How can I realistically improve my looks one month before wedding?
September 9, 2016 1:21 PM   Subscribe

I am hoping to hear suggestions about things I can do to make a difference in both my mental and physical state over the next 30 days.

The pressure to look and feel perfect on my wedding day has me going a little mental. The pressure is truly self-inflicted but there is nothing I have been able to do so far to shake it. Being so close to the wedding, I’m starting to feel on the brink of a nervous breakdown and the only way I could think to cope with it is to figure out things I can actually DO so that at least I can feel a little in control of the anxiety.

I know that YANMD but if you have been one month out from your wedding or really any large event where you are a central figure, did you do any of the things I’ve listed below, or things I am not yet thinking of? Did they help or hurt your mental state?

Things I am considering:

30 Day Yoga Pass. I’ve tried yoga on and off but never consistently. There is a serious intimidation factor for me here but there are so many studios near me that offer a 30 day deal for new students. I thought this would maybe help both mentally and physically. Would I see a difference after 30 days? Do I have to go the consecutive 30 days to see a difference?

Juice Cleanse 1 Day per Week: seems easy enough to do. If I did 4 of these, would it make a positive difference for my skin, weight, mind?

Facials: Can I get 2 within the next month?

Waxing: is this too risky to start trying a month out?

See a therapist. I have a hard time finding one that takes my insurance. Is it worth it to splurge for this out of pocket? Is it realistic to think starting a month out would help?

I’ve perused all of the wedding blogs I could find but you have all been so insightful in the past so I’m giving this a shot. Thank you in advance!
posted by kmr to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (63 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I think a juice cleanse might have a very negative effect on your health, by the friends who have done it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:24 PM on September 9, 2016 [28 favorites]

Schedule a massage or two. You'll look good when you feel good!
posted by theraflu at 1:24 PM on September 9, 2016 [35 favorites]

If I did 4 of these, would it make a positive difference for my skin, weight, mind?

Not really. I mean if you think it'll make you feel better, go for it, but juice cleanses are a racket to sell you extremely expensive juice long before they're any sort of useful health thing.
posted by griphus at 1:25 PM on September 9, 2016 [9 favorites]

Yes to the 30-day yoga pass if the place offers "relaxation" or "candlelight" or "restorative" yoga or the like. This is what you need right now.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2016 [15 favorites]

I think the number one thing you can do is get enough sleep every night.
posted by ktkt at 1:34 PM on September 9, 2016 [78 favorites]

Yoga might be good for posture, help you train your automatic stance to be less slouchy, look more poised.

Yoga might be good for core and arm muscle tone, but my top recommendation would be a gym for shoulder/arm strength training. Having muscle tone in your arms can make a sleeveless dress look fantastic. But nix that if you've got something that's very fitted around the shoulders, your dressmaker would be pissed if it suddenly had to be let out. :)

Re: facials, you'd probably get more photo mileage out of a makeup artist, and perhaps calming yourself by doing a test run with that person now.
posted by aimedwander at 1:35 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

no juice cleanse please! one facial, restorative, gentle yoga. good basic self care is gonna get you looking and feeling your best: go easy on the booze & caffeine, be sure to get enough sleep and moderate exercise.

also a thing to remember that might help calm you: the wedding is JUST ONE DAY. the marriage is the important thing!! you do not need to have a 'perfect' wedding to have a long and happy marriage!!! best of luck & congratulations!
posted by supermedusa at 1:36 PM on September 9, 2016 [11 favorites]

Massage (x2) and Yoga (x3 a week) and you should be good :D Don't freak out!
posted by Toddles at 1:37 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Go to bed early. Avoid alcohol, coffee and gratuitous amounts of sugar.

Drink lots of water.

Don't spend free time surfing the internet; curl up with a magazine or a pulpy novel, or sew/cross-stitch/sketch.

Spend time petting kitties or dogs. Kitties and dogs don't give a shit about what you look like on your wedding day.

Go for long walks outside with no headphones or devices. Just people-watch and get lost in your thoughts.

Reflect on all of the things other people are doing for you right now to help you prepare for your wedding. Express your gratitude to them directly.

Remember that in 20 years the only thing you'll think of when you look at your wedding photos is how beautiful and happy and young you look. That, and that your wedding dress is now terribly out of date. ;)

Mazel tov!
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 1:37 PM on September 9, 2016 [47 favorites]

You could whiten your teeth. Have your hair cut (and colored if you do that) soon so that you can make sure you like it. Many places give you aromatherapy or scalp massages during your appointment. Talk to them about conditioning treatments if you have any damage or frizz.
posted by soelo at 1:37 PM on September 9, 2016 [14 favorites]

I'd definitely focus on mental/emotional stuff, anything that helps you believe you are enough as you are (which you are). Your loved ones have seen you year in, year out, for many years, and they love you on that basis, and all they expect to see on the day is the you that they know, glowing with happiness, not you with lots of Hollywood sheen.

I definitely think some therapy sessions can help in the short term when you reach this kind of stress frenzy, to break the anxiety cycle and put it in a little perspective. Also, moderate exercise, but with a view to overcoming stress, not because you've got time to suddenly rebuild your body into a totally different body. I've never been a bride, but I'd also suggest blocking all wedding blogs on your computer, if such a thing is possible, and throwing out any wedding magazines you might have. None of that is what it's about.
posted by penguin pie at 1:38 PM on September 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

See a therapist. I have a hard time finding one that takes my insurance. Is it worth it to splurge for this out of pocket? Is it realistic to think starting a month out would help?

I would not do this, personally, but mostly based on the cliche that therapists have to re-break the old emotional broken bones in order to re-set them so they heal properly.

Or it could just be a bad match that only frustrates you over the course of 30 days.

