An integral part of having the perfect wedding is getting that wedding-ready body. Your fiance loves you just the way you are, but when you look back on your special day, you want to know you looked the best you ever have in your life. After all, it’s a once in a lifetime day. But to achieve perfection, from the ideal weight to toned muscle to glowing skin and flawless hair, you have to plan ahead. While you’re taking the time to plan your special day, from invitation designs to seating charts, make sure to plan the care and the keeping of you.
Getting your body wedding-ready requires as much forward-thinking, preparation, and commitment as planning the wedding itself. Here’s your 12-month guide to looking absolutely fabulous on your wedding day!
12 Months Away — Plan Ahead
The key to a successful self-care and fitness regimen is careful planning and time. In the days and weeks immediately following your engagement, while you’re hunting for the perfect wedding venue, start planning your fitness routine. First, set goals for yourself — do you want to have toned arms? A flat stomach? Maybe you just have a goal weight or wedding dress size? No matter what you’re hoping to achieve, it’s a good idea to set goals for yourself early, so you can keep tabs on whether or not you’re on track for your big day. Keep in mind that if you’re building muscle, the number on your scale might not change very much even while you’re shedding fat. Do your research and plan realistic goals, so you don’t get overwhelmed and frustrated. Frustration is the quickest way to give up on your goals before you even have a real shot at attaining them.
This is also the time to plan your fitness program — are you going to join a gym? Run a half-marathon at the six month mark? Invest in at-home DVDs? Enroll in spin or Zumba classes? Decide what appeals to you and start signing up/investing in your program. Create a workout diary for yourself so you can keep track of your regimen from days of the week to the number of crunches you do on a particular day. Use the workout diary to record your starting weight and measurements, and also to track progress on the scale or with the measuring tape along the way.
Finally, look into bride-specific regimens. Books like Greg Doyle’s Fit for a Brideoffer recommendations specific to bridal body goals. Another option to consider is a bridal workout plan, which many specialty gyms offer.
11 Months Away — Strength-Building
If you want to look toned and strong on your wedding day, a strength building exercise routine is key. However, to see lasting results, strength-building takes time and dedicated maintenance. So it’s important to start early and stay strong throughout the run up to your wedding. You can pick the plan that’s right for you in terms of intensity, approach, and body zones to focus on, but choose something you can commit to and stick with. If you want killer abs or strong, toned arms, make sure you choose the best workout routines to maximize those zones. Options include lifting weights at the gym, a low-intensity full-body workout, or an aerobic program like P90X or Crossfit that builds strength training into a more all encompassing fitness routine.
Part of the key to strength-training is giving your body appropriate time to heal and rest, so make sure you are planning a regimen that only has you working certain areas several times a week. Be sure to plan a day of rest into your routine each week as well! A muscle injury will seriously delay your routine and possibly prevent you from reaching your goals by your wedding day.
10 Months Away — Cardio
When you hit the 10 month mark, it’s time to amp up your cardio routine. Most likely, you’ve already been doing some form of aerobic or cardio activity, but commit to a steady cardio workout plan now. Pick something you love — whether it’s swimming laps, jamming to tunes in a spin class, stretching out in yoga, training for a race, or dancing your newly engaged booty off in Zumba class. If you love your workout plan, you’re way more likely to stick with it.
Make sure you’re maximizing your cardio routine by finding your target heart rate and staying within that zone throughout your workout. To find your zone, figure out your maximum heart rate (the highest your heart should be beating during your exercise session) by using this formula: 220 – your age (in years) = maximum heart rate.
Once you’ve found your maximum heart rate, use the following formulas to find your target heart rate zone, which should be somewhere between 30 and 60 beats per minute less than your maximum heart rate.
Maximum heart rate – 30 = target heart rate high
Maximum heart rate – 60 = target heart rate low
Finally, on a non-exercise related note, if you’re thinking about making any drastic changes to your hair for your wedding (changing the color or length significantly), plan a meeting with your stylist to test out the new look. This way, if you hate the color or the length, you have plenty of time to let it return to normal. If you love it, then it’s easy to maintain it over the next several months.
9 Months Away — Diet and Dress
Most likely, you’ve already started dieting by now, but if you haven’t and are serious about slimming down, now is the time to do it to allow for any cheats such as holidays, birthdays, etc. This way you have several months to achieve your goal weight, rather than waiting until the last minute and embarking on a dangerous, and most likely, unsuccessful starvation diet.
