Advice for Planning a Destination Wedding with IBD

“There’s no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves.” – Frank Herbert

Every single person has their happy place.

My happy place is the water

Sitting in the sand, next to a body of water long ago became my preferred place for mental and emotional escape. The water is calming and peaceful to me. The waves wash over and everything is exactly as it was, except it’s also brand new again. The rhythmic motions help me to find my center. The way the water crashes against the barges also reminds me how quickly water can transition from soft ripples to rough waves and back to gentle rolls in just one trip inland. This notion always helps me remember that life works the same way.

A destination wedding was my obvious choice

Anyone in my life who knows me knows the beach is my favorite place, regardless of season, so it was not a surprise to anyone when I announced shortly after my engagement that my then fiance and I were going to plan a destination wedding. There were, however, quite a few concerns.

What about your health?

How are you going to manage the stress of planning a wedding remotely?

Will you have to fly back and forth?

Isn’t this too difficult for someone who’s chronically ill?

My answer was and still is – no. It’s not too hard. It just requires a lot of strategies.

Things that worked well for me

I wanted to lay out some suggestions on things that worked well for me as a Crohn’s patient, but I also am so open to questions and conversations, so please don’t hesitate to join in below.

A stateside beach

First off, my husband and I picked our favorite stateside beach in North Carolina, meaning that we did not need passports or to consider things like international health insurance coverage. This felt like a very important decision and a good compromise for both of us. I did not want to have to worry about getting prescriptions or over the counter medication in another country, or god forbid get hospitalized in a place I was entirely unfamiliar with.

Annual wedding expo

Next, we timed our wedding planning with an annual wedding expo held in the area. We spent days before the trip pouring over the expo guide, doing research in each category – venue, catering, cake, planner, photographer, videographer, florist, etc. We strategically mapped out the event space & our timetable for introducing ourselves to and meeting with all of the vendors we were interested in.

This also helped to make sure I didn’t get too tired out or waste my sometimes limited amount of energy walking around trying to find certain booths. The expo enabled us to make one trip to our destination, for just four days, and to book all of our vendors after seeing their offerings, taste testing, and conversing in person. While we were on this trip, we also located the nearest pharmacy, urgent care, and hospital. This is a strategy I use whenever I travel to reduce my anxiety, just in case there is a health emergency of any sort.

The expo was 8.5 months before the wedding date we were able to secure, which meant we had plenty of time once we returned home to work with our vendors from a distance. In today’s day and age, we were very grateful for texting and video chat! There were a few times during our planning period that my Crohn’s disease was extremely symptomatic, but our timeline was most definitely flexible and our vendors always understood if there was a delay in my responses.

Staying organized

As with planning any event, I found that staying organized significantly reduced my stress. My then fiance and I used a series of spreadsheets and documents shared on our google drive, which meant that we could both access and edit them, alongside with our vendors being able to look in and add comments. Also, because we weren’t attending in person appointments, I felt that the interim obligations for planning a destination wedding seemed fairly small to me. During our planning period, I was able to do most things online from the comfort of my pajamas and the couch, or even the bathroom if necessary!

Finally, I utilized list upon list upon list during our planning period. I used a notebook so I could run longer lists, adding to them whenever thoughts popped into my mind. I started pages for packing items for the event AND items for the trip itself, how to prepare for 8 days away, medications I would need to take, over the counter items I didn’t want to forget, and then the items that we were shipping ahead of time to our venue, the gifts we were bringing along for our families and each other, and so much more.

Keep an eye out for the second post of this series, how to pack for an important trip with IBD. 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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