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The Red Wedding: What to Do When Mother Nature Comes for You

Warning: this article will contain frank descriptions of bodily functions. It won't be graphic, but I won't dance around it, either.

Artwork by Isadora Pennington.

It’s the day before your wedding. You’re with your best friends, drinking champagne/beer/champagne of beers, and you’re excited, nervous, and running over the entire day in your head.

There’s a sudden sinking feeling in your stomach, and it’s not just nerves.

The Red Eagle has landed. Your Flapdragon is breathing fire. Suddenly, everything physically hurts, you might possibly murder your intended, and you want to invade the nearest chocolate shop.

You don't want to cancel the wedding, of course, so what’re you to do?

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years:

Pack a Red Kit– I always keep one of these handy on me. They’re great in your every day purse. Don't try and keep it in your wedding day purse. They're typically not big enough, and often they end up in inaccessible places. Give a trusted friend or your coordinator this kit so they can bring it for the day of. Makeup companies have cute options for storage of said items (I got mine at Michaels). The kit should include:

  • An anti-inflammatory. If you have serious pain problems and haven’t seen your doctor about this, your primary care physician can help you out here. There are a lot of non-opioid painkillers that work on severe cramps, and can help with the nasty bloated feeling. Your uterus is nearly twice its normal size. You are not imagining things. Also, a UTI medication never goes awry. 99% it's not needed. That 1% though...

  • Rubber Gloves. This part is gross, but it will be considerably nastier without them. I would definitely talk to your Best Person or other trusted individual prior to the wedding. If your dress is so large that you cannot pee alone, you’re not going to be able to change your tampon on your own. WEAR GLOVES. They’ll come in useful to keep hair dye out of your manicure, too. Trans folks should still consider bringing these. You may not need them for bodily functions (if you still have them), but they're dead useful when you're around people drinking heavily.

  • A box of tampons and a box of pads. You will want to use both if you’re wearing white. It’s also likely that if you spend a lot of time around your bridesmaids (or other people that get their periods), they’ll have their period, too. Just bring loads of feminine products. Keep them in a plastic grocery bag. The bag can double as a holder for a pair of underpants that get bled through. Trans folks: if you're concerned about being outed in front of transphobic jerks, consider having a chat with the planner. If you're not comfortable talking to the planner, ask a friend you've already come out to. I know that it's a nerve-wracking conversation to have with anyone, but most planners are open-minded people. We'll be more than happy to keep feminine products hidden for you, that way you don't have to deal with it in your suit pockets.

  • Spare underpants. I know; this part is hard, especially if you have some special lingerie that you want to wear under the dress. If you’re still planning on wearing said lingerie (no judgement here!), I would suggest wearing more functional underpants with your dress, and excusing yourself to change into the lingerie once you get to your end destination for the night. Have your Best Person, someone you trust, or coordinator carry an extra pair of the right color and style of underwear too, just in case.

  • Green correction concealer. Or your best covering concealer. Your makeup artist will likely have concealer, but if your face is anything like mine, acne could pop up on the car ride to the ceremony site.

  • Bleach and a small cup for mixing. A bleach pen is not going to be enough in this situation, and it can make weird marks on your dress. Be extraordinarily careful with how you pack this. Cute mason jars will not cut it here. Use something that absolutely will not leak. It will save your dress if you accidentally bleed through. Make sure that you dilute the bleach with water.

I even made it into a handy printable for everyone! The post continues below.

Second. I would absolutely recommend that six months before your wedding, to have an appointment with your gynecologist. Added bonus- if you’re on the pill, they may help adjust the timing on your period to avoid it altogether.

Third. Be careful with alcohol the night before and the day of. A lot of pain medicines will make your stomach upset when mixed with any kind of liquor. It’s also extremely tempting to have that extra shot to dull the pain. The pain will make you feel lucid longer, but you’ll still be drunk. That being said, if you’re going to have a drink, avoid drinks with carbonation. They’ll only add to the bloated feeling.

Fourth. Talk to your coordinator and your Best Person honestly about your period. It may feel gross or wildly inappropriate, but it will make the day much easier on all involved. This way, your coordinator will know that you will need frequent breaks, or even a place to lie down for a little while if it’s terrible. Your BP can keep an eye on the back of your dress and set timers on their phone to make sure you take the anti-inflammatories at the right intervals.

Lastly, if it feels like the world is ending, remember that your period is part of the process that’s going to allow you to have kids. If you don't want kids, you can count down the days until your hysterectomy like I do.


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