After a marriage proposal, what follows is usually a flurry of thoughts and plans. And for many brides, weight loss is one of the biggest concerns, according to bridal designer Pnina Tornai.
The star of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, Tornai tells PEOPLE at least one in two brides wants to lose weight before walking down the aisle. At Kleinfeld’s — the famous New York shop where the show is filmed — Tornai says they see between 100 and 140 brides a day.
“They’re all talking about dropping a size down and most of my brides, believe it or not, ask me to order for them a gown that’s two sizes less than what they actually wear at the time that I measure them,” says Tornai, who has worked in the bridal industry for 26 years.
And because wedding planning is such an intense time, Tornai says brides are often willing to go to extreme measures to lose weight.
“I’ve seen brides literally fainting at fittings,” she says. “We have to run and get chocolates for them and sugar, put a spoon of sugar in their mouth. I’ve seen brides lose their hair, lose the beauty of their skin.”
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Because she works so closely with the brides, Tornai calls herself their “fairy godmother” and dispenses advice not only about which dress to pick, but also about how to look and feel great on the big day.
“When they come for fittings or they come to choose their dress, it’s such an emotional time for them that they bring out so many personal issues,” she says. “These brides look up to me and they know everything I say is for them, and they will start doing it right away. So with their hair, their makeup, their shoes, even the relationship with their mother-in-law or their husband to be,” she says.
To further help her brides achieve their wedding goals, Tornai teamed up with weight-loss company Nutrisystem, which found that one in three brides wants to lose 39 lbs. To make their slimdowns truly successful, says Tornai, finding balance is as essential as following Nutrisystem’s customized meal plans, getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water.
“When you eat, you’re calm. When you’re starved, you’re so nervous,” she says. “I also believe that your attitude attracts whatever happens to you. The calmer you are, the happier — and better things will come your way.”
At the end of the day, Tornai says she tries to remind brides to stay grounded and confident.
“We’re women, we’re gorgeous for so many reasons, not only how we look,” she says. “He’s marrying you. If he proposed, it’s because he loves you. That’s my way to help brides de-stress.”
While a wedding may be “the most important event in life,” she says,” it’s more important to love and embrace yourself.”