Bridesmaid-ing with Migraine, Part 2

I have stood up in 4 weddings in the last 2 years, and I have some advice for bridesmaids with migraine! If you read part 1, than you know how much it means to me, especially as a person with migraine, to be included in a wedding party. It’s important to me to be able to be there for my friends and family in the same way they are for me. These are the steps I take to ensure that I can show up as a bridesmaid and slay the wedding game for my best girls!

Rest, rest, rest

Divvy out your spoons accordingly! Wedding week is busy, so pace it out in a way that is manageable for YOU. For example, when I have to travel to a wedding, I always do one or two days prior and NEVER on the same day as the rehearsal dinner and especially not the same day as the wedding itself!

Think positive and manage your spoons!

Manifest relief! Tell yourself that you’re going to be well, over and over until you actually believe it! (crazier things have happened). Continue to manage your spoons for the weekend and wedding day.

Avoid alcohol if it's a trigger

Do not drink alcohol at the rehearsal dinner. If I drink, I know I will probably end up hungover even if it’s just a small amount. Therefore, I know not to drink (really ever) but especially not when I have a big event the next morning.

Get enough sleep

Go to bed early the night before or work into your schedule time to sleep in.

Keeping to your normal sleeping routine as much as possible. Conserve your energy for the wedding day. (I request to be towards the end of getting my hair and makeup done, so I can sleep in a lil' bit!)

Know the bride's expectations ahead of time

Make sure you ask the bride what she needs help with and then make sure you show up for those things.

For example, I have missed dinners or other bridal party events because I was sick, but helped with the decorations for a shower or planned the bachelorette, etc. In doing this, my guilt of missing out was eased because I felt my contributions were clear and within what I could manage at that time. I tend to go above and beyond on the days I get to be present and healthy for! That way I feel less guilt when I can't be there and get all my celebrating in!

Pack snacks, water, and an ice pack

Pack your own cooler, make sure to include a therapeutic ice pack!

Seriously… I know it sounds high maintenance but bring a lunch box, cooler, purse with snacks and food that will get you through your day. Weddings are long and often you don't eat until after the ceremony and pictures are done, that can take hours! You do not want to start fading before the reception because you forgot water and a snack- don’t worry this can be easily avoided! Make sure to throw your packed snacks into the party bus or whatever transportation will be taking the wedding party from point A to point B. Maybe your date is awesome and totes the cooler along for you!

The date situation

If your date is part of your migraine support network and is well aware of your limitations, then BRING THEM and utilize their help throughout the day.

If your (potential) date is NOT migraine aware or someone who helps you manage your life with migraine, I would recommend flying solo. Having a date can be an additional stress and we all know that stress can trigger a migraine. AVOID unnecessary triggers and stress and ditch the date if they don’t understand how to help you get through with migraine.

The one time not to speak your migraine

NEVER under any circumstances do you share with the bride that you don't feel well on the wedding day!

Zip your lips. I am a HUGE proponent for speaking your migraine… but not in this circumstance. I also discourage telling the groom or immediate family to the bride and groom, find another bridesmaid/friend/family member to help that won’t distract from the wedding itself. Do the best you can to fake a smile and check the boxes of your bridesmaid obligations before you duck out and abort the migraine.

Crying as a trigger

Crying can trigger a migraine for many. If you’re a crier at weddings (like me), practice some deep breathing to avoid tears! Sometimes I don't pack tissues so that crying is not an option!

Take breaks as needed

Remember how I said to pack a therapeutic ice pack in your cooler? Place that on the back of your neck (not forehead because that will ruin your makeup and hair), throughout the day when you need a break.

Speaking of breaks, make sure to schedule a time to remove yourself from the wedding and rest.

Take a breather, have some quiet time and decompress away from the crowd. The bridal suite where the bridesmaids get ready is a good option, your car, or the bathroom. If you’re really struggling to find a spot, grab the wedding planner when she has a spare moment and ask them to recommend an area.

Let the bridal party know about migraine

Tell the bridal party about your illness. In my experience, other bridesmaids and girlfriends want to understand so they can help. It’s also a great opportunity to spread awareness of migraines. Just be honest and open when you express concerns. If you’re afraid the bachelorette party is too much for you to handle, tell the other girls that. I guarantee that they want to help facilitate so that you are able to celebrate and enjoy along with everyone. Understanding your limits and needs can only help them be more successful in helping you, making it more enjoyable for EVERYONE!

Plan ahead

Don’t be like me and wait until 2 days before the event to do your nails, get a tan, and hem your dress. Work ahead so you can eliminate any stress triggers the week of!

I try to work out/get in some movement before every wedding.

If it’s not possible to make it to a class, I move on my own in my room and sweat a little to shake it out by dancing, running through a mat Pilates class, or yoga stretches/poses, so I am the best me I can be. Of course staying extra hydrated if you workout, I generally keep it low intensity (nothing too crazy or strenuous)!

Don’t get caught up in drama

There is a lot of emotional energy at weddings, try to avoid energy drains. It’s ok to get emotional but try not to take on the stress of the event. You cannot fix every issue, what YOU CAN DO, is be responsible for yourself and do your best to anticipate your needs and hangups and manage them.

Set intentions for the weekend

What is important to you to get out of this experience? Focus on that. Anytime pain interrupts or wedding party drama arises, keep focused on your intentions. Remember, that your friend or family member who asked you to be in their wedding loves you and understands.

Ultimately, enjoy and try not to stress over what may or may not happen. Covering my bases and being prepared helps me feel more in control and equipped to manage a migraine attack should it threaten to dampen my day as a bridesmaid! This isn’t to say I don’t miss special occasions or need medications and modifications to enjoy a weekend, but taking my focus from “surviving” the event to “embracing” the event has made a major difference for me! I hope these tips help you thrive as a bridesmaid or at your next special occasion, despite migraine!

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