Ask a Nutritionist: Is Crash Dieting for My Wedding a Good Idea?

No, it’s never a good idea, please stop this (have I hit the word count yet?)

Hi Dan. I’m a woman in my early 30s and my Covid-delayed wedding is swiftly approaching. I want to look as good as possible on the big day, but am worried I don’t have time to lose weight on a ‘normal’ workout regime. Would something more drastic – basically, a crash diet – be likely to work? And would it be bad for me long-term?

Firstly, congratulations Jennie!

Secondly, you’re not alone. Most women want to lose weight for their wedding, typically over 20lbs (9kg modern money)[1], and it is mainly women, because when men want to lose weight (a minority) they want to lose around half as much. This is despite the fact that the women sampled were less likely than the men to be classed as overweight[2]

The weight loss methods that brides-to-be use aren’t that different from all the ways people usually try to lose weight, as they tend to follow the trends at the time: low-fat, low-carb, water fasting, you name it. In Kim Kardashianesque fashion, 14 percent of women also reported that they purposely bought a wedding dress that was too small for them[1]. And that’s on top of the fact that wedding dresses often come up small.

Of course, pressure doesn’t just come from the brides themselves. A third of brides have been told by someone else that they should lose weight for their wedding[3]. The most common “someone” was the bride’s mother, followed by their fiancé. Though you can’t choose your family, you can choose your fiancé; if he’s persistent in telling you to diet, the easiest way to lose weight before your wedding is by taking the ring off your finger.

But look, if you want to lose weight – and people often do for reasons completely unrelated external pressures – then that’s completely your call. However, the research is pretty unequivocal: crash diets are almost always bad news.

Apart from the psychological stress, it’s been shown that in the six months post-wedding, brides gained over 4lbs (around 2kg) compared to their starting weight.

For women who had been told to lose weight before their wedding, that number was even higher[4] (thanks mum).

Unfortunately, there has been very little research into same-sex marriages, but I think it’s a pretty safe assumption to say crash dieting still isn’t a good idea, no matter who you’re marrying.

Wedding diet tips every bride-to-be needs to know:

  1. The more time you give yourself to lose weight, the safer and more manageable it will be.
  2. If you have to lose loads of weight to fit into the dress of your dreams, it might not the dress for you. 
  3. Being skinny doesn’t equal health. And it definitely doesn’t equal beauty.

Dan Clarke, RNutr
Lead sustainable nutrition executive

Illustration: Maria Fernanda Acosta


  1. Neighbors LA, et al. Weight and weddings: women's weight ideals and weight management behaviors for their wedding day. Appetite. 2008; 50(2-3):550-4.
  2. Klos LA, et al. Weight and weddings. Engaged men's body weight ideals and wedding weight management behaviors. Appetite. 2013; 60(1):133-9.
  3. Prichard I, et al. Unveiled: pre-wedding weight concerns and health and beauty plans of Australian brides. J Health Psychol. 2009; 14(7):1027-35.
  4. Prichard I, et al. Wedding-related weight change: the ups and downs of love. Body Image. 2014; 11(2):179-82.

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