The Chronic Pain & Disability Wedding Survival Guide
I have a chronic facial pain condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia and I also suffer from fatigue. Less than 6 months ago, I got married. As we were planning our wedding, we did things slightly differently, just to accommodate my health conditions. These changes might not have occurred to anyone else, but, as you probably know if you have a chronic illness or disability, planning is everything when odd things cause you pain or discomfort.
These are my favourite top tips for planning a wedding with a disability or chronic illness and little things that I did to make my wedding easier for me.
Some of these are pretty obvious and self explanatory, but sometimes I think it’s good to start with the basics and to make a list of your must-do items and top priorities!
Avoid stressing over things you don’t need to stress about. Not only can stress can amplify pain, but, quite simply, I have enough in my life to stress about that I just didn’t fancy adding to it! I deflected a lot of stress by assigning whatever planning bits I could to family and friends I could trust with such an important day. I would say this to anyone planning a wedding. It’s supposed to be your most enjoyable day.. Why stress?
Pick a venue that is accessible. For my health, this meant the right temperature. I needed somewhere warm and temperature controlled, so we had an indoor wedding ceremony and the outside area of the venue – a roof garden in Manchester City Centre – was covered and heated too. I also needed the venue to be accessible for a couple of guests with physical disabilities and mobility problems, so our venue was also suitable for them too. Luckily, our first choice for the venue was perfect and we didn’t have to give this too much thought, but for some people, your venue choices can be much more limited. I would probably suggest ringing around local venues, rather than heading to Google, because there will be accommodations and changes a venue can make on the day, even to a building that isn’t specially listed as having disabled access available all the time – which every venue should be, but that is an argument for a different blog post.
Get enough sleep the night before your wedding. I am tired all the time. I have suffered from chronic fatigue for over five years and I find it very hard to stay awake for longer than 12 hours continuously. I went to bed before 9pm the night before my wedding, after a relaxing afternoon with my best friend and mum, and my best friend stayed up in bed next to me watching Masterchef, whilst I snoozed away! I was really glad of this the next day, because my wedding day really was a very long, busy day.
Book an afternoon ceremony. I once attended a wedding as a bridesmaid, where the ceremony was booked for 11am. I was up at 5am having hair and make up done. Need I say more?
You don’t have to follow every tradition. It hurts when I eat, so the thought of having one hundred pairs of eyes on me and my husband, whilst he feeds me wedding cake really didn’t appeal to me. This is your reminder that you don’t need to have anything in the wedding that isn’t a legal part of the wedding.. and, honestly, do you even need to do the legal bits, if you’d rather just have the symbolised aspects of a wedding? You don’t need to walk down the aisle. You don’t need to have a cake. You don’t need to have a ‘first dance’. You don’t need a ring.
If you need any aids, use them. I have limited vision in my right eye, so my left eye has to work overtime for me to be able to see. I didn’t want to wear my glasses, because they are a fairly new thing for me and they didn’t quite fit with the picture in my head of me walking down the aisle in my massive white dress. However, as soon as the evening do started, my glasses went straight on, because my eyes needed a break. I should have probably worn them all day. Wear your glasses. Use your mobility aids. If it’s cold and you have trigeminal neuralgia, wrap your favourite scarf around your face, because you’re in a room with your friends and family and, at the end of the day, literally no one cares what you look like as long as you’re having a good time.
Plan in some ‘quiet’ time. My dress was super tight, so I went to my best friend’s hotel room to take the whole thing off (everyone has an almost naked wee at some point on their wedding day, right?!) and to just have some down time with my closest girls, where I didn’t have to speak to anyone. It was much needed. I also planned a little quiet time with my husband, where we went to check out our honeymoon suite together half way through the wedding, just so we could spend a little time away from the crowds. It’s okay to need a short time out.
You don’t have to stay up all night. Finally, this bride went to bed at 11.30pm on her wedding night!
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