Regardless of whether it is your wedding, you are part of the wedding party or you have simply been invited to share the moment, weddings always feel like huge occasions.

As they should.

This is (hopefully at least) a once in a lifetime event for the couple tying the knot. And it’s one they will want to look back on fondly for the rest of their lives.

But, even if it’s not ‘your’ day, by its very nature, it is an important one, meaning you will likely feel the desire to be at your best for it.

After all, you’ll be dressing up for it, possibly spending a lot on a new outfit, there will be photos, possibly a video and you will be a part of the memories of this day forever more. So getting that wedding body that you picture in your mind as being ‘ideal’ can often make a big difference to how you remember the day.

Generally, my advice to those working towards an event, such as a holiday or a party, is that there will be another one along in the future and there is no need to panic. Just get on a healthy plan and stick with it.

Health and fitness should be a part of your life, not something you cram in for your next holiday.

This is especially true when the generally accepted approach is to starve the weight off “No carbs before Marbs” and essentially torture yourself thin. The inevitable effect of which is, all that weight will pile back on, with interest. Therefore, it will be much harder to get back ‘in shape’ for the next big event.

Weddings are different

Due to their ‘one off’ nature, I completely understand why you would want to be at your best.

Especially if you are the bride.

That said, it has another unique factor.

And it is to your advantage.

In most cases, the planning starts months, often years, in advance.

And whilst you can get a cake last minute, replace your photographer, even, if it really came to it, get a new dress; it is physiologically impossible, at the last minute, change your physique.

It’s something 95% of women are going to stress about as part of the wedding plans. Therefore, getting ahead of the game is crucial.

The planning should begin as early as possible, and be included in the planning process with as much, if not more, importance than any other element of the preparations.

Even if you are not the bride in this instance, if you are a major part of the wedding party, you will be involved in the preparations early on.

Though, if you are a guest, the attention will be predominantly elsewhere, so whilst you may think it’s of major importance, you would be best advised to treat this like any other party or event.

Look to it as a date to keep you focused. But, don’t do anything ridiculous just for this date that will hamper your health and ability to improve thereafter.

For my wedding, my then fiancé had found her ideal dress. It was a one off and it was a size 6. But the smaller size made it less ‘commercial’ and the price had been slashed from over £2000 to £400 because of it. The problem was, she was a size 10, bordering on 12. So either she would pay more than double the cost for her 2nd choice dress or get the one she wanted, but have to drop 2 dress sizes in around 6 months (which is a lot easier when you are dropping from a size 18 to a 14 than it is from a 10 to a 6).

Suffice to say, it was the first and last time she ever took my advice on training and nutrition. But she made it and looked absolutely stunning (not that the size had anything to do with that, but the confidence and getting the dress she WANTED played a big part I’m sure).

Ilze dropped 2 dress sizes for our wedding day

Yes, that’s her in the pictures on this page. And I know, I’m batting above my average.

So here are 14 things to consider and keep in mind when planning your approach to looking your best and creating your ideal wedding physique:

  1. Put it on the list

    There is always a list. In the preparation for a wedding, there is so much to be done that it would almost be impossible to organize everything without a to-do list. Often, it’s much more than a list, but rather a folder or folders. Each element has its own section. Ring Fitting, Dress Options, Venue Options, Photographer and so on. However, it is very rare for exercise or nutrition to have a section in this combo.
    So rather than trying to fit it in, give it the importance you would give Flowers or Invitation Colours.

  2. Put it to the top of the list

    Once you have a section for health and fitness, make it your top priority on the scheduled days.

    You could argue that there are more important things to happen. After all, if you don’t have a venue or don’t get the invites out, there will be no wedding no matter how good you look.

    However, if you have to sit up until 2am putting invites together, you will do it (I know, because my wife and I did just that when we got married). You can try on dresses, choose flowers and look up photographers at any time.

    But, if you leave the exercise portion or meal prep until the end of a day loaded with all these tasks, you will have no energy left, either mental or physical. So, you’ll skip it or at best, do a halfhearted job of it.

    Wherever possible, put your workouts and your food preparation earlier in the day than the tasks that, whilst important, can be done at any time.

  3. Hydrate!

    I know, I say this for everything!

    In all honesty, this was going to be number 1, but I lowered it to save the rolling of the eyes from my regular readers and clients until now.

    There is no getting away from it. Water is key to functioning properly and without it your fat burning efforts are going to be less than optimal.

    But it also affects brain function and mood. So, while you are out and about trying on dresses, ring shopping, looking for cake designs etc. Be sure to always have a bottle of water with you.

    Not only will it improve your physique based results, it will help keep your focus high so you make smarter, more informed, decisions in the other areas and you’re less likely to feel so overwhelmed and run down.

