I bring you this content straight from the airplane as my HUSBAND and I fly back from our honeymoon (wow, that literally is the best feeling in the world to say “my husband”). *I did write this post then and have edited it many times, hopefully, to bring you the best advice I can*. Newlywedded are we and so happy in love! I wanted to talk about this topic of the perfect bride, as it is very fresh on my mind and I have thought about it a lot since I got engaged in February. The last nine months have literally flown by and during this time, I truly have thought about what the “perfect” bride is and what she would do. An old acquaintance once referred to her engagement period as her “bridal time” and negatively assumed that everyone should give her all their attention during those months. I, however, would like to refer to this time period in my life in a much more positive way.
I also wanted to share this with my girls who are now engaged and if there’s any wisdom to be found, no matter how small, my goal is that it may spare you from having to learn it yourself the hard way, like I did. I only share these very personal and hard experiences in hopes that someone may read them and find a glimmer of comfort in my words. If you find anything useful to apply to your own life, then my work here is done. So, my deepest wish is that I you find something here today that helps you during this beautiful time of your life.
Now, just as a side note, I will be posting another blog on my tips and tricks for wedding season and all the above so just know this is part ONE.
Most women, I expect, have this idea of what the perfect bride would do and we hold ourselves accountable to these very unreasonably high expectations for ourselves. Here are some of the expectations I had for myself going into this very happy (engagement) season and I’m sure you have/will share in some of these:
I will not be a bridezilla
I will lose 15+ pounds
I will go down a dress size or two
I will do my best to not upset anyone
I want to be a “reasonable” bride always
I will always be happy & grateful
I want everyone else to be happy in this process
I want to not let the little details become bigger than the big picture
I want to have “perfect” health
I want everyone to feel loved throughout this process
I don’t want people to think bad of me because of my choices for registry, wedding location, wedding theme, etc.
More things that are currently alluding me
I’ll begin by letting you in on something, I failed at every single one of these at one point or another. This was completely impracticable, and I know my married ladies can probably agree on this and hopefully they, too, can now laugh at it with me. My ladies who are still single or newly engaged - please don’t let this list become yours when the time comes.
Talk about some expectations I had for myself. I realize this is heightened by the bridal magazines and Pinterest and of course, the tons of money you are spending on this beautiful event, but it’s SO much bigger than that.
As a side personal note, I’m not sure if you can tell by the above list, but I consider myself to be a people pleaser and the fact that people were upset by any of my actions hurt me down to my core. Seriously, it stung. I hate upsetting or hurting others or having someone think badly of me. *I know, I need to let go of some of this; that’s something I’m still working on.* Planning a wedding is not easy and literally any decision you make, can (and will possibly or most probably) upset someone; that is a truth I begrudgingly had to, and am still learning to, accept. Once you understand this though, things will get easier. While it may be impossible to please everyone, my advice is to try your best to hurt as few people as gracefully as you can. Remember this is not about what everyone else wants, it’s about you and your honey.
As women, in my opinion, we set ourselves up to fail by having these insane expectations for ourselves and when we fall short of them we feel defeated. I’m not talking about just during the wedding season, because after our “bridal time” we transfer all these impossible and suffocating rules to being the “perfect” wife or the “perfect” mother. It really never ends for us. I think as a society we begin this striving for perfection very early on, from looking at magazines, watching TV, and molding ourselves after our favorite stars, models and actresses, this process begins as soon as we are born but is definitely heighted for our wedding. We think about how “PERFECT” this day is going to be, from the time we are old enough to understand words. And so, in my opinion, I think the wedding season is really the heightened time for this expectation of “perfection”.
Maybe some of it is the way we discuss this time: from magazines saying “how to lose 2 dress sizes for your perfect day”, “Bridal etiquette: how to be the proper bride”, “Look at this perfect wedding in Hawaii”, “Top 20 places to have your perfect day” etc. Maybe it’s how we refer to all this… being a Miss to a Mrs, wifey for lifey, wife of the party, pop the champagne she’s changing her last name and so on. Or maybe it’s watching Cinderella and other movies as a kid (no hate on Disney). But these images and ideas we have for the day, the event, the thing they call a wedding is so highly ingrained in us early on that its no wonder we’re set on everything being “perfect”! And please understand, I’m not hating, discriminating, looking down upon on anything I listed above. I love bridal magazines and Disney movies! I’m just saying don’t let the words, photos, articles, movies and all of it get to you. NOTHING in this world is ever perfect!
Another critique I have is that all of these sangs help us believe that we are putting away the old person and a whole new person has to reveal herself. And this new person has to be so much better than the previous person, she has to be darn near perfect. What pressure!
Yes, we are putting a part of our old self away, but not in the complete sense that we make it out to be now. On a religious note, my understanding is that Biblically we are no longer two but becoming one (Mark 10:8). In addition, we need to put childish things away and step into the role of being a partner to your significant other, but somewhere along the way that message got tainted. Instead of focusing on our spiritual health and emotional health and preparing to become ONE with another human, we focus on going from a size 6 to a size 2, as if that is supposed to make us whole and happy. I’m not saying everyone does this, but I feel as if society really emphasizes the aesthetic side of being a wife! Does your husband or significant other really care that you dropped 20 pounds, that you will gain them back in the next 6 months? Does this person really care (or even know) what size dress you’re wearing? Or will they be happy that you focused on being a better you and reading Proverbs (or whatever floats your boat) and that you’re trying to learn how to love better and deeper?
