Menstruation is part of who I am. At a few days away from being 30, I've been menstruating for over half my life. And I'm used to it. I accept the cramps, the bloating, and the high cost of feminine hygiene products. I'm confident I can handle my period on planes, in meetings, and even on beach vacations. I am a seasoned menstruator who always has spare pads in her handbag, in case you ever need to borrow any. And yet, I am freaking terrified of getting my period on my wedding day.
Since I became engaged last August, I've noticed people ask me about every little detail concerning my wedding. They ask if my fiancé and I have booked the venue, how I'm going to wear my hair, and whether we opted for a band or a DJ (We went for a 90s-themed video dance party, FYI). People love to ask you about the beautiful things, like what your dress will look like or which song you're going to walk down the aisle to, but no one talks about the nitty gritty. Yet no one seems to want to talk about the single thing that gives me more stress than the budget, the guest list and the menu combined: what to do if it turns out you're riding the crimson wave on your wedding day.
While I'd never heard people speak about it publicly, when I posted about my fear on Facebook, it seemed I was not alone! My friend J., who is also engaged, confided she is worried AF about what to do if her wedding becomes a reenactment of There Will be Blood. Says J, "Oh, how disappointed both my fiance and I would be if I had my period on our wedding day. We wouldn't let it stop us but what a nuisance!" In addition to being a bit worried about how menstrual time might complicate honeymoon fun, J. has another huge fear: "Oh gosh - imagine leaking through my gorgeous gown?!"
J. is by no means the only person I know who shares the fear of getting leaky at her wedding with me. When I asked what she thought about this anxiety, My bridesmaid K. responded, "I'm not even engaged and I've had nightmares about that happening to me!" Then, the very next day, one of my aunts told me over Social Media, "After 47 years of marriage, I remember clearly how worried I was about getting my period on my wedding day." It would appear the fear of menstrual blood at one's wedding is neither new, nor uncommon.
The fear of expelled uterine blood creating a CSI-style situation at one's wedding is, I believe, a rational one. When I was eleven, my mom bought me a book on puberty. It instructed that when I had my period, I should never wear my favourite clothes for fear of leaking through them. Accordingly, I avoided wearing my favourite Gap Khakis whenever it was that time of the month. Those khakis probably cost all of $35 back in the late 90s. While it would have been upsetting to get blood on them, I could have bought more. My wedding gown, however, is by far and away the costliest item I've ever purchased. If I got gobs of menstrual blood on that, it would be a disaster! Should a leak happen, I wouldn't just be humiliated in front of all my friends and family, I would have destroyed the most expensive investment piece I've ever owned!
The weird thing is, while I personally know many people who share the fear of getting their periods on their wedding days, no one seems to be talking about it in wedding-related Media. Now that I've been engaged for 8 months, I've read countless articles on how to handle seating chart crises and wedding favours mishaps. Yet, I've never seen anything a guide to handling your period when you're wearing a dress you need help to pee in! I mean, bridal magazines suggest people take freaking dance classes in preparation for their weddings, but they don't suggest brides take a few minutes to design a contingency plan in case Aunt Flow arrives as an uninvited guest? Not one wedding magazine I've seen has so much as suggested I hide an emergency tampon in my bouquet. Which, come to think of it, is an awesome idea.
It is my opinion one of the most illustrative pieces of evidence there's still a stigma surrounding menstruation is this dearth of info on managing periods at weddings. The Western wedding tradition asks women to wear freaking lily-white gowns and never once discusses how to avoid getting parts of your expelled uterine lining on them? Of course we are setting brides up for a stressful situation! When I watched 27 Dresses for the first time 8 years ago, Katherine Heigl warned me I may have to ask one of my bridesmaids help me eliminate on the day. That phenomenon was played for laughs in a PG-13 mainstream romantic comedy. That says so much. Toilet humour is less taboo than menstruation. Our period blood is the ultimate unspeakable waste.
Well, I'm taking a stance. I'm breaking the silence. As a menstruating person, I refuse to treat this bodily process as taboo any longer. I'm starting a conversation. Menstruators of the world, I am open to your advice!
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