THREE FACTS: (1) Before meeting Daniel, Jos was known for her torrid dating tales – so much so that her friends used to call her Bridget Jonestein! (2) Daniel proposed to Jos in the Greek island of Naxos! (3) Jos is a member of Smashing The Glass’s Brides Club!
Fiction Vs Reality
As a child I grew up with a beautiful view of love. Disney princesses with impossibly small waists and hair that seems to just fall into place meet similarly beautiful men, usually on horseback and then suddenly appear, doe eyed, at their weddings.
Yes, there are a few bumps in the road, a few wicked witches, maybe a poison apple or two, but the end game is always the same. We all live happily ever after.
So, with such high expectations, the experience of being engaged so far has fallen somewhat short. Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% sure that I am marrying the right guy, he’s an angel. However, there are two things that have been making the past few months difficult, and they are two things that Disney did not prepare me for.
Being A ‘Curvy’ Woman
Firstly, those impossibly small waists. I am what people call ‘curvy’, ‘womanly’, ‘shapely’. I have always been naturally curvy and have been blessed with genes that make it hard to lose weight. All I need to do is sniff a chocolate bar and I gain 10 lb.
Nothing makes my blood boil more than when people tell me that they ‘are just blessed with really fast metabolisms’. And as with many women, for me, this isn’t just a battle of mind over matter (although, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love food) but there are very real medical and hormonal reasons why it’s fantastically easy to gain weight and frustratingly hard to lose it.
I also had a long, ingrained hatred of exercise. I am convinced this dates back to a childhood trauma I experienced when I was disqualified from the dressing up race in reception class for not lacing up my plimsolls. That victory should have been mine, and now the memory is tainted with shame. I’m really only half joking here.
The ‘Happily Ever After’
Secondly, that ‘happily ever after’. From the minute I got engaged, I realized I was on a journey that will be peppered by questions and expectations of others. It starts with ‘do you have a date’ and it will meander past wedding details until the big day.
After that, there will be an expectation of the pitter patter of tiny feet. This is the happily ever after, right? You find your guy, you have babies. But this is where there are potential complications for me and Daniel.
In 2015, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. It is as common as diabetes, can be debilitatingly painful, is criminally misunderstood and under researched and devastatingly, it can have an effect on a women’s fertility.
Now, I know if you’re reading this, you’re likely here to read about how other people are getting along planning their weddings. Perhaps you’re at the fun stages of pulling together Pinterest boards or trying on dresses.
Let me be clear, I’ve definitely had those experiences. However, due to some irregular test results, the past three months have also been peppered with doctor appointments, scans and blood tests, and, slightly earlier than planned, Daniel and I are having to work out what steps we need to take to have a family together.
This looks likely to include me having surgery to treat my endometriosis early next year. Name me a Disney princess that went through that!
So, I’d like to dedicate this post to the parts of ‘planning’ that are not as widely talked about but which many women face. The anxiety we face about body image, and how to cope when life inevitably throws a curve ball.
The more I talk about this with others, the more I realise that it is a reality for many, so I hope it is useful for more to share a few strategies I have found helpful so far.
Tip Number One: Remember, Everyone Has The Right To Feel Beautiful.
I was very lucky that my mum was laser focused on me having a good experience looking for a dress. She had heard horror stories about dress shopping and made it her personal mission to find me shops that I would be made to feel comfortable in.
I will be forever grateful for the work that she put into this, as it I cannot put into words the nerves I experienced before my first dress shopping appointment.
The lovely ladies at Angelica Bridal were entirely unphased by my less than svelte physique and set about pinning me into their dresses so I could get a good idea of what I could look like. This experience was repeated at Brides of Berkamsted and Pronovias as well as Hearts a Flutter.
All of these places were specifically picked because they carried size 16 (achem, actually a high street size 12 but let’s not go there) samples so I didn’t have to squeeze myself like a cocktail vienna into a size 8 dress.
So successful were these shops in helping me feel comfortable, that by my final appointment I was even getting a bit cocky. I would urge anyone walking into a dress shop to remember that they have as much right to look and feel amazing on their wedding day as anyone else and thus deserve to be treated as such.
Despite the encouraging experiences, I decided that I wanted to have something made for me and from the second I walked into Nadia of In the Fold’s studio, I knew that I was not only going to be in expert hands, but that I was going to be working with someone who had empathy and understood my anxieties. This, leads me on to my second tip.
Tip Number Two: Find Your Dream Team
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to try and lose weight for my wedding, and, after asking for recommendations a friend had suggested I start training with Abi Clark.
From the minute I sat down with Abi, I knew she’d help me. She was unjudgmental, encouraging and actually helped me start to like exercise.
If nothing else, my training sessions and classes have become paramount for my own mental health. If life is stressful, I come out of the gym feeling slightly lighter. Exercise is now firmly in my calendar and a non-negotiable. It is my time for me.
Abi and Nadia are part of a core support network that I am building around myself, I’ve been working with the amazing Leisa of Make Me Sugar Free to help me build out a healthy eating plan and work on mindfulness with me.
Finally, every two weeks I see the incredible Mandy Aujla for acupuncture. Mandy is the world’s best naturopath and has helped me since I got diagnosed in 2015 to manage my endometriosis.
Our appointments are another non negotiable in my diary. Mandy and Leisa have spent a lot of time encouraging me to manage my stress levels more effectively, which leads me on to my third and final tip.
Tip Number Three: Lean On Your Bride Tribe
The phrase ‘Bride Tribe’ has been used ad infinitum at hen do’s and on social media gifs in the past few years, but never did I truly understand what it meant until a few weeks after I got engaged.
It is so easy to get swept up into the excitement and stress of wedding planning, but when ‘life happens’ it can go from fun to overwhelming pretty quickly.
I realized that I needed to lean on my Bride Tribe to help get things done so I could focus on my own well-being. I may usually be rightly accused of being a control freak, so this was the hardest lesson for me to learn.
Thank goodness for my parents, my bridesmaids and the amazing Jen of WH/PH who made relinquishing control and asking for help during this process comfortable, especially when curve balls got in the way.
So, I’m sure other posts that I write will be about wedding details, especially as the big day gets closer and becomes more of a reality.
However, I hope to anyone that got this far that it was helpful in knowing, if you’re facing some of the anxieties or issues I’ve faced, that you’re not alone.
I feel strongly that we just need to rewrite those fairytales for women in the future so they’re prepared for this period of their life to be perfectly imperfect.
Click here to read all Jos’ planning posts to date.
Jos & Daniel’s Wedding Vendors booked so far: