Periods have a way of sometimes arriving at the least desirable times in life. Whether it’s on vacation or during a stressful week at work, it’s likely your period has been an unwelcome visitor more than once. For those who experience cramps, bloating, and headaches during their period (thanks PMS), menstruation can be an even more inconvenient and uncomfortable experience.

So what happens when you realize your period may crash your wedding? Before you freak out, know there are many ways to deal with a wedding period.

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Alter your cycle… if you can.

Some people’s periods are consistently regular and on time. If you’re one of those lucky folks, you might want to consult your period tracking app when choosing a wedding date if avoiding your period is important to you. Of course, not everyone has this option (venues have limited availability, after all) and periods can, unfortunately, have a mind of their own.

If you’re prone to sickness on your period or low mood, however, you might feel best avoiding those undesired symptoms altogether. If this is the case, you can talk to your doctor about manipulating your cycle to skip your period for your wedding.

Hormonal birth control pill packs can be used back-to-back without placebos to skip a period. Likewise, certain birth control pills extend your menstrual cycle, meaning you only get your period once every three months.

Note: While it’s generally considered safe to skip or suppress a period, it’s always best to speak with your healthcare provider first. Everybody is different, and it’s important to figure out what is best for you.

Expect something anyway.

Even though the pill can help manage the timing of your period, manipulating your cycle isn’t a fool-proof plan; periods can still be irregular, especially if you’re stressed. (Here’s some tips on how to combat wedding-related stress.)

What’s more, you may still experience breakthrough bleeding even if you skip your period. To be safe, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for menses if you expect it to overlap with your wedding.

Plan ahead and be prepared.

If you know your period will arrive around the time of your wedding, be sure to alter some lifestyle practices ahead of time. Sugar and caffeine can exacerbate PMS symptoms, while exercise, healthy eating, and sleep are known to help. If you’re worried about stomach cramping and bloating, try to drink lots of water and avoid salt-heavy drinks and food.

Day-Of Prep

On your wedding day, take some over-the-counter pain medication in the morning and throughout the day as needed. If you can’t avoid your period you’ll want to minimize its presence. When it comes to your wedding attire, consider how heavy your period will be and decide on the most suitable preparation for where you are in your cycle.

  • Choose the right product. Depending on the style of your dress and undergarments, tampons or a menstrual cup may be your best bet. While pads are great for overnight use, they may create pad lines and limit your underwear options. Menstrual cups, like the DivaCup, can be worn up to 12 hours, depending on how heavy your flow is. A product that allows for longer use means fewer trips to the bathroom.
  • Consider special underwear. If you want to be extra cautious around leakage, period-absorbing underwear is also a great idea. Brands like Thinx or Knix have different styles depending on your flow, including designs for super, moderate and light days. Some even absorb four regular tampons worth of blood. Period panties also come in different materials and cuts, meaning you can often find a pair right for your dress.
  • Stock the venue. Lastly, make sure there are menstrual products available at your ceremony and reception venues. You can even get venue staff to stock bathroom welcome baskets with tampons and pads for yourself and other guests. Chances are you won’t be the only one dealing with Aunt Flo.

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Lean on your wedding party.

Using the bathroom in an elaborate dress is hard enough, but add a period into the mix and you may need some assistance.

Inform your maid of honor or wedding party about your period, and let them know you’ll need their help during the day. You might even want to pass off some ibuprofen to them for safekeeping. Ask them to hold some menstrual products for you, if need be, and get them to keep an eye on your dress. While it’s unlikely you’ll have an accident, it’s always comforting knowing someone has your back just in case.

Don’t stress too much.

Periods can be annoying, there’s no doubting that. But having your time of the month coincide with your big day isn’t the end of the world. It’s important to remember that you’ve lived through your period many times before, and you’ll get through it again, too.

With a bit of preparation and some help from trusted friends, your period doesn’t need to play a big role in your wedding. Because between dancing, amazing food and marrying the love of your life, you’ll have plenty of other things to think about.