Author Archives: Erin Balfour

DIY Lord of the Rings Wedding in Italy

Being literature lovers and self-confessed huge nerds, the second they decided to get married Veronica and Marco knew the wedding theme would be Lord of The Rings.

Doing most things themselves meant that the budget for their Italian wedding was kept to just €4000. “We only had six months to plan and actually make everything, and we did it all by ourselves!” explained Veronica. “The theme itself was particular, and quite difficult to accomplish without being kitsch or exaggerated, but we think we achieved it.”

The ceremony itself was a non-religious version of the pagan ritual of handfasting. The bride said, “We did some research, searched for a lot of different versions of the cermony, then pulled them together, choosing our favourite parts and writing new ones. The outcome was so heartfelt and personal it still brings tears to our eyes when we read it. We made the guests participate by toasting to us together and even answering a couple questions. Greta and Dario, two of our long time best friends, each had a speech for and about us.”

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A Glastonbury Handfasting & A Las Vegas Elopement

Gaia and Calum didn’t just have one awesome wedding, they had two! The first was at their beloved Glastonbury in the gorgeous tipi field, and the second in Las Vegas at A Wedding Chapel: Two very Rock n Roll places!

Everything was a romantic whirlwind and the couple just went with the flow. The bride said, “We didn’t have a theme, we just wanted to have something special in our favourite place (Glastonbury), and an elopement adventure! We’d been engaged for a year and a half, together for six, and we just decided we didn’t want to wait any longer to be married. It was very last minute – we only started planning it in February and we got married in July!”

It must have felt like one long summer party as the ceremonies were only about ten days apart. Gaia planned the Glastonbury ceremony and Calum was on Las Vegas duty.

The bride said of the planning, “With Glastonbury, we were trying to do it as cheaply as possibly as we had spent most of our money on the Las Vegas wedding. The Glastonbury ceremony was quite last minute as we didn’t know if we would have re-sale tickets until the end of April! We had to wait until we knew for sure to make arrangements, so we really only had two months to organise it. We spent around £350 in total on this, not including the festival tickets. With Las Vegas, it cost £5000 including rings, flights, 5* hotel, hire car, ceremony, photographer, dress, suit, flowers, eight nights’ stay and a holiday!”

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Planning Your Wedding with Hidden Disabilities in Mind

For Erin Balfour, a mum of two children who both have Neurological conditions, attending events such as weddings can be a huge challenge. If you, or any of your guests, have any hidden disabilities, here are some things for you to consider

As a mum of two children who both have what’s known as ‘hidden disabilities’, attending even family gatherings, never mind weddings, is a huge challenge. My husband and I usually spend the whole time anticipating or soothing their sensory overloads and missing the event, or sometimes if it’s all too much we simply have to leave early.

What is a hidden disability, you might be asking, and why would that happen? We’re all familiar with disabilities where equipment such as a wheelchair or hearing aids makes it clear that someone needs additional support, but what about when there are no obvious pointers like these to suggest that someone might be struggling?

Neurological conditions like autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, sensory processing disorders, and a whole host of ‘syndromes without a name’, don’t always come with support aids (although lots do). Many of them come with ‘invisible’ characteristics such as being overwhelmed by noises, smells, and lights. This can be really challenging and actually impossible to cope with in a noisy, busy, ‘neurotypical’ world. We are beginning to accommodate the needs of those with these disabilities – we have quiet hours in shops, and autism-friendly performances in theatres and cinemas where the house lights aren’t totally off and the volume is lower – but we still have a long way to go.

Now a wedding day, with its hustle and bustle, and a high likelihood of having extended periods of waiting and milling about, can be extremely difficult for those with the type of disability described above, and for their carers (especially if we’re talking about children). A very common characteristic is the need for a clear and rigid routine with no deviation from what’s been decided. The consequence of this not happening usually leads to what’s known as a meltdown – and no this is not a tantrum, but rather the end result of building pressure inside a person because they’re unable to process or cope any longer with the unexpected and the overwhelming. It can cause them actual physical pain. Imagine you’re in a room with twenty televisions on, ten radios, five people asking you questions, lights flashing, perfumes being sprayed, and you can’t distinguish between any of them, nor filter them out. You would want to collapse and scream! A crude analogy, perhaps, but it goes a little way to explain exactly how overwhelming things can become for those with sensory processing difficulties.

The good news is that there are measures you can take to smooth the way as much as possible on a busy wedding day so that everyone has the best shot at enjoying themselves. It’s all about anticipating needs and accommodating them where you can.

Here are a few things you can do to make it easier for neurodiverse guests and those with complex needs to attend your wedding.

BEFORE THE WEDDING DAY

Provide your guest with the order of the day in advance so that they know what will be happening where and when.

This could include the seating plans, the order of service, the menu, and even itinerary information from the planner. If there’s nothing on the menu that they can cope with, consider asking them what they would like and asking the venue to accommodate this. If the caterers know in good time, there’s no reason why this can’t happen. Remember, some may have a carer with them who isn’t their ‘plus one’, so make sure there are enough seats and meals!

Using the web to do a little research on the type of disability your guest has is invaluable.

A school mum friend of mine did some reading around autism so that she could advise her daughter on what my son would need and also what he would find unhelpful. That totally touched my heart, and has really helped him. A little knowledge goes a heck of long way.

You could also just ask your guest directly what things they might find difficult so that you can either think of an alternative or understand why they might not be able to be present during certain parts of the day.

Help guests to research the venue.

If it’s a church, maybe arrange to go on a few short visits with them to get to know the place. Churches, especially older ones, might have funny acoustics, so it’s best to know that in advance so they know to definitely pack the noise-cancelling ear defenders!

In fact, with any venue it’s a good idea for them to get to know where everything is and familiarise themselves on a more relaxed day with no pressure. Does it have adequate changing facilities if they have continence issues? A place for wheelchairs and other big equipment?

Also has the venue got WIFI so they can access their calming apps and familiar programmes on a tablet? If not, consider getting a portable WIFI hub from your phone network provider.

Speak to the manager in advance to request a quiet area for in case things get too much on the day. A place your guest can go to come down from overwhelm and to reset in their own time before heading back into things. This will be their absolute lifeline.

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