I Picked a Wedding Dress That Hid My Plus-Size Body -- and I Regret It So Much

lauren and joe
Martin Reardon
While most brides-to-be use Pinterest to gather ideas for decorations and favors, I was frantically scouring the aspirational site for wedding photos -- specifically, pictures of plus-size brides. I vividly remember typing in searches like "poses to hide bride stomach" and "fat bride, skinny husband" so I could send them to my photographer. 

For a plus-size woman who lacked self confidence, being a fat bride was about as awful as it could get. I worried endlessly about how I'd look next to my much thinner future husband (Joe). I stressed that certain family members would remind me how much prettier I'd be if I had lost a few pounds. And, vainly, the thing I feared the most was that a fat bride could never be as beautiful as a thin one.

I certainly do not regret getting married, but I do regret letting all of those concerns inform my dress choice. 

  • The first dress I tried on at David's Bridal would be the one I'd end up taking home.

    Martin Reardon Photography

    It was by no means ugly -- in fact, the moment I put it on I knew it was the one -- but there was only that immediate satisfaction because it checked a very specific set of of boxes. 

    Did it hide my arms? Check. Did it slim my waist? Check. Did it conceal any traces of back fat or elbow rolls or hide my thunder thighs? Check. Check. Check.

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  • Looking back, I realize I wasn't shopping for a dress -- I was shopping for a suit of armor.

    Martin Reardon Photography

    Being a plus-size person means grappling with the concept of being seen -- a lot. On my wedding day, all eyes would be on me, and at the time, I genuinely believed that there was no way I would look passably beautiful. So I settled for protected instead.

    I pined for sleeveless, illusion-necked dresses, but feared all anyone would see was my big arms. I longed for a flowy waist, but worried that from certain angles I'd "look bigger than I was" -- as if that would be the worst crime a body could commit. 

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    I let my fear consume me, and it is a wrong I will never be able to right. 

  • Don't misunderstand, though -- I was surrounded by bushels of love and doting support.

    Martin Reardon Photography

    My husband cried when he saw me; my best friends assured me I looked amazing.

    And it isn't as if the dress itself was hideous -- it was just that I felt like the girl inside it was, and it forced me to choose something I thought I needed rather than something I wanted. 

  • Luckily since then I have grown so much more comfortable in my skin.

    Martin Reardon Photography

    I dye my hair wild colors, I wear tank tops outside in the summer heat -- I even wear a bikini to the beach.

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    I invested in my own happiness by choosing to love myself in every iteration of myself. And for that, I am eternally thankful. 

  • My advice to my fellow plus-size brides-to-be? Say "fuck it" as early and often as possible.

    Martin Reardon Photography

    There is no such thing as an "ugly" bride. Love -- for our partners and for ourselves -- is what makes us special.

body image body positivity wedding