Reflections On My ED-Free Wedding
By Katalina Bernards
On July 21st, 2018, surrounded by the natural beauty of Bowen Island, BC, I stepped out into the sunshine to marry the love of my life. It was a beautiful, happy, playful, perfect day; we were surrounded by the people we love, and who love us in return - and my past eating disorder was absolutely nowhere to be seen.
Not that this came as a real surprise – I've put in the work to recover, and I no longer have to consciously think about choosing what's healthy and right for me. It's intuitive, and I'm so much stronger for that. But what I didn't realize until just a few days ago was how much of a role my recovered mindset played in the actual planning and execution of my wedding. With so many horror stories out there of how stressful, expensive, and high-maintenance planning a wedding can be, I was initially a little anxious about what could go wrong for us: What if I spiral out of control into a full-on Bridezilla worthy of the trashiest reality TV drama???
But I didn't. All of the same tools and strategies I had incorporated into my recovery over the years played into the way I approached my wedding, which led to me being able to be fully present in each and every moment of this truly wonderful, cherished experience.
All of the same tools and strategies I had incorporated into my recovery over the years played into the way I approached my wedding, which led to me being able to be fully present in each and every moment of this truly wonderful, cherished experience.
Here are some of the things we did that helped my husband and I stay focused, present, and happy as we planned our big day:
- We prioritized fun. Before we even started the planning stage, the two of us sat down together to decide what we thought was most important for our wedding. Turns out, we both wanted the same thing – a fun, lighthearted celebration! This allowed us to really enjoy the process and get playful with our ideas, instead of focusing on the tiny details or tired old traditions that simply weren't important to us.
- We took time. Rather than trying to do it all and working flat-out right up to the "I-do"s, I booked a full week off from work so that I could maintain balance and feel excited (instead of stressed) about the lifelong journey we were commencing together. We also took time away from the preparations to reconnect with each other and go to the beach whenever we could, which made all the difference to our wellbeing as a couple!
- We nourished ourselves. There's no getting around it – wedding season brings on a fever of questionable messages around body image & diets. But I made my peace with those messages a long time ago. I know they exist, but I can't control that narrative. I can only control my own narrative, and choose to nourish my body, mind, and soul in the ways that feel right for me.
- We asked for help. Just like I didn't achieve recovery in solitude, there is no way we could have pulled off our wedding without a little (okay, a LOT) of help from our friends & family! I'm not gonna lie, this wasn't easy for either of us – we needed a few solid reminders from our tribe that they were just waiting for us to say the word. And once we did, everything became that much easier, and way more fun! Sharing the load wasn't a burden, it was an adventure.
Did everything go absolutely perfectly, without a single hitch? Of course not. There were snags, there were plans and to-do items that did not come to fruition, and last-minute hiccoughs that we didn’t see coming. But did any of it matter? No, not really. We adapted, we laughed and took it all in stride, and we stayed focused on the important things. And if we had allowed ourselves to get tangled up in stressing over the small stuff, we would have missed out on some amazing opportunities to be totally spontaneous: We suddenly decided to improvise a first dance (we were going to skip it completely); I provided silly play-by-play commentary for a game of Giant Jenga; and my husband and I got to perform onstage together for the first time ever (he’s a professional musician, and I… well, I sing in the shower). Without these sweet moments of pure and joyful abandon, our day would not have been as memorable as it is now.
As I stepped out in my wedding gown in front of our smiling, supportive, loving friends & family, I felt more than ever the absolute freedom that recovery has given me – and I was so grateful to have left my old ED off the guestlist.
Katalina is the Volunteer & Program Manager at the Looking Glass Foundation, and holds a degree in Psychology from Simon Fraser University. She loves live music, theatre, writing, and singing when no one is listening.