The Ugly Duckling Bride

OK, hive, it’s time to get real. I don’t often write serious things because they’re boring, but I figured I should get this off my chest: being a bride makes me feel damn ugly. (If you’re tired of hearing girls complain about their looks, you should probably click away now.)

Screenshot from Mean Girls / Image via

Hot chicks complaining about their looks is the worst thing ever.

Every wedding plan I make somehow reminds me of my looks. There are the obvious things, like dress shopping, looking for photographers (and thus thinking about how I’ll actually look in the photos), and booking a makeup pro. But other things are worrying me too. Like am I gonna look fat in our wedding video when I’m doing my sweaty rendition of the “Cha Cha Slide“? Will I have a hunchback while we say our vows and everyone’s looking at me from the side? Is the next vendor I meet with going to think I look like I belong in the eighth grade instead of in a wedding dress? Are my teeth too yellow? Is my skin too pale? Are my arms too fat? Are my feet too big? Are my nails too small? (Answer: yes. I have perfectly circular nails. It’s strange, and every time I’ve ever gotten a manicure, the manicurist has taken one look at my nails and literally said, “Oh my!”)

What is it about this wedding that seems to have wiped out what little body confidence I once had? When I look at brides in magazines, all I think is that I’m not pretty enough or thin enough to be a bride. I also don’t look old enough, and I’m not fancy or glamorous enough.

When I tried on dresses at David’s Bridal (which I’ll discuss in another post), my consultant or whatever they’re called was about my age, except she was thin and pretty, and as she helped me into the dresses (some of which wouldn’t even zip) I got embarrassed. I started thinking, “How dare I try on a wedding dress when I look like this?” Why couldn’t I look like this waif of a bridal consultant instead? Then I started feeling bad for Mr. Unicycle that he has to marry someone who looks so childish/frizzy haired/fat armed in a wedding dress. I even felt bad for Mr. Unicycle’s parents that their son has to marry an ugly duckling. I wanted to issue a huge apology to the world—to Mr. Unicycle (and his parents, for that matter) for not being the bride they pictured when they pictured his wedding, to my photographer and videographer for not having better looking subject matter, to the bridal consultant who tried to be tactful when she slipped that little piece of “modesty fabric” into the back of the dress that wouldn’t zip.


Image via

See those clips on the back of the dress? I didn’t need ’em.

But then I was all “Hold up, grrrl. You’re apologizing for not looking good enough? That ain’t right.” (Yeah, I got ghetto fabulous again.) How could I not be pretty enough to be a bride? Mr. Unicycle proposed to me, which means he likes me just the way I am. I’ve worked for years to accept my physical appearance—going through the big change helped a lot—and I was finally getting to be pretty OK with my looks by the time I got to college. Why was this wedding bringing back all those feelings I thought I’d worked through?

Here’s the skinny—or the fat, or the ugly—the wedding industry is an industry, which means it exists to make money. Liposuction, airbrush makeup application, bridal boot camps, eyelash extensions, etc. all cost moolah. The bridal industry and the cosmetic industry realized they could team up and prey on the insecurities of brides who want their “special day” to be perfect. This isn’t exactly a groundbreaking realization, and yet I need to point it out because even someone as cynical and “with it” as me fell prey to this manufactured self-discontent.


Personal pic

This is a pretty ugly picture of me. I have a double chin, gaps in my teef, and virtually no eyes. And you can’t tell that I’m dressed as the late, great Amy Winehouse, so that faux birthmark just looks like I have food on my face or something. But I love this pic anyway because Mr. Unicycle and I just look so happy. I hope that if I do look ugly in my wedding pics, at least it’s this kind of ugly.

So did my a-ha moment erase my insecurities and make me realize that I’m friggin’ hawt and any wedding dress would be lucky to hug these curves? Umm…no. I’m still worried that everyone’s going to think I look like a child bride, or that I’ll look more “cute” than “sexy” in my wedding dress, or that I should have lost a few more pounds before daring to walk down the aisle. But I realize now that it’s just the wedding industry telling me these things, and I’m going to try to remind myself of that every time I have one of these thoughts. Because, really, all brides look beautiful (they’re friggin’ brides, for Pete’s sake), and there’s no reason that I should have to change myself just because some dude put a ring on it.

Weigh in: Do you think the wedding industry puts undue stress on brides to look perfect? What’s the best way to combat these feelings?


