Hi, friends! This post originally appeared on my blog in November 2015. With it being the height of wedding season, I thought I'd share it again. Don't forget: you're already enough, just as you are. Resist the urge to give in to the hype of wedding season.
Pst: Your fiancé already thinks you're a smoke show, too. I promise :)
As much as I hate to admit it, I'm the girl who has dreamed about her wedding her entire life. When I meet those cool chicks who say things like, I've never once thought about my wedding day, I think, you are cooler than me, for sure. But, I am who I am. And I'm the type of girl who has dreamed of being a wife for as long as I can remember. Does this make me cool? Probably not. But, it makes me honest.
I've had visions of the flowers, the music and, of course, my dress, for as long as I can remember. I've dreamed of the way my groom will tear up when he sees me for the first time and how it will feel when we pray together - realizing this is the start of something very important.
It turns out, I'm not alone. The more I plan, the more I realize girls all over the world have dreamed of this day their entire lives and will stop at nothing but perfection. And alongside selecting the perfect cake and food is a desire to be perfect themselves.
Since getting engaged, the resources have poured in:
How to have whiter, straighter teeth by your wedding day
How to have softer, fuller hair in six months
How to have longer lashes and legs and everything in between by next week
The wedding industry has created a posture of self-improvement that can make almost any girl, no matter how confident, wonder if she, too, needs slimmer arms and a more toned back by May.
Don't worry about your legs! The magazines day. They won't show on your wedding day. When I read that advice, I laughed. They won't show for the few hours I'm going to be in my dress, so I should just forget about them? What about the wedding night? And honeymoon? Also, more rationally, what about caring for each part of your body, not because it will show but because it functions and is, therefore, significant?
I decided early on that I won't give in to the pressure to lose weight for our wedding.
Soon after we got engaged, I was walking into the gym, which I do most every day, when someone stopped me and said, gotta get those wedding arms! I laughed in the moment, but as I walked away, I wondered if she knew she was implying that my arms were not good enough as they are now.
I wasn't offended. I get it. Everyone wants to look amazing on their wedding day, when they'll be the star of the show and tagged in a bajillion photos, which will remain on the internet forever & ever.
But I want our engagement season to be about more than just one day.
I want it to be about building a marriage, not just planning a wedding. I want it to be about bending and shaping my heart and mind to be the best wife I can be. I want it to be about growing closer to Chris, my family and our friends. About celebrating love, not about changing myself.
Yes. I want to look and feel beautiful when I walk down the aisle toward Chris. The thought of seeing him for the first time gives me chills and I hope he thinks I'm stunnning. But, I don't want to look all that different than I do today, either. I don't want to look back at wedding photos and yearn for that one moment in time, when I was thinner. I want to look back and see joy in my eyes and love between us.
I don't want to give in to the idea that I am not enough today, as a fiancé, to become a wife. I don't want to bend and mold myself to societal pressure to be more bride-like and less-Whitney like. I refuse to believe that I need to be smaller, firmer or less than I am now in order to be worthy of walking down the aisle. In fact, I'm determined to believe that becoming wedding ready is about becoming more of myself, more generous toward Chris and more certain of our love. It's about becoming more, not less. And, if that means I won't fit in a smaller dress come May, I'm OK with it.
I believe that the best way we can love others is by first loving ourselves just as we are. And if there's one thing I want to give to Chris on our wedding day, it's to walk down the aisle toward him, fully prepared to love him as best as I know how.
All photos by the amazing and beautiful Natalie Puls.