Diabetes on Your Wedding Day

A million things are on your mind on the big day—and fretting about your diabetes shouldn’t be one of them. So what can you do? Read on for tips no bride with diabetes should be without.

Diana Bierman
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Hillary Mayberry Photography

The last thing you want to stress about when getting married is your diabetes—counting carbs, testing your blood sugar, hiding a pump. The good news? You can tie the knot without worry, thanks to these tips from Susan Weiner, author of The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life (Spry Publishing), and Natalie Strand, MD, an assistant professor in clinical anesthesiology at University of Southern California in Los Angeles. A winner of The Amazing Race, Dr. Strand also happens to have type 1 diabetes—and managed to have a picture-perfect wedding. 

Before your wedding . . .

Camouflage your diabetes supplies
Hidden pockets can be created in your wedding gown to hold your pump or other diabetes tools. “I had a pocket sewn into my gown so that I could reach down and casually pull out my continuous glucose monitor or insulin pump,” Dr. Strand explains. The best part? “The pockets didn’t change the look of the dress!” Hint: If the fabric of your dress can’t be easily snipped, invest in a medium-sized chic clutch that can hold your meter case.

Adopt this mantra

Practice makes perfect! “Do a run-through schedule for your wedding day,” says Weiner. That’ll help you figure out when and what to eat and when to test your blood sugar. One caveat: “Don’t expect it to go exactly that way—chances are you won’t feel the nerves on the trial day that you’ll feel on your wedding day,” Weiner warns. “But you can still figure out what problems may pop up when it comes to the timing of blood sugar testing or meals.”

Put safe indulgences on the menu
Dr. Strand didn’t eliminate elegant meals—rather, she chose fare with few carbs, but lots of flavor. For example, she opted for hand-passed hors d’oeuvres over a pasta station, so portions were smaller and healthier. “And instead of mini pizzas or quiches, I chose things like shrimp and fish—foods that taste great, but don’t severely affect blood sugar.” She also picked trout over steak for the main course, which has less fat and calories.

…And that includes cake!
Have your cake and eat it, too: “There are tons of sugar substitutes for baking,” says Dr. Strand. As for frosting, a whipped instead of a thicker style is key. “Whipped means less volume, which means less sugar and calories,” she explains.

Buy shoes in twos
It’s important for people with diabetes to keep their feet healthy, and that means avoiding blisters and cuts. So if you want to dance the night away, comfy heels or flats are a must. “I had a cute pair of shoes for pictures, and another pair for dancing,” says Dr. Strand.
On the day of your wedding . . .

Jump-start the day
Dr. Strand knew she’d be “distracted in the morning worrying about hair, makeup, getting ready and running around,” but she made sure to eat a filling breakfast. A protein-and-fiber combo (think eggs or Greek yogurt and fruit) can help keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day. Adds Weiner: “The day of your wedding is not the time to try new foods. If you’re used to eating oatmeal with walnuts and cinnamon for breakfast, continue with that.”

Hide your glucose here
Your bouquet! That way, you can easily treat a low, without having to run off—especially if you’re already down the aisle or in the middle of taking pictures. “Stashing glucose inside the stem of the bouquet meant I could reach in and pull it out if needed—with no one noticing!” says Dr. Strand. Men, tuck some glucose into a pocket on your pants or jacket.

Designate a helper—or nine!
Enlist the help of someone who’s willing to remind you to test your blood sugar at certain times (such as before the walk down the aisle or first dance). “With everything going on, my bridesmaids agreed to keep an eye on me, reminding me to focus on testing,” Dr. Strand says. “I had nine bridesmaids, so each reminding me once was more than enough!”

Make sure to eat
Whether due to nerves or too much going on, many brides and grooms barely get a chance to eat at their wedding. “You don’t want to go too low, get dizzy and faint!” says Weiner. Tip: Have your entertainer halt the music as a cue to sit for dinner. That way, you’ll feel less pressure to get up and mingle, and you’ll enjoy your meal.

Pay attention to alcohol
If your healthcare provider says it’s okay, one alcoholic drink with a meal is fine. But alcohol adds lots of empty calories and sugar and may affect blood sugar levels. Your best bet: Drinks that have less sugar—small amounts of liquor mixed with club soda or diet soda, light beer, dry wines or wine spritzers (wine mixed with club soda).

“I had skinny margaritas instead of the sugary ones that can top 40 grams of sugar per drink,” Dr. Strand says. “I had many nonalcoholic beverages as well—sparkling sugar-free lemonade being my favorite.” Note that the American Diabetes Association endorses a one-glass maximum for women and two for men per day.

Keep cool, calm and collected
It’s normal to have wedding-day jitters. “But because your blood sugar may go up due to the stress, you must test your blood sugar to make sure you’re in a target range,” says Weiner. “And speak to the people around you. Let them know you want to remain calm, and that they should, too!” If you’re noticing the stress building, try going into a room away from the crowd, taking a few deep breaths and thinking positively.

August 2013