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As if getting hitched wasn't a big enough deal, doing it while pregnant means pulling double duty. Prioritizing and making decisions can become overwhelming if you're also juggling imminent parenthood. "The biggest issue about planning a wedding while pregnant is that there are a lot of unknowns. You're not sure how you are going to feel tomorrow, let alone a few months down the line," says Viva Max Kaley, New York-based wedding planner and creator of Viva Max Weddings. This is especially the case if it's your first pregnancy. So how can you walk down the aisle and actually enjoy it? Here are some tips for planning your big day with a growing bump.
Figure out timing
You should quickly decide how far along you want to be when you tie the knot. If you don't want much of a bump, you can consider the first 1-3 months, but you will likely be very tired and potentially dealing with morning sickness, says wedding planner and coach Claire Enston. During the second trimester, you'll start to look pregnant but feel better. Plus, your hair may thicken and your skin may glow. If you wait until your third trimester, it may be harder for you to move around.
Delegate as much as possible
"Being pregnant can be exhausting, so the focus needs to be on not stressing yourself or, more importantly, the baby, out," says Enston. Kaley agrees and suggests recruiting a core group of helpers, including your fiancé (especially if he keeps you grounded), a close friend (one who understands your aesthetic), and a planner (who can take care of the nitty-gritty).
Buy the right dress
You'll want a gorgeous gown, but keep in mind that you'll be making frequent restroom visits, so the dress itself should be relatively easy to slip out of or pull up for bathroom breaks. Kiss the Planner founder Aviva Samuels recommends looking at empire waist wedding gowns in loose fabrics such as chiffon for a figure-flattering silhouette. She also suggests planning more dress fittings than the average bride so your seamstress can ensure that the dress fits like a glove as your body changes. And Kaley adds that having multiple pairs of shoes on the big day is a good idea, so you can switch whenever your feet start to ache.
Build extra time into the schedule
This advice goes for every bride, but is especially important for the expectant one. "Keep in mind that your energy level will be limited," Kaley says. "You should plan a day that allows you some extra time to sit and even nap if needed." Whether you're a DIY bride or working with a planner, be sure to cushion the schedule and allow for a slow and steady prep with plenty of time for rest between the ceremony and reception as well. Reserve a quiet room with a comfortable chair or couch so you and your new spouse can relax for a few moments, Kaley suggests. And make sure there's seating during cocktail hour so you can take a load off whenever you need a break.
Get an early start
When drafting the wedding day itinerary, it's a good idea to aim for an early reception. Kaley thinks a 5-11 p.m. party is plenty of time to celebrate with friends and family, without completely exhausting yourself. If you still have energy at the end of the night, you can lead everyone to an after-party bar. But if you're too tired, there's no expectation for you to burn the midnight oil. Also, keep in mind that you should probably schedule the first dance and any "spotlight" moments early in the night when you have the most pep in your step.
Keep food within arm's reach
Pregnant brides need to be especially aware of getting enough food and drink in their bellies on the big day. "You cannot get away with skipping breakfast because you are nervous," Kaley says. Ask a bridesmaid or your mom to plan a morning meal before hair and makeup, or order room service so you can graze for hours. Kaley also recommends having a tote with plenty of snacks and water to take with you throughout the day. You'll want to have a little something just before the ceremony, photos, and cocktail reception.
Prep the altar
We've all seen videos of bridal party fainting at the altar, but it can be avoided! Set up a tall stool nearby during the ceremony so you can lean on it or sit for a bit if needed, Kaley says. You don't want to find yourself feeling wobbly or sore and wishing you had something to stabilize yourself.
Make the menu work for you
Since pregnant women aren't supposed to eat certain foods like soft cheeses, raw eggs, and some seafood, make sure the cuisine at your cocktail hour and reception are all pregnancy-safe. "This is your party, and since you're not able to drink alcohol, you should indulge in a menu you love," Kaley says. You might also want to request a special non-alcoholic beverage to enjoy along with other non-drinkers. Kaley suggests fresh watermelon juice with seltzer, or something sweet and carbonated like Orangina.