    To get off to a solid start, be sure to grab a drink first thing in the morning.

    I strongly suggest infusing it with lemon or lime. This will help with your metabolism for the rest of the day, detoxify your liver from overnight build up and it ensures, at the very least, you have had some water, even if you get so caught up in your day that you forget to drink thereafter.

  1. Have breakfast

    The idea that it’s the most important meal of the day or will set up your metabolism for the day has pretty much been debunked.

    However, as with water, if you make time to eat something healthy and nutritious now, then you can feel good that you have started your day well and you have done something to nurture yourself that will prevent you reaching for snacks as the day goes on and time is getting away from you.

    My instant suggestion would be to have something egg based, because they you can fill it with veggies and get a highly nutritional meal instantly.

    Bonus Tip – Throw in some Cinnamon

    Not only will it liven up the flavours, but it will help regulate your insulin sensitivity (how your body deals with blood sugar spikes) and it is a natural fat burner (though don’t get too excited – the fat burning effects are microscopic, but everything that helps move you forward should be welcomed.

    They all add up.

  2. Lift weights!

    Yes, you are still reading the list for the ladies.

    In fact, this is generally going to be more of a useful tip for women than men.

    Firstly, you are likely to be trying to stay in a calorie deficit if you are looking to slim down for the wedding day.

    But you don’t want to just get smaller, you want to ‘Tone Up’.

    Lifting weights helps to ensure that, while your body is burning energy, it favours burning fat.

    This happens because you are giving it cues that it must hang on to that muscle to keep the weights moving.

    Secondly, the ladies at weddings tend to have more muscle (or areas where muscle resides) on show.

    Often the shoulders and arms are exposed.

    Men, on the other hand, will likely have a suit or perhaps a kilt (which shows very little when you really think about it – knees and little else, though calf shape may be an issue) but everything else is covered up in layers.

    There is also the overall shape to consider. But I’ll come back to that.

    If you are exposing your shoulders and arms, I’m sure you want them to look shapely. Skinny with bone or small but still wobbly are unlikely to be the effect you are going for. So, make sure you are lifting weights and that you know what you are doing with them.

  3. Think of the Hourglass

    Most wedding dresses (not all) are designed to accentuate the idea of an hourglass figure. So, anything that amplifies a difference in waist size to that above and below, is generally the desired effect.I’m not going to say that is what everyone is looking for, but it would be rare to have a look where someone is targeting a straight up and down stick look.

    So, as with point 5, developing nice shoulders will help give the perception of a smaller waist.

    Similarly, developing the muscles around the glutes (bum) and upper back (which may also be on show, depending on the dress) will further add to the perception of a smaller waist.

    This is especially useful if you have a naturally large frame.

    If you have a large rib cage or wide hips, don’t get upset about it, work with it. You may never have the waist size that the gossip magazines tell you is ‘right’, but everything is about proportion and balance. If you are naturally wider, you can make even more impactful changes by developing the right areas.

    Yes, the ultimate goal for most is going to ensure that there is less fat on display. But, low body fat just means there is more of everything else on show. So how you develop that lean mass is going to play a big part in how impactful your hard work is on the final visual.

    If you feel you need help in this area, and can’t afford the time or expense of a one to one personal trainer. Take a look at this online course on natural physique training. It doesn’t have to be about standing on a stage. What we are talking about here is developing your technique. So sign up to the course and work your way through the lessons at your own pace.

  4. Stay strong!

    In conjunction with a pulling together a large event like a wedding, you would think I’d be talking emotionally here. And whilst, yes, that’s true as staying mentally focused is important in keeping you driven in all aspects of your preparation. I am talking about the physical side of things.You may feel you just want to look good and physical strength has nothing to do with your goals (or at least they are not high on the agenda at this time) if you want to make the most of things, strength is crucial.Even if we just look at it from the aesthetic side of things. On the day of the wedding, if your posture is poor, no matter how lean you are or how toned your muscles are, it won’t look good.

    And, given that weddings are pretty much full day events, holding that posture for the entirety is going to take a strong and well-balanced frame (or a huge amount of energy and effort).

    But, regardless of that, strength allows for increased activity in all areas.

    If you are strong, you can do more in the gym during your workouts. But you can also do more during your day to day activities.

    That, not only, allows you to burn more energy and therefore more calories, and build stronger and better-defined muscle tone.

    It will also allow for you to simply get more done. If there are things to be moved, collected, stairs to be climbed and the like, you’ll get these things done with more speed and less stress.

    There is no downside to working on your strength, only benefits. So be sure to take the time to build this into your programme early on and reap the benefits when you need them closer to the big day.

  5. Don’t fly solo

    There are enough things about to come up that will throw you off track and it will be all too easy to get distracted.

    This is true of everyone, but it’s amplified hugely when involved in planning a wedding.