Are we focusing so much on the physical that we forget the emotional/spiritual portion of marriage?
I definitely got lost in this. And by all means, I am not telling you to not lose weight if that will make you feel better. You do you, sis. And if losing some weight makes you more confident and helps you to feel more beautiful, then by all means do whatever makes you happy. All I am saying is don’t focus on that solely. Losing weight isn’t going to change your marriage and if it does, maybe there is something else going on. Maybe, just maybe, I’m not the right person to even give you this advice. I, after all, gained weight during this “bridal time” period. Not because I wanted to, believe me (see the list above of expectations I had for myself), no I gained because I put so much stress on myself of trying to be “perfect” that my goal was unattainable. I got lost focusing on my list of what I thought a perfect bride was that I didn’t focus on what type of bride my husband was getting. (Spoiler: I did find my way back).
Like I said, from the list above, I failed at everything I set out to do. And you know what? THAT’S OKAY! What you have to do above everything else is focus on the marriage portion and not JUST the wedding portion of this blessed day. I know this is a taboo statement but I will say it again, FOCUS ON YOUR MARRIAGE AND NOT JUST THE WEDDING EVENT. You will reap so many more rewards if you keep your marriage forefront in your mind.
And yes, the wedding itself is an event. It’s a production. It’s a whole parade. It’s a celebration for you and your significant other, but it’s just one day, one event, to start and kick off the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Don’t lose this perspective, please, I beg of you. Don’t let the wedding be your sole focus.
Now it is a glorious, beautiful, magical, spiritual, and emotional day and to love your wedding day is absolutely fine, acceptable and encouraged. I loved every single minute, second, ounce, of my wedding day! Just don’t get SO lost in the event that you forget about the lifetime commitment you’re making before God and your loving community.
In the past nine months, I gained weight, had shingles 3 times, got pneumonia for 7+ weeks, I had 6 cold sores, and had multiple nervous breakdowns. This was by far the sickest year of my life and my doctor said I really needed to “calm down” and stop stressing so much. I truly tried my best, but sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. As y’all know, I have developed something of an anxiety disorder (self-diagnosed) since law school and I’m really working on getting it under control. New job, accelerated online school program, and planning a wedding all at the same time didn’t really help, but I did the best I could. I’m not perfect, and there were days where the stress of trying to please everyone darn near broke me.
I don’t tell you any of this to make you feel bad or sorry for me. That literally could not be further from the point. I tell you this because NOBODY (that I’ve found) talks about how hard this time can actually be. It can be hard on the bride, groom, and both families, the bridal party, and guests. The stress of it all: wanting to please everyone, wanting to respect everyone’s wishes, not offend anyone, realizing and respecting that people are spending BIG bucks on you and people are traveling to shower you/love on you and the pressure of hoping you show them how grateful you are, the budget and money aspects of this event, being polished and poised, etc.- it can all take its toll on you.
So please be kind to yourself and not so rigid in the expectations you have for yourself. You don’t have to be perfect for anyone, they all will still love you! You don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of being loved. You don’t have to change and be someone else. Your family and friends love you for you. Be gentle on yourself, you don’t have to lose 20+ pounds to be perfect, you don’t have to do anything to be deserving of love.
So, let me tell you what I’ve learned - THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT BRIDE!
She does NOT exist.
I’m sorry if you read this blog to find out to how to be perfect, because I truly never figured it out. And if you are that rare unicorn who sailed through and never had one issue with anyone or anything, then bless your soul and please write a book, because the rest of the world is not like you and would love to hear how you did it.
AS A COACH, my wish for you is to make life changing goals… if you want to lose weight, then focus on eating healthier and not just until your wedding day/during your"bridal time", but for the duration of your marriage (and know your weight will fluctuate all your life – so don’t focus too much on this). Instead, make HEALTHY life long changes, not short term, impossible goals that will leave you feeling terrible when you can’t sustain them.
For instance, I know a girl who lost 30+ pounds to fit in a dress that was 3 sizes smaller than she normally wears for her wedding day. She ate about 500 calories a day and tracked her meals/snacks like it was her day job. She worked out twice, and sometimes even more, a day. She was so unhappy and the stress made her intolerable to be around. Her fiancé didn’t like her attitude and this special time for her was tainted. This is not healthy and this doesn’t make for a happy person. Did losing that weight make her happy? No, because she still didn’t believe she was perfect enough. And she was miserable when she couldn’t sustain the weight loss. Not only did it come back quickly, but she gained even more than she had lost. She hadn’t made any healthy life style changes and didn’t know how to eat once she stopped starving herself.
