6 Things to Consider When Planning an Accessible Wedding
Planning your wedding is an exciting time. The coming together of your closest friends and family to celebrate your love is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In some cases, this might mean a little bit of extra thought is required. Whether you, your partner or one or more of your guests live with a disability, some planning and creative thinking mean your special day will be enjoyable for everyone. Let’s take a look at some things to consider when organizing an inclusive, disability-friendly wedding.
1. Tune into your guests needs
It’s no secret that planning a wedding can be stressful, so it’s essential to take the time to tune into your own needs and those of your guests prior to the big day. You may already be aware that some guests have special requirements related to a disability, and you can also include a section on the RSVP where people can flag anything you need to know.
Planning a disability-friendly wedding could involve some big or small considerations depending on the individual circumstances. It may mean seating your guest with autism in a quieter spot or hiring a sign language interpreter if you have any guests who are deaf.
If you have a guest with mobility issues, share the venue plan with them, and ask them where they would like to be seated. For those with vision impairments, including older guests, it can be considerate to place them closer to the front at the wedding ceremony if this is what they would prefer.
The most important thing is to empower people to make their own choices and include them in the decision-making process where possible. This way they can feel at ease about their inclusion in your celebration.
Create a section in your invitation RSVP where guests can list any requirements.
Think about what makes your guests unique to come up with special touches to help them feel included.
Focus on all of your guests’ needs, not just the guests you are closest to.
2. Choose an accessible and flexible wedding venue
Image credit: Daniel Ali
Your choice of wedding venue is an important part of your vision for your special day; it is the place you and your soulmate will exchange vows and wedding rings and commit to a life together.
Before you pay the deposit, it’s essential to consider availability, location, cost, size, wet weather back-up, and most importantly, whether you can adequately accommodate all of your guests. If the venue provides a wedding planner, be sure you’re on the same page before committing.
A seating chart can help if you or your guests have particular needs, whether that be with vision, hearing, or they prefer being at the back for certain reasons. If you or your guests are living with mobility issues, the venue you choose should be wheelchair-friendly and have accessible bathrooms. You’ll also need to ensure there is enough space between tables so people can move about comfortably and chat with other guests.
If you have guests with autism and sensory issues, it can be courteous to assign a ‘quiet room’ so they have somewhere for peace and quiet if needed. And if any of your guests have a service dog or emotional support dog, you will also need to check that the venue can accommodate this.
Make sure you take a tour of the venue before booking, if possible.
Ask the venue how they can accommodate any guests with disabilities and check reviews to make sure they can deliver on these.
Consider having the wedding ceremony and reception at the same location, so guests don’t need to move from one place to another.
3. Select a wedding menu that caters to everyone
Image credit: Photos By Lanty
No wedding would be complete without a beautiful selection of food and drinks. If you’re a big food lover, it could be one of the most memorable parts of your special day. Firstly, ensure the menu sits well with you and your partner, then think about what your guests will enjoy. Include a section on the RSVP for those who may be gluten-free and consider any other allergies. Most importantly, make sure there are tasty alternatives so that no one feels left out.
Ensure you have a tasting before the wedding day.
Think about what’s in season.
Don’t be afraid to ask your guests with dietary needs for their recommendations.
Make sure the menu includes you and your partner’s favorites too!
4. Let people celebrate their way
One of the most joyous and memorable moments from your wedding day is the time spent dancing. After the ceremony, it’s time to celebrate with your new spouse, your families and your closest companions.
If you have guests with mobility issues or use a wheelchair, you will need to ensure the dance floor is accessible if they have indicated that they wish to dance. You could also organize live music or karaoke for guests who would still love to feel part of the musical action but would prefer not to dance.
Most importantly, ask your guests how they would like to celebrate. If they are comfortable joining the dance floor, then make sure the venue can accommodate this. If they’d prefer to stay off the dance floor and chat with other guests, let them know that’s fine too.
Prepare a wedding playlist before the special day comes around, or hire a DJ to keep the tunes going.
Hire a band so all your guests can feel part of the experience.
Ask your guests how they would feel most comfortable celebrating.
5. Select vendors who are on the same page
Image credit: DeAndre Nevels
Choosing the right vendors is crucial for creating your dream wedding. From the wedding planner and photographer to the caterer and makeup artist, your vendors should align with your expectations of a disability-friendly wedding and be willing to accommodate special requests.
Ask your network for recommendations of vendors experienced in hosting accessible weddings or read the review of potential vendors to make sure they can deliver.
Meet with your vendors in person or schedule a phone call to determine whether you are on the same page.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request examples of previous work.
6. Celebrate disability at your wedding
People are not defined by their disabilities; your wedding can be a space where everyone is celebrated, respected and included. Catering for those with disabilities with thoughtful touches will bring a sense of inclusion and community to your big day. After all, you’re there to celebrate your love in front of those who mean the most to you!
Set an inclusive and welcoming tone in the invitation.
Give guests with disabilities the freedom to join in or opt out whenever they like without comment or judgment.
An inclusive wedding is a joyful one
Your wedding day will be one of the most beautiful, memorable days of your life. If you are planning an accessible wedding, establish an open and honest dialogue with your guests in the lead up to the big day. Tune into their needs and listen to what would make them feel most at ease, whether that means sitting in the front row and joining the dance floor or preferring to mingle quietly at the back. Most importantly, let them know that you care for and respect them, and you’re honored to have them mark this once-in-a-lifetime occasion with you!