How to Shop For a Wedding Dress When You Have a Chronic Illness

This jersey knit sheath from David’s bridal for $199 is extremely comfortable.

When it comes to planning your Spoonie wedding, it’s all about the dress. If you suffer from chronic pain from a chronic illness, the dress will be a big factor in how your wedding day will go. This is because it dictates your comfort level. There are easy ways to figure this out without wasting spoons trying on tons of dresses, which will drain your energy.

Tips for figuring out which dresses to try on

1. Consider a non bridal dress that happens to be white.

These will have less layers and will be less heavy, and also less expensive. I try to be budget friendly on this blog because I know with medical expenses everything else can get in the way. Prioritize your health.

2. Look for a dress with only two or three layers.

Wedding dresses are like cakes. Some have more fabric layers than most. Some have up to 12, and this makes the dress heavy. The heavier the dress, the more uncomfortable you will feel as it places pressure on your body, causing pain and exhaustion.

3. Consider the fabric. The softer and lighter it is, the better.

Jersey knit, lace and satin are favorites. Make sure you bring a flash light to test if the fabric is see through!

4. If your weight fluctuates, consider a corset top.

The dress I landed on was a soft lace up all the way with a ribbon. That meant that no matter how my body changed, the dress could be altered through tightening or loosening the corset lacing.

I originally bought the first dress pictured, and it was zip up all the way which ended up hurting me in the end.

Where should you buy a dress?

My dress was not bought at a traditional bridal shop, so I suggest getting creative with your search. Personal favorites are:

1. Secondhand bridal shops

This way, you can buy couture for less, and get it off the rack the same day.

2. Quinceanera shops

This is where I found my dress. You can find excellent customer service and a different style of dress if you don’t like current bridal fashion, like I do.

3. Department stores

These are good places to find dresses with less layers. The dresses will be simpler and more low key, and a simpler dress is usually a more comfortable dress.

Good department stores are:

– Nordstrom

– Macy’s

I had a bad experience at David’s Bridal with my body fluctuations. I do not recommend them.

How to shop

1. Do NOT shop online.

2. Only go to one store per day.

3. When you dress shop, make it your one goal for the day.

Shapewear

Try to wear as little shapewear and other undergarments as possible. This means no complicated slips or spandex. You’re going to need to pee at some point. These items are also restrictive and uncomfortable. I did wear a soft, expensive strapless bra and soft spandex shorts on my wedding day. I made sure my undergarments were soft and necessary. If it’s your wedding day and you think you look good without your spandex, skip it. I was still comfortable in mine because of the type I wore.

My Dress

My dress was satin and silk. It didn’t have structured hard boning in the corset. This meant the corset was soft, which was good for my costocondritis. The dress had an empire waist, so there was no pressure on my abdomen, which is a constant painful spot for me. It had crystal sparkle detail on the bodice, and a simple three layer skirt. It was not heavy at all and twirled!

You can still have a princess dress and comfort. Just know what to look for, and don’t give up on the dress of your dreams!

My photographer had me take bridal portraits sitting down to save spoons.

The Spoonie Wedding

Imitation meteorite band for my husband with my diamond baguette ring on my Texas themed bouquet.

My husband and I were struck by two tragedies after our wedding, and we’ve only been married a month. I’m trying to cling to the magic moments in these dark times to superglue myself to him.

The ceremony space that later doubled as a dance floor, AKA my parents living room.

Because I was bed bound most of the time and walking with a glitter cane the month of the wedding, my parents took my $5,000 wedding at at a family friends children’s camp and moved it inside our house so I wouldn’t have to walk far and could rest in my bedroom if needed. We lost a ton of money but gained spoonifying the wedding this way. After all, a small house wedding was originally what I wanted.

We DIY’d all of our decorations. My mother, sister, father, myself and family friends set out heirloom china. Early on in the planning process my mom and I found a pack of vases, orchids, pearls, and tea lights used in a previous wedding on Craigslist, and they were used everywhere as decorations. Our tablecloths were also from Craigslist from a previous wedding.

Please note that while I did help set up I lost spoons and did have to rest during my wedding. I’ll get to spoonifying your wedding in a moment.

Why I considered my wedding spoonifyed

1. I didn’t have to travel to a venue. All I needed was right there.

2. My walk down the aisle was a walk down the short hallway. At the 30 acre venue, where I would have to cross a creek to get between the ceremony site and the reception space, we were afraid I would have to use a cane. It was also outdoors and could be muddy. This way, no one would know I was using a cane as I didn’t use it around the house.

3. I could rest during the wedding reception, and I did. The reception was a vegan dinner with a fabulous vegan cake held in my parents formal dining room that shared a wall with my bedroom.

The very fabulous vegan cake that got compliments from the non vegans present.

4. We had a 20 person guest list cut down from 80. This was hard to do, but worth it.

Dos and Dont’s of Planning a Spoonie Wedding

1. Hire a full package wedding planner. You may be on a budget but my wedding stole my health because I didn’t do this! Please at least hire a day of coordinator, some of these are very affordable if you go to your local bridal expo.

