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The Issues I've Faced as I Plan My Wedding While Chronically Ill

Are there any others living with chronic illness who are currently trying to plan a wedding? I waited until year 30 of my life to be proposed to. I had an overall healthy life in my early and mid 20s, and I met someone who I could do new and adventurous things with. Our relationship was great, but he always made it a point to say that we needed to live together first and see how that went before ever being engaged. I yearned for the proposal speech; I wanted to know his deepest feelings about me in a moment where it was just he and I at our happiest. It did take just about five years for that moment to happen, but it was actually surprising to me, knowing that I was sick and he was not, and he could have left me for that reason.

We had said that we would have a “long” engagement and not rush into things. Why not enjoy the time I had always waited for? Well, like most couples, it’s hard to wait when you want to marry someone as badly as we did. Unlike most couples, I didn’t have any type of advice on how I’d actually be able to plan the wedding with my conditions. In fact, my conditions mostly worsened after choosing a venue, and here I am three months away from the big day trying to figure out how I’ll get everything done in time.

I wish that I could have found him sooner so I could have possibly been able to do this during a healthy and happy state of my life. You learn while dealing with illness that you will have a lot of “what ifs” and “why me” moments, and I knew I had to stop thinking in the past to be in the present. I needed to accept this new life that I had been dealt and figure out ways to work with it.

So, how exactly is wedding planning all that different if you have physical and mental health conditions? For one, the slightest bit of worry can wind up sending you into a flare-up. Before you know it, worry becomes anxiety and anxiety brings out the symptoms of fatigue, pain, and depression. There are also times where I cannot help but be sad, even though I know this should be the happiest time of my life. It’s not about the wedding or the stress of the planning; it is my depression, and I cannot magically turn it off. It becomes tiring trying to put on a happy face for others when that isn’t the reality of your situation.

You may also have to think very differently when looking at venues. Most people would look at the room – but I was looking at the stairs and asking if there was an elevator in case I was having pain in my knees the day of the wedding. I’m worried about the pain I’ll be having if my fibromyalgia is bad or if it might be a day where one of my multi-day migraines come on. I know that each day brings a new variety of symptoms for me, and the worst part is that I cannot predict what kind of day I’ll be having.

Every couple of weeks, I have a serious talk with my fiancé about what I’ll do if I am so exhausted on our wedding day. It’s a serious and true worry for me, as every single day of my life, I spend a couple of hours sleeping during the day in order to be able to function. We still have yet to come up with a plan, but I’m trying to stay positive and not think that the worst will happen.

Another instance I didn’t expect happened with my bridesmaids. My bridesmaids were all supposed to wear an emerald green color. When I realized the time and effort that it would take to go shopping multiple times and see if their dresses were along the lines of the color I was going with, I wound up changing the dress color to black. They can wear any black dress they want to, and it makes it much simpler. You learn along the way that you must minimize decisions that you need to make, delegate tasks to others, and that you may ultimately end up with simpler plans than you had imagined.

Most recently I booked my makeup artist and found myself asking her if my makeup would be able to get me through my day and hide the sweat that I have as a side effect from a few of my medications. The same scenario happened with my hair. I have a lot of hair loss, again from medications, and it didn’t dawn on me until I was looking in the mirror the other day that I was going to need to choose a style that would essentially make my hair look a lot fuller than it actually is. My photographer was scheduled for two locations, but I wound up changing that knowing that going too many places would add to my fatigue.

During the first days of wedding planning, I focused on the big stuff – but now that I’m down to the details, this is where I’ve noticed that I’ve needed to adjust my prior planning. I’ve always been someone who wants things in their place and am more type A personality. This event has really shown me that you must be flexible in life and things may not always go as you had imagined it to be.

Did I think that I would have these worries 10 years ago? Absolutely not. Was I prepared to become ill?  Absolutely not. Has becoming sick taught me anything that I didn’t know about myself before? Definitely. I didn’t know that I had the ability to fix things that were not going my way. I was always so hard on myself when I made a mistake or something unfortunate happened. Now I’m forced to accept challenges, find a way to work with them, and try to adjust accordingly.

Not everyone may feel the same as I do or even think that this seems difficult, and that’s OK. We all have different pain tolerances. We all see difficulties differently. What one person may seem as the end of the world, another would only see as a small bump. However, from my personal experience, it’s been nothing short of a challenge for both myself and my fiancé. As the planning continues, I hope that I can push through each day, and I wish anyone in the same position the same.

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