the gym so you can fit into your dress, which you purchased several sizes too small (and demolishing any self-worth you had left, to an inch of its life), only to realise you haven’t met your unrealistic target, just 3 weeks before your wedding day.

Work on you overall wellbeing, your body and mind work as one entity, don’t work on one without the other.

Don’t be unkind to yourself, there’s setting yourself goals and lifestyle choices and wanting to look gorgeous on your wedding day and then there’s setting yourself up to fail. Find your balance and work towards your version of your best.

Women are truly most beautiful when they are radiant, when they value their worth, when they are quietly confident and are happy with their appearance both the imperfections and the bits we don’t mind showing off! (Yes we have those bits too!) So set your own rules and enjoy discovering your own version of bridal beauty this year.

To round off, here’s more from photographer Anne Almasy’s brilliantly inspiring post, I cannot make you beautiful

I photograph love and laughter and life. And in every picture lives a story….

I cannot make you beautiful. You already are.

What are you working towards this year? Have you felt pressured to lose weight for your wedding day or are you losing weight because you want to? Would you be brave enough to have a boudoir shoot?

Header Image: David Pullum Photography


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13 Responses to “The Perfect Bridal Body…”

  1. Aleisha
    January 7, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    This is so right. I have an upcoming podcast on body image and fitness when it comes to weddings…my belief is that you should plan for a healthy LIFE not just a wedding, so if losing some weight is something you wan’t/need to do for health reasons, that should be your priority, not looking like a waif on your wedding day.
    Great blog. I’m sharing becuase every bride should read it! 🙂

    • Nu Bride
      January 12, 2015 at 10:00 am #

      Hi Aleisha, thank you for your comment. So glad you enjoyed the post. Body image has always been a passionate topic of mine! It us absolutely about working on perception, self worth, mindset and overall positive wellbeing which does not just include losing weight. Healhy mind healthy body . Thanks for sharing!

  2. liz inigo jones
    January 7, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

    Fabulous piece Nova and not just for brides obviously… we all get pressured to look a certain way. I remember losing weight when starting to see someone new and wanting to ‘look my best’ – whilst I did feel better as some of my clothes fitted more comfortably, his reaction was surprisingly ‘don’t lose any more, I like you the way you are’ xx

    • Nu Bride
      January 12, 2015 at 9:56 am #

      Absolutely Liz. Its funny how we make assumptions about what is desirable and see ourselves in a completely different way those who love us, see us. I bet that made you feel pretty great when he told you that 🙂 x

  3. Carey Sheffield
    January 7, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

    Hello Nova..great post. We are inundated at this time of year to ‘change ourselves’ for the better..I’m also on this road..but not because its January necessarily its been a while coming and right now I am feeling sin is red wine so dry Jan it is …I love photographing women, of all shapes and sizes, preferably with some curves on their frame. I will say I have photographed weddings where the bride may have been classified as unhealthy and also looked uncomfortable and felt uncomfortable. So whilst I am all for being yourself I also think we also need to not be in denial if we are mistreating our bodies..we are what we eat is a true statement and in order to be our best selves and respect the body we have been given we should treat it in the best way way can..most of the no liquid meals, no fasting, just healthy..we know whats good for us and 10,000 steps a day and watch your body thank you by looking its absolute best..but do it for you, inside you know who you want to be.

    • Nu Bride
      January 12, 2015 at 9:54 am #

      Absolutely Carey, as I was keen to highlight in the post, its about mindset, balance and ultimately positive health. focusing overall wellbeing and finding your version of your best. Thanks so much for sharing Carey x

  4. Marsha
    January 9, 2015 at 8:28 am #

    Nova, this is a beautifully written and truly inspired post. I’ve felt pressures on either end, being too skinny when I was younger and when I put on weight being told I was getting fat! I’m always striving for all over body happiness, but don’t always practice it. This article is a wonderful reminder, thank you for creating it.

    • Nu Bride
      January 12, 2015 at 9:51 am #

      Hi Marsha, glad you felt inspired by the post. You’re there absolutely cab be a pressure and an expectation either side of the spectrum. I hope you find your version of body happiness too, it starts from changing our mindsets about weight. 🙂

  5. Yolande De Vries
    January 13, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

    This is spot on Nova, and speaks to all women not only brides to be. Every single bride and woman that I photograph is beautiful, we are all beautiful sometimes its just hard to see through all the crap we get fed. Ps. Jillian is incredibly brave, I’m just loving her posts – I could be as brave!

    • Nu Bride
      January 13, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

      Be brave Yolande! Jillian is great isn’t she.
      Thank you for your delicious comment. This seems to resonate with so many people I know. All we ever need to do id focus on ourselves and filter out the unrealistic body Ideals we place on ourselves (and others) and treat it as ‘white noise’. You have the most beautiful brides Yolande, what a privelage to be able to photograph them. 🙂

  6. Karen -
    January 14, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

    Losing weight just for your wedding day is also something that I’m disgusted by and utterly uninterested in promoting too. The very notion almost seems old-fashioned these days, doesn’t it?

    My favourite quote in this piece is ‘I asked Nu Bride readers what they think makes a bride beautiful and not one of them said being skinny or thin: the almost unanimous response – ‘happiness and her smile’.”



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