Safe recommendations: Drink 64 oz of water every day and get 8 hours of sleep whenever possible.
posted by supercres at 1:40 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Also, one more note: KMR is getting married, not Perfect KMR. You are not going to become Perfect KMR in one month. In fact, you are never going to become Perfect KMR. You are, and are going to be, Flawed And Amazing KMR. Embrace the fact that Flawed And Amazing KMR is going to have a big party with loved ones. Focus on the experience you will have with loved ones and not the split-second impression people will have of how much water your cells are currently storing in your body and how many juice cleanses you have been on. Life is messy and your wedding will be too -- embrace it and have a great time.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 1:40 PM on September 9, 2016 [50 favorites]

Congrats on your upcoming wedding :)

- Yoga: I tried doing yoga 3-4 times a week last year and maybe I think I pulled something. So if you haven't tried yoga before, aggressively stretching might be a bit risky right now. But exercise is always good.

- Juices: I haven't tried a juice cleanse, but I went through a phase of making superfood smoothies in the morning and I liked it, felt great haha

- Facials: yea that doesn't sound excessive. I tried a 30-day sheet mask challenge and I felt very glowy after. Also I like face oils. Or maybe try and get a very nice foundation instead of spending it on facials?

- Don't neglect your body skin! Use a body brush and moisturize (if you don't already)

- Waxing: risky! Especially if you are thinking of waxing your eyebrows.

- Therapist: effects are unpredictable. Try and see?

- Hair oils are amazing

- Drinking water, eating veggies, getting enough sleep

Have fun with the pampering! And if anything goes awry, there is always photoshop!
posted by Crookshanks_Meow at 1:42 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I suggest not adding a bunch of appointments or classes to your likely already hectic schedule.

I heartily second all of rogerroger's advice above. Especially about limiting sugar (juice is all about sugar!) and getting enough water. Make sure you're taking all of your vitmins; take some extra C to ward off illness and maybe a B complex in the morning to keep your energy up; take some magnesium at night (or an epsom salt bath) to make you nice and relaxed before bed.
posted by vignettist at 1:44 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Are any of those things you enjoy or have enjoyed in the past? Starting up a lot of new things sounds more stressful to me, but everyone has their own ways to get settled. Do you take any classes already? What do you hope to get from yoga?

I don't think a sporadic juice cleanse will be any better for you than switching up your regular meals to include more vegetables or oxidants or whatever you're looking for with a juice cleanse. For waxing and facials, I would tread lightly depending on your skin, but a month out should be fine for a trial run of each. Or go do a spa day with relaxing but less invasive treatments, like a long massage or wrap. Do you enjoy manicures? I find it a soothing kind of ritual and my nails are usually terrible, so it was both relaxing and helpful.

Tbh my wedding prep was justifying a lot of Grubhub sushi and salads. I got second degree burns on hand, leading to the blissful realization that DIY crafts were already a lost cause. I continued to live off sushi and become creative at ways of stabbing sushi with a single chopstick. I went to the fancy eyebrow waxing place and bought fancy makeup, just for fun. I got a haircut two weeks out or so to have the ends in good shape. I hate yoga but love walking so I did that instead. To me, that was a way of staying in control: things I love but don't always justify; things that are healthy but not triggering; lots of sleep.

Treat yourself kindly and with love! And congratulations-- a toast to a happy wedding and beautiful marriage to come.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:46 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hey, I'm you only 3 months later! The wedding day was freaking awesome and yours will be too.

Honestly, what I did was request a prescription for Xanax. I only took it a few days but man, knowing it was available to me was great.

I did a facial and found it useless.
I took up a new exercise regime 4mos before my wedding and found it more, rather than less, stressful. I switched back to my usual (walk/run with my dog) and felt better.
I relied on red wine to ease my nerves at night. In retrospect, melatonin would have been healthier.

The biggest thing I wish I'd done was focus on sleep!
posted by samthemander at 1:47 PM on September 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

You want to be healthy on your wedding day (take it from someone who had cold so bad they could only croak out two words the whole day. They were the important ones, it was fine.) So: rest as much as you can. Go for a nightly walk with your beloved. Eat well. Get some sun and some veggies in your system. Imagine every aspect of the party falling apart--the suit ripping, the cake getting mashed by a small hungry child, the Chicken Dance playing nonstop-- and then imagine being married the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that.
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:48 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Some ideas! Take or leave. :)

No alcohol.
More water than you currently drink. 2x as much!
Daily vitamins.
Epic amounts of sleep. 8hrs per night minimum.
Get that facial girl. A massage too!
Get your eyebrows waxed.
Definitely get a lady wax if you'd like. It will be fine!
Consider a deep conditioning treatment for your hair.
Walk for 20-30 minutes somewhere every day.
Definitely go for restorative, candlelight or deepening yoga. No ashtanga, flow or vinyasa. Hatha is good too.
Sun salutations every morning.
Read a book instead of your phone in bed.
Practice breathing and mindfullness.
Do at least 1 minute of planking before bed or when you wake up. Break it up if you have to.
Watch all.of RuPaul's drag race back to back to get into that fab state of mind.

posted by pazazygeek at 1:49 PM on September 9, 2016 [19 favorites]

My friends who succumbed to the "gotta be perfect in order to be perfect" vibe had terrible wedding days. Absolutely terrible. The ones who rolled with it, who embraced their partners and shared their joy with no restraints and remembered that the whole day was about celebrating and not being perfect? They had the best days. Having a "perfect" wedding doesn't set your marriage up for perfection, because there's nothing you can do to have a perfect marriage except work towards a mutual promise of love and support and loyalty. That's what your vows are for, yeah?

