February 15, 2023
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Planning a wedding can be stressful. Doing it with Crohn’s adds in extra considerations about attire, meals, and more. Here are my top tips.
Some people say that getting married is the best thing you never want to do again. While some absolutely love the fine details of wedding planning, others become quite overwhelmed and stressed. Planning a wedding while living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) potentially adds an extra level of stress and consideration for your health. I have Crohn’s disease and got married this past October. After 14 months of wedding planning while also managing my health, I’ve learned some helpful tips.
The first major decision most couples make when planning a wedding is deciding on a venue. Since both my husband and I have large families and many friends, we had more than 200 people on our invite list.
As we began to consider our venue options, our first priority was finding sites that were large enough. We also wanted a fairly all-inclusive venue that would provide food and beverages and ideally have rooms on site or close by for overnight guests. We also wanted to make sure there were enough bathrooms, as well as a private bathroom in case of any Crohn’s issues.
I also wanted our venue to have an organized site coordinator who could handle the bulk of the venue planning details for us. I am not the most artistic or creative person. In addition, I work long hours as a resident physician, so there was no way I was going to book a venue that also required us to hire a catering service, find a tent, tables and utensils, rent bathrooms, and more.
We ended up choosing a venue that was both a restaurant and a hotel at a popular wedding destination. Most of our guests stayed right at the hotel and were able to easily walk between the ballroom and their hotel room. Not only was this convenient — I loved the idea of being able to go to my hotel room easily if I forgot something or was not feeling well — but we also didn’t have to worry about anyone drinking and driving.
We had toured other venues that also had on-site accommodations, but many were quite expensive. We did not want our guests to have to pay an exorbitant amount for accommodations. Choosing one of those venues would have stressed me out because if we did not fill the hotel, we would have been charged.
Of course, the venue is just the first of many decisions. We had to settle on who would be in the wedding party, whether to have a band or a DJ, which florist to use, where to get invitations, and so many more details.
I am thankful that I had my mother and mother-in-law helping me out and my sister/maid of honor, who essentially styled my entire wedding. If you have people in your life who are willing to help out, delegate tasks as much as you can. This will lighten your load and allow others in your life to contribute meaningfully to your wedding.
Be aware, however, that if you do involve family, conflicts can arise about any of these decisions. Remember that this is your special day and your opinion really matters. That being said, if family is financially supporting your wedding, you should be respectful and allow them to voice their opinions but still remember that this day is yours.
Choosing your wedding party is one of the tougher decisions. My advice is not to name wedding party attendants much more than a year in advance, as friendships can change. Pick people who will remain positive and drama-free and who will support you on one of the biggest days of your life. Not all of your friends can be in your wedding party, and just because you were in their wedding does not mean you have to put them in yours.
Some of us with IBD get bloated frequently and may choose to wear a more flowy or A-line dress to feel more comfortable or confident. I fully intended to get a flowy dress but ended up falling in love with a fitted one. I wore shapewear shorts to feel more confident and, thankfully, did not get bloated. Partway through the event, I changed into a fun reception dress, which was easier to dance in.
Some people also choose their dress based on how easy it is to go to the bathroom while wearing it. Some dresses are very intricate and take a while to get off, which was not a risk I was willing to take with Crohn’s disease. I definitely wanted one that I could manage either by myself or with just my sister to help me, and I chose accordingly.
I follow a modified paleo diet to help manage my Crohn’s disease and know that many of my guests have dietary restrictions, too. It was important to me that all my guests would be able to enjoy eating at our wedding. Our venue representative said that since it was a restaurant, it could accommodate most diets. We ended up making a gluten-free option available as one of our entree choices, and we had gluten-free cake available as well.
Besides the normal pre-wedding jitters, I felt OK the day of the wedding, but I wanted to play it extra safe with food until the reception. For breakfast, I ate a banana with peanut butter. For lunch, I stuck with my old classic flare-safe meal, butternut squash soup with a turkey patty. That meal has never failed me over the years, and it’s quite filling while also being gentle on the stomach. To be safe, I did not drink much alcohol prior to the wedding and was careful at the reception, knowing that alcohol could worsen my gastrointestinal symptoms.
It’s important to eat at your wedding, but if you’re not feeling well or are concerned that you will feel sick if you eat too much on your wedding day, you can arrange for a meal and your cake to be delivered to your room after the wedding. Alternately, some couples eat their dinner privately for 20 minutes of peace and quiet in the midst of a hectic day.
Hydration is also key on the day of your wedding, especially if you are not eating as much as usual, whether from nerves or from dancing all night. One of my bridesmaids gave me several cups of water throughout the night of my wedding, which I greatly appreciated. I still ended up getting dehydrated, as I did not drink enough to keep up with how active I was all day. Thankfully, I brought electrolyte replacement drinks to our hotel room, which was helpful when I woke up in the middle of the night feeling sick and dehydrated. If you can, designate someone to keep you hydrated on your wedding day.
Overall, my wedding went very well, and I am so thankful that my Crohn’s did not act up. I did what I could to support my body nutritionally, manage my stress as much as possible, and go with the flow, knowing that some things would go wrong on my big day but knowing that none of them would matter as much as the fact that I was marrying my best friend.
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