7 Healthy Steps to Plan a Sick Wedding
This one’s going out to all my ladies because statistically you gal pals are the ones planning your weddings, and let’s face it, girl talk is fun.
After the popping of the question and the saying of the “yes,” comes the hard part — planning what is widely advertised as “the most important day of your life.” For me, our wedding was the best day ever, but all that pressure certainly didn’t help anything. Add in my chronic illness and the whole planning process became a recipe for disaster. I learned a lot through each meticulous plan, and while there’s an infinite number of different kinds of brides, these were the 7 steps that worked for me!
1. Erase the word “perfect” from your prenuptial vocabulary.
In fact, you may want to erase it from your post-nup vocab, too. Planning what is essentially a gigantic party for everyone you’ve ever met and held dear (as well as a bunch of people you’ve never met but apparently your parents and future in-laws hold dear), is a task that’s filled with mega-pressure from day one. Don’t let it freak you, though. As much as you can, as often as you can, try to let go.
Practically speaking, Randy and I got this one right from the beginning, by each making a list of our top 5 priorities that actually mattered most to us. Without this quick step at the very beginning, it would have been so easy to end up over budget and overly stressed. When you get that bridal tunnel vision (and unfortunately that’s almost a guarantee at some point on your matrimonial adventure) it’s hard to keep perspective and easy to start to feel like even the little ultimately-insignificant details are worth your time and energy. After all, no one ever remembers the beige undertones of your flower girl’s tights or the fact that some of the tables had slightly smaller centerpieces. Narrow it down and keep your focus there. And by focus I mean your valuable-and-not-infinite energy. Things are going to go wrong on your wedding day — something always does. Know that ahead of time, become okay with that ahead of time, and as long as you end the day married…mission accomplished, my friend! Let the rest go, girl.
Plan a time to sit down with your fiancé when each of you can go through this exercise. Secret ballots, though…no peeking! On separate pieces of paper, each write down your top 5 priorities and rank them in order of importance to you (florals, attire, venue, photography, food, music, etc.). When you’ve each ranked your top 5 priorities, compare lists and discuss what matters most to each of you. If there’s any overlap on your lists…make that a priority. And whatever stole the #1 slot for both of you is important to keep in mind, too.
2. Take the help!
My saint-like mother is no-doubt chuckling reading this because she’s far more qualified to be writing the whole article than I am. She planned the vast majority of our wedding, and Randy and I genuinely couldn’t have done it without her. Whether it’s a mom or a group of close friends, your bridesmaids or siblings, ask for help and delegate, delegate, delegate. And hey, if your budget allows, get yourself a wedding planner! It wasn’t in the budget for us, but more power to you if you can hire a new bff to make everything magical.
I’ll tell you right now that this thing is impossible to plan strictly solo, especially with your body’s surprising and sometimes unfortunate “bag of tricks” (read also: symptoms). And this is one of those seasons in your life where everyone is cheering you on, and so many people are eager and willing to help. Swallow your pride and take the help.
Call, text, or send smoke signals to your close friends and family, and ask them to help you with specific projects. Delegate by handing off clear and direct tasks so that you can cross it off your list, and they know exactly what they’re agreeing to. And then leave the ball in their court by asking them to followup with you when the task is completed. With a reliable friend and successful communication, you shouldn’t need to hover or check in on their progress.
3. Put it ALL on the table.
In addition to planning a wedding, you’ll also be doing all the last-minute prep for your husband to become your #1 partner in your journey to health and wellness. You don’t want to go into marriage with your brand new husband in the dark about your symptoms, the cold hard truth about your illness, or even what you’d like his role to be when you’re having a flare or a particularly hard season. They’re men, ladies, not mind-readers. Let this become your mantra.
It’s officially time to make sure that he understands your health at great length. If it’s redundant and he’s already up-to-speed, great! But this man is about to become your “in case of emergency” contact. He’s walking into the role of official caretaker, and at times he’s going to need to be your health advocate. Now is not the time to be shy. Does he know how to handle your health scares and flares? Does he know even the correct terminology so that he can communicate with first responders or doctors if need be?
Plan a time to have one big health conversation with your fiancé. Make it a fun time with your favorite coffee drinks or sitting in a park, but really talk through everything and anything you can think of from the details of your symptoms to your primary care doctor’s name to what you each expect his role to practically look like as he becomes your official caretaker.
4. Plan A is important, and Plan B is non-negotiable.
Now I don’t want to overwhelm you sister-friends, but in addition to making arrangements for bridesmaid dresses and reception centerpieces, you may also want to consider giving some serious thought to creating an environment that will accommodate you in case your symptoms are flaring on your wedding day.
For me, this was non-negotiable. Many of you know that I was blessed to have hundreds of people all over the world praying for me on my wedding day that I would be healthy and unusually symptom-free. After all, there is that fear we all have that our wedding day will somehow also be one of those horrible flare days. My day came and I had no flares, no nasty symptoms, no crazy health scares, but I also had peace of mind because I had fully prepped for a very different scenario. For instance, I was concerned about not being able to stand for the whole wedding ceremony, so we reserved a chair in the front row just in case, complete with secret hand signals with a trusted friend who would have, should the worst have happened, discreetly brought it up front. We had communicated our plan B to the entire wedding party at the rehearsal as well as the pastor so that everyone could keep going and play it cool rather than alarm our guests and cause a big scene. This is just one of the contingencies I made. I also listened to James Taylor all day to relax and help my anxiety, stashed snacks and medicine everywhere I went all day, and sat down at every opportunity. But I can’t tell you how much relief it gave me to know that, should the worst have happened, it wouldn’t become a big scary “to-do” for my guests, or a moment of unprepared panic for me.
