Wedding planning for special needs couples and their guests

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Every bride wants her wedding day to be the perfect day, the day that she's dreamed of since she was a little girl. Brides with disabilities are no different. Although a bride with a disability may worry about how her wheelchair will fit into her perfect day, she need not have those worries. With just a little creativity and imagination, her wedding day can be just as spectacular as she has always imagined.

The first few days after the engagement are going to be spent telling family and friends. The happy couple will also want to enjoy simply being engaged for a while. When the bride-to-be and her fiance come down off Cloud Nine, the first thing that they will need to do to get the wedding planning process started is to set a date for the wedding and pick a venue. In some cases, the venue you want will dictate the wedding date or the date you want will dictate the venue.

It is best advised to go for a wedding planner to arrange your wedding because they are experts in all the aspects of wedding planning and with proper information regarding the needs and preferences of the couple, they can really ad glamour and warmth to the entire ceremony and take care of the things.

Accommodating physically disabled brides and grooms requires a little more planning and preparation in order to make this day every bit as meaningful, comfortable and memorable as any other wedding day. It requires only clear briefing sessions and communication with your ceremony and reception wedding venue, as well as potential practice runs before the day.

Accessibility

If you are confined to a wheelchair, ensure that you have physically checked the accessibility of your venues before booking them. Many venues classify themselves as being wheelchair-friendly when, in fact, they only have a ramp for the outside entrance, for example.

Once the bride and her groom have narrowed the field down to a handful of venues they like, they should take a day to go and thoroughly check out the accessibility of the building or room. Before making a final decision, the bride (or groom) in a wheelchair should prioritize their wants versus needs. For instance, if the reception venue that the couple likes has small steps in various areas or is more than one level, the couple must decide if the look they want for their reception is worth the loss of the bride's or groom's ability to move freely throughout the venue. Check out this episode of Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?for some ideas on how a professional wedding planner handles the unique needs of a bride in a wheelchair.

The couple may also want to consider having the ceremony and reception in the same location, perhaps a restaurant or a country club with a chapel. This is an ideal choice for a bride in a wheelchair. It is often much easier to have both in the same location than attempt to transfer into a vehicle while wrapped in yards of tulle and lace.
Finding a Wheelchair-friendly Dress

The venue for the nuptial should be easily accessible so that the couple may get to it and get around it on their own with minimum external help. It should be spacious with right proportion of decoration so that free movement is not hindered. If one or both of the spouses use wheelchairs for navigation, then appropriate sitting arrangements should be made for them, both during the performance of the rituals and the reception ceremony.

The aisle will need to be made extra wide if one or both members of the couple are in a wheelchair. This may involve moving chairs. Church pews may present more of a challenge, as they are sometimes bolted to the floor or there is no room for manoeuvre. Once at the front of the church, it may be best for the physically able partner to sit alongside their bride or groom so that they are at the same eye level. Likewise, you may even request that the bridal entourage sits down.

The venue for the wedding and the hotel or place of accommodation should be easily accessible and the rooms allotted to them should have all the basic amenities with relative ease of use. Special arrangement should be made for those who use wheel chair or crutches for locomotion. They can very much use the same transportation facilities as you have arranged for your other guests but then do ascertain that others are sensitive & responsive towards them.

Brides and grooms that are visually impaired should become familiar with the venues in advance. They should be able to navigate their way around so that they feel confident of their ability to walk down and up the aisle, find the restrooms and negotiate the dance floor without too much hassle. If you are expecting guests with visual impairments, make programmes, song sheets, menus and place setting in Braille or large print so that these ones are able to participate in your special occasion. If you have to use a seeing-eye dog, ensure that the venue is informed, and that your guide is familiar with the layout of the rooms.

Those with hearing impairment will need to familiarise themselves with the vows and songs so that they may say these without concern that they are saying or repeating the wrong words. Likewise, they will need to practice the dance so that they are not relying on its beat, which may be difficult or impossible to discern.

Attire

Last thing they like to do is depend upon external help for getting dressed and doing their basic chores but infinite couture sessions with the designer and the seamstress can leave them exhausted and may be even seek help from their friends or family. The bridal attire no doubt should be made observing all the nuances of tradition and latest fashion but it should not hinder mobility or make the bride ill at ease because of its sheer weight. It should be tailor made to incorporate all the needs of the bride.

Your dress can be something flowing and simple, fluffy and white, or not a dress at all but a fashionable pantsuit. A major consideration to take into account will be ease of removal in the restroom. If you can go long without using the restroom during your reception wear whatever you like but limit the number of fasteners on the clothing. Shoes should be kept simple and comfortable for any bride, but those with foot problems flats or slippers may be best.

The one hard and fast rule that every bride, disabled or not, needs to follow when picking out her dress is to not let anyone talk her into a dress that she does not absolutely love. The sales people, who almost always work on commission, will definitely try. The bride may also begin to feel guilty about the people helping her try on dresses, whether it is her mother, sister, friend or even fiance, and may be tempted to just pick a dress. She shouldn't do this. This is the bride's day and she needs to feel her best. If the bride begins to feel this way, she should take a step back and go dress shopping on another day.

There are fashion "rules" that women in wheelchairs are supposed to follow when buying dresses. One of these rules is that a bride in a wheelchair should look for a two-piece dress that will hang better on a frame that is sitting all day. Forget this rule. The only thing a bride should consider when shopping for her wedding dress is what looks best on her and what she feels best wearing.