Like, here's an example. One of my classmates from college was walking down the aisle when a huge gust of wind blew her veil off and her skirt up so we could see her undies. Not only did she stop in the middle of the whole thing to die with laughter, her husband to be was so delighted by the mishap that he ran over and kissed her soundly in front of everybody, which made the entire audience assembled rise to their feet to give a standing ovation. The rest of their ceremony was equally wild and windy -- the bride had dirt on her dress, the groom eventually lost his boutonniere, and everyone's hair was a wreck, but damn, were their vows the most glorious and genuine words ever spoken. They were so in love, and so relaxed, that nothing else mattered. When it was time to take photos, the bride's sister came with, fixed their hair, brushed off the dirt, and all was well. By embracing the unpredictability of it all, the de-emphasis on aesthetics and perfection enabled everyone at the wedding to have a phenomenal time. We were sweaty, messy, windswept, and totally blissed out. It is hands down the best event I have ever been to, and if my wedding can come even close to it in terms of joy and unabashed relaxation, I will be thrilled to share that experience with my future partner, friends, and family.

All the things you listed above as being possible steps to perfection don't sound like things that will leave you happier -- if anything, they'll leave you feeling more uptight and more stressed out than you deserve to be. You do not need to measure up to any platonic ideal of an aesthetically perfect bride or groom in order to have a perfect wedding.

So, here's what I suggest.

1. Drink lots of water.
2. Sleep well, and often.
3. Exercise a bit every day just to relax and get outdoors.
4. Spend time with your partner and remind each other how glad you will be to be married in 30 days, and talk honestly with each other about what's worrying you both.
5. Write down one thing a day that's stressing you out the most, then cross it out and replace it with something you're really, really looking forward to doing with your partner on your wedding day and thereafter.
6. If stress continues, yes, definitely enlist the support of a therapist so you have someone objective to unload to. And don't be afraid to ask your doctor or that therapist for a prescription for Xanax if things get really rough. That alone could make the biggest difference, TBH.

But above all else, remember that your wedding day is about you getting married to the best person you know. They don't need you to look perfect that day (I mean, they better not; send them my way if they need a reality check on that point). I bet they're just really, really excited about the fact that they're finally getting married to you. And you are already exactly as you should be. I promise.

Much love to you and your spouse to be.
posted by Hermione Granger at 1:52 PM on September 9, 2016 [27 favorites]

Facials can break you out - so don't do anything so drastic close to the date. But yoga will help your peace of mind.

Having a great time is probably the best prescription for taking great photos and feeling confident as the center of attention.

(I would whiten my teeth though - that's a great suggestion.)
posted by crankyrogalsky at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am not a doctor. Or a nutritionist. Or a health expert of any kind. I am the opposite of all those things probably.

First, yes, you should love yourself. All that advice above is perfect. You're awesome now.

If I were getting married in 30 days, I'd be on a pretty serious high-fat and high-protein carb-free keto diet and doing pretty vigorous vinyasa yoga every other day. (Five to six days a week if you're more experienced.) I might sub in some spinning there just for calorie usage.

This is not about health as a plan here, this is about vanity. Losing the carb weight will make you feel like you did something. Everyone equates thinness with health (wrongly!) so everyone will think you look great. The yoga will either put you in the hospital or make you look taller and help you stand better and feel more at home in your body, as well as burning some calories.

So yes all of this is terrible. You could also just sleep in every day and feel great and do things that make you happy like going to the movies and eating garbage. But that's not really how our minds work, is it...

There are consequences of trying these things. You could feel bad or hurt yourself. Then you would be a sad wedding person.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Do what you need to to get enough sleep.

A juice "cleanse" is basically subsisting from sugar water - but super fast acting sugar water - with a few vitamins in it. Please don't do this and don't give other people the impression that it's a good idea. Just because something is "natural" doesn't mean it's good or bad for you.
posted by amtho at 1:57 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Btw this was the super food smoothie recipe I used. If I weren't so lazy I would re-introduce this into my life it was so refreshing and nutritious! Holy Kale's 8-step Superfood Smoothie.
posted by Crookshanks_Meow at 1:58 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you are the type of person who has a hard time sleeping well if anything remotely exciting is going to happen soon (going on a trip! friends visiting me! Christmas!)...what I WISH I had done was seek a short-term prescription for Ambien. My sleep got progressively worse and I probably slept less than 3 hours on the night before my wedding. I was so amped up that chamomile tea, melatonin, AND Benadryl did nothing to me. The makeup artist was able to cover up a lot of my tiredness but I was still feeling strung out and exhausted for most of the day.

A few years later I had Ambien to cope with the excitement + time zone change of an overseas trip, and was like oh, this would've been really nice for about a week leading up to my wedding.

I got one facial a few weeks before my wedding, and another about a week before. I had acne issues so it was a good thing for me. If you have acne, find someone who does extractions - I think it's extractions that really make the difference, not necessarily someone just painting mud on your face or whatever.
posted by castlebravo at 2:00 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

On feeling perfect, here is a useful book.
posted by tel3path at 2:00 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Re your idea to get a therapist, the arrangements to do that in the next thirty days sounds stressful but a short term solution for that may be one of the many online options available lately. I did a short stint with talkspace recently - I just needed somewhere to unload some stressful ongoing things and to chanel me to a better mindset (versus making major life attitude changes) and the online exchange was really effective for that.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 2:04 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd also go full super model/ vanity mode: drink only water, eat lots of salad and home cooking (laughing optional), sleep 9 hours per night, spend way too much on my highlights and nails, pal around with my gals and work out every day for a long time. Mostly I would do this because why not? and it would be a good reason to stick to a healhty lifestyle under stress! I wouldn't expect it to actually make me into a super model, just that lifestyle would be a healthy way to survive an entire month of my family all up in my business :)

Mostly though, get your hair done early in case of disaster, eat well, don't drink, gently exfoliate your skin and use a good moisturizer and sleep a lot! You don't want to be exhausted on your wedding. And definitely whiten your teeth now!

