Skin, Body, and Soul: How I Prepped For My Wedding on Every Level

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Confession: Prepping for my wedding made me realize I’d become a self-care hypocrite. 

I’m a chill bride-to-be. Almost too chill. I found my dress in the back of a lonely sale rack at a local boutique and was stoked when it just-about zipped, thinking I’d be able to lose ten pounds within the next year. That pretty much sums up the entirety of my wedding planning–I just figured I’d have time to handle everything later. 

I mean, I put it all off for good reason–work was crazy, I started my own side business, and I was writing for freelance jobs until 11pm every night in order to build up enough momentum to quit my 9-to-5. I prioritized my career over my wedding, which felt very French or very feminist, maybe both–until I hit the two month mark and realized how much work I had to do. Not only on the wedding, but on myself.

The stress of work had hit me hard, and I felt like shit. I gained 20 pounds in two months (so my dress wasn’t even close to zipping) and was dealing with some serious gut issues that put my stomach in near-constant pain. My self-care suffered, too–yoga and meditation and leisurely morning routines and sleep were the first things to go when work demanded more of me. I went on like this for months; in pain, stress-eating, not exercising. But when the reality of the wedding set in, I knew I didn’t want to feel like this on my wedding day. 

I didn’t want to be clutching my stomach in agony, I didn’t want to be so bloated that people would wonder if this was a shotgun wedding, I didn’t want to feel tired and stressed and worn out and on edge.

And then I thought to myself, I don’t want to feel like this any day. Why did it take a major life event to make me see that my lifestyle was not sustainable, or even OK? Because I was a self-care hypocrite, lighting candles and chanting to the full moon but neglecting the necessary stuff: skin, body, and soul.

So I set out on a mission to feel better, look better, and be better. The pre-wedding routine I came up with is so much more than that–it’s my guidebook for how I want to take care of myself every day, not just on my wedding day. 

Here’s what’s working for me. If any of these resonate with you, don’t wait for the “right” time to adopt the practice. You’re worthy of feeling, looking, and being your best every single day of your life.


SKIN

Get a facial.
My skin was congested, and I was overloading on (natural, awesome, but too many) products. I set up an appointment with Hayley of the Therapeutic Skin Coach for some extractions and extra skin love, and walked away with SO much more than that. Hayley basically wrote me a personalized guide to skin health based on what she noticed at our appointment, my ethnic background, diet, exercise habits, and mindfulness practices. Life- and skin-changing! NOTE: Facials are actually tough on your skin, and your face will need some time to heal and repair itself afterwards. Schedule it no later than a month from your big day–otherwise, you won’t have time to heal properly.

Pair down the products.
Your instinct, like mine, might be to stock up on cleansers, serums, oils, and eye creams to throw EVERYTHING at the problem and see what sticks. Nope. I’ve learned to keep my pre-wedding routine as simple and natural as possible to nourish my skin, not exfoliate and brighten it into oblivion. Here’s what’s in my rotation:

Cleansers:
Osmia Organics Black Clay Soap
Manuka Doctor Manuka Honey (more about washing your face with honey here)

Toners:
ILLUUMinated Moon Water Magic Tea Tree Toner (email me for a bottle - theilluum@gmail.com. $8.)
ILLUUMinated Moon Water Magic Rose Water Toner (email me for a bottle - theilluum@gmail.com. $8.)
One Love Organics Vitamin D Spray

Serums:
IrieCBD’s Thirsty Skin CBD Repair Serum (get 20% off with the code ILLUUM20)
Eminence Organics’ Bright Skin Licorice Root Booster-Serum

Moisturizer:
Biossance Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer

Oils:
Flower and Bone Supply Miracle Skin Facial Oil
Herbivore Botanicals Lapis Oil
Vitamin E Oil

Spot Treatment: 
Living Libations DewDab

Exfoliator:
One Love Organics Brand New Day

Eye Cream:
OLEHENRIKSEN Banana Bright Eye Cream

Skip makeup. Then cover yourself in it for major moments.
I’ve stopped wearing makeup in anticipation of the wedding to let my skin breathe–and it’s never been better. I don’t like to say never, but I honestly don’t think I’ll go back to being a makeup-every-day girl after this. That being said, you better believe I’m going to cover my face in the stuff on my wedding day. You can’t always rely on that natural glow, ya know? I invested in the good shit (meaning, full coverage and long-wearing) for the wedding: NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, Kat Von D Lock It Concealer and Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer, Laura Mercier Translucent Powder, Glossier Cloud Paint in Puff, Glossier Lid Star in Moon, and Tarte Tarteist Mascara (among some other makeup bag staples). 

