Toni Fatka had a feeling there would be challenges to overcome when it came to planning her wedding.

Finding support

A national planned giving coordinator for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Toni is also a person with Type 1 diabetes. She worked with her diabetes educator, Barb Fatka, R.N., CDE, of the Mary Greeley Medical Center Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center in Ames, IA, to manage the details.

“She told me it was fine to put diabetes on the backburner that day and that my blood sugar didn’t have to be perfect,” recalls Toni. “It made the day a lot less stressful.”

"They had a Butterfinger cake, a traditional white wedding cake and pie pops. 'If you go sugar-free, you’re paying for something just for you.'”

In her previous role as development coordinator, she’d planned galas. And Toni had also been a bridesmaid in several weddings, so she was used to finding dresses that would accommodate her insulin pump.

Saving the date

“Every bride wants to look flawless on her wedding day,” she says. But the all-important gown creates unique challenges, most of which the bride-to-be overcame by having her seamstress sew a pocket inside the skirt to hold her insulin pump.

Toni wanted to keep her blood sugar between 140 and 180, and Barb told her not to overcorrect for high blood sugar. “She told me my hormones would be all over the place,” says Toni, who scheduled meals throughout the day to keep her blood sugar levels in balance. She describes herself as a ball of nerves going into the ceremony.

“My personal attendants were my life savers.” They carried Toni’s diabetes supplies and monitored her blood sugar levels throughout the ceremony and had a pre-arranged signal if it dropped too low. Glucose tablets were at the altar in case she needed them. She worked with a caterer to plan the menu and had them put together a plate for her.

“I knew how many carbs I wanted,” Toni says, adding they had a Butterfinger cake, a traditional white wedding cake and pie pops. “If you go sugar-free, you’re paying for something just for you.”

Bride’s advice

“It’s one day out of your life,” continued Toni, adding that there wasn’t much difference in planning her wedding than an average bride. “Every bride worries about the same things.”

She recommends brides-to-be talk with their doctor or diabetes educator if they have questions. “Your doctor is probably your greatest tool.”