    However, a wedding is, by its very nature, a group activity. Even if it is to be a small event, there are always going to be a minimum of 2 people involved.

    And whilst training with your partner is an option and better than flying solo, you may find that the stresses and complications you will both be dealing with in setting up everything else may make another shared task just one step too far.

    Being supportive of each other is certainly useful and working on things like nutrition and meal choices would be a huge benefit.

    However, bridesmaids and brides combining forces, so everyone can look to get their ideal wedding body, could be an excellent move.

    Not only does it give you a support network throughout and help keep you accountable. It also gives you a time to meet up and discuss any logistics or plans before or after the training sessions.

  6. Increase your calories

    That’s not a typo, I’m saying eat MORE.

    This is so counter intuitive to most people. Everything you have been taught has been, to lose weight, eat less. And whilst there is truth in that when you look at it from a certain point of view, almost every female I’ve met who has started trying to lose weight, or thinks about it a lot, eats far too little on a daily basis.

    The reason, then, that they don’t lose weight (in the long term at least) is they cut the intake to such an extreme that their body starts to shut down non-essential functions. That means the internal furnace or metabolic rate of your body, decreases to match the intake you are giving it.

    However, you are usually so starved and so stressed, you then binge every now and then and the result is, even if that isn’t a huge binge, your calorie burn rate is so slow, it is huge in comparison.

    By eating more (assuming it is nutritious food) you will be better fueled to do more and therefore burn more.

    It makes for a happier route to the desired result. It means you are healthier as a result and it means you can increase the cycle – as explained in this article on the idea of trying to Lose Weight Fast.

    Now, regardless of whether you understand that, this is your wedding (or it’s someone close to you who is getting married) and you want to make this count.

    Rational thought will attempt to go out the window.

    You may panic because, by increasing your calories, you may, at first, put on weight and bloat a little.

    This will be temporary.

    Just like the cutting of calories, the increase in intake (providing you do it smoothly and don’t just double your calories overnight) will be caught up by your internal system after a few days.

    There is a balance to be had here and it may take a bit of experimentation.

    Just keep in mind that, starving yourself thin is never the answer.

  7. Decrease your stress levels

    If there is one thing that is going to hamper your progress to your ideal wedding day physique, it’s stress. As with lack of food intake (which is a stress) any stress will inhibit your body’s ability to function properly and therefore burn fat, build muscle, make good decisions … you get the idea.

    Keep in mind, stress comes in many forms.

    It’s not just about things that wind you up at work or having too much to do.

    We’ve mentioned lack of nutritional input. And if you feel this is overwhelming you, have a look at this guide on Eating Healthy with a Busy Schedule.

    Lack of sleep is another huge contributor (possibly number 1).

    Over-doing your training (though this is rare).

    Or just general overwhelm (which, when planning a wedding, is often the norm).

    Often just taking a minute and breathing can be enough to make a huge difference. But, many recent studies have shown that just 10mins of mindfulness practice can have extraordinary results.

    If you don’t know what that is, or you struggle to do it on your own, try this app. It’s completely free but does a great job of guiding you through the process.

    And, obviously

  8. Focus on the big muscles first

    The temptation is always to want to work the areas you are most concerned about.

    For wedding dresses, that is often arms and shoulders and then, just because you are human and female, waist and hips are always a focus area.

    However, working these areas, for the most part, or of low value when it comes to lifting your metabolism and getting an overall improved body composition and tone.

    The bigger the muscles you recruit, the more energy is expended in repairing that muscle afterward and so the more calories you burn as a result. Plus, those bigger muscles are now stronger, allowing you to do more in the long run.

    So, even though they are hidden in most wedding dresses, focus more on legs, glutes (bum) and on the upper body side of things, back muscles.

    Once you have made solid progress in these areas, then you can start to look at more specific areas.

  9. Then give the visible areas some attention

    Now, once the big areas have been hit, you can start to plan your workouts around outfit specific training.

    So, if your shoulders are exposed, give them some extra attention.

    If your upper back is open, do more work there (which is a good idea in general, simply for postural reasons).

    Just remember, working these specific areas does not burn more fat from those areas, but once your body fat levels are down (from working on the big muscles and getting your nutrition in check) you can give these areas focus to try and shape the muscles more the way you would like to see them.

    Remember, wider shoulders will give more of a perception of a small waist, so double win.

    But keep in mind, direct ab work is rarely a good use of your time and efforts in this instance. At best, it will help sculpt some abs (if they are visible) but the energy burn is minimal and even if you do manage to build your abs up, under a wedding dress, it could just cause the midsection to be pushed out and take away from the taper you are most likely looking for.

    This is a very individual thing. However, I stress again – working an area directly does not burn fat from that area! So, when you zero in on specific body parts, be sure it’s to shape and sculpt already visible or part visible muscle.