I'd skip the yoga, new studios are a crapshoot and you might end up at one where people hug each other in the locker room and talk about kale all the time. Or they are all do cross fit. Or something equally not relaxing.
posted by fshgrl at 2:05 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep. Get extra sleep, even if you think you don't need it. Sleep like you are a camel who must store up sleep in order to have it for when you will not be able to sleep.
posted by corb at 2:22 PM on September 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

I wouldn't try a new exercise regimen* right now, but a walk every evening before bed may help relax you.

Congratulations! It'll be beautiful, and you will be beautiful, don't worry.

*or a new diet, or new haircut, or anything else that can cause unintended consequences...

**the one exception here that a lot of people do better and lose some quick weight by cutting down sugar and carbs; but if doing without them will stress you out, then meh
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:30 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

If I were getting married in 30 days, I'd be on a pretty serious high-fat and high-protein carb-free keto diet

I wanted to agree with this -- I wouldn't go carb-free, exactly, but I'd be restricting to 20 grams daily, all of which would come from leafy green vegetables. I wouldn't just do this because of vanity (although you will shed a lot of water weight), but also because this diet works like magic to make my skin clear and glowing, and (for me, at least) it eradicates eczema and acne.

However, if you go this route and you've never tried a very low-carb diet before, start it now because you may have headaches for the first few days, then a huuuuge energy rush that makes it hard to sleep for the next week or so.

On that note, yes, SLEEP -- sleep as much as you possibly can. HYDRATE -- lots of water daily. No booze -- to further promote hydration.

Apart from that? Well, I don't do manicures, but I got my first and only gel manicure two days before my wedding, and damn if I didn't feel fancy about it! Also, a professional make-up artist and a professional hair stylist. Splurges, but for a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, it's worth it if you can afford it. Just be sure to do trials with them beforehand to make sure your visions accord.

Last but not least: let all your anxiety go, the day of the wedding. The inevitable mistakes and imperfections will become amazing stories, so long as you allow yourself to laugh at them when they're happening.
posted by mylittlepoppet at 2:32 PM on September 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

Instead of getting a therapist, you could just start journaling (or increase, if you already have a practice). A previous Ask recommended for a daily nudge towards writing something/ANYTHING down, and it's been more helpful to externalize thoughts in that way than I ever got from therapy. If what you want out of therapy is "mostly want a sounding board," writing can facilitate your being your own sounding board, and for free! And available to you 24/7, whenever you need it.

Looks-wise, I'd chill with salt and carbs for the few weeks leading to the wedding. Get your nails done, if that's something you enjoy? Massage also sounds like a great idea. You will be great and your wedding will be great--congratulations in advance!!
posted by witchen at 2:42 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

A month is not enough time for any exercise regimen to have any noticeable effects on your body -- you might be able to look discernibly more toned if you started seriously lifting weights, but the difference would be subtle, and invisible if you're wearing clothes.

Low-key exercise, if it's something that makes you feel good, however, will help your mood and make it easier to handle the anxiety, which is excellent all around. I wouldn't start anything you feel intimidated by, though.
posted by mister pointy at 2:51 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here's what has made my skin look fantastic (your mileage may vary): greatly increase proportion of fresh colorful vegetables in diet, minimize gluten (note: DON'T switch to processed "gluten free foods"--which can be even worse with regards to sugars, etc.--sub in potatoes, rice, rice noodles, etc.) and cut back on dairy, and use a nutrition tracker to make sure you're still getting all the carbs, protein, healthy fats and vitamins you need...every day. (I used this...ignore the calorie tracking, focus on vitamins and minerals: ).
posted by blue suede stockings at 3:03 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Drink water, sleep, and get laid. Hang out with people who make you happy. Go for a little walk every day.

Seriously, your mental state will affect your mood and confidence, and that will show on your face much more than any other kind of cosmetic routine will show.

To drink more water- try to drink 1 to 1.5 litres of water every day- on top of whatever else you drink. Buy those giant bottles of bottled water by the case, and finish one per day. (Yes wasteful but it's short term, cut yourself a break). Or get an app on your phone that prompts you to drink.

Have lots of sexual contact with your partner, whatever that means for you. Being well-laid will make you feel attractive and happy. And it will help keep you connected during the stress of the planning.

And I would find this advice hard to follow, but you should really sleep as much as you can. On 95% of days, it is going to be true that an extra hour of sleep will do you better than an extra hour of wedding-planning.

Try to eat some fruit or a vegetable every day, but don't freak out if you don't. A juice cleanse will probably just make you moody and hungry. Trying to lose enough weight to make a visible difference will just make you hangry, it's not worth it. Try to face the fact that you are getting married in that body you're sitting in right now, and you will look gorgeous.

Ultimately your wedding is happening, and you will look how you look, and you will look absolutely stunning because you're getting married and are surrounded by people who love you. I've never seen a bride who looked anything other than fantastic. Take some pressure off yourself- you will look lovely and you will have a great day.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:07 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you're spending the money on a real photographer it is worth possibly getting your hair colored and high lighted by a good person who knows how to do it for the camera and your teeth whitened. It makes a big difference. If you have gorgeous natural hair color leave it, but if you already color or tend to look washed out, red faced or shiny in photos it's worth a consult. Definitely do it ahead of time in case you hate it.

I look fairly terrible in real life as a blonde I personally think but it photographs very well with my skin tone.
posted by fshgrl at 3:15 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you decided to get "fillers" or botox in your face, do it now because those treatments can leave bruises for a bit. Also, sometimes they need to be tweaked and additional treatments are needed to even things out. I would not recommend an aggressive peel this late, like chemical or laser. Some advertise as a "weekend" peel with just a bit of redness and peeling for a few days. My laser peel took two months before I didn't look like we a burn victim, although now my skin looks amazing. Bottom line is the more invasive stuff can be much more traumatizing to the skin/body than promised so be very weary if you're considering those. You could also consider eyelash and eyebrow tinting, a spray tan two days peior. I like the glow but not color, most of it washes off but leaves a bit of tint. Try it now and see what you think. Get a pro Mani now and every week until your wedding. This can help raggy, short nails a lot. If you want straighter silkier hair get a Brazilian hair straightener done now or at least two weeks ahead. The Brazilian kind didn't damage my hair and in fact made it feel amazing for several months. Have fun!
posted by waving at 3:19 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I just had a big event and I was for sure doing 10 days of serious carb-free-lifestyle. I would say you get the biggest bang doing that for two weeks, but my skin is good anyway, so I don't know about those benefits so much.

