I read a very disturbing article the other day on Glamour’s Vitamin G blog.  The article spoke about a bride-to-be in the UK who died from heart failure due to a restrictive diet.  The goal of this diet?  To slim down for her wedding.

I get very upset when I read about women like this.  As I’m going through the wedding planning process, this story happened to hit home to me even more.  Why?  Because I know exactly where this woman was getting the idea in her head that she had to go to drastic measures to look great on her big day.  How? Because all brides are getting the same messaging.

The minute you change your Facebook status from “In a relationship” to “Engaged”, guess what kinds of ads begin popping up in your sidebar?  That’s right, wedding ads. The ad that I receive the most is one about doing a 30-day diet to lose weight specifically for your wedding.

When I went to one of the 3 dress stores I decided to visit, the first brochure handed to me was a brochure detailing a Bridal Boot Camp program meant to help brides lose weight quickly in anticipation for that fabulous dress that I had yet to find.  Had to wonder if this brochure was given to everyone, or just those that the store owner thought might need it.

As I’m browsing wedding Web sites, every single one has a section related to weight loss so you can “look your best on your most important day.”  In fact, on my “to-do list” today from Brides.com, I was informed that my priority for the month was to stick to a workout plan.  Thank you, Brides.com, for determining that my looking good is more important than any other wedding detail this month.

Fellow brides, the list goes on.  From the comments we, as brides, make to our family and friends (“Ohh, I’d love that piece of cake, but I have a wedding dress to squeeze into!”) to the messages sent to us from the media, the theme is all the same: You are currently not beautiful enough to walk down the aisle.  Your day will not be perfect unless you commit to dropping some pounds and toning up.

Yes, I know.  I’m taking this message to the extreme.  But, to be honest, the pressure to be a perfect bride in every sense does not end with the planning details.  It extends into every aspect of the wedding, right down to how you look in your photographs.  And what girl wouldn’t want to look her best?  My problem lies with the way this message is conveyed to all my fellow brides.  Let’s face it, we’re not seeing the same messages being sent to grooms, are we?  Yeah, didn’t think so.  We won’t even get into that one!

Here’s my favorite message:  “Slim down now with The Wedding Diet so you can look and feel your best in your dress.” First of all, why wouldn’t you have bought a dress you feel great in regardless of your size?  No one should have to deny themselves for months on end to fit into a dress that doesn’t feel right no matter what.  And let’s remember the whole point of the day:  you are celebrating your union to the person that has promised to love you until death do you part.  Not “unless she can’t lose weight.”  Not “only if she looks fantastic in her dress.”  The reality of it is, your fiance loves you regardless of how perfect you look on your wedding day.  He loves you when you first wake up in the morning, after you’ve worked out, after you’ve had a bad day….and he’s marrying YOU not the perfect camera-ready version of you.  And, the best part is, he decided this long before you popped in the Bridal Boot Camp DVD.

The messaging that we’re receiving that tells us we need to achieve a whole new level of perfection just to walk down the aisle is disheartening.  I hope that other brides remember that their future husbands love them as they are and want to see them happy on their wedding day, not thin beyond recognition or comfort.  By remembering that we are loved beyond our ability to look perfect in a dress, maybe we can prevent other men from having to suffer the tragedy of their future wives dying before they have a chance at marriage.