What will you be thinking about during your wedding ceremony? Will it be the future you are about to start with the love of your life? Will it be how fierce you look in your dress? Will it be the cake you intend to demolish?
Well whatever it is, I hope you won't be thinking what I was: “Dear God I hope I make it to the end of this thing without wetting myself!”
Yup, sad but true. I have had Interstitial Cystitis (IC), a chronic urinary condition since I was 20. I pretty much feel like I'm passing kidney stones every day and I'm not going to lie, at times it can make life much less fun. By the way, the ceremony passed without my feared outcome although I did have to make my customary Cinderella-dash from the scene.
It took a few years but I began to accept it as part of me and realised that chronic illness, while frustrating and painful, can be the making of you as a person. I guess having a chronic illness makes most sufferers a little offbeat. To lead fairly normal lives requires us to be adaptable and downright inventive.
We favour weird and wonderful hobbies that can be kept up even if we're out of action for months on end. There is no corner of Etsy that lurks undiscovered. We often immediately pick up on outsiders and gravitate towards them because we kind of get it (even if we don't really get it). We also grab every opportunity for happiness and fun that we can, as we never know when our conditions will worsen.
Carpe Diem is our motto. Despite my health I have moved abroad without knowing a soul, I have danced burlesque, I have flown across the world to go on a second date (reader, I married him), and I take way more risks now than I ever did before IC. My friends love it when I update the list of famous places around the world where I have peed in public without getting caught (the Circus Maximus in Rome is currently winning).
We are fabulous multi-taskers, often keeping our troubles from public view while holding down jobs (when we are able).
Chronically ill brides-to-be (or grooms) should embrace the fact that we are used to conducting life like a military operation, so the minute details of wedding planning are second nature. But we shouldn't forget to enjoy the day and the person we are committing to.
In that effort, here are my 10 tips for wedding planning with a chronic illness…
Feel comfortable in your outfit
My first wedding purchase was my underwear, no joke. There is no point in binding yourself up in a corset if you can't breathe and it's an issue. If you get cold easily but want to show off tattoos, have a wrap or jacket on hand.
If you have stoma, go for a '50s prom dress with a full skirt. If you use a wheelchair, consult this post about finding a dress.
Your health should not be a barrier to self-expression, but you should feel at your best in what you wear.
Technology is your godsend
Camera phones can take pictures of venues, dresses, or cakes when you can't make it out and about. Sites like Etsy and Ebay allow you to be as weird and wonderful as you wish, all from the comfort of your bed.
Venue is important
Your needs come first. So if you need somewhere mobility-compatible or close to a restroom, don't get married in the wilderness. Just use common sense.
Stress can affect chronic conditions so if you can arrange some stress-busting the week before the wedding, whether this involves checking into the venue early (and enjoying the spa) or keeping last minute details to a minimum, it will help your body to calm itself.
Create a contingency plan for unexpected health issues
Whether it's a chair nearby, incontinence pads, medications on standby, or knowing the quickest route to hospital. Hopefully it will not be needed but it gives you peace of mind. We are normal brides with one or two special requests.
Always know where the loos are!
Douglas Adams had a point about knowing where your towel is and the same goes for toilets. If you have Interstitial Cystitis you are probably thinking this is a no-brainer. It is never off your mind when you venture somewhere new. Most indoor venues have them but you can check via the Radar Scheme which maps toilets worldwide.
Get the hair stylist/make-up artist to come to you
This is a big help when it comes to energy conservation. And it makes you feel very important indeed!
Take a break if you need to
Your wedding guests are there because they know and love you. If you need to rest/vomit/hydrate/change a dressing or catheter, the wedding will still be there when you return.
Keep photography sessions short
We organised a separate portrait session for the following day. It was much less stressful and also meant our guests didn't have to wait around after the ceremony.
You may seem like a control freak but that's okay
You know that song “It's My Party And I'll Cry If I Want To”? That's our collective song! Even if “Prince of Darkness” by Megadeth is officially our wedding song.
Also, be sure to check out ALL of Offbeat Bride's posts about disability-friendly weddings.