    And as, on most people, fat tends to come off the extremities first (face, shoulders, arms, calves etc) the exposed parts on wedding outfits tend to be good candidates for focused training.

  10. Remember! Healthy looks better than skinny (plus it lasts longer and feels better)

    I can’t stress this enough.

    As you get closer to the wedding date, you will become more and more self-critical.Your knee-jerk reaction is going to be to do something drastic.Cut your calories.

    Try to go and exercise beyond your means.

    Take fat burners or something equally or more idiotic.

    Mostly, if the issue is still too many wobbly bits, you’ll look to starve yourself thin rather than sticking to the plan, no matter how much you understand this is counterproductive to your goals.

    As much as you may think the skinnier the better, it never looks good.

    Sallow or loose skin; unhealthy complexion; bloodshot eyes; dark circles; bony shoulders, dull and lifeless hair etc.

    None of these things look good!

    And whilst you may feel you can cover these things up with make-up, fake tan and a good stylist, it is always evident. You can see someone who has dieted off the weight a mile off.

    The compliments may be there of “Oh you’ve done well” or “You’ve worked so hard”, but the reality is, if you looked healthy, but with a little more weight, you would radiate, feel good and be able to enjoy your day more because you’ll have more energy and you’ll look even better in your photos.

    A wedding is meant to be a commitment to a strong and happy future. It’s a line in the sand that you and your partner will go on, together, to build a fantastic life together.

    Doesn’t your commitment to your partner deserve a commitment to taking care of yourself and taking the healthy option? Getting yourself into a position where you will have a healthy future, rather than being skinny for a day and having stresses and issues thereafter as your body’s internal structure has been destroyed in the process?

    Make good and healthy choices and they will reflect externally. Plus, they will last.

    Make superficial choices and they will be just that. Short term, covering over the cracks and a false impression of what you truly are on the inside.

  11. Get enough sleep

    This is hard enough at the best of times for many people.

    Now, with a wedding date approaching, there are many things working against you.

    Firstly, there is so much to do, so you could sit up half the night doing the preparations because you have too much on at work or elsewhere during the day.

    For my wedding, we had issues with the company doing our invitations and had to sit up, two nights running, making them ourselves, to get them out in a reasonable time to get responses.

    But, just the idea of anything going wrong, or, dare I say it, any doubts that are creeping in. All these things can add to the lack of sleep.

    As mentioned, this is a stress. It’s a huge stress. And it only multiplies the issues that caused it in the first place.

    So, whilst I’ve covered stress already, I just wanted to re-emphasize the importance of rest and recovery.

    You can stay up half the night working on something that, due to your exhausted nature, will likely be slow and full of mistakes or misjudgments. Or you can get some sleep, get up refreshed and be more efficient the next day.

    And from the point of view of your physique on the day of the wedding, getting sufficient sleep is critical to your success level. So, do not underestimate this. Don’t let your tiredness trick you into making bad decisions. Get the rest you need and make the most of the day that follows.

A marriage is an expression of love. Start that process by giving yourself the love you deserve. The love you would expect from your partner.

You are vowing to love and cherish and expecting the same in return. Then look to love yourself the way you hope your partner would.

You (hopefully) only get one shot at a wedding day. I understand, you want your memories to be as perfect as they can be. You want to look your best. But, after months of planning, stressing, ups and downs, the day will arrive and then be over in the blink of an eye. You will feel amazing. Everyone in attendance will be there to support you and wish you well. You will spend so much time trying to get through the rituals, talk to everyone and get the photos, cake cutting, dances and the like, done at the right time, the day will fly past.

Would you rather remember it for a day you enjoyed or a day you had no energy for, struggled to get through, felt faint and overly emotional on?

Make a plan, make it early, do the best you can, but you set the goals, so don’t feel there is success or failure. All you can do is give the level of effort you feel you need to be successful. To stick to your roadmap and get the elements done the same way you will every other element of the preparations.

But, always keep in mind – without energy, you will achieve little, without your health, you will enjoy none of it. Yes, you want to be your best on the day. But, that best is both internal and external.

Make yourself the strongest, healthiest version of yourself you can be and you will feel and look amazing.

Getting in Shape for a Wedding
14 Steps to Your
Ideal Wedding Body by Mark Tiffney

I truly hope this has helped you in planning for a very special day and that it helps improve your enjoyment of it.

If you have been through this or are going through it, let me know your process, issues or successes in the comments below and share the love with those who’s day is yet to come.

Wedding photos by the wonderful Paula Veverka


The first step to getting your plan ready for success is to get your head in the right place. 

As such, I’ve put together a PDF on Emotional & Mental Foundations and how to get them in place, free to download right now.

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