When it comes to her dress, every bride dreams of “the perfect fit”—and being perfectly fit the day she wears it. But feeling your best when you slip that thing on actually has little to do with your outfit or physique; it’s about mind-set. “There’s this strange thing where women feel they need to be emaciated for their wedding,” says Ashley Borden (@ashleybordenfitness), a celebrity trainer on Revenge Body with Khloé Kardashian. “You shouldn’t force your body into a dress in a punitive, crazed way. You’ll end up looking at photos like, ‘God, I never look like that— except for that one day.’ That’s not healthy.”
You can avoid this from the start (like, when you’re still in the heavy Pinterest stage) by working with your body, not against it: “Accentuate what you already think is beautiful about yourself,” says Blogilates founder Cassey Ho (@blogilates). Ho got engaged last summer, and for her upcoming wedding, she’s chosen a trumpet-style Galia Lahav with a low back and long train because “that silhouette makes the butt look cute.”
And be willing to break up with the dress you’ve always dreamed of if it doesn’t work out in real life: “I see all these women who have an idea in their heads, like, ‘I have to wear a strapless princess dress with something crusted on it.’ They end up in an expensive dress they don’t really like, that’s not actually flattering,” says Jessamyn Stanley (@mynameisjessamyn), author of Every Body Yoga. “Instead, pick a dress that really represents who you are, not who you think you should be.”
While you’re dress shopping, consider also shopping for a new workout—something that you actually enjoy. You are way too busy right now to spend any spare time doing something you dread. “It shouldn’t just be about getting a great body,” says Anna Kaiser (@theannakaiser), mastermind behind the AKT program, with studios in the New York area, L.A., and Connecticut. “It should be about taking time away from stressful wedding planning to do something you love. Exercise is a kind of therapy.” As Stanley puts it: “It seems like getting married is all about anticipation of the future, but the best fitness practices allow you to really cherish what’s going on right then.”
That’s easy to do when a workout doesn’t take that long: Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines), co-creator of Bikini Body Guides and author of The Bikini Body Motivation & Habits Guide, says tons of her clients are busy brides, and at 28 minutes—not even half an hour!—her BBG workouts feel approachable and doable. (For proof, just look to Instagram; more than six million #bbg hashtaggers can’t be wrong!) What’s more, Kaiser says that with a good trainer or program, getting in shape really only requires a four-month (!) commitment. Just be sure to start the clock early enough. “The last thing you want is to stress about having enough time to get your body where you want it to be,” Kaiser says. “You want to be in a comfortable place around your last dress fitting. You don’t want to be losing weight up until the day of”—or the dress you worried so much about fitting into actually won’t fit.
Ready for the most shocking advice yet? You shouldn’t even think about a goal wedding weight (or a highly filtered and Photoshopped #fitspo image you saw online). “What happens if you get to your wedding day and the end result isn’t exactly what you wanted?” Ho asks. “Just focus on feeling good and getting stronger.”
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your wedding is your one chance for a jaw-dropping reveal. Itsines points out that your healthily-ever-after is just beginning. Her bridal clients end up staying on long after the vows “because they fall in love with how they feel rather than look. When you set goals you can stick to, goals become habits.”
And when you’re still kicking ass a year later? "Anniversary post!” Borden says, laughing. “You have the rest of your life to hit your ideals—and social media to post about it—so no one will miss it!”