20 Helpful Tips for Planning a Wedding While Living With Migraine

20 Helpful Tips for Planning a Wedding While Living With Migraine

Wedding season is here! If you are getting married, there is so much to plan – your outfit, flowers, invitations, music, food, hairstyle, seating arrangements and more. Managing migraine, especially chronic migraine which I have been living with for over four years now, can complicate the wedding planning process and the day of the wedding. If you are facing similar challenges of planning a wedding while living with persistent migraine symptoms, I’ve compiled 20 tips to help you plan and navigate your big day

If you find yourself sensitive to smells and easily triggered by perfume or cologne, rest assured you’re not alone! When communicating dress code expectations in your invitations or on your wedding website, politely ask guests to refrain from wearing any fragrances.

Just like you wouldn’t stop using your favorite skincare product 3 months before your wedding, it’s best to avoid changing your migraine prevention treatment near your big day. You could set up an appointment with your provider 4-6 months before your wedding and discuss potential or necessary changes to your treatment plan. If you are looking for new preventive options, you could consider a longer-acting medication like CGRP monoclonal antibodies or onabotulinumtoxinA. If you are currently using one of these medications, check your administration schedule. Oftentimes, people have an increase in symptoms a week before they are due for the medication. If you are on another type of preventive medication, this is not the best time to start weaning down the dose. It may be wiser to begin weaning after your honeymoon.

If you are afraid of getting an attack on your wedding day, ask your healthcare provider if they would recommend prescribing a long-acting triptan (frovatriptan or naratriptan) or other treatment a few days before the wedding.

If alcohol is a migraine trigger for you or you are looking for a non-alcoholic beverage for your guests, opt for a tasty mocktail instead! The Dizzy Cook has many delicious recipes.1 If you decide to enjoy an alcoholic drink, research suggests that vodka is least likely to trigger an attack compared to red wine, white wine, champagne/sparkling wine or beer.2 You could consider providing wine purifiers for your guests at the bar if you and your guests decide to celebrate with wine.

Make sure you are eating every few hours. Assign a person in your wedding party the task of ordering lunch and snacks. Your bridesmaids/groomsmen will thank you! Before the wedding, talk to your catering company and discuss your needs ahead of time. If you will be taking pictures during cocktail hour, the catering company can serve you hors d’oeuvres first or make sure you have a plate when you are finished.

Hydration is so important. Be conscious of hydration a day or two leading up to the wedding (especially for glowy skin) and continue hydrating on your wedding day. Easy ways to ensure this will be easy can include getting a cute wedding day water bottle, incorporating sparkling water into your drink options, and talking to your vendor about the importance of having water stations or water pitchers full and available at all times during the event–including at your table.

If you are worried about getting an attack later in the day, opt for the first look instead of waiting until the evening to see your new life partner. Who wants to wait longer anyway?

Has your hair or scalp ever hurt or have you felt head pain after wearing your hair in a ponytail? If so, you have likely experienced a migraine symptom called allodynia. If you experience this symptom frequently, opt for a hairstyle where you can wear your hair down or in a loose braid, or try the trendy Hollywood curls. If you are considering a veil, try it on or practice wearing it several times to see if it is comfortable enough to wear on the day of.

Getting married can be stressful. Give yourself permission to take breaks if you feel overwhelmed or overstimulated. Check to see if there is a bridal suite at your venue. You can always retreat to this room if the reception becomes too stimulating or you need a break from guests.

Some people with migraine are sensitive to certain foods that contain nitrates, tyramine, monosodium glutamate (MSG) or phenylalanine. Remember that you are choosing the menu for you and your guests. Ask the catering company if you can substitute migraine-friendly foods in place of triggering foods or ask the chef to make you a special plate.

You don’t have (and likely won’t be able) to do it all on your wedding day. Consider hiring a wedding planner or coordinator for the day of. If that’s not in the budget, ask your wedding party and trusted friends and family to do certain jobs and be point people for vendors.

If you live with migraine, odds are you are frequently sound sensitive. Take this into consideration when choosing to have a band, DJ, or other music entertainment. Rather than playing techno or other loud music, you could choose to have a live pianist or musician instead. Bonus points if you leave earplugs on the table for your guests.

In the event an attack strikes during your wedding day, designate a person in your wedding party to keep your migraine treatment(s) close by or in a purse. Keep an eye out for any prodrome symptoms you may have like frequent urination, yawning or changes in mood to try to treat the attack early.

Assign your wedding party pre-wedding tasks to help you in the weeks before the wedding. Ask your hotel if you can drop off your hotel goodie bags for your guests ahead of time. Also, prepare your wedding favors a few weeks before the wedding to avoid any additional stress.

It’s likely that your vendors and wedding planner have years of experience and are used to handling weddings. Prior to the event, let them know that you have migraine along with your symptoms and potential triggers to see if they have any tricks that can help you on the big day.

Brain fog is a common migraine symptom and it is easy to forget small details on a stressful day. If you don’t have a dedicated wedding planner, create a wedding binder with all the important information. It can include a vendor list with details including the vendor’s name, their service and the approximate time of arrival, and tip. It may be helpful to also create a schedule of events that includes what time your wedding party should start to get ready, the time of the first look, ceremony start time, etc.

Flowers can have strong scents, when picking out a bouquet or centerpieces, choose flowers that don’t have strong smells. Or forgo flowers altogether. Consider other centerpiece options such as candles, pumpkins, fake flowers, succulents, driftwood, lanterns or a note to the table. 

If you are sensitive to light talk to your photographer about flash and lighting options. When deciding on a venue, consider if the lighting is comfortable or bothersome to you (ex. Do they have bright neon lights in the ballroom? Will the barn have enough lighting or be too dim?)

Does overheating or cold exposure trigger an attack for you? Make sure you are prepared for the big day by having tools to help prevent overheating or getting too cold. Have a cute shawl, blanket, or jacket available at your table. Also, check if your facility has AC or fans available to prevent overheating.

Not everything will go according to plan and that is ok. It is your special day to share with the love of your life, and hopefully, you will be able to avoid a migraine attack!

  1. https://thedizzycook.com/category/recipes/mocktails/
  2. https://saigaiin.sakura.ne.jp/sblo_files/saigaiin/image/E8B5A4E383AFE382A4E383B3E78987E9A0ADE7979BE38080.pdf

Kylie Petrarca is a Registered Nurse and has experience in both medical-surgical nursing and critical care. Her passion for patient care led her to a new role in 2021 as the Education Program Director for the Association of Migraine Disorders. Kylie also lives with chronic migraine and is a student in the Master of Headache Disorders program at the University of Copenhagen.

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