7 Tips For Planning a Wedding With Diabetes
Type 1 "dia-bride" Gretchen Woodson shares her step-by-step guide on how to pick your dress, wear diabetes devices, and prep for lows so you can have a worry-free wedding day.
As a little girl, I dreamt of my princess wedding dress, cake flavors, prince charming, and special day details. But I never imagined I’d have to think about how to manage diabetes on my wedding day.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 23 years old while traveling across Europe. As a young adult, my life was turned upside down. I had to re-learn how to care for my body, how to eat, sleep, workout, and live – even dating was different with diabetes.
As the years went on, I met the love of my life while camping in the desert. Three years later, he proposed on a horseback ride in the mountains. For every girl, it’s so exciting to be engaged and start the wedding planning process. But soon anxiety and questions started bubbling up: Will I go low in inconvenient moments? Will I look pretty in my wedding dress with my medical devices on? Will I be able to actually be happy and enjoy my wedding with diabetes?
There is so much that goes into wedding planning already, but as a “dia-bride,” there’s even more to think about in advance. Unfortunately, diabetes doesn’t stop – not even on your most special day. But thankfully being prepared, making a plan, and having support systems in place creates peace of mind so you can enjoy your fairytale wedding. Here is my step-by-step plan to make sure anyone’s wedding day with diabetes is a magical one.
1. Determine your wedding attire
Having a wedding dress game plan is so important because it prevents the anxiety of not knowing what to do with your devices on the big day.
If you’re not going to wear any devices, plan where to keep all of your insulin and other supplies. Make sure you have a bag or purse that fits everything you need. If you are wearing a medical device, decide if you’d like them seen or unseen. If you want them on display, perfect – rock those babies. If you want them unseen, determine where you’ll put your continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and pump.
While wedding dress shopping, get a feel for where your pump will fit or if you need a tailor to sew in pockets or design a special pump garter for you. If you’ve never had a site in your leg before, I recommend testing it out before the big day to make sure it works for you.
“Navigating diabetes on my wedding day was like any other day honestly,” said Taylor Gauld, my bridesmaid and fellow dia-bride herself. “I wore my Dexcom and pump so I just had to keep an eye on my levels, but I didn’t let diabetes ruin my wedding day.”
“I wanted to wear my devices just like any other day because it’s who I am. I didn’t want to feel like I was embarrassed or not proud of my devices. Plus, my dress covered them. But my Dexcom did go off at one point and I remember being like, ‘Haha, oh well!’” Gauld said.
On my wedding day, I personally chose to do multiple daily injections and testing with a glucose meter (no CGM). I wanted to be free of devices for the ceremony, but for the reception, I wore my CGM to put myself at ease while eating and partying all night.
I encouraged all my bridesmaids with diabetes to wear their devices and do whatever they needed to do to feel comfortable, too. Just like my bridesmaid and another type 1 diabetes bride Ashley Neuhaus said: “I made the personal decision to not display my CGM on my wedding day. I wore my Dexcom on my leg, but totally supported my bridesmaids with diabetes to display their CGMs.”
2. Establish bridesmaid duties
Your bridesmaids are your best friends and built-in support systems. They are
there to help and support you on your big day – so have them help.
“It felt really special to be a type 1 diabetes bridesmaid for my type 1 best friend. Special occasions can be tricky with diabetes but it felt amazing knowing I had her back and she had mine,” said another of my bridesmaids, Paloma Guerrero.
When determining a job for each person, think about what could be most helpful for you. For example, I put someone in charge of carrying my extra supplies in her purse and tracking my CGM data while I focused on myself.
I also had someone check in with me throughout the day to make sure I was feeling okay, which really helped me stay in the moment and not get overwhelmed with extra things to think about.
3. Make a just-in-case plan
Weddings are already stressful, and you don't need the added anxiety of having a surprise low or panicking about what to do if you have one.
Dedicate someone who knows what to do if you have a low. For example, I had one of my bridesmaids carry low snacks since I knew she would be right next to me the entire day and I could go to her for help. In addition, my wedding officiant also knew about my diabetes so we had a plan if I needed to excuse myself.
4. Get the groom involved
Decide if or how your groom can support you. Since we were apart for the whole day, I didn’t give him any specific duties. But I did stash a pouch of fruit snacks in his blazer just in case I needed it throughout the night.
“My husband was in charge of holding my phone the majority of the day so I could get my Dexcom readings,” Neuhaus said.
Having the groom in the know of your insecurities or worries also helps keep him
aware of what he can do or how he can support you. “My groom didn’t specifically help with my diabetes on my wedding day but he brought it up in our vows, which made them really special,” Gauld added.
5. Have a wedding planning team
Make sure whoever is on your team helps make you feel comfortable and safe. It’s their job to set things up and support the bride. I told my dream wedding planning team about my type 1 diabetes from the beginning, and they were so supportive and uplifting.
It was also important for me to capture intimate moments with my diabetes devices and bridesmaids with diabetes, and my photographer was able to incorporate those moments in a special way that made me feel so comfortable and not ashamed of my diabetes.
I worked closely with my wedding planner who was always checking in on me. She was also in charge of making sure all my belongings (which included my diabetes supplies) were where they needed to be since I didn’t keep my purse with me during the ceremony.
6. Check your blood sugar before saying ‘I do’
My biggest and most helpful tip (and seems so simple) is to check your blood sugar before walking down that aisle. This may seem like a given, but the day goes by so fast, and as the bride, you’re thinking about a million other things at that moment – diabetes being the last on the list.
Having one of my bridesmaids remind me to check and make adjustments if needed was so helpful. Knowing my blood sugar before the big moment gave me so much confidence and a secure feeling that everything was okay.
“To prevent the possibility of going low during the ceremony I ate a box of Nerds before walking down the aisle,” said Neuhaus.
I remember checking my blood sugar right before and it read 151 mg/dL, which made me feel happy and stable. I walked down that aisle with confidence and let go of all of my diabetes worries.
7. Last but not least – have fun
Enjoy your wedding day with the love of your life, inject that insulin, eat that wedding cake, cheers your champagne, and dance the night away.
At the end of the day, I wanted to be the star of the day – not my diabetes. If I was a little higher than normal, that was okay for me. My numbers didn't need to be absolutely perfect for me to enjoy my wedding.
Even if something does happen or go “wrong,” diabetes doesn’t have to ruin my whole day if I don't want it to. I always remind myself that I don’t need to beat myself up with the little things so I can really enjoy those once-in-a-lifetime moments.
With a solid wedding plan and my support system in place, it made a world of difference. And I wish I could experience it all over again. Diabetes doesn’t define me, and it definitely didn’t define me on my wedding day.