Fall has started to rival summer as the most coveted time of year to tie the knot, but winter and spring actually aren't far behind. But there's more than just love in the air in the months between November and May; there's also the risk of the flu. As doctors warn, celebrations that take place during flu season can be impacted by germs, coughs, and sniffles. The good news is that you, your soon-to-be spouse, and bridal party can keep yourselves healthy with a few lifestyle choices and shifts in the month or so leading up to your big day. Here, expert-recommended ways to keep flu season from disrupting your vows.
Consider the Flu Shot
Though it's important to respect everyone's personal beliefs with their healthcare choices, Dr. Pat Salber, MD, the founder of The Doctor Weighs In, says suggesting a flu shot to the most important people in your wedding isn't poor etiquette. He explains this is the "single best preventive measure" to take to ward off symptoms. While less fun than, say, getting your nails done, taking your bridal party (and your mom and grandma) to get the flu shot could ensure you're all able to dance the night away at the reception.
Get Enough Sleep
Even if you're a super type-A planner who has everything for the wedding color-coded and scheduled to the very last second, hiccups are bound to happen when orchestrating a large event. Though your mind might be racing in the weeks leading up to your nuptials, Dr. Tania Dempsey, MD, says getting that all-important shut-eye becomes even more important. "I'm for 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night. If the stress of your wedding is affecting your sleep, try meditation or deep breathing exercises to calm your nervous system down," she suggests.
Eat a Clean Diet
Though you find it easy to shake your head against a pasta lunch since you want to look fresh-faced and feel comfortable in your wedding dress, you probably have moments of weakness when potato chips or a cookie are the only thing that alleviate your anxiety levels. Dr. Dempsey says that while understandable, an unhealthy diet can make it more likely you'll get sick. "Sugar can lower your immune system and make you more susceptible to getting the flu. Eat plenty of good quality protein, fat, and vegetables. Stay away from processed carbs like bread, pasta, and chips have no nutritional value and turn to sugar very easily," she says.
It's also important to keep your gut healthy, since the good bacteria found here can build your immune system help you fight bad bacteria or viruses that may rear their ugly head, a week before your walk down the aisle. "Eating the right foods like vegetables, flax seeds, and fermented vegetables nourish these bacteria and add more good bacteria into the gut. If you need extra support or have gut issues, adding a probiotic supplement is a useful strategy for preventing the flu," Dr. Dempsey notes.
It's tempting to skip your daily 3-mile jog or that fitness class you signed up for when you already feel strapped for time, attempting to manage wedding planning, working, and existing. But Dr. Josephine Julian, M.D. explains exercise can be a secret tool of defense against the flu. "Exercise has been shown to play a role in reducing the risk of certain diseases, managing stress levels which are bound to increase as the big day approaches, and boosting the immune system," she says.
Wash Your Hands
Think back on the past week of seeing vendors, checking up on appointments, making phone calls—how many times did you have human contact with someone else? Wedding prep is an exercise in ring leading, requiring you to be around people all the time. Dr. Margaret Khoury, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and regional lead of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Flu Vaccination Program says all of that handshaking may be building relationships, but it's also putting you at risk. "As you're out and about running last minute errands, make sure you're washing your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs can easily spread this way," she recommends.