The Most Important Weight to Lose Before Your Wedding

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A few years ago, my mom and my aunt took a trip to Mexico to escape the Buffalo winter for a few weeks. To mark this special occasion, my mom got a manicure—a rarity for an avid gardener. When they arrived at the beach, my mom was so excited that she tossed on a swimsuit and immediately jumped in the ocean. She stood in the water with her back to the vast blue expanse, admiring how the sun played off of her shiny pink acrylics, grateful and happy and full of joy. And then, a giant wave crashed into her from behind and completely wiped her out, while my aunt stood on the beach and laughed.

This is exactly what it felt like when I started to plan my wedding.

When my partner and I got engaged, I was thrilled beyond belief. A beautiful, public, well-planned proposal that involved our favorite local band and a huge chunk of our friends and family launched me into the gleeful, giddy planning of the day I would marry the love of my life. I spent about three months in this state of tulle-smothered euphoria, admiring my metaphorical sparkly pink nails. And then, the wave hit.

Three months in, my brain chose to remind me of all of the reasons I wasn’t good enough to get married. I didn’t have enough girlfriends for a bachelorette party. I wasn’t good enough at keeping in touch with people to remotely consider inviting a single soul to my wedding other than my parents. I wasn’t smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, popular enough, nice enough, old enough, young enough, cool enough… I just wasn’t ENOUGH, period, to be worthy of love, devotion, and a day of celebration on the part of my community. No matter what my partner said or offered, how loving she was, or how patient, she could only dull those feelings. She couldn’t make them go away for me. And she had her own tide to tend to.

That was my wave. And it hit me with the full force of the baggage I’ve been carrying for over a decade, and left me gasping for air.

Your wave might look different. I’ve seen a lot of waves on APW, and they’ve made me realize I’m not the only one with sand in my swimsuit bottoms. But from what I’ve seen… pretty much everyone has a wave, even if it’s just a small one. Brides, it turns out, are also actual human beings with histories and hurts and hauntings, not just well-toned cupcake toppers. And even the most perfect partner in the world can’t make those h words stop being another ugly h word: heavy. They are so, so heavy.

So, if you are fellow newly engaged person, I’d like to offer a suggestion. In your “Bridal Beauty” section of your wedding budget, make a column for “Emotional Weight Loss.” Seriously. It’s so much more important than fake eyelashes (which I actually find to be extremely important, so this is no light thing).

If you’re on a tight budget, this can be a few dollars a week, for the duration of your engagement, to buy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine for you and a Person to Talk To. Your PTTT could be a bridesmaid, a trusted friend outside of the bridal party, your mom, your aunt, whoever, whose main wedding task is to sit there once a week and listen to you with as little judgment as possible. This will be their wedding job. I personally suggest that this person already be married or engaged themselves—male or female or other. While it’s certainly not a requirement, I would like to note that before I got engaged I thought the wave didn’t apply to me. So I suggest someone who’s been there, met the wave… and presumably dragged themselves out of the ocean.

If you’ve got a little more cash to splash around, or more serious baggage, I cannot recommend highly enough seeking out an online counselor. I KNOW, it sounds absurd. It really does. But websites like Talkspace and Breakthrough offer what amounts to a sophisticated instant message, where you dump everything out of your brain into your chat space and then a trained professional with a degree helps you sort out that mess. You can send messages any time you want—on your lunch break, or at 2 a.m.—and you don’t have to try to fit a scheduled appointment in an office around meetings with your florist and wedding craft night with your sister. My baggage was a little more heavy duty, with an abusive relationship and some disordered eating hanging out in my carryon, so I needed someone who was trained in helping people put down their baggage and Walk. Away. From. It. I don’t work for these websites. They don’t pay me. This isn’t a sponsored post. It’s just what helped me feel like I deserve my partner, my wedding, my marriage, and my happiness. Cognitive behavioral therapy is apparently my jam, y’all. So I’m putting it out there that it might be yours, too. In-person therapy is great too, of course, but something about having that kind of convenience in a time of otherwise chaos is really soothing.

There are non-therapy options too. I recently attended a weekend-long yoga retreat that changed my whole damn perspective on Life, The Universe, and Everything… do whatever works for you, your budget, and your time. But girl, go do it. You’re probably not going to be able to drop five or ten or twenty years of crap that you’ve been carrying around with you. But shouldn’t we all start making more space in our love nests for, well, love?

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