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Arranging an accessible wedding

Ami2301Ami2301 Community champion Posts: 6,622 Disability Gamechanger
edited November 2019 in Guest blogs

@Ami2301 (24) is one of our fantastic Community Champions, a prolific blogger (https://undercoversuperhero2.home.blog) and leader of Ataxia UK Norfolk Support Group on Facebook. She has Sensory Ataxia, Transverse Myelitis, hearing difficulties and Optic Neuropathy (central vision loss), among a few other illnesses. Ami has a passion for raising awareness of various disabilities, and weddings. Today she talks to us about her recent wedding and answers any questions about getting married and arranging a wedding as a disabled person.

A woman in a wedding dress facing a man with his back to the camera

Hi Amy, you recently got married. Congratulations! How was the experience, did you run into any problems when planning your wedding?

Thank you! Believe it or not, it was trying to find an activity which was best suited to me, for my hen do! I don’t drink alcohol, I’m not comfortable with eating in public, I struggle with loud noises and flashing lights, so a ‘typical’ hen do activity would be inappropriate for me. Eventually, I did decide on inviting a few friends to my house, but I became too stressed out with the process that I ended up not having a hen do at all.

Finding a ceremony venue was easy, as I remembered the venue where a friend had got married – I was a bridesmaid for her wedding, and I had to use the lift to be able to access the room that the ceremony would take place in, this was a few months after I lost my central vision and started to have balance issues, using the stairs would have meant putting myself at risk of falling. This was the perfect venue for us!

Choosing a reception venue was easy too, the venue was under a minute’s walk (in my case, wheel) away from the ceremony venue. The hall had plenty of space for me to be able to wheel myself around without bumping into anything, and space for me to go to each table to chat with our guests without blocking anybody's way.

Due to my hearing difficulties, I was unable to contact suppliers by phone. So, lots of emails went here, there and everywhere! The waiting in between emails did cause me a lot of anxiety, whereas if I could phone a supplier then I would have received answers and quotes a lot quicker.

Finding the best entertainment was difficult as we knew having a DJ would be the best choice, however, because I’m sensitive to lights and loud noise, I was worried I would have to leave the hall and not be able to enjoy myself. When I contacted a DJ, I explained my disabilities and my concerns, and we spoke (at length) about what equipment he could bring so everybody could have a good time, including me!

A married couple dancing at a wedding reception

When researching, what sort of questions did you decide to ask in advance?

I researched a range of questions on wedding websites, which helped to give me a sense of what and who to ask. But I also planned in advance what questions I needed to ask to find out if they could accommodate my needs.

For instance, with the DJ, I asked if he could slow the speed of the lights flashing and if the sound could be lowered. On the night, the sound was still loud enough for everyone, but it was at a volume which did not overwhelm me. There was a blue screen which covered the main lights, I didn’t squint once!

Due to having Sensory Ataxia, I can’t tell where my feet are if I’m not looking at them, this means I have to ‘test' where I would be walking. Thankfully, my shoes have a good grip so I am able to walk on a variety of textures. I contacted both the ceremony and reception venue to ask if I could practice walking and standing, I was able to do this a few months before the wedding.

I realised that no question is a silly question – if you would like an answer, ask!

What would you recommend to someone wanting to buy wedding dresses or outfits for big occasions?

You know what you are comfortable wearing. Ask yourself: does this outfit cause me discomfort? If you use a mobility aid, would a shorter dress be the best option? Find something that accommodates your needs and/or mobility aid(s).

What would you change about the wedding industry to make it more accessible and inclusive?

With regards to fashion, I would love to see wedding dress and suit designers to work with disabled people, to find out what we found difficult with previous items of clothing and how they could be improved. Plus, shoes! Luckily, I found a stunning pair of pale gold Vans which coordinated with my ivory dress – but I would have liked to see more of a variety of pretty flats with a good grip! And all boutiques and clothing stores should have at least 1 or 2 disabled changing facilities.

