What Will My UC Be Like on My Wedding Day?

There I was, my hair curled, my make-up done, smiling brightly as my mom and future mother-in-law zipped up my dress. My bridal party cheered and held up their glasses. My fiancé and I had been planning this day for almost 2 years: it was finally time to get married.

Planning a wedding with ulcerative colitis

Over the course of wedding planning, my fiancé and I had worried about many things, from what the favors should be to whether we could pull off spins during our first dance. As importantly, I worried about whether my ulcerative colitis would cooperate the day of. I knew a full weekend of partying might upset my stomach – and I didn't want that on one of the most exciting days of my life.

In the months leading up to my wedding, I followed my infliximab infusion schedule carefully, and my fiancé reminded me that if anything did happen, we would handle it. Luckily, we didn’t have to handle anything. On the morning of our wedding, I was feeling great – I was able to dance through the night, completely light on my feet.

For those who might be planning (or even attending) a wedding or another major event, 2 big things helped me: looking ahead and being honest about my limits.

Looking ahead

Staying on top of my UC and my health

Looking ahead was vital for keeping on track with my health. First off, I made sure that I was all set when it came to my infusion dates, prescriptions, and doctors' appointments. I knew I would be busy the summer before the September wedding, but I didn't want to throw off my infusion schedule or run out of meds at any point. I set reminders on my phone and blocked off time in my calendar to get my health-related tasks done.

Getting organized

I also spent a lot of time organizing my time prior to the wedding. I really sat down with my partner and discussed how much DIY ("do it yourself") work we could actually do, and how much would stress us out. I also made sure that I spread out all my tasks and vendor calls across the months leading up to the wedding. That way I never had a month where I didn't have time for my daily, stress-relieving walks. I always made sure there was space for leisure time and fun, so I wasn't fully overwhelmed and stressed.

Avoiding a stress-related UC flare

I also hired a day-of coordinator to manage some of the work – especially the work I knew would make me really nervous. My coordinator's package actually included three months of help beforehand. She talked to my vendors and went over contracts for me. This eased the mental burden of planning a lot. By the time we got to the wedding, I was sure I could trust her to make sure everything would go fine.

In general, knowing that I could end up in a stress-related flare, I used time management skills and long-term strategic thinking to manage my anxiety.

Being honest about my limits

Being mindful about food

Even though a wedding is all about enjoying yourself, I knew that I couldn't go all out. For example, I really had to watch what I ate. Though I did try new foods and have more desserts than I usually do, I made sure to watch my portion sizes. A lot of the time I added healthy protein to my meals so that my body was getting the energy it needed. And I avoided trigger foods, like fried foods, as much as possible.

Avoiding my UC triggers

I also did not drink alcohol or caffeine, since both are a trigger for me. I stuck with decaf lattes and I asked my mother-in-law to get me some non-alcoholic champagne for the getting-ready toasts. I stayed hydrated with water during the wedding itself.

Getting rest when I could

Lastly, I really thought about how much energy I could expend over the course of the weekend. I did push my limits slightly by staying up later than I usually do, but I didn't go out to clubs or bars with my friends. Instead, I had people over in my hotel room just to chat. I also made sure to rest in the afternoons before our big wedding events. I laid down and just had some quiet time. And I tried my best to get at least 6 hours of sleep every night, so I'd wake up mostly rested.

In the end

After almost 10 years of having ulcerative colitis, I am confident I even could have handled a flare during the wedding. At the same time, I so glad that I did not have to manage that on top of everything else. And I really believe that looking ahead and being honest about my limits kept my IBD from flaring up and allowed me to enjoy my big day to the fullest.

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