BODY

Find a nutritionist you trust. 
The first step towards taking back my health was finding a nutritionist that would help me create long-term healthy habits–but understood that I had a deadline to meet, too. Colleen of Vessel & Soul has been a godsend. She helped me get to the root of my issues (candida overgrowth), gave me an easy plan to follow, and helped me not only drop 16 pounds in one month, but also helped me feel the most incredible I’ve ever felt in my body: light, free, clear, and energized. Colleen’s approach is mind, body, soul as well, so our appointments also include check-ins on my meditation practice, my stress levels, and my emotions. You can book your own appointment with her here.

Sweat. Every damn day. 
I went all-out with my exercise routine and decided to do something every day. On some days that meant a gentle yoga class, on others it meant an hour of HIIT-kickboxing that pushed me to my limits. I listened to my body and found ways to make my workouts something I enjoyed instead of something I dreaded. Who knew I actually like working out?

Treat your body like a goddamn temple. 
For me, this meant dry-brushing my body every day pre-shower, oiling my body with an Ayurvedic blend post-shower, scheduling cheap-but-amazing massages at The Now, sweating once a week at ShapeHouse, and taking trips to the K-Spa whenever I got the urge (it’s only $20 for the day!).

Figure out your cycle. 
It turns out a lot of my health issues could be traced back to my newly-implanted IUD (Mirena). After consulting with two gynecologists, my nutritionist, and pretty much any girlfriend that would listen to me, I decided to get it taken out and take control of my own cycle and menstrual health. I read the The Hormone Cure and Woman Code to gain a deeper understanding of my body, took up practices like dry brushing and sweating to help my body detox from hormones, and added hormone-balancing foods and supplements to my diet (which you can learn more about in Woman Code). I also use the app MyFLO to track my cycle and get suggestions on which foods to eat and workouts to try during each phase of my cycle. 

SOUL

Make time to meditate. 
Meditation is always the first thing to fall off my priority list when life gets crazy, but (as I’m sure you’ve heard a million times) that’s actually when I need it the most. I try to meditate every morning for 5 - 15 minutes depending on my schedule, and there’s a noticeable difference in my mindset on the days when I actually do. It doesn’t have to be a big production, either–I usually pop on a YouTube video (like this one or this one) and tune out.

Find a mantra. 
This one goes hand in hand with meditation, but I’ve been working with a few mantras to help me focus on manifesting the things I want in life. One is, “What is meant for me will come to me,” to help me let go of opportunities that aren’t for my highest good and trust that the universe will have my back. The other is, “I am beautiful on the inside and it shines through the outside.” Yes, I meditate on my skin. What about it?

Breathe. 
I’ve been doing Breathwork (a practice I wrote about in-depth for EndPain here) for a year and a half now, and it’s seriously changed my life. The practice helps you move stuck energy in the body, so I signed up for this Desert Detox Breathwork retreat with Michelle of Pushing Beauty the weekend before my wedding to clear shit out and detox from the real world a little bit.

Connect to love.
Keeping up with some of these practices (the strict diet and exercise routine, in particular) is challenging. What keeps me going is the reminder that this isn't just about me; it's about love. The wedding is a celebration of the love between my partner and I–not an opportunity to show off how skinny I got in a fancy dress. I want to be the best version of myself–to feel overjoyed, stress-free, and glowing on my wedding day–in order to be there for my partner and be fully present in the moment. Remembering the reason why I'm taking care of myself in these ways is the ultimate motivation.

Learn to say no. 
The number one contributor to my overall skin, body, and soul health over the past couple months? Quitting my day job and setting firm boundaries with my clients. Obviously, this isn’t a luxury that everyone can commit to–so if you’re not in a position to do, don’t quit your job right this second! But do take inventory of your life and figure out if your work actually makes you happy and adds to your life. 

As an introvert, going into an office every day at a stressful start-up drained my energy and literally made me sick. It took six months of freelancing on the side to save up enough cash to quit and move into freelancing full time, but the freedom and lightness I feel now was so worth it. And now that I know how amazing it feels to turn down opportunities that don’t light me up or say No when a client makes an unreasonable request, I’m never turning back. 

I’ll dive deeper into each of these topics over the next few months (like gut health and how that can affect our skin + recipes that worked for me). But if you’re ready to start feeling, looking, and being your best now, feel free to email me (theilluumg@gmail.com) or hit me up on Instagram with any questions!