It was definitely not the moment every bride dreams of, to say the least. My husband of less than an hour had just opened the door to my bridal room at the precise moment vomit came spewing from my mouth at a projectile speed much as it did from Linda Blair’s in “The Exorcist.”
For a split second, I glanced up at the mirror and instantly saw my husband recoil. “Leave!” I managed to growl between gags. I didn’t have to ask twice.
The vomit kept coming but from where, I didn’t know. I had barely ingested anything the entire day, only a few slices of smoked salmon and a glass of champagne a relative brought to me shortly following the ceremony to tide me over. Still, somewhere after my time in the bridal room and before dinner was served, I went from blushing bride to barfing bride. Was it wedding jitters? After seven years together it didn’t seem likely, but we all know how powerful our subconscious can be, so I didn’t rule it out.
That said, I’m no stranger to throwing up. My stomach has always been a little on the queasy side, evidenced years earlier when during a long car ride in stop and go traffic from New Jersey to Manhattan, I blew chunks all over my aunt’s mink coat halfway through the Holland Tunnel. I was 10.
A story repeated ad nauseam (pun intended), more than a decade later in my bridal room I received nothing but an eye roll from my mother. It made perfect sense to her that I would be the one to throw up at my wedding, despite having planned every moment of it for nearly two years prior. It was just “who I was.”
There in my lovely ballerina-like wedding dress, now with my mother holding back my hair, all I prayed for was death. No, not really, but I did wish I could get the dry heaving to stop once I had thrown up everything that was in my stomach. While I waited, I sat in a chair listening to my wedding reception go on without me.
After 45 minutes had passed, I felt well enough to return to the party, even with my vomit breath. But a good hostess, I was! My nausea miraculously passed, and I danced the night away. However, I wouldn’t have the urge to eat again until brunch the next morning. Tasting a tiny bit of wedding cake off the edge of a fork held by my new husband was about all I could handle until then. How bittersweet it turned out to be in the weeks to come as our guests raved about how delicious the food was. I ate none of it.
Not long after, I replicated this scene with a few superiors from work when I shared in a seafood tower and a bottle of white wine at an upscale steakhouse. Not even halfway through the meal I was in a taxi praying I would make it to my Upper East Side apartment. I got there – barely – and spent the night sick to my stomach.
Coincidence? Maybe not.
All along I had been blaming nerves and a weak stomach for these episodes when the actual culprit was histamine intolerance. Histamines, chemicals produced by our immune system to fight off foreign substances in our body, are prevalent in certain foods, including seafood and fish, especially if not stored properly. When pairing an already histamine-rich food with alcohol, particularly wine, which is also naturally high in histamines, those individuals lacking the enzymes necessary to break those histamines down may experience violent illness the way I did at my wedding, business dinner, and on a few occasions afterward. The good news is most people completely recover without any lingering effects aside from some memories of a day they wish they could forget.
Nearly four years ago my husband and I divorced. Now, whenever I mention throwing up at my wedding, somebody is sure to joke that it must have been an omen. Perhaps it was. However, I like to think it was a good one, like rain.
Life doesn’t always work out as planned. That applies to weddings and marriages alike. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t valuable takeaways. There are. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and recognize you may need to make good on that “in sickness and in health” vow a lot sooner than you think, maybe even at your wedding reception.