Hands-Free vs Traditional: What Pump to Use at a Wedding

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I’m back! ICYMI: we skipped a week on the Ailana J. blog because I was Maid of Honor in my college bestie’s wedding last week! There were a lot of festivities, planning, and traveling that had to be done last week, but now I’m back! And I’m ready to go into even MORE detail and give you the inside scoop on pumping at weddings. In my last post, I spilled all my secrets to pumping at a wedding (check out that post HERE). This week, I’m going to give you my humble opinion on WHAT TYPE of pump you should use at a wedding (or any big event!).

First of all, a lot of mamas love a manual pump for occasions like this. They are super quiet, small, and easily portable because they don’t need to be plugged in. Plus, there are very few parts to clean in between pump sessions and they’re relatively easy to clean! However, I personally find manual pumps inefficient for party time! It’s a lot of work and time to use a manual pump, especially if you only have one for both sides. This means you have to pump each breast separately. A lot of things happen at a wedding, especially if you’re part of the bridal party, that you don’t want to or cannot miss! The time and effort of using a manual pump makes it my least favorite choice for wedding pumping. If it works for you, then that is awesome, but, in this post, I will be sharing what I think is the best option between HANDS-FREE and TRADITIONAL pumps!

Two of the bridesmaids in the wedding I was just a part of were pumping mamas – both were using the types of pumps we’re comparing today! One had an Elvie (a hands-free, wearable pump) and one had a Spectra (a traditional electric pump). Based on both their feedback and my personal experience, check out the pros and cons of using both pumps at a wedding:


  • Great suction
  • Great output
  • Portable (rechargeable battery, so it doesn’t need to be plugged in)
  • Double pump, which saves time
  • Long battery life




  • Hands-free/wearable with no cords or tubes
  • Double pump, which saves time (if you purchase the double version)
  • Quick set up in seconds
  • Very few parts to clean
  • Can possibly pump wherever at the wedding if the Elvie will fit in your dress
  • Small, so easy to store and transport throughout the wedding


  • Suction is not as strong as a traditional electric pump
  • The sensor usually stops before the bottle is actually full, so you may have to empty the bottle and continue a 2ndpump session if you have output more than 4 ounces or so
  • It can fit in a standard bra, but it may not fit in your dress, especially if you’re a bridesmaid – you may still need to go to a private area to remove your dress and pump comfortably.

Ultimately, the Elvie (and other brands like the Willow) is SUPER convenient because it’s really small, extra portable, easy to clean, and no fuss when it comes to set up. However, the Elvie comes with a hefty price tag that may not be 100% worth it for lower suction and slightly less output. Some insurances will cover or partially cover pumps like this, but I definitely would not recommend a pump like this as your main pump to get with your insurance since you only get one pump covered per pregnancy. If you will be on the go regularly and already have a hands-free, wearable pump (or maybe you're on baby #2, 3, etc. and already love your previous pumps and can use your insurance on a wearable one), then BRING THIS TO THE WEDDING. The Elvie will really help you stay on your pumping schedule and maximize your fun! 

However, if you do not already have one, I would not splurge on this just for a couple of weddings. I love my Spectra S1 – the battery life is amazing and it is super portable! While it may be a little bulky, I just throw it in a nice tote and it works out great! I love not skipping a beat with how much milk I am able to express and I’m able to do that really quickly with the Spectra. Set up time and clean up might take slightly longer than the Elvie or Willow, but it’s definitely manageable and worth the compromise for the output.

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