There comes a time between getting engaged and getting married that most brides decide they would like to lose some weight and tone up a little.

  • It may be to fit into your perfect wedding dress.
  • It may be to feel more confident when having your photos taken.
  • It may be to just feel amazing being fitter and having more energy.

Every bride also has a different timeframe to lose weight for their wedding as well…

  • Some may have a 2-year engagement…
  • Some may skip the engagement and want to get married next week!

For the above reasons, I’ve designed this article to be the ultimate article on pre-wedding diet plans.

I’ve outlined how to lose weight in different time periods, be it a wedding diet for one week or a wedding diet for one year. I’ve also outlined how to lose weight on a wedding diet quickly, but also slower if that suits your situation as well.

First of all though, it’s important to understand what you really want to get out of your wedding diet…

For most brides, yes they want to lose weight, but they want to lose weight because they want to look SMALLER.

Looking smaller is the ultimate goal.

Losing weight vs looking smaller

You may consider losing weight and looking smaller to be the same thing, but it’s not always true. This is particularly important when we start to discuss the quick wedding diets in the one, two and three week periods.

Take a minute to think about all the things your body is made up of (inside and out)…

Here are some of the most obvious things:

  • Fat.
  • Muscle.
  • Water.
  • Connective tissues.
  • Carbohydrates/sugars stores.
  • Food in the digestive system.
  • Any clothes you may be wearing.
                     Food in the digestive system.

Of these things, the clothes, food and water can change in an instant, so can change your weight in an instant too. The other four on the list require calories to be burned to change…

Muscle, carbs stores and connective tissue require 4,000 Calories to be burnt to reduce your body weight by 1kg (1,800 for 1lb).

Fat requires 7,700 Calories to be burnt to reduce your body weight by 1kg (3,500 for 1lb).

So as you can see, it’s very easy to get rid of water, clothing and food weight, a medium difficulty to reduce muscle, connective tissue and carb weight, and much more difficult to get rid of body fat weight.

Remember that previous fact, as it’s important to understand when we talk about the more intense wedding diet timeframes.

So considering what I said above, when you step on the scales to weigh yourself, you’re weighing all those things together, right? – not just fat.

However, for weight loss, losing fat should be your main focus as reducing your body fat percentage will make you look smaller.

Changing the other things that make up your weight don’t make much difference to how big or small you look, so when you weigh yourself and your weight has changed (up for down) due to one of these other things you shouldn’t be concerned…

The problem is however, you won’t know which thing is affecting your weight because as I mentioned before, the scales measure the whole of you and you can’t separate out your body fat number.

 

For this reason, it’s best to use a combination of methods to measure your progress.

My preferred methods along with the scale are:

  • Progress photos -taken every 2 weeks.
  • Tape measure measurements – taken every week of your waist, hips, thighs and arms.
  • General judgment of how your clothes are fitting.

The scales are good to give a general trend of weight loss, but the daily measurements shouldn’t be paid much attention to.

Water is the biggest influencer of your weight day-to-day. As water has no calories, it doesn’t have to be burnt off to change. As mentioned before, because of this, water can change your daily weight up or down very quickly, however that doesn’t mean you are gaining or losing fat or size.

The biggest influencers of water on your weight are:

  • The amount of salt in your meals.
  • Your Stress level.
  • Amount and intensity of exercise.
  • Whether you eat a high or low carb diet.
  • Your menstrual cycle!

Summary:

You should now understand you want to reduce your body fat level rather than your weight. It’s reducing your body fat that makes you look smaller which will usually be your ultimate goal with weight loss. Water retention can have a big effect on your weight in the short-term, however as water doesn’t contain calories it doesn’t need to be burnt off and so can change your weight in an instant.


The principle of weight loss

For the general understanding of this article as a whole, it’s important to understand how weight loss happens…

There are three key words to understand here:

  • Calorie Surplus.
  • Calorie Maintainance.
  • Calorie Deficit.

Let’s quickly go through each one…

A Calorie surplus…

…means that you are consuming more calories than you are burning. So, eating more than you are burning, or put another way, burning less than you are eating.