Whatever your biggest health concerns are for that day, if there’s anything that could help address it, go the extra mile and treat yourself to some peace of mind!
Either on your own or with your fiancé or a bridesmaid, grab some paper and write down the big health-related fears you have for your wedding day. Next to each fear, write a plan that will help you address that fear. This can be something tangible (like a chair in case you can’t stand), or even a perspective shift and something you’re going to mentally think and focus on anytime that fear pops up.
5. Honeymoon Day 1: REST.
The day after your wedding you’ll be tired. Emotional exhaustion from seeing everyone who matters to you the day before and bawling your eye-sockets out and living through the best day of your life will have set in. If not, congratulations…and are you sure you’re reading the right article?
You might be thinking, “Wow, the day after the wedding will be a sexy little day and/or a great day to hop on the first plane out and whisk my newlywed husband away for a honeymoon extravaganza.” Thank the good Lord himself that we were given this advice before our wedding because we most certainly did NOT whisk ourselves away in those first 24 hours. What we did instead was sleep, newlywed-sexy-time, sleep, and watch Fixer Upper in the bed of our honeymoon suite hotel room while eating pizza and leftover wedding cake. This was a lifesaver and neither of us can stress that enough. Even my healthy husband was so thankful in retrospect that we didn’t jump on that midnight plane.
Add this conversation to your checklist. Find a time to talk to your future groom about planning to rest the day after your wedding! Why? Because once again I remind you, they’re men, ladies, not mind-readers! Communicate those expectations and have a chat!
6. Say “it’s okay” to not having sex that day.
I can almost hear the roar of shock and awe as women clutch their pearls and fan their flush cheeks. But this is real and let’s talk about it! While the events of our wedding night are strictly private, what I can tell you is that this is a very honest conversation that Randy and I had BEFORE our wedding. Again, emotional and physical exhaustion may well have set in by dusk on your big day, and there’s a lot of pressure to have sex on your wedding night. While sex is a gift and the most intimate way to connect to your freshly-hitched spouse, if you’re not feeling up to the horizontal mambo that night (gross, even writing that feels sleezy), it’s okay. No guilt, girlfriend! No shame! You’ve got your whole life to connect sexually. Just talk it out ahead of time!
DO NOT FORGET TO TALK TO YOUR FIANCÉ ABOUT THIS. Whether you end up doing what married folks do or not that night, this is a conversation you need to have before your big day. Talk about all of your expectations for the wedding night, yours and his, particularly any concerns you might have about your health in relation to sex. Unvoiced expectations will almost always lead to frustration and disappointment.
7. Spend more time planning for your marriage than your wedding day.
By far this step outweighs the rest. Your wedding will be special and magical because it’s the day that starts your journey, but it is just one day.
Randy and I went through weeks and weeks of pre-marital counseling with a married couple. There was a curriculum, homework, and a LOT of hard questions. I realize that adding “one more thing” on your bridal plate doesn’t sound enticing, but how good is it to talk through so many of the hard things ahead of time and save yourself some of those “first year of marriage fights” that we’ve all heard about? Admittedly, I thought we had covered all the hard stuff long before we got into counseling, but to my surprise, as it turns out, we did not. Not by a long shot. Not even a little bit. Going through this process, there are questions that would never have come up for us in any conversation otherwise. We both highly recommend this to every glowing and engaged couple in sight.
Even aside from premarital counseling, guard your conversations! It becomes freakishly easy for all of your communication with your fiancé to become wedding-centric and equally as hard to talk about anything else in the weeks and months leading up to your big day. Be intentional and talk about the future together! Dream about what you want your average weeknight dinners to be like in the home you’ll create. Talk about things you want to do on your weekends as a married couple! On Saturday mornings are you more of a pancakes-and-pjs couple or a get-out-and-take-a-hike couple? It’s fun, but it takes intention.
Consider going through premarital counseling as a couple. A lot of churches will offer it for free, and ladies, “free” is not a word you’ll be hearing at all through your betrothed pilgrimage of planning bliss. Also, keep your date nights a priority. At least once a week, aim to spend time on a date (even if you’re not spending money), and refuse to use that time as wedding planning central. Guarding this time will serve you well in gearing up for a great life together!
There you have it, gals! I genuinely couldn’t be more excited for you to step into marriage with someone you love so dearly. Cultivate that kindness, keep it patient between the two of you, take the pressure off, and set a great tone for your life together! Marriage is a wild adventure, it’s an endless opportunity to learn about yourself and your partner, and it’s such a gift.
Happy planning, sis!
Written by: Anna Kowlessar, Founder of People Hope
After many years of dealing with her own chronic illness, Anna founded People Hope to fill a much-needed void that so many people are looking for today - a place of audacious hope, a genuine community, and somewhere to belong regardless of diagnosis. You can read more about that here. Or you can keep reading this to learn that a few of her obsessions include cuddling with her dog, Walter Norman, singing ridiculous made-up songs with her husband, Randy, and snacking on salty-sweet treats! She loves Christmas, hates the color lavender, and adores her amazing Tribe!
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