I also know another girl who acted like everything during her engagement time was absolutely perfect. From the outside in, it looked as if nothing went wrong. This is what we all want to portray as a bride, but I think this ideology does a lot more harm than it does good. She hid all the human sides of this process and set very unrealistic expectations for herself, her family and friends and everyone else. (Side note, there was a LOT she was hiding and covering up – ‘cause nobody is perfect!). But I remember some of the girls comparing themselves to her “perfect” season and it’s sad because I wanted to scream that nothing is really perfect. She had to conceal everything from her friends, family, her support group, her community to keep this lie going. Do you really want to start your marriage off this way and have to continue to keep up this lie? Believe me, it gets exhausting.
So, I implore you, don’t make your list of what you think is a “perfect” bride. Instead, make a list of goals and things you would like for yourself during or bridal time and your life. Do you want to start working out again and feeling more confident in your skin? This is a healthy goal. Find a friend and a good class to join! Do you want to eat better to feel better? Than get that new cookbook! Try that new recipe. Eat more greens, because you know they’re good for you and will make your body happy in your years to come. But please, don’t do any of this to fit an unreal expectation of what you think you have to be or attain to be loved. You deserve love no matter what, so love and respect yourself and if you want to make changes, make changes that will endure your lifetime of marriage and actually make you and your partner happy.
I will also tell you this is a magnificent, breathtaking, and beautiful time so please enjoy it as much as you can. IT IS WORTH EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF STRESS! I realize I painted a rather dim picture above (at times), but I just want to show you the honest-to-God realness and truth because nobody talks about the other side of this whole thing! I want you to know it’s okay to stumble, it’s okay to be upset, it’s okay to be overwhelmed, and it’s okay to get down every now and then, to let the tiniest of details freak you out, to fall, to gain weight, to lose weight, to give yourself down time … it’s all okay. Just know, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and at the end of the day, you get to marry the love of your life. SO, WHO FLIPPING CARES ABOUT THE REST? If you’re in the middle of the planning stage, it’s hard sometimes to see the bigger picture (believe me, I get it) but try your best to never lose sight of you and “your person”. It’s really just about you two in the end.
*November 9th, 2019 was the absolute best day of my entire life. I got to marry my soul mate and my best friend and yes, I did it with a little extra “love” (weight) on me and was finishing my second round of antibiotics and it was still absolutely beyond perfect. Troy probably never even noticed the “extra love” and if anyone else did, who cares! That day, I didn’t notice whether my dress fit perfect or not, all I saw were stars and twinkle lights all day. I’m not even kidding you, if a groomsman or someone didn’t show up or even if someone had worn a hot pink suit I probably would’ve NEVER noticed (no offense anyone or to Troy’s groom party). My eyes were so glued on my honey that day, that he is ALL I saw or thought about the whole, wonderful day. I literally cannot put into words how amazing your wedding day will be. It’s the best day of your life and you will be floating. For me, my wedding day was an absolute dream come true and something out of a fairytale! And my man, wow, he looked so handsome! I am so happy to be his wife! Y’all, that’s what it truly is all about. The covenant of love you are making with your significant other before God and all your loved ones.*
I can say this all now because it’s all said and done, but I’ve been there in the thick of it all. I get it. It’s not always as beautiful as the bridal magazine and Pinterest make it out to be (the event that is). WHICH IS 1000% NORMAL.
Actually, psychologists say that weddings and deaths in the family are some of the most stressful and hardest times a family will go through. Print that in your bridal magazine and repin that one, Pinterest!
Now, about the marriage part - that’s total bliss (if you got the right honey)! Remember to keep those two things separate: your marriage (a lifetime commitment) and the wedding (which is just an event (*but is beautiful & sacred). If you can keep these separate in your mind, you have won the battle. Remembering that the place cards for the wedding (event) are not going to make or break your marriage to your favorite person will help put things back in perspective. Please let go of your crazy, high, impractical expectations for yourself, and learn to be patient and kind to yourself, because, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT BRIDE. And if you strive to be that person you have made out in your mind you must be, you will fall short. Don’t worry about the weight. Instead concentrate on eating healthy so you feel well at your wedding. Love yourself and remember your honey LOVES you for you!
Remember to try to let go of this idea of perfection because you will fail. You will fail at being a perfect everything in life, so let’s try to kick that expectation now!
A wedding is a beautiful, and at times, hard thing to go through but try to laugh at yourself, breathe, drink a glass (or bottle - ha!) of wine, and look at this time as an opportunity to grow, learn and roll with the punches. This is a wonderful time to get closer to everyone in your life and thank them for making and shaping you into the person your significant other wants to marry. Remember to take it all in and stop and be thankful and grateful for all that you have (even if it is hard at times). And if you ever need any advice, I am always here for you. You are perfect JUST the way you are. God loves you and so do I.
If you stuck with me through this whole blog, then know I will be posting a part two on all the advice/tips/tricks I was given along the way more tangible things and will be posting those as well in the future. Please let me know what questions you may have and if there's anything you would like me to include in that post!
Thank you for reading and I hope this can help you!
May God bless & keep you.
Xx, Kimberly Ann
the very un-perfect bride