When in a calorie surplus, you put on weight.

A Calorie maintenance…

…means that you are eating exactly the same amount of calories that you are burning. It’s referred to a calorie maintenance because it’s the required amount of calories to maintain your body weight.

A Calorie deficit…

…means that you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning. So, eating less than you are burning, or put another way, burning more than you are eating.

When in a calorie deficit, you lose weight!

Your calorie deficit is the number of calories you are consuming below your calorie maintenance level. If your calorie maintenance is 2,000 per day and you are eating 1,500, then your calorie deficit is 500 Calories.

How much do you need to eat to lose weight?

The number of calories you need to lose weight can be worked out using some simple math.

A pound of body fat contains 3,500 calories.

If you work in metric, a kilo of fat contains 7,700 Calories and half a kilo contains 3,850 Calories.

That means that to lose a pound of fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories over the time period you want to lose it in.

Obviously, you can’t be in a 3,500 calorie deficit per day as you probably don’t even eat 3,500 Calories per day – for a person usually eating 2,000 Calories per day, that would mean eating nothing plus doing extra exercise to burn off an extra 1,500 Calories.

In a week though, it’s more realistic to drop 1lb of body fat. 3,500 divided by seven is 500 Calories per day.

So if you’re normal maintenance calorie level is 2,000, then eating 1,500 daily (500 deficit per day) will cause you to lose 1 pound of fat per week.

We can then use these numbers more long-term to work out how to reach your weight loss goal.

Eating in that 500 Calorie deficit would help you lose six pounds in 6 weeks.

Faster weight loss would happen with a bigger calorie deficit, which could be created by eating fewer calories (energy input – food and drink), or burning more calories (energy output – movement/exercise).

What you don’t want to happen…

It’s very important to understand that you want to be burning body fat to lose weight rather than muscle.

You can actually drop weight faster by burning muscle over fat, however you don’t want to be doing this because of the weight vs size thing I explained previously…

You want to look smaller rather than be lighter.

You can drop a pound of body weight by burning muscle much faster than fat because a pound of muscle contains just 1,800 Calories – that’s almost half that of a pound of fat (3,500 Calories).

However, again, dropping weight by losing muscle won’t actually make you much smaller.

It can have negative consequences though!

A few are:

  • You’ll look less toned once you lose your body fat.
  • You’ll have less energy.
  • You’ll be weaker.
  • Your metabolism will lower slightly – you’ll burn slightly fewer calories automatically throughout the day.

So in light of this, the way you eat and exercise is important to retain muscle and burn fat and stop the opposite happening.


Let’s get into the main part of the article now – how to lose weight for your wedding in different time periods…

I’m going to split it into three main sections.

  1. Quick wedding diets – one week to one month.
  2. Medium-term wedding diets – one month to six months.
  3. Longer-term wedding diets – 6 months to one year plus.

1. Quick wedding diets

You’ll usually decide to do a quick wedding diet for two reasons:

  1. You left it too late to do your diet.
  2. You’ve got a very short engagement.

A quick wedding diet is going to be very intense and a lot more restrictive and difficult that a diet that lasts 30 days or more.

Losing weight quickly for obvious reasons is not the best way to get results, so if you have a choice, start much earlier.

However, you’re here looking for a solution so that’s what I’m going to give you.

With a quick wedding diet, because of the short period of time, you’ll be able to get very different results between a say one-week and three-week diet.

How to do a one-week wedding diet

In a one week diet you can expect:

1-2 pounds of fat loss.
Up to 6 pounds of weight loss.
Zero dress size change.

I feel it’s important to keep reiterating this point, but with weight loss, your ultimate goal is usually to reduce your size rather than the actual number on the scale.

Reducing your size comes down to dropping body fat rather than just weight.

For an intense one-week diet before your wedding, you can expect to lose a pound or more of body fat.

I’ve worked that out in the following way:

One pound of body fat has 3,500 Calories. With a 500 Calorie deficit, you will lose a pound over a one week period.