My glittery yet still simple wedding dress that was comfortable but forgiving.

2. It’s all about the dress. Choose a simpler dress that is comfortable! You will still be beautiful even if you’re not in a Pnina Tornai!

3. It’s honestly about the shoes. Don’t even wear kitten heels. Wear flats, sneakers, or even crocs that don’t look like crocs (don’t cringe but crocs makes flats and they are my fancy shoes). I have lots of foot problems so this is my go to.

4. Thou shalt NOT go dress shopping without watching Say Yes to the Dress at least 10 times, and thou shalt NOT be ashamed of your tiny budget. Not every girl can drop even $600 on a dress. I dropped $200 each on two dresses, one I couldn’t wear anymore because of swelling and the one pictured I wore on my wedding day that was really perfect. I found my wedding dress at a quinceanera shop that was local, and they were really kind to me when I explained my situation.

5. Let. People. Help. Please. You need your spoons for the wedding. Your community will be your rock through the process.

6. House weddings are the way to go if you can’t afford a hotel. See if you are close enough friends or family with someone with a nice house. With a house or hotel wedding, you have the option of going and resting during the wedding day. A house option is cheaper.

7. Be open with your vendors about your illness. You don’t have to disclose what type, but by being open I was able to move my wedding date 3 times due to my diseases progressing. You may also get free stuff and advice!

The send off in the rain (yes, it rained on my wedding day).

Blunders

Make sure you know what you want in a dress before you buy. I had no idea I wanted a glittery ball gown until I watched an episode of Say Yes to the Dress, but I had a lace sheath that I couldn’t fit into three months out that I bought the day I got engaged (I know…).

We had an awesome day of coordinator, but we lost her when we moved the date due to a medical emergency. In Texas wedding season is winter, so we only found a set up/tear down person.

The doorbell rang with our aisle runner as soon as Bear and I kissed to seal the deal and our flower dog ran off.

Flower dog 🌸 🐶

We threw the wedding together in 48 hours. Don’t do that. Plan more meticulously like I was for my big outdoor wedding.

We weddinged, it was spoonifyed, it may have inconvenienced a lot of people, but now we have each other.

Let’s dance the night away forever.

Are you chronically ill, differently abled, or a general Spoonie planning a wedding needing support? Check out my Facebook group, Differently Abled Wedding Planning Support Group.

At this group, you can find support from other people whose needs may be different from the mainstream and brainstorm ideas, find support from stress, and connect!

Continue reading “The Spoonie Wedding”

Honeymoon Glamping

The small cabina on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica where I honeymooned with Bear.
Literal tent bathroom.

My honeymoon to Puntarenas, Costa Rica was my first time out of the country. I know, I know. I’m not a modern woman. But I never had the cash to fly, not to mention airports gave me anxiety poos.

I was formally diagnosed with full-on lupus three days before my wedding and four days before my honeymoon. Bear booked a rustic resort in the jungle on the beach in Costa Rica in early July, before I had my first bad pain flare. We still believed we could do anything, and we still can!

The honeymoon really was proof of that.

By “rustic”, I didn’t really know what he meant. I grew up camping with friends and family. Surely he knew that honeymoons were luxurious and romantic. But I was wrong. Wrong about that, I was.

We strolled up to our beachfront cabina and I noticed there was a tent attached to it, then the size of the cabina. Entering the cabina I would say it was about a foot around three sides of a queen size bed.

For many people this would be the ultimate relationship test, and I must say we passed it with flying colors.

Not that it was never rocky, two people being in such cramped quarters, but we had fun with it. But the biggest lesson I learned about marriage started here:

A big fat turd lie I grew up believing was that men are the head of the household and therefore must be relied upon, thus they know everything. This is a horrible, nasty lie because men are human beings who can get pick pocketed on a tourist boat, screamed at on an airplane, and have meltdowns in the middle of the pacific ocean. You, as a woman generally fully in tune with your magnanimous faults and very aware of how dangerous the world is, run security on his ass and he runs intel on your emotional and physical needs. This is how you get out of the safest Latin American country alive laughing and having fun.

I had to grow up a lot on the honeymoon because I realized I had the right, and the responsibility, to keep my sweet husband out of danger because my dangerdar was higher tuned than his. I wasn’t supposed to be a help-meet lamb in the kitchen as I may have consciously or subconsciously led to believe, I was actually his security guard. He was, on the other hand, responsible for getting my needs met when I couldn’t walk for more than ten minutes, requesting wheelchairs at airports (seriously go team here), and being a great travel nurse.

But these lessons were ultimately all laughable and fun. They’ll make great stories down the line and anyone who volunteers friendship will hear about them. My next few blog posts will be about the honeymoon and its depth, as I process it and get over jet lag.

I hope you all had happy holidays, whether you were at home or by the sea, or at home by the sea.

May you all have giggles and light.