When I got engaged in October 2011 it was the start of nearly 18 months of just the best fun. I’m my mother’s only girl and we were both so excited to get planning the big day. As with most brides the dress was one of the most important things to me. I stocked up on all the magazines and luckily Pinterest was just after coming on the scene too so I had loads of inspiration (aka I could be found scrolling through bridal inspiration boards at 3am). I came across this Mikaella dress early in 2012 and loved it.
Of course the fact that I was neither the models shape nor height didn’t put me off and I began to search for stockists in Ireland. I found Amoré Bridal in Cork had it, went to try it on and adored it even more. None of the regular sizes it came in were a perfect fit but I was happy that it could be altered and anyway I had some plans to work on my shape between then and my wedding date in March 2013. I decided not to order it until I had tried a few more dresses. Only one other dress came close to it even though it was a completely different style – backless and a big skirt. In the end I thought of which dress himself would love the most and the Mikaella came out on top.
Even though I would have what most people would consider to be a slim figure, I’m a strange shape. I have very little in the way of curves including no waist or chest and have a wide back. I’m quite straight up and down except for my bum which, with a lot of glute-specific exercises, can be made bigger quite easily. I have learned from a young age how to fake the chest (thank you Penny’s big padded bras!) and so I felt this dress would be good for working a little behind and sculpting nice arms. Owing to the fact that I exercise a lot both through my job and by choice I have to be careful with my arms. They can tend to get quite bulky looking if I build too much muscle. I know this is a look that many women pursue but I personally don’t love it on me.
In my bootcamp classes we do a lot of interval training with exercises like mountain climbers, sprints, kettlebell swings and burpees. In my Pilates classes I was getting to work on my core muscles and strengthening my arms and legs. In addition to this I was running regularly, usually between 5 and 10km, 2-3 times per week.
I stuck to 8kg kettlebells when doing upper body exercises like shoulder presses, chest presses and rows. I did a lot more bodyweight work like press ups and tricep dips as well as resistance band work like lateral raises and flys for my upper back.
One way to build your bum is to work with heavy weights and low repetitions. I would have been doing a lot of trap bar deadlifts (60+kg), weighted vest lunge walks (20kg), as well as squats and elevated lunges with 2x12kg racked kettlebells. You can build your bum without heavy weights too it just requires doing more repetitions. Using a resistance band is a great way of working your glutes also. There are benefits to both and I now do more bodyweight/banded exercises than I do heavy weighted ones. When I look back at the build up to my wedding I’m so jealous of all of the time I had to dedicate to my body!
The Hen Parties
My official hen party was in Cork in January of 2013. I had picked a fab little white dress for the main night out but when I looked back at the pictures the following week I realised that I had overdone things a bit and had lost too much weight. It was probably a combination of being busy with work and planning the wedding. Again not the look I was going for so I was determined to put back on some weight and curves. This is something that often happens to brides-to-be. Everyone wants to stun people on their big day but for the right reasons.
I needn’t have worried because in those last few weeks there were so many days out to do this and that for the wedding and they always resulted in a big lunch somewhere too. Those days out with the girls are all part of the excitement of planning a wedding. I taught classes right up to the night before my wedding and was also thrown a number of surprise hen parties by my bootcamp ladies. I think they used it as an excuse to bring as much food into one of my classes as they could possible get away with!
Finally the big day arrived. That morning my mother and stepmother helped to slip me into my dress…ehhmm big fat lie….they had to absolutely beat me into the dress. It was so tight I could hardly breathe but I felt so good in it and didn’t care. I loved the shape and how it made me feel. I cared a little more when travelling in to the church though. Sitting was not going to be my friend that day. Neither was climbing the steps onto the altar with even the priest asking me whether I might suffer a Jennifer Lawrence-esque wardrobe malfunction. Dinner later in the day, as well as all the gorgeous desert food that followed, made things even more difficult. The boning cutting the hips off me but again I felt fab and that was all that mattered.
I won’t be one of those women who sell her dress. I love looking at it now and again and keep swearing that I’ll try it on again someday but I don’t want to depress myself because post baby I very much doubt it would be too easy to get it on. I was so glad I made the effort to get the body I wanted for my wedding. I would urge all brides-to-be to do whatever it takes to have no regrets when you look back at yourself in your dress on that special day. Hopefully it will be the only wedding dress you ever get to wear and you deserve to feel a million dollars in it.
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