Prioritize a gym/yoga/workout/whatever physical activity schedule and stick to it - make sure it's doable for you so that you're not making it into stress.

Get sleep. Make sleep something you prioritize also.

Make eating well - and therefore also feeling well - a thing.

Snuggle your pets and your partner.
posted by Medieval Maven at 3:22 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm also engaged, and this shit is so hard. The wedding industry works its hardest to make women feel bad about ourselves and like we have to look perfect or it somehow will negatively impact our entire marriage going forward. Or... something? I don't know, I have a lot of feelings about it.

First and foremost, I will say that you are going to be a beautiful bride. Whether you do any particular thing or not. All brides are goddamn beautiful and you will NOT be an exception. I promise.

I also think that one thing which could really help is to frame this more as "self care" and less about getting pretty. With that framework in mind:

Yoga: I think this is a great idea. Not because it's going to make you look any different (I have to say that no yoga class I've ever taken has made me physically look "better", whatever that means), but because if you go into it with the right frame of mind, it can be amazingly relaxing and centering. A good instructor or a school with a good approach will make you feel strong and powerful and grounded and like fuck the haters, I'm exactly where I need to be. Which is 100% what you need re all this wedding stuff.

Juice Cleanse: nooooooooooo. For one thing, it's not going to actually DO anything. Cleanses are a myth based on bad science. For another thing, if your wedding is in a month, presumably you already bought a dress and it is the size it is and has already been altered to fit you. Losing weight is just going to mean gaining another alteration bill. (Also, I have at least one friend who starved herself the month before her wedding and it made her crazy.)

Facial: I think this is also another great "self care" idea. Facials are wonderfully relaxing, if you enjoy getting them, and if you have skin problems, they might help. (Personally they make me break out, but I find them relaxing, so I get them anyway. Maybe schedule sooner rather than later?) A massage or spa day could also be an awesome idea.

Waxing: I would only do this if you have specific hair that you want to remove, and whatever you're already doing about that doesn't work well or is unsightly. Most areas of your body that people routinely get waxed are not areas that are typically on display while wearing a wedding dress, too. Maybe get your brows done? This is also something I'd do not too close to the wedding in case you don't like the results.

Therapist: I'm not sure what this would really accomplish in one month, but I do think this is on the right track. Is there someone you already have a good relationship with that you can schedule a chat or a visit with? Just to vent and get out your anxieties? Do you have a friend who always makes you feel really good about yourself, or knows just what to say? Maybe offer to buy her lunch in exchange for her just being real supportive for the afternoon? Other "mental health" things that aren't therapy specifically could also be a good idea. Spend a day doing something you're really good at. Put yourself into a situation where you know you'll feel good about yourself. Or just go to your happy place in whatever way usually works for you.

What about talking about some of this stuff with your fiance, who I'm sure thinks you are drop dead gorgeous and would be happy to tell you so?

Again, I don't want to make you feel like your impulses here are wrong. I'm getting married in 6 months and am already like MY UPPER ARMS ARE THE WORST and WHAT IS TO BECOME OF MY HAIR and basically every bad body image impulse I've ever had. Not to mention that I feel pretty unconfident about fashion and style, so shoes and hair and makeup and accessories just have me generally in the dumps. I flip back and forth between wishing we did it Betazoid style and being like BUT MY ANKLES ARE FAT. But, like I said, I've never been to a wedding or even seen pictures of a wedding and thought "oy vey the bride was hideous". So you got this! No matter what kind of personal care regimen you opt for. Just take care of yourself!
posted by Sara C. at 3:30 PM on September 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

You are fine. When I was engaged someone told that, "Really, at the end of the day there is a 99% chance you'll be married." Which sounds flippant, but it put me into my right headspace. We are getting married - all the accoutrements were nice but ultimately unimportant.

I would:
‣ Call a friend every day and ask about them. Get out of the me-me-me space.
‣ Meditate (or pray if that's your jam).
‣ Get enough sleep
‣ Do yoga or go for a walk every day (because it will help you sleep)
‣ Focus on something achievable (Duolingo is my go to here - 10 minutes a day to start on a new language.)
‣ Use white strips
‣ Two weeks out, cut down on the salt and carbs. (And don't drink at the rehearsal dinner.)

I would not:
‣ Start or change a facial or skin care regime. You are probably stressed out, and skin can freak out.
‣ Juice cleanses or take diet pills.

Best wishes for a lifetime of happiness. Get through these 30 days and onward to the fun stuff.
posted by 26.2 at 3:31 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Just to throw it out there: sometimes we start sweating the "small" stuff when a major life change is approaching because we're excited but also stressed and nervous. But sometimes it's a sign that there's a deeper issue that needs addressing. If you feel 100% on the upcoming wedding and marriage that follows, then I'd try to do the little things people are suggesting above. But if you have some other doubts, please take note and time for yourself. See the therapist, journal, eat healthy, try yoga, and even consider postponing the wedding. A postponed or cancelled wedding may be a financial loss and personal embarrassment but it's small potatoes compared to being stuck in a marriage that makes you unhappy. That said, if you truly are just worried about looking your best, I'd start by getting a good haircut tomorrow!
posted by smorgasbord at 3:33 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also, I'm seeing a lot of really intense diet advice above, and, look, I don't know if any of those people have ever been married or are female or had weddings, but logistically, it's a terrible idea. Not just based on results and it's impact on your stress levels and other things that have already been brought up, but because you already have a wedding dress, and it is most likely already altered as much as it's going to be altered. This might not be something that never-married non-women who've never had weddings/worn wedding dresses will understand.

