Living With Migraines

What It's Like to Plan a Wedding When You Have Migraines, According to Real Migraine Sufferers

For the majority of Jorie Logan-Morris’ wedding day, she felt great. Getting ready, taking photographs, and the ceremony all went off without a hitch. But when she finally sat down to rest at the reception, that all changed. Her head started throbbing. She had trouble focusing. She experienced nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and more undesirable symptoms.

Turns out, Logan-Morris was suffering from a let-down migraine, which “can occur when you’ve been going through a period of high stress or activity,” she explains. “When you’re finally able to rest and relax, your body responds by triggering a migraine.”

Logan-Morris is no stranger to migraines—she’s lived with them for the past 16 years, since her doctor diagnosed her with chronic intractable migraines (also referred to as status migrainosus) at the age of 10. She typically has between 20 to 25 migraines every month, and even on the days she doesn’t have one, she wakes up with some type of head pain.

So the chances that she’d have a migraine on her wedding day were already pretty high. The added stress from over a year of planning was just the icing on the cake.

“I’d built up stress for months, running around and hardly taking a moment to breathe,” she shares. “When I finally got to sit down, my body just crashed.”

Given how often she gets migraines, it’s not surprising they interfered with the planning process, too. Her head pain was so severe sometimes that she was forced to cancel meetings with some of her vendors.

Logan-Morris isn’t the only person living with migraines. In fact, one in seven people worldwide live with them.

She also isn’t alone when it comes to getting migraines during wedding planning and on the big day. Courtney Hall, who was diagnosed with migraines at the age of 17, was in the same boat. Her overall experience is different than Logan-Morris, though—she usually only experiences one a month, around the same time as her menstrual cycle. She also runs the risk of getting one “when there’s been a combination of bad eating, stress, and lack of sleep” she shares.

But unlike Logan-Morris, whose migraine symptoms didn’t set in until later on her wedding day, Hall knew she had one immediately upon waking.

“We woke up in our hotel suite and I just felt it.” she shares. “I tried to power through, but started crying 30 minutes later.” And she realized she’d forgotten her prescription nasal spray—the only thing that could temper her pain at the time—at home. An hour away from the hotel.

Luckily, Hall’s groom drove an hour to and from their house to get it, and it’s a good thing he did. Hall had to take two doses instead of her usual one, but she was able to overcome her migraine that day. It was a much better outcome than the day she went shopping for her wedding dress, when she also got a migraine.

“I felt removed from my body almost,” she shares. “The whole day I was low energy and nauseous. I didn’t feel like talking. Luckily, my mother-in-law-to-be did the driving, and seeing my friends and family helped me power through. I didn’t tell anyone. It was a great day but I really felt sick through it all.”

Logan-Morris’s wedding day turned out OK, too. She had to leave the reception for 45 minutes to deal with the symptoms, but thanks to her husband, mother, and bridesmaids, no one ever suspected a thing. Her husband took her outside to get some fresh air, which helped ease her symptoms and actually ended up being a high point of her entire wedding day.

“Taking some time by ourselves ended up being my favorite part of our wedding day,” Logan-Morris shares. “Just he and I, taking it all in. It helped me remember the real reason I went to all the trouble of having this big, stressful event in the first place.”

It’s unfortunate that they and so many others have to deal with migraines.They’re incredibly painful (and often debilitating) and there’s currently no cure.

If you’re one of those people and will be planning a wedding soon, Logan-Morris and Hall have some tips on how to navigate the planning and the big day.

Go slowly

If possible, choose a longer engagement. For Logan-Morris and her now-husband, having a longer time to plan really helped her manage the stress that inevitably comes along with planning a wedding.

“Don’t rush into feeling like you have to get married within a certain time period,” she advises. Because you don’t. It’s your life and your wedding. And remember, good stress is still stress. You still need to pace yourself and take time to breathe.

Also, you need to accept the fact that things might go wrong. It’s highly unlikely that such a big, detail-oriented event will be 100% perfect. It’s just not worth getting worked up over miniscule issues. Focus on the big picture—the real reason you’re going to all this trouble, as Logan-Morris did when she and her husband went outside for fresh air—and everything will be just fine.

Need some advice on managing stress to avoid migraine attacks? We compiled our best tips in this article.

Listen to your body and treat it well

“Migraines are your body talking to you,” Hall says. “Listen to it.” She, for example, knows that a night of drinking alcohol can trigger a nasty migraine the next day. But so can foods with high sugar content, like candy, cake, and donuts. She’s learned this by paying close attention to how her body reacts when she eats or drinks certain things. So, she avoids these trigger foods for the most part and, if she does drink alcohol, she doesn’t consume a lot and sticks to white wine and light beer.

For the past two years, Hall hasn’t used Zomig. It was too complicated and expensive to fulfill the prescription. Instead, she’s chosen more holistic methods.

“Now when I get migraines, I eat something, drink lots of liquids, smoke cannabis, do yoga, and lie down,” she shares. “If I’m out and about, I use CBD oil and massage the point of pain, then drink caffeine to keep going.” In the morning, she prefers coffee, and at night she chooses soda. Oh, and it’s worth noting that cannabis is medically legal in Maryland, where Hall lives.

Say yes to help

Both Logan-Morris and Hall needed to rely on others while planning and on their wedding days.

“As a bride with chronic migraines, I needed a lot of extra help and I was so glad to have it,” Logan-Morris explains. “Don’t feel afraid to ask for help. Chances are, your people will be more than happy to help where needed for such a special occasion.” After all, these people love you. They don’t want to see you in pain, and they want you to have a beyond amazing day.

The fact of the matter is, planning a wedding is no easy feat. And when you have a chronic illness, it just makes it that much harder. Trying to push through alone just for the sake of getting things done or saying you did it yourself is just going to end up hurting you. Let others in—your brain will thank you.

Migraines are not fun. They’re awful. But they shouldn’t stop you from enjoying one of the happiest times of your life. During wedding planning, take it easy. Be kind to yourself, accept as much help as is offered, and listen to your body.

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Photo by Shardayyy Photography on Unsplash