We’ve all seen the trends — from Atkins to the South Beach diet to Paleo — there’s hundreds of fads and trendy diets out there to try to help you lose weight in a timely manner. Truth be told, the only really feasible and proven way is simply counting your calories the old-fashioned way. If you’re really gung-ho to try a diet trend, be our guest, but you’ll most likely be most successful managing your caloric intake, thereby allowing yourself the occasional dessert or sugary beverage. Whatever you do, make sure you’re consuming enough calories, especially if you’re maintaining an intense workout regimen. If not, your body could go into starvation mode, hoarding calories and making weight loss significantly more difficult. If the option is available to you, consult with a personal trainer or nutritionist to find the best diet plan based on your workout regimen and goals.
If you haven’t already, this is the month to choose your wedding dress. This will allow plenty of time for personalization, alterations, etc. It’s a great celebratory way to pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you’ve done so far and to imagine how great you’re going to look on your wedding day. Knowing what your gown looks like will not only motivate you, but help you know what parts of your body you want to concentrate on. If your dress is sleeveless, start toning those arms. Maybe it has long sleeves, but a fitted waist — work those abs! No matter the dress you choose, you’ll have body parts you’re showing off and others you’re hiding. Knowing definitively what’s what can help you focus your workout routine further.
8 Months Away — Skin Care
With 8 months to go, it’s time to start focusing on your skin to make sure you have the blemish-free, glowing complexion of a happy, healthy bride. This is the time to take definitive action when it comes to your skin care regimen. If you don’t already use a daily cleanser and moisturizer, start including that in your bedtime/morning routine. If you’re concerned about blemishes or wrinkles, consider investing in a tone or a wrinkle/blemish cream to start smoothing problem areas. If you’re deeply concerned about your skin, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist to see what your options are from laser treatments to microdermabrasion to botox.
Show your skin some TLC. Even if it’s winter or you don’t live in a sunny climate, start wearing sunscreen every day to prevent unwanted redness and blemishes on your skin. And start adding skin-friendly fatty acid foods to your diet, such as tuna, salmon, halibut and almonds. On the flip side, cut out high sodium foods, such as diet soda and canned foods, that dehydrate your skin. While these are best practices for your day to day life, you should at least maintain them through the wedding day to ensure your skin is glowing and healthy looking.
7 Months Away — Take Stock of How Far You’ve Come
You’re halfway to your wedding day and your goal weight/hair/skin, etc. now. This is the time to take stock of how you’re doing and reevaluate your goals. Are you losing weight as quickly as you need or want to? Is your muscle definition starting to take shape? Determine if you’re on track and how realistic your original goals are. If you want to kick your fitness into high gear, look into programs designed for a 6-month end goal. If you feel you’re truly falling short, don’t lose hope, enlist help! This is the perfect time to hire a personal trainer or a nutritionist to help you maximize the next six months.
6 Months Away — Enlist a Buddy
You’ve been doing great on your own so far, but don’t go the last six months alone. This is the time when the going gets tough and the wedding planning stress starts to amplify. To stay on track, you’ll likely need an accountability partner. But don’t worry — the options are endless. Stick to a diet plan with your future groom, organize a running or fitness group with your bridesmaids, train for a race with your maid of honor, plan healthy trips to the grocery store with your mom — you aren’t the only one in your bridal party who will be wanting to look their best. If you can’t find someone closer to home to be your partner in crime, there are always diet groups and even Bridal Bootcamps designed to help motivate fitness focused brides before their big day.
5 Months Aways — Work those Abs! (& Check that Make-up)
If you’re craving that perfect honeymoon bikini body, now is the time to start investing in your ab workout. All the crunches on earth won’t give you a six-pack, so be sure to enroll in ab-specific workout classes or find a stomach-targeting workout. To maximize results, work your abs at least three times a week on nonconsecutive days and vary your movements so as to not focus on only one section of your abdomen.
In addition to focusing on your tummy, this is a good time to get together with your hair and makeup stylists to test your wedding day look. This will give you ample time to make any adjustments if you’re not loving the initial test run. Make sure to bring lots of photos for inspiration with you to your appointment, and use the extra time you’ve given yourself to try out a bunch of different looks so you can be sure you’ll be modeling your favorite on your big day. Don’t forget to bring your veil or any other accessories that will impact your hair and make-up.
4 Months Away — Hydrate!
H2O is your best friend these last few months. Starting now, you should be drinking water all day, every day. The recommended amount is 11 8-ounce glasses a day — strive to achieve this goal every single day. Increasing your water intake and avoiding dehydration has numerous health benefits — since water keeps you full, people who drink a lot of water tend to consume fewer calories. That means drinking a lot of water will help you lose weight more quickly, an added boost in this last push to shed pounds. It’s also an amazing cosmetic agent for your skin — high water intake keeps your skin looking dewy, youthful, and vibrant by reducing pore size and keeping your skin cells well hydrated. Studies have also shown that water-drinkers suffer fewer bouts with acne. If you want to be glowing and lovely on your wedding day, staying hydrated is an easy and surefire way to help you achieve that goal.