The amount you can lose is entirely determined by the amount of deficit that you can create.

For someone who’s already eating a lot, this will be easier. For someone who’s eating much less, it will be more difficult to create a bigger deficit.

It’s not usually advised to be extreme with a diet, however in a one-week period it’s probably ok to be a little more intense (check with your doctor first though).

To lose as much fat as possible, you can:

  1. Reduce your calories by 500+ per day.
  2. Do daily walking and exercise.
  3. Include up to 2 fast days in the week where you will abstain from eating for 24 hours.

Over the week you’ll probably see a larger drop on the scales (up to 6lbs), but not all this will be fat loss.

1-2 pounds will be fat loss, and the other ~4 pounds will be components that don’t change your body’s actual size – so water weight, less food in your stomach etc…

It’s really important to be on point with a few things as well:

  1. Aim for 150g + of protein per day to make sure your body is burning fat and not muscle.
  2. Aim to do resistance workouts as well as cardio based fitness – again to make sure your body is burning fat rather than muscle.
  3. Make sure the bulk of your food comes from fibrous vegetables to make sure you’re full and getting in a good amount of nutrients.

Negatives of doing a 1-week wedding diet:

  • You can’t really change your body size in a week. Although you can drop weight, not much will come from fat.
  • You may drop some muscle mass from the intense calorie deficit.
  • You’ll probably not feel so good as you’ll be depriving yourself of food and you should really be feeling amazing just before you get married!

How to do a two-week wedding diet

In a two-week diet, you can expect:

2+ pounds of fat loss.
6 pounds of weight loss.
Zero dress size change.

In a 2-week period you’ll be able to double the results of a one-week diet, however the amount of fat (and so size) you can lose is still very limited.

Expect 2 pounds of fat loss and 3 at the most. This won’t be enough to change your dress size yet or see a noticeable change in your shape or body size.

The scales may show a higher amount of weight loss (6lbs+), but this will be water weight, reduced carbohydrate stores in the muscle and less food in your digestive system.

The principle and method behind a two-week wedding diet is the same as the one-week – very intense, sticking to your daily calorie target, hitting daily exercise and movement goals, maybe including some fasting for better results, plus cutting out the treats.

How to do a three week to one-month wedding diet

In a diet up to 30 days, you can expect:

4+ pounds of fat loss.
6+ pounds of weight loss.
Zero dress size change.

Again, a three to four-week diet can follow a similar process to the quicker ones. To maximise the fat loss, the diet will need to be fairly intense with little cheating.

After a month you can expect up to 4lbs or more of fat loss, after which you’ll start to notice some changes in your body shape.

Although dress size changes are different for everyone, 4lbs still won’t be enough to go down a dress size.

2. Medium-term wedding diets

These usually range from 12 weeks to a year.

How to do a 3-month (12-week) wedding diet.

This is where you start to see good results with dieting.

In a 12-week diet, you can expect:

10+ pounds of fat loss.
10-20 pounds of weight loss.
1-2 dress size changes.

Three months is good time-period to lose weight and tone up for your wedding. The reason being is time!

A 12-week diet/fitness program will allow you a properly structured and more sustainable weight loss journey. It will be a lot less restrictive and you’ll be a lot happier doing a diet like this.

After three months you’ll also see much more visible results. In this time-period, our clients lose more than 10 pounds and 1 to 2 dress sizes.

You’ll also find this kind of diet one that works more long-term. You’ll not only get better results, but the learning process you go through will help you maintain your results once you reach your desired weight loss goal. Brides that decide to diet a week before their wedding and do an intense plan don’t really learn anything about the diet process, so aren’t able to carry on any results for further weight loss or maintenance after their wedding.

The basic dieting principles still apply for a 12-week program, however you can take things more slowly and you can experiment, plus be a bit more flexible. You can also taper the dieting process, so you can start off slowly, then ramp it up a little at the end to get the best results possible and take advantage of your extra motivation near your wedding date.

