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Published November 14, 2013, 02:38 PM

Holt: Choosing a dress the hardest part of planning a wedding

I wasn’t a girl who had big dreams about her wedding day. No fantasies of roses and baby’s breath, satin and tulle, crystals and lace.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

I wasn’t a girl who had big dreams about her wedding day.

No fantasies of roses and baby’s breath, satin and tulle, crystals and lace.

I didn’t daydream about walking down the aisle in a poufy gown and a tiara.

So when the time came to start planning my wedding and my bridal “look,” I felt a little lost.

The big decisions came easy. Date, check. Venue, check. Theme: modern, fresh garden wedding, check.

But what would I wear? Well, a dress, preferably in white. I thought I wanted a more casual look, trendy tea-length. Thought.

When I tried one on, I looked like an overstuffed sausage cinched in at the waist with a stripe of purple satin. Nope.

Although I know there are behind-the-scenes tricks at work, it doesn’t help that most bridal models are 6 feet tall and 120 pounds. Even the “plus-size” models are flawless.

Giving up, I let my girlfriends pick out whatever they thought I should try on, which had mixed results.

A couple gowns did what a woman of any size wants them to do – hide the bad and accentuate the good.

The ones that looked best were “too much dress” for me. I felt like a woman draped in 10 pounds of expensive material and embellishments, not a bride.

The problem is, I think I’m ready to be a wife, but I don’t think I’m ready to be a bride. Unfortunately, one has to come before the other.

The idea of dressing up and having 100-115 people staring at me for several hours terrifies me.

They’ll be there to celebrate our marriage, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’ll be my size – and not my happiness – that they’ll notice.

Maybe I’d feel differently if I were further along in my lifelong pursuit of a healthy weight and a healthy attitude toward food, exercise and body image.

But I can’t put off marrying the man I want to spend the rest of my life with until I “figure it out” because then it’d never happen.

I’ve taught myself not to let my body hang-ups get in the way of happiness before, I can do it again.

So I do my best to work with what I’ve got and where I’m at.

On a second (or was it third?) dress expedition with one of my ’maids, I tried on a dress I found online – a satin off-the-shoulder, V-neck, A-line gown with belly-hiding ruching.

It’s simple, classic and flattering. There’s more to it than I thought I’d want, with a corset back and a cathedral train, but I felt more comfortable in it than any of the others I shimmied my way into.

When I return to the bridal shop tonight to try on The Dress again and place the order, I don’t know if I’ll cry or want to ring a bell, but it’ll do for my “I do’s.”

Earlier this week, a friend told me to focus on how I’ll feel in the dress that day, not the dress itself.

“You’re going to look beautiful because you’re happy – as long as you actually let yourself be happy and not let your dress size ruin it,” she said.

I’ll also have my three loving, supportive bridesmaids, who see me how I wish I saw myself, with me.

Hopefully with some hard mental and physical (mostly mental) work, I’ll catch up to them by June and feel like the bride I’m supposed to be.

Forum reporter Meredith Holt lost over 100 pounds between 2010 and 2012. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Friday of each month in SheSays. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.