3 Months Away — Get that Fit (and Set that Brow)
About this time, you should be starting to finalize many things, particularly your wedding gown. Though you can still continue toning and losing weight, this is the perfect time to have your first dress fitting, as your body won’t change drastically between now and the wedding. A crucial part of this fitting is having the right undergarments — enhancing underwear, from a padded, push-up bra to Spanx to a modern-day corset to control-top pantyhose to a fake butt (yes, we’re serious!) can help fill in or tighten areas where your workouts haven’t managed to achieve perfection. Just make sure that you bring these with you to the dress fitting so that your gown fits you (and your undergarments) like a glove.
This is also the best time to settle on your brow shape for your big day — this way, if the brow technician tweezes or waxes away too much, you have time for them to grow back. Aim for natural, full-looking brows that fit your face shape and you can maintain with minor tweezing over the next few months. If you love how they look, go back for a professional touch-up the week of the wedding.
2 Months Away — Spa Day and Self-Care
This month is all about getting your body in perfect shape from head-to-toe. Now that you’ve done the workouts and dieted, make sure your skin, hair, teeth, etc. look just the way you want. It’s a great time to hit the spa — you’ll want a relaxing escape from wedding prep and a massage is a great stress reliever (remember, stress manifests itself in all sorts of visible forms on your body). Or choose from a series of revitalizing treatments like body wraps and scrubs to help make sure your skin has that perfect healthy glow. This is a great time to begin a series of micro-current facials to ensure your face is looking its best in time for your big day. Or if you have a back baring gown, consider a back facial to make sure the back view is just as lovely as the front.
This is also the month to have your teeth whitened to ensure you have your brightest smile in your wedding photos. Touch up your teeth with a professional cleaning and an in-office whitening procedure, then maintain your brighter smile with whitening strips up until the big day.
If you don’t want to look too pale or a weird orange color on your wedding day, this is also the time to lock down your self-tan. Whether you’re using the services of aesthetician or applying self-tanning product at home, go for a test run. If you come out looking too orange, you’ve allowed plenty of time for yourself to fade to a healthy glow. On the flip side, if you’re still feeling too pale, you can apply self-tanner multiple times to gradually gain that healthy sun-kissed look. If you’re using a self-tanner product at home, make sure you apply it no later than two days before your wedding to avoid streaking and unevenness.
Finally, it’s time for your second wedding dress fitting. You should practically be at your final wedding weight and body now, so this will allow them to adjust to any changes since your first visit.
One Month to Go — Relax and Final Touches
Truly, the most important thing to do in this last month is to treat yourself well and relax. Get plenty of sleep, eat well, and don’t exhaust yourself with strenuous workouts. Taking any extreme measures at this point is more likely to result in looking tired, stressed, or strained than helping you achieve an unattainable goal.
This is also the time to finalize some aspects of your wedding day look. If you’re going to want lash extensions, apply them now. This way you can be sure you won’t have an allergic reaction to the glue or product, and achieve the desired color and length. Then they’ll just need touch-ups on the actual wedding day.
Give your hair its final touches as well. If you’re loving your current cut and color, go in for one last touch-up with your stylist to make sure it’s exactly what you want. You want your cut and color to be as fresh as possible (don’t make any drastic changes you might regret at this late a date)! For shiny, salon-worthy hair, go for an in-salon keratin treatment to ensure you hair is gleaming and appropriately volumized on your big day. An at-home gloss closer to the day itself is a cheaper alternative, but be wary of overly conditioning it if you’re doing an updo. Sleek hair doesn’t hold a style as well as textured hair.
Final Two Weeks
This is it– the last two weeks before your wedding day, perhaps a day you’ve imagined your entire life. Use the time to put those finishing touches on your look. Get your hair or bangs trimmed one last time if need be. Wax away any unwanted hair, but do this no later than 72 hours prior to the wedding to avoid visible redness and skin irritation. Go to the salon for a manicure and pedicure the week of to avoid chipping. You may want to go in for one last depuffing facial and use depuffing pads under your eyes to keep your skin in tip-top shape. And lastly, get that final wedding dress fitting to make sure it’s the gown of your dreams in every way.
And that’s it — you’ve made it! You were always beautiful, but now you are now the wedding ready, beautiful, blushing bride you always wanted to be. Relish the day all the more knowing you’ve done everything in your power to look your best.
This article was first published at Brilliance