For a 1 to 2 dress size change in 3 months, I’d advise:

  1. Getting daily movement in and exercise at least 3 times per week.
  2. Making sure you get a strength training session in as well as cardio-based exercise.
  3. Eating 2x your body weight (kg) in grams of protein – so for a 70kg person, 140g of protein.
  4. Basing your meals around lots of vegetables and cutting down on starchy foods like rice, pasta, bread and potatoes.

Making sure you hit these targets will help you lose 10 pounds or more on your wedding diet over 12 weeks.

How to do a 6-month (24-week) wedding diet

In 6 months, you can get some really good results on your diet. It depends on how much weight you have to lose, but a longer-term diet like this can show a 3+ dress size change.

In a 6-month diet you can expect:

1-2 stone+ of fat loss.
Up to 28 pounds (2 stone) + of weight loss.
1-3+ dress size changes.

Like a 3 month diet, 6 months gives you the opportunity to sustainably diet and get some good results without having to be super-intense.

With 6 months to experiment and adjust things, you can start off slowly and work in the necessary changes as time progresses. Based on how much weight you want or need to lose, 6 months give you ample time to see some big changes in your shape and size.

There’s nothing notably different you’d do in a 6-month wedding diet compared to a 3-month one though.

As you start getting consistent with your plan I’d recommend increasing your strength based workouts to at least twice a week, as well as maintaining a 10,000 step per day average. Steps can be recorded on a fitness tracker such as a FitBit.

A six month period also gives you the chance to include some diet breaks if necessary.

A diet break just means increasing your calories slightly for a short time period (a few days to a week) to help you feel better and stick to the diet for this longer period of time. You’ll see less weight loss over the diet break days, however it will potentially help you get more weight loss in the subsequent weeks of your diet. A diet break can also help you fit in special events like a party or holiday where you might want to enjoy yourself a bit more and eat a little more food.

3. Long-term wedding diets

A longer-term diet will be 1 year plus and up to 2 years.

How to do a 1-year wedding diet

If you’ve got 1 year to do your wedding diet you’re really lucky. You’ve planned well and have ample time to make some big changes to your body shape and size.

In a year you’ve got not only time to lose a large amount of fat, but also time to build muscle which will help give you that great toned look.

In a one-year diet, you can expect:

3+ stone of fat loss.
3.5+ stone of weight loss.
3+ dress size changes.

Obviously the above only applies if you have the weight to lose.

Over a one year period, you can set out a really good diet and exercise plan. Because you have the time, you can start nailing the basics like sleep, water and movement. You can start gradually, and work in new habits as time passes. You can adjust things to make them more intense at times or tone them down a little at other times when needed.

The one-year time period also gives you time to learn and understand how diet, nutrition and exercise works which should set you up for life to help maintain your body weight and live a healthier and longer life.

On a wedding diet that lasts up to a year and onwards, I’d be building up to the following:

  1. Eating 2x your body weight (kg) in grams of protein – so for a 70kg person, 140g of protein.
  2. Getting in 7 portions of fruit and veg per day.
  3. Getting daily 10,000 steps of movement.
  4. A gym or home workout at least 3 times per week.
  5. Making sure you get 2x strength training sessions in per week.

Any diets longer than a year would work in the same way. Because of the longer timeframe, I’d just be aware of changing motivation levels and make sure you have the long-term plan set out properly using SMART goals.


Summary:

Every bride will have a different timeframe to lose weight for her wedding. How a diet works or is planned will basically be set out around how much time is available.

Quicker diets are obviously going to be more extreme and although they can work, the results won’t be as good as if you have at least 3 months to work on your body. Dieting a week before can show some weight loss, but it will be difficult to see a change in your size over this time period.

So whether you have a week or a year, make sure you set your expectations correctly and enjoy the journey to your new body.

Harry Snell

I'm a body transformation coach who's passionate about helping brides drop several dress sizes (while still being able to eat chocolate!), and feel amazing on their wedding day.
Grab my free video series on how to get toned arms for your wedding and let me know if you have any questions.

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