Trying to lose noticeable amounts of weight now is a recipe for extreme stress about whether your dress will fit and how expensive/what kind of turnaround time you're looking at for further alterations. Not to mention that most wedding dresses can only be taken in so much before it starts to ruin the integrity of the dress.

Six months ago, I might have seen "go on this highly restrictive diet" as a good option in your situation. But right now, it's just going to make things harder no matter what, even if you lose a lot of weight.
posted by Sara C. at 3:43 PM on September 9, 2016 [10 favorites]

I don't think a one day a week juice cleanse is going to do the damage other posters are claiming. I've done all juice on some days just by accident - I made a big juice and I liked it. Maybe do two juices and have a sensible dinner. I actually don't think it's a bad idea at all. I wouldn't do more than one day a week though, and it just depends on what you like and how you feel. If you try it one day and it sucks, don't do it more. It's just one day.
posted by zutalors! at 3:54 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have been married for 22 years.

I promise you that the joy of your love and commitment for your partner, the support and community of your family and friends, and the raucous celebrating you will be having is what will stick in your mind. The photos, the perfect walk down the aisle and all that are something we all think about.

On my wedding day in 1994 I wore a massive bow on my butt, and my glasses were a bit askew and you can totally see that my dress was a little big in the shoulders and slipped down a bit on one side on my way down the aisle and it is all totally, totally fine.

posted by warriorqueen at 3:58 PM on September 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

Just because I'm paranoid, I feel the need to point out that you can, in fact, drink too much water and mess up your electrolyte balance. So don't go too water-happy. Drink a reasonable amount.
posted by delight at 4:48 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm one month out too!

Can't say my anxieties are around my looks on the particular day; mine are more about logistics and a smooth-running day.

However, here's what I'm doing, looks-wise:

I just got a micro-derm abrasion

Drinking a shitload of water

Going to bed at 10 every night, even on weekend

Extra moisturizer

Tooth-whitening strips

Practicing makeup, as I'm doing my own

Going to ridiculous HIIT classes which are actually kinda fun

Got an expensive and baller haircut (I'm not getting an updo/style, but if you are maybe you could get more than one consultation and try a few styles?)

Cutting out major chunks of carbs (bread, potato, pasta, etc)

Having fun with my friends as usual (not giving up wine, I love wine)

But regardless -- nobody's perfect. My wedding day won't be perfect. Hell, I'll probably get a horrible cystic zit on my chin. My mother will probably get lost somewhere, on the way to the wedding. Who cares! We'll both laugh at this shit later, and probably in short order.

Hang in there! Memail me if you want to commiserate.

(Apologies for bad formatting/grammar. In phone.)
posted by functionequalsform at 5:31 PM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

The morning of, none of this is going to matter. You may be surprised how much the day is not about looking beautiful. It will actually be the last thing on your mind pretty quickly, if my experience and that of friends is any guide.

In your shoes, with the time and money, I'd go for the yoga, but not every day, because that's overkill. Look for teachers that spend time on inner aspects of yoga - calming, balancing, grounding, healing, restorative. Avoid Bikram or power flow right now. Yoga does make you feel happier in your body and more connected to it, as well as (if you do the right kind) calmer in general.

Nthing the water, sleeping, eating a healthy, normal diet, and massage. For exercise, take some hourlong walks at a fast pace, or light jogs. I agree lifting free weights with your arms can add tone, and you can do enough in a month to see a difference.

Instead of a therapist, look into a meditation app like Headspace. You can use it for 10 minutes a day, and it's great at keeping you calm, balanced, focused and mindful. It may give you a lot of what therapy would in a month, for a lot less money and time. Plan to start therapy, if you need it, after the wedding. It takes a fair amount of research and sometimes trial and error to get the right therapist anyway, and chances are they wouldn't be able to work you into the schedule fast anyhow. Start out with mindfulness meditation.
posted by Miko at 6:16 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

It sounds like at least half of your stress is mental. (I TOTALLY understand. I got married a little over a year ago.) My advice would be to pay attention to how you feel as you read all of these very well-meaning comments. I noticed as I read them that they sort of seem to be divided into two camps: One camp of people saying, "Rest, take it easy, enjoy life, don't worry," and the other camp saying, "It's your wedding! Get in shape! Diet! DO STUFF!" lol.

Ultimately, YOU have to decide which advice you're going to take. If you try to take ALL of the advice here, you're going to be a wreck. (Yoga! Diet! Low carb! Salads! Sleep! More salads! More sleep!) So, as you read the comments, listen to yourself. If reading the words "Sleep more," makes you feel kind of happy and wistful, maybe you should be doing that. If reading the words "Sleep more," makes you feel anxious and tense and a little wheezy, maybe don't do that. If reading the words "go on x diet," makes you feel happy and energized, maybe do that. If reading the words "go on x diet," makes you feel anxious and tense and a little wheezy, maybe don't do that.

This is more about helping you to FEEL great on your wedding day, and to feel great about how you look. Go with what feels right to you.
posted by quiet_musings at 6:48 PM on September 9, 2016 [7 favorites]

I love what a lot of folks here have said about feeling good being more important than looking "perfect" or having everything run "perfectly." For our wedding, we explicitly set our expectations low. We said, "At the end of the day, if we're married and no one got hurt/sick, it's a success." At the end of the day, we were married and everyone was safe. Success!!

