Ideas for Planning a Wedding With Chronic Illness That Put Your Health First

Celebrate your big day while conserving your spoons.
Ideas for Planning a Wedding With Chronic Illness
Photos, from left to right: Jaimee Morse, Anchiy / Getty Images, OlegBlokhin / Shutterstock
Ariel Taranski
by
Ariel Taranski
Ariel Taranski
Ariel Taranski
The Knot Contributor
  • Ariel writes on a variety of wedding-related topics for The Knot.
  • She has previously worked for Southern Bride Magazine, Miss Design Berry and other woman-owned wedding brands.
  • She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Memphis.
Updated Jan 16, 2024

Wedding planning for any couple can be a doozy, with having to juggle all the deadlines, vendors and life outside of your nuptials. And when you're planning a wedding with chronic illness, that stress can seriously cause a flare-up. As someone who has been living with chronic illnesses and disabilities for the majority of my life, I know the last thing I want during this big day is to deal with unexpected symptoms and overstimulation. That's why I'm proud to work with The Knot on offering a helpful guide for wedding planning when you're chronically ill, disabled and/or neurodivergent. We've spoken to some experts on the matter, with Erin Perkins, founder of MabelyQ, and Kathryn Palmer-Skillings, owner of Celebrant Kathryn. This should be your best day ever, so here's what you need to consider as a spoonie during your wedding planning.

Prewedding Celebrations and Honeymoon

As someone who knows how fickle chronic illness can be, it's important to consider your health throughout the entire wedding planning process. Make sure you give yourselves enough time to wedding plan, like a year or more, so you can spread things out and book your favorite vendors. (We recommend The Knot Vendor Marketplace for that.) Think about throwing low-key bachelorette parties or an at-home engagement party. Save yourself time and energy by hiring a wedding planner or coordinator to take some of the stress off your shoulders. If there are small things you can DIY to cut costs, then plan a get-together with loved ones to help create your centerpieces or decor. Plan your honeymoon at an all-inclusive resort or for another weekend after your wedding so you can scatter these big events.

Consider What Works For You

One important aspect of wedding planning with a chronic illness is knowing what your body can handle. Check out accessible venues and make sure they either have nearby parking lots, changing areas on-site or other spaces you can go for needed rest or medication. Weddings can be hectic, so it's important to consider what your body can handle on a good day since the stress of this event could exacerbate your symptoms. Often, that can mean a shorter ceremony, a lighter menu or even eloping with a bigger reception with loved ones later on.

Comfort Comes First

You may have always imagined yourself in a princess gown or three-piece suit, but the fact of the matter is, these are rarely comfortable for anyone for any length of time. If chronic pain, sensory issues or temperature regulation is a problem, make sure you wear a comfortable outfit or have the right tools you need to enjoy your day without worrying about getting too warm or achy. Or even something like the Bridal Buddy can help if you frequently have to use the bathroom. Also, emergency kits for you and your S.O. are a must, especially with all your chronic health essentials.

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Plan the Day Around Your Schedule

As with any other day in your life, knowing what times to eat, take your medications and even wake up in the morning is key. Your wedding should be no different, so make sure the timeline adheres to what will make you feel your best. One option could be a brunch wedding, which is more low-key and lets you take the rest of the evening to relax with your new spouse. Erin Perkins also adds, "A dear couple of mine… had the brilliant idea of including a 45-minute break between the ceremony and the reception. This gave them the perfect opportunity to rest and recharge before joining the guests for the lively celebration." Consider doing this during your cocktail hour so your guests can mingle while you recoup.

Skipping Traditional "Norms"

The great thing about your wedding day is that it's yours to do as you please with as much "tradition" or as little as you'd like. Celebrant Kathryn says, "I didn't want the hassle of holding a bouquet at my wedding… That was the right decision for me and my access… Don't have an aisle if you don't want one! Have a shorter ceremony to help you take it all in without [being] overwhelm[ed]!" Not big on dancing? Set board games on your guests' tables for everyone to have a different kind of fun. Don't want to toss the bouquet because of your EDS? Then, play the shoe game to fill that time with something easier on you. There are plenty of ways to make this wedding more accessible while still having fun with you and your loved ones. Just get creative with it.

Ensure Dignified Access

Sure, some venues may say they're accessible, when really their entrance has a few steps that make things more complicated for you and your guests. Erin Perkins adds, "Think about the entry and exit points of the venue - this is something important to consider regarding physical disabilities. There is nothing more demeaning than having to access a session space through a freight elevator when everyone else uses an escalator or guest elevator." Speak with your vendors and check out your venue ahead of time for these accessibility features.

Never Settle–This is YOUR Big Day

Kathryn Palmer-Skillings emphasizes, "You shouldn't have to compromise your access, inclusion, psychological safety, comfort or empowerment on any day. If you need to have step-free access to your venue, make sure you have step-free access to every area you need and in a way that is empowering and dignified!" It's all about doing things in a way that's conducive to your health while also celebrating your love story. If other couples wouldn't settle, then why should you just because you have particular needs?

Communicate With Your Vendors

Consider working with accessible or inclusive vendors so they can better work with you on your needs. Erin also says about wedding planning, "Effective communication with vendors is crucial when it comes to matters that may impact the couple. For instance, when dealing with a florist, it is important to inquire about any sensitivities to fragrances that the couple may have. When it comes to music and lighting, consider if they are necessary and how they might impact the couple and their guests." Make sure that your vendors know what accommodations you and your guests need during this day.

Chronic Illness and Neurodivergence Are On a Spectrum

You undoubtedly know by now that no two days with chronic illness are the same. And if you're anything like me, you have a group of chronically ill friends you lean on during it all, and keeping them in mind during your big day is important so that they feel welcome. Accommodations can vary from guest to guest, so adding a section on your website or even reaching out to people about food allergies, sensory sensitivities and other needs is a great way to check in and make sure your big day is hospitable for everyone.

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Please note: The Knot and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical advice and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a medical professional about your specific circumstances.

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