I’d love to find more information about a venue's accessibility and facilities on their website, instead of ‘Wheelchair Access - Yes'. Accessibility means much more than only being able to get through the front door!

How easy was it for you to have the wedding you wanted? What would you change to make arranging a wedding easier for someone in a similar situation? What would you have done differently? Are you about to get married and is there anything you’d like to know to look out for?

Community Champion
Disability Gamechanger - 2019

Replies

  • zakbloodzakblood Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    Congratulations
  • AilsAils Community champion Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    This is a fab guest blog, Ami.  You definitely did your research well before your big day!  When we got married we were quite lucky that the chapel was all on the flat so was perfect for me walking and using my wheelchair, but realise that a lot of wedding venues still aren't and they should be.  Brides who have a disability deserve to have the day they dream about also.  This will inspire other couples to ask those important questions before their wedding.  Congratulations again to you both!  xx  :smiley:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • April2018momApril2018mom Member - under moderation Posts: 2,882 Member - under moderation
    When I was married, we decided to have a party at church.

    We originally planned it on a beach but eventually I decided against that option. A church hall was a ideal second option. My son could then participate in the dancing and other festivities as much as possible too which we also wanted. We had a lovely dance floor and a few tables for guests. But no stairs which made my day all the more special. I made sure the entrance was levelled. 

    All the decisions were made with his condition in mind. Apart from the food and drink, that is. I have not thought about this much at all before. Thanks for the guest post @Ami2301! I was too distracted by the wedding dresses etc like when I was a teenager. It really made me think. I mean that my son’s needs changed my outlook on life. I concur with you fully. 

    Disabled grooms are just as deserving as disabled brides. One day, I hope that my son will marry. It is not all about the money. 
  • Ami2301Ami2301 Community champion Posts: 6,622 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you @zakblood :)

    Thank you @Ails :) Did you come across any barriers when planning your wedding?

    Glad that your son enjoyed the wedding @April2018mom :)
    Community Champion
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • April2018momApril2018mom Member - under moderation Posts: 2,882 Member - under moderation
    Ami2301 said:
    Thank you @zakblood :)

    Thank you @Ails :) Did you come across any barriers when planning your wedding?

    Glad that your son enjoyed the wedding @April2018mom :)
    Thanks. Before my wedding, I held many meetings. Basically the purpose was to relay information, provide short updates and deal with any requests too. I also contacted suppliers via email asking questions. I wanted my big day to happen without any drama.
    There was a lot of decisions to make at each check in meeting too. At each meeting I had a notebook and pen and sat at a table making notes. I think that really helped. I delegated tasks. There were a lot of details to see to. I treated the whole thing as a valuable exercise in developing leadership skills more than anything. 
  • AilsAils Community champion Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    Didn't really face any barriers in our wedding, @Ami2301, as we had a smaller wedding with only close family and friends there and had a reception lunch in the chapel house after the ceremony as opposed to a bigger reception at night, so there was less planning involved, but what planning we did was ok.  So I guess we were quite lucky!  :smile:
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • WestHam06WestHam06 Community champion, Scope Volunteer Posts: 396 Pioneering
    Hi @Ami2301
                         Congratulations! Hope the day was everything you both dreamed it would be. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Thank you. 
  • Ami2301Ami2301 Community champion Posts: 6,622 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you @WestHam06 :)
    Community Champion
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • Connie00Connie00 Member, Community champion Posts: 255 Pioneering
    you looked amazing Ami congratulations
  • Ami2301Ami2301 Community champion Posts: 6,622 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you @Connie00 :)
    Community Champion
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Administrator Posts: 9,035 Scope community team
    Biggest congratulations @Ami2301, you looked amazing!!!  <3
    Community Partner
    Scope
  • Ami2301Ami2301 Community champion Posts: 6,622 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you @Chloe_Scope :)
    Community Champion
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
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