Planning a Wedding with Diabetes

Don’t let diabetes take control of your big day. Stress less and enjoy the celebration with our 10 tips for planning a worry-free wedding day when you have diabetes and take insulin. Plus, download the FREE three-tier wedding cake and monogrammed cupcake recipes!

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A Wedding Story

Hurrying into her apartment to escape the December cold, Toni Mortensen, 26, hadn’t taken off her coat or shoes before her boyfriend, Lucas, got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. Diabetes was the last thing on her mind. A year and a half will pass before they say I do; for Toni, the long engagement has given her extra time to organize her big day and manage her type 1 diabetes. Countless questions have filled her mind: What should I eat? When should I eat? Can I even eat the cake? And what do I do with this bulky insulin pump when I’m in my wedding dress?

Through some thorough planning alongside her longtime diabetes educator, Barb Fatka, R.N., CDE, of the Mary Greeley Medical Center Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center in Ames, Iowa, Toni has developed a wedding plan to keep her diabetes in check and out of the way so she can enjoy her special day.

10 Tips for Planning a Wedding with Diabetes

  1. Have a Game Plan: With the ceremony, the reception, and everything that goes along with them, a wedding can be a very long day. Work your eating and testing plans into the itinerary, and do a couple of schedule run-throughs before the big day. Fatka advised bride-to-be Toni to start the day by eating a protein and a simple carb, snack on protein foods throughout the day, and run her blood sugars a little higher than normal to avoid going too low. Make sure you carve out time for a meal or snack after the ceremony, as the hectic hustle and bustle of the morning might cause your blood sugar to crash.
  2. Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too: Make your wedding cake work with your diabetes by paying attention to portion size. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime special occasion, and whatever you want for that special occasion, I would go with that,” Fatka says. “Go ahead and have a cake that you enjoy—just have a small portion.” Choosing a diabetes-friendly recipe is also an option. Our diabetic cake recipes replace sugary, carb-loaded frosting with lighter options like fresh fruit, reduced-fat cream cheese, or a dusting of powdered sugar.

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  3. Be Prepared for Lows: Going low during the ceremony is a nightmare for a bride or groom with diabetes, but do your best to be prepared. “Don’t be afraid to overtest that day or night,” Toni says. “You’re going to have so many hormones and emotions going through your day that could affect your blood sugar.” Sit down with your educator before the big day to talk about what numbers to shoot for. “Everyone’s going to be a little different on their goals,” Fatka says. “There’s no cookbook way of handling diabetes.”

    As a backup, have glucose tablets and snacks on hand. Grooms can store a snack in a pocket, and brides can slip it into the bouquet or a small clutch. But you don’t have to be discreet about it. Pausing for a few glucose tablets or a gulp of apple juice won’t be a big deal. It’s your wedding day—you call the shots!
  4. Get Creative: A bulky continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or pump doesn’t need to get in the way. While it is easier for men to conceal a pump in a suit pocket, most tailors can sew a pocket inside a dress for the bride to tuck her pump. Toni plans to keep hers in the fullest part of her dress—the skirt. For tighter-fitting dresses, like a mermaid-style skirt, try strapping your pump to the lower leg where the fabric flares out, and connect it to your infusion site with longer tubing.
  5. Have a “Glucose Buddy”: Tracking your diabetes can easily get lost in the mix of wedding festivities. Gather your own diabetes team to support you and help you keep an eye on your diabetes throughout the day. “My personal attendant is going to have my CGM, and we’re going to work out a little signal so that if I’m going low, she can let me know and I can eat something,” Toni says.
  6. Use Portion Control: You don’t need to plan the whole meal around your diabetes, but keep track of what you eat. Toni asked her chef to pre-portion her meal with a specific carb count. Selecting a more healthful menu is always a plus, but rationing your own plate will let you splurge a little without throwing your blood sugar out of whack.
  7. Don’t Forget the Other Festivities: Traditionally, friends or family will organize your bridal shower and bachelor or bachelorette party. Let them do the planning, but remind them of what you can and can’t eat. Give some suggestions of carb-friendly dishes you like, and ask for some healthful options, like fruits and veggies.
  8. Drink Responsibly: If you’re planning on drinking, know how your body reacts to alcohol. It can affect your blood sugar, so factor the carbs into your insulin dosages and eating plan for the day. “You don’t want to spoil your wedding by getting sick,” Fatka says. “What alcohol does is it shuts off the liver’s ability to produce glucose. If you’re drinking a lot, your blood sugar drops.” Fatka recommends limiting yourself to two drinks and eating a snack with each drink.

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  9. Dance It Out: It’s easy to forget that something as goofy as the “Macarena” counts as exercise. Beware of your glucose while moving and grooving on the dance floor, and don’t hesitate to test your blood frequently. Stay hydrated and have fun!
  10. Take a Break: Planning a wedding can be incredibly stressful and affect your blood sugars. Schedule some much-needed “me time” to maintain your health—and your sanity. “Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I go to Pilates,” Toni says. “I’m getting in shape; I’m working out, which helps my blood sugar; and it’s a major stress-reliever. It’s a time for me to step away from the wedding and work, and just take time for myself.”