If you look at it from the outside, our wedding wasn't perfect. We didn't have the processional music loud enough at the ceremony. We forgot our written list of thank yous for our speech before our first dance. Our awesome friends forgot the speakers for the cocktail playlist at the reception, and we entirely forgot to press play on the other playlist for our next-day afterparty. None of this mattered. Our wedding was full of laughter, love, hugs, and some excited jumping up and down, so it was perfect as far as we are concerned.

I think the same thinking can be applied to your worries about your appearance. Literally no one will notice if you have a few flyaway hairs or are a couple pounds heavier than your target weight - they'll just be seeing that gorgeous smile on your face as you marry your favorite person in the world, and they'll all be cheering and celebrating with you guys.

We just celebrated our five year anniversary, and I can probably tell you the loving, lovely contributions each guest made to the wedding (like, down to the kind of cookie they brought for the cookie table) with much greater accuracy than I can relate any of our carefully curated playlists. A wedding is a day. A marriage is (hopefully) a life.

In terms of yoga, if you decide to go that route, I also agree with what others have said about focusing on something more relaxing and chill than power yoga. One thought, especially if joining a studio is intimidating, is doing yoga at home via YouTube videos. I LOVE Yoga with Adriene - the videos always feel like hanging out with a close, supportive, encouraging friend, and she's great at working with beginners (I was brand-new to yoga when I started doing her videos).

If you've done some yoga before, you might really like/benefit from her 30 Days of Yoga Camp series from earlier this year. Each day has an empowering mantra in addition to the workout so you can work on, as she says, "dat yoga mind" in addition to "dat yoga booty." I'm not a very woo person, and I did not find the mantras cheesy at all.

If you've never done yoga, you might be better starting with her Yoga for Complete Beginners, and then moving on to videos like A Little Goes a Long Way, Yoga for Anxiety and Stress, Gentle Yoga, Intro to Yin, etc. Just pick one a day or every few days and go for it! You do not need a yoga mat or any special equipment - just maybe a towel on the ground and clothes that let you move and stretch.

Congrats on your upcoming wedding, keep breathing, and remember that a big smile is the most important part of your appearance on your wedding day - and if you're chill and happy, you'll have that. Good luck!
posted by bananacabana at 6:55 PM on September 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

In a month, if there were nothing else going on so you could concentrate on maintaining a consistent deficit, you could safely lose a max of 2 lbs a week. -2 lbs a week is hell, though, would be awful with wedding stress. -1 lbs would still not feel great. -0.5 lbs would be doable under stressful conditions, but you'd only lose 2 lbs that month. Which isn't worth the effort, at this particular time, in my opinion. And anyway, if say you're on some borderline, sizewize, and the 2 lbs did make any kind of difference, you might have to worry about the dress needing some kind of adjustment, in a short time-frame. Wouldn't want to risk that, personally.

So I would keep calorie intake the same, forget about losing weight. (And would focus on good nutrition, for health, sleep, energy, etc. 2nd vit B complex for energy, that stuff is amazing [if you need it, maybe get a blood test to see]. Also D & C.)

Now, if I were wearing e.g. a strapless dress, and wanted slightly more "toned"-looking arms, shoulders, and back, I'd do a 3-day/week, high-repetition lifting routine (10-15 repetitions per set, shooting for close to muscle failure). You wouldn't be able to actually gain any real muscle in a month (maybe a teensy, tiny bit, if you mowed down on protein and consistently lifted hard), but you could get a wee little "pump" (which would be down to your muscles retaining water). It wouldn't look like huge muscles or anything, might just give you subtle definition.

Gentle cardio like walking (or swimming) could help with mood and stress relief, and might improve circulation - you might feel and look a bit more energized. (If they're changes you'd feel comfortable adding & you don't go to extremes, & especially if you're fuelling those efforts with good food. Ramp up frequency, duration & intensity with some kind of beginner program, don't go nuts.)

Face: I know I could handle two facials in a month, but if you don't know if you could, maybe have one now, and see how you react. Glycolic acid is amazing for skin complexion & luminosity. (It's an exfoliant, dissolves the topmost layer of skin, revealing juicy freshness underneath. Could try another AHA like lactic acid if you're sensitive. Would go with a low percentage for use at home, not a peel or anything.) Topical vitamin C serum in the morning can help with skin tone. I think you'd feel good about where you were at after a month (if these work for you). However, introducing too many products at once might cause a reaction, so I'd test one of them for a bit and then try the other. Would put nothing new on the face 2 weeks before the day. (Actually, if you're concerned about face stuff, maybe book an appointment with a derm now for a day or two before the wedding, so you know you've got a place. Cancel if it turns out you don't need it [and put the cancellation date in your calendar as an alarm, just in case].)

Definitely would focus on sleep.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:27 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Are you exercising currently? Definitely don't go from zero to 30 consecutive days of yoga, but if you like yoga enough to do it 2-3 times a week without overdoing anything or overscheduling yourself, consider one of those passes if it's a good deal. If the studio is intimidating or snobby, bail and try another studio, you're worth the $30. Walking and running are also good and free. I like the You Are Your Own Gym app because I can work out in a spare 30 minutes in my apartment for $0 and I like getting stronger.

Not because it will change your looks noticeably, though it probably won't hurt, but because I only notice the mood-enhancing, stress-relieving, sleep-improving effects of exercise when I make it a habit. For me a month would be just long enough to start feeling it.

Be sure to eat more if you exercise more, especially if you have a fitted dress. Disregard if you hate exercise!
posted by doift at 7:43 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, I'm seeing a lot of really intense diet advice above, and, look, I don't know if any of those people have ever been married or are female or had weddings, but logistically, it's a terrible idea. Not just based on results and it's impact on your stress levels and other things that have already been brought up, but because you already have a wedding dress, and it is most likely already altered as much as it's going to be altered. This might not be something that never-married non-women who've never had weddings/worn wedding dresses will understand.