Mrs. Unicycle

Chicago, IL
Wedding Date:
June 2012
Gallery of the Day
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  1. Member
    lumos 668 posts, Busy bee @ 11:09 am

    Re: Your weigh-in question: Absolutely. There’s SOO much pressure on us to look “perfect” on our wedding day.
    My guy pointed out that girls are conditioned from early childhood with shows and movies about perfect princesses and perfect dresses, not to mention flawless skin and hair. He also said that the wedding industry takes advantage of women because they know how obsessed they become about things being “perfect”.
    This made me realize that I need to remember that this day is about ME, and he fell in love with ME. He doesn’t want me to get all fancy with hair and makeup either because he wants me to look like myself when we get married. (Of course I’ll try to polish myself up and stuff, but I’m not going crazy over it.)
    You should remember that too! Your guy fell in love with you and all this self-criticism is the result of deliberate and unfair targeting of women by the media.
    Your guy chose you for who you are. Stay positive about yourself and you’ll shine brighter than if you obsess over flaws.

    You are beautiful. Own it and rock it!

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Alana, Guest @ 8:15 am

    What an amazing post… this is all that is going through my head lately as my wedding gets closer and closer. Its so nice to know I’m not alone in this, and have someone else express it so eloquently!! The worst though, is that I’m looking at the pic of you in the dress from behind and secretly saying to myself, “god I hope my arms look that good by the time my wedding rolls around!”

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    Nina, Guest @ 7:18 am

    I am crying here, not least because it resonates with me but because I can’t feel the same relief. I may be size two, but that doesn’t stop me from having a myriad of body concerns. Neck too short, hands too small (trust me, even this can be an issue), hair the wrong texture, crooked yellow teeth, bad skin, bad face proportions, what have you the list goes on so long. I have battle bad body acceptance for 13 years. I haven’t come to terms with it.

    I am looking at all these wonderful photos of all these wonderful looking people, and I don’t measure up. I try looking at pictures of normal people enjoying their happy wedding, but I am not satisfied. Just being happy doesn’t make my perfection driven self at ease.

    I already passed the message to my SO that I don’t want to be married because I’m too ugly to have a wedding. She didn’t take me seriously.

    I’m dead serious.

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    Laura, Guest @ 6:01 am

    I found this by googling “ugly bride.” Not to find something to laugh at, but to see if anyone else felt this way. Like the last comment, I am small – but anything but confident! I lost twenty pounds after college, so I still have excess flab in places I don’t want it. I think I look pretty good in a dress, but bathing suits or being naked are a whole different ball game! My biggest insecurity is my skin. I laugh at the fact that I thought I suffered from acne in high school. Now I look at pictures of myself then and wonder what I was possibly insecure about then. I have constant breakouts, bumps all over my forehead, and nothing helps. Nothing. Facials, proactive, cutting out products altogether, mineral makeup, eating super healthy, etc. I’m on birth control, but that hasn’t helped either. I’ve always been self-conscious about my skin, but since getting engaged, I cry about it on a daily basis. I was happy to see that Photoshop helped in my bridal portraits, but what about how I actually look?? Not the pictures, but how people see me? I feel embarrassed telling people I’m getting married in less than two weeks, because I feel like they look at me and think, “aren’t you going to do something about that skin of yours?”

    This has also been hard because it’s the one thing I dont want to talk to my fiancé about. He knows i struggle with insecurity, but I dont want to point out things that he might not have been focusing on before. The engagement has brought us a lot of stress, but this has been my greatest. I have been reading wedding magazines since I was 15. I have been influenced by the wedding industry for far too long.

    Ten more days until I walk down the aisle. I wonder…will my insecurities subside somewhat afterwards? Please tell me yes.

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Lisa, Guest @ 7:19 pm

    Hi there, reading this now in wedding planning phase. Am a not pretty-but pretty average girl -not kidding- size 14- with the looming responsibility of being a bride. Honestly am happy to be marrying my stubborn & sweet, very precious, non Mr. Right : )
    but the thought of being ‘a bride’ is really terrifying for me.

    Feel like the whole bride/beauty thing is so beyond my reach…looking for a “pimp my bride” opportunity to see what can be surgically done. Lol

    Don’t know how I’m going to do this “happy event”…gulp and smile….wish I was married already

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