The groom’s clothes must also be tailored keeping his needs in mind in addition to his preferences with respect to the choice of clothes, as to whether he would be comfortable in a tux or or something simple and less flamboyant.

Deciding on a wedding dress or suit is always tricky. However, ensuring that your outfit is flattering, attractive and comfortable while sitting in a wheelchair presents even more of a task. If you are paralysed, you may not feel if the dress or suit is pinching or cutting off blood circulation, so be sure to keep the back and bottom as simple as possible. Brides in a wheelchair can make a feature out of the back of their dress and their hair, as this is clearly visible above the back of the wheelchair. There are many places that stock or make wheelchair covers. A cover that compliments or even matches your outfit is fun and aesthetically pleasing.

Choosing the Wedding Party

Choosing the wedding party for your wedding may seem like a given, but for some people choosing close friends and family may not be the best option. Although we want friends and family to be at our side on such an important day, choose carefully. It may sound incredibly cold and practical but being in someone's wedding is no longer just a fun honor. Bridesmaids and groomsmen have farther reaching responsibilities than planning the bachelor and bachelorette parties.

If you are a bride with a disability you will need to make sure those you choose for your wedding party are going to reliable for not just the things every bride may need help with, but for the things most brides don't need help with such as getting to appointments with caterers, tailors, and wedding planners. If you think you may need help with any part of these appointments you need to make sure that people who are in your wedding party are going to keep to their word and be able to help you in all the ways you may need or be prepared to pay a personal care assistant to help with fittings and transfers in and out of vehicles.

Be sure to ask people well in advance (at least one year or around a year) who are going to be able to help with tasks you or your groom may need done, that you can't do yourselves due to scheduling (many couples where one partner has a disability may need help with wedding related errands such as picking up pre-ordered gifts for their bride or groom to be, placing calls to check on limos, making appointments with tailors) or lack of physical capability to do so.

Be realistic however friends and family do have their own lives. Make sure to discuss what times are best for them before making any appointments or decisions. After any appointments are made, be sure to give your friends a call or send an email to remind them about any upcoming appointments and to double check that they will be able to help on the given day.

Special needs guests

Do not forget to incorporate the comfort and enjoyment of your guests, especially those with special needs.

Consulting with them in advance over their arrival plans is a good idea and you can also talk cordially and caringly about the arrangements that will need to be made. If you are feel the intended person may think that his or her presence will mean extra planning for you, then it would be better to approach the family members who can tell you specifically about their important needs.

Ceremony & Reception

Don’t go out of your way to assist them in everything because this will only lead to embarrassment because you are making their situation very conspicuous. Treat them normally and made subtle arrangements for their comfort, for example save them the inconvenience of waiting in the dinner queue or keep help at hand in order to assist them.

It is also important that they enjoy your wedding but then it may not be possible for you to look after all their particularities. Still, ask one of your friends or family members to see from time to time that they are enjoying themselves or having a good time at your wedding.

The time leading up to the big day is stressful for every bride, but for brides with disabilities the seemingly simple things can become complicated. Everything from the dress to the shoes to the first dance needs to be thought through carefully. Some of the points in this article may seem small but can truly influence the comfort and safety of the bride, groom, wedding party, guests, and others helping with wedding plans.

Once at the reception venue, the bridal couple will want to get around the room to greet and thank guests for their attendance. Make sure that the wheelchair-bound partner is not confined to a specific area of the room.

The first dance is a special tradition that the bridal couple and their guests anticipate with keen excitement. You may need to be slightly more creative if one or both of you is in a wheelchair, but you should not rule this element out of your wedding completely. If the bride is able, she may sit on her groom’s lap while they move the chair. Alternatively, introduce a sense of humour and choreograph a special wheelchair dance for guests to enjoy and then participate in.

If the bride feels comfortable and is capable of standing up for her first dance with her new husband, by all means, she should do so. If she doesn't, she shouldn't feel like she has to because it will make for better pictures. If neither the bride nor the groom want to be the center of attention for an entire three-minute song, the couple can start the dance and, 30 or 45 seconds into the song, have the DJ invite the rest of the bridal party to join in.

Miscellaneous

Invitation cards can be printed in Braille for those with visual impairment and a sign language expert can be appointed to help the hearing impaired.

Many ceremonies in a Catholic wedding are carried in a standing posture. So the arrangements should be made such that the bride & groom are at their ease and enjoy each and every part of their wedding.

Bouquet . It is very difficult to maneuver a wheelchair while holding a bouquet of blooms. If the bride uses a manual wheelchair, the problem can be easily remedied. She can simply rest the blooms on her lap while she rolls her way down the aisle. This may not be an option for a bride in a power chair. If she doesn't want this as an option, she can ask her florist to attach a wrist strap, similar to a corsage, to the bouquet.

Bouquet toss. If the bride wants to do the bouquet toss but is unsure about her ability to toss it blindly over her shoulder, she can forget tradition and toss it underhand toward an audience that she is facing. If the bride and groom would simply like to give the bouquet to a special couple, try the anniversary dance.

Wedding planner

Whether you dream of a small, intimate celebration or a lavish wedding I can work with you to create your perfect wedding day. Disabilities Included: Your disability is a part of you. It has helped shape you into who you are and maybe even led you to your future spouse. There is no disabled love, there is only true love. Together we shall make your day a day to remember. Follow me on my wedding planning Facebook page - Claire SlinnHawkins

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