I think the diet advice has to do with preventing stress related skin breakouts and tiredness, for which it does work to eat really, really healthy. No one is going to lose enough weight in a few weeks to not fit in a dress unless they go on a massive coke binge or don't eat at all. Especially a few weeks filled with family and friends coming to town and wanting to go out and eat and drink. But it'll help with bloating and skin tone and puffy eyes and stuff like that.
posted by fshgrl at 7:52 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Drink a lot of water, get a lot of sleep, and eat a low-sodium diet.

Hydration is a great trick. It's how flight attendants keep themselves looking fresh when they're cooped up in a plane all day, it helps your stomach feel full, and it's very refreshing.

Sleep is something else with a multitude of benefits. You have more energy, you can concentrate better, and you feel relaxed.

Sodium is the opposite: you retain water, making you feel bloated, and it raises your blood pressure.

Yoga is an ok idea, especially if you're not a beginner. It'll relax your mind, and your body will feel nice and loose.

If you're concerned about weight, look into carb cycling. I wouldn't suggest a full low-carb diet, because you'll probably be eating a ton of cake and other sugars at the wedding and after, and if you haven't eaten carbs for a while before that, it'll be a shock to your system. Carb cycling gives you many if the benefits without the drawbacks.

Consider cutting out alcohol. I know people enjoy it, but they're unnecessary carbs, and drinking makes you feel like shit afterward.

posted by kevinbelt at 8:34 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Can't believe how much more glowy my skin looks when I use vitamin C serum in my nighttime skin routine. Also maybe try some sheet masks for extra lovely plump moisturey goodness.
posted by moons in june at 8:41 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Walking, water, rest/sleep, yoga (2 or 3x a week). Get hair cut and colored a couple of weeks before the wedding. Get hair, nails, and makeup done for the wedding. And enjoy! Your happiness will give you that special glow you're hoping for :)
posted by emd3737 at 10:31 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Avoid well-meaning people who stress you out about your wedding. Like fussy parents. Tell them you're trying NOT to think about it.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:48 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

These tips are mostly for looking your best in photos. I speak from personal experience; I wish I had done a lot of these things when I got married.

First of all: Whiten your teeth, get a spray tan, get your underarms waxed if your dress is sleeveless/strapless.

You need a hair and makeup trial. Get it done early in the day so, just like on your wedding day, you can see how it looks morning, afternoon and evening. You can see how the makeup looks in different light and how well your hair holds up over time. Also pay attention to your veil and any hair accessories you want to wear - do they need constant adjustment or do they stay put?

Also re: hair and makeup trial, if you can have pro photos taken of you and review them to make sure you like how your hair/makeup look in photos. You will be photographed from every angle on the big day, so make sure you like the way your hair looks from the side, back, etc. For hair, take note of if your hair is dirty or clean during the trial. If you like your trial hair, make sure it is the same dirty or clean level on the big day too. Otherwise it will look different!

With makeup, more is more. You may think you want natural or you may be shocked looking at yourself with so much makeup on, but don't skip on eyeliner and fake lashes, and play with different lipstick colors, from nude to bright red or pink. Again, have someone take photos, preferably with a DSLR, so you can see how you look. What you like in the mirror or on Pinterest you may not like in photos. What you thought you would hate you may end up loving.

Don't forget to touch up your hair and makeup a few times throughout the big day - have supplies ready for that.

Get a gel manicure and pedicure a day or two before.

Finally, figure out if you have a good side and communicate that to your photographer (and your fiancé) in advance.
posted by curtains at 3:33 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd be cautious about completely cutting out alcohol for a month if you're planning to drink at your wedding. Your tolerance will be way down and more than one glass of champagne may then be too much.
posted by kjs4 at 5:07 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

A massage or 2 or one a week even wouldn't hurt.

Don't start a juice cleanse or an intense diet just before your wedding or when under stress that is when you need all your energy the most. Eating healthfully is fine but now is not the time to try severe changes to your diet

Maybe buy yourself a nice face cream, a month will be long enough for it to start working & if nothing else it will feel a little like spoiling yourself every night before bed when you put it on. Go something with AHA's in to make your skin look a little fresher by the big day. Wear sunscreen if you do. Avoid retinols if you aren't sure how to use them without making your skin appear dry & flaky.

Get enough sleep.

Drink enough water.

Teeth whitening strips.

Try some gentle exercise everyday even if it's just going for a walk around a block or 2 during which time you will not think about the wedding or anything else & just listen to some nice music, or daydream or look at the birds & the pretty gardens in the neighbourhood.
posted by wwax at 8:49 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I asked this question about getting my glow back a while ago, and found many of the answers very helpful.
posted by rpfields at 9:28 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Agree with everyone else - relax because even if everything isn't perfect you'll still end up married, which is the ultimate goal of the day.

However, no alcohol, no carbs, a solid skincare regimine (money is better spent on daily use products than a one time facial), waxing of anything you feel insecure about, and the right amount of sleep will really help.

Also, eyelash extensions are LIFE CHANGING. That may seem shallow but it's really nuts. Especially if you have a lot of wedding events plus a honeymoon. I am fairly low maintenance but I love mine. They last more than a month if you take care of them, and you wake up in the morning looking fabulous.
posted by elvissa at 9:51 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nthing sleep. Get whatever stress off your plate that you can and start sleeping more. Years ago I was in a big layoff that took away the work problems I used to think about into the night, and even with a full day of job searching each day I was eating better and getting a full night's sleep each night. I went to a networking event and more than one of my colleagues told me I looked "ten years younger" without the tired bags under my eyes.
posted by Lady Li at 10:20 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for your advice, suggestions, and kind words! Always helpful and always gives me some new perspective. I love the "self-care" approach versus the vanity (which I was also feeling shameful about). Thank you, thank you, thank you!
posted by kmr at 9:27 AM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

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