How to win the wedding guest of the year award—without sacrificing your own health and happiness.In the now-classic wedding flick The Wedding Crashers, Vince Vaughn says to Owen Wilson "What do you like better, Christmas or Wedding Season?"
It's a tough call. Who doesn't love months of catching up with old friends over cocktails, dancing and declarations of love? But being a wedding guest isn't all bouquets and butterflies. Here are seven health hazards to be aware of, especially if your wedding season calendar is packed tighter than Vaughn and Wilson's.
Health Hazard #1: Drinking The Open Bar Dry
Sometimes, being around our old friends makes us want to indulge in younger behaviors, including binge drinking. But just like in college, hangovers aren't fun-and drinking too much can get you into more trouble than a headache and queasy stomach, especially if you're keeping up with your date.
"Alcohol can affect women and men differently. Women [often] become more impaired," Pamela Peeke, M.D., author of Body for Life for Women says. So think before you drink, she says: "Remember [that] when you overdo it, you feel like crap. Do a little memory lane check." Also Read: Are Vera Wang's Wedding Gowns Cursed Now That She's Single?
Pace yourself-wedding season is a marathon, not a sprint. Peeke recommends alternating drinks with water or seltzer with lime, and having white wine spritzers (aka wine cut with seltzer): "You have half the calories, it lasts longer, and it's refreshing." Cheers!
Health Hazard #2: Trashing Your Feet
Unless you're a professional ballroom dancer, hours on a dance floor in stilettos can lead to blisters, bunions or worse.
"One of the things that helps is to wear liners that help your foot from skidding and falling forward, so you're not slipping and sliding in your shoe. They will give you extra padding, absorb sweat and prevent falling," Peeke says. She also suggest breaking in shoes ahead of time, choosing a thicker and more graduated heel, wearing open toes styles that relieve pressure, and going up a size (with pads) for a more comfortable fit.
Finally, don't be a heel hero. "Kick them off and have a pair of flip flops to wear," Peeke suggests. Also Read: 6 Tips For Planning Your Wedding On Pinterest
Health Hazard #3: Getting Sick
Lack of sleep, travel and heavy drinking (see above) can all wreak havoc on your immune system. So baby yourself with a nap, try to minimize stress and get your workouts in, all of which boost immune function. And finally, become a little bit of a germaphobe.
"I'm a Purell girl. Bring plenty of wipes [and] do everything you can to wash your hands on a routine basis," Peeke says.
Health Hazard #4: Feeling Like A Jealous Jerk
Does the phrase "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" ring a little too true for you?
"As altruistic as we want to be, when things happen to other people that we think we should've achieved, we can feel negative instead of positive," Scott Haltzman, M.D.. author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women, says. Instead of dwelling on what you don't have, look at the happy couple and think about what you want from your own love life. Also Read: Why I Called Off My Wedding
"Turn it into an opportunity to get a better sense of what you're looking for, out of all the ways that love and marriage can look," Haltzman advises. Finally, take your focus off yourself and just enjoy your friend's celebration.
"Your thoughts and worries are really not what this wedding is about. Let it be about your friend. If it is your 50th wedding, think about the fact that you are such a good friend that people keep inviting you," Haltzman says.
Health Hazard #5: Hooking Up… At Every Wedding
Now, we're not the moral police saying there is anything wrong with getting caught up in the spirit of the day-just so long as you remember to be safe and mindful in the choices you make. Also Read: Do NOT Take A Friend To A Wedding
"Weddings are by definition a celebration of love and the celebration of two people coming together. The implication is that the couple will be coupling, which involves sex. There is a feeling in the room that honors sex maybe in a way that few other situations do," says Haltzman. Unfortunately, this atmosphere combined with alcohol can contribute to people taking unsafe risks.
"The presence of alcohol in your system lowers inhibitions and may cause you to make decisions that go against your general value system," Haltzman notes. "It may put you at risk physically because of forgetting to use condoms to protect yourself from STDs." Also Read: 10 Ways to Survive Wedding Season Single
Health Hazard #6: Ditching Your Diet
Wedding cake and buffets aren't some miraculous, calorie-free wonders of the world. But they might seem that way after one too many G&T's. If you are watching what you eat, choosing the right size plate can help you make better choices.
"If there are entree-sized plates and salad-sized plate, take the smaller [one]. Fill your plate with mostly vegetables and salads that are free of rich dressings. Take a smaller portion of starch, grains, and lean protein. And take a taste of the fun stuff so you don't feel deprived," Cheryl Forberg, R.D., the resident nutritionist for The Bigger Loser TV show, says.
And like most things in life, thinking ahead will get you ahead. When traveling, pack healthy snacks, avoid the people movers and hoof it through the airport. Then, carry that boy scout mentality through to the wedding day.
"Start the day off with a workout if you can, so you won't have to feel guilty if you cheat a little. And be sure to have at least a light snack before you go," Forberg says. That way if the speeches go long, you won't feel like launching yourself at the waiters passing hors d'oeuvres (Save your energy for the dance floor; dancing is a great calorie-burner, after all).
Health Hazard #7: Feeling Financial Stress
Gifts and dresses and plane flights, oh my! Even if you're not a bridesmaid, wedding expenses can add up to some major money woes unless you prioritize. So choose something meaningful, rather than pricey.
"It is the thought as to who the couple is and what will mean most to them that counts," Scott Palmer, co-author with wife Bethany of First Comes Love, Then Comes Money says. After thinking about the betrothed couple, Palmer says to think about is most important to you (and your husband, if you're married). The better hotel? New clothes for the reception? Finally, plan ahead. "The great thing about weddings is that you always know a few months beforehand when they will happen. Start looking at tickets, gifts and that perfect dress or suit early," Palmer says. Also Read: 8 Dos And Don'ts Of Wedding Guest Attire
Here's to enjoying a happy-and healthy-wedding season!
Written by Amy Levin-Epstein for YourTango.com.
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