Tag Archives: disabled bride

Wedding Dress Shopping as a Wheelchair User: A Real Bride’s Story

Diversity and inclusion are popular buzzwords right now in the wedding industry, but are diverse communities actually being represented enough? Black business owner Nicola Wilshire of Velvet Queen, an independent bridal shop based in Portsmouth is here to share some advice and an interview with one of her recent brides, Steph (pictured).

I know how it feels to not feel represented and I understand the importance it has on communities when they are seen, accepted and celebrated. With Velvet Queen my mission is to promote diversity and inclusion for all minority communities in the wedding industry.

After seeing how slowly changes happen in the wedding industry, we decided that it was time for us to be part of the change so we created a campaign for real people to come and model for us, including real bride, Steph, who is a wheelchair user.  

Any shopping as a wheelchair user is more challenging; a lack of changing room space and not enough suitable handrails are common issues. When it comes to wedding dress shopping as a disabled bride, in addition to the practical challenges of bigger and longer dresses and closures on the back, there are also heightened emotions to deal with all whilst juggling the lack of dignity of getting in and out of bridalwear in front of a stranger.

Contact Shops in Advance

If you are a wedding dress shop which strives to be inclusive, your shop must be fully accessible to wheelchair users!

Steph said, “I contacted many bridal shops first to check if they were wheelchair accessible. One shop that I had contacted had been assured it was, but when I arrived there were two rather large steps to gain access that the staff member had overlooked. I also found that some shops had difficulty knowing how to approach my shopping experience and lacked consideration of what styles would work with my chair.”

Continue reading

Chronically Fabulous: How to Plan a Wedding When You’re Chronically Ill or Neurodivergent

Rochelle, who has a number of chronic illnesses and is an ambassador for M.E Support UK, married Dan in 2014. Today she talks to us about what she learnt during her wedding planning, and shares some valuable tips for those of you in currently doing the same.

I’ve been married for eight years this year and if I could do it all over again I would; unfortunately, not because it was so enjoyable, quite the opposite in fact. There was so much going on in our lives at the time, that I ended up bombarded and smothered by things that in the end, just didn’t matter.

I was diagnosed with a multitude of chronic illnesses in 2013. I have M.E, Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, Hyper-mobility, Costochondritis and Asthma. I had Asthma before meeting my fiancé but the rest all came hurtling at us in one giant, F-off curve ball at full speed just six months after we got engaged.

I got so absorbed in what I thought were huge issues at the time – for example, the weight I gained from not being as mobile anymore. It made me feel embarrassed and I was not feeling confident enough to go and try dresses on, so I settled and I really regret diminishing myself and our day.

I did most of the planning by myself, sitting up in bed, or with my now husband, who, added twist to our story, is neurodivergent. He was very involved in the planning but this was a requirement for him as he was never going to be able to be one of the “Tell me where and when and I’ll be there” partners. His anxiety levels didn’t allow it, he needed clear, concise information for all aspects which meant a lot more organisation required on my part.

Chronic illness takes so much away from those affected by it every day so I want to share some advice I learned in hindsight from my own experience to make sure you have the memorable celebration of your love that you deserve.

Make it Your Day

Seems obvious right? Your celebration should one hundred percent be about you and the person you love. However, once other people start to get involved it’s easy to start questioning your vision and decisions. As a chronically ill person, you need to think about your own health and make that a priority at every step. It’s not selfish, it’s survival.

Don’t listen to what others deem a ‘proper’ wedding (In fact if someone suggests your wedding isn’t a proper wedding then I would definitely strike them from the invite list!) and instead, make it the day you and your partner want and need it to be. Others will try and muzzle in and give their opinions all the time but at the end of the day, it’s your experience and you will regret not doing it your way.

Ask for Help

I let my complex of being a ‘burden’ stop me from doing a lot of things in my wedding experience. It ended up that I did most of the planning and organising by myself and on the day of our wedding my husband was ferrying people back and forth to the venue and almost missed our ceremony! It is not something I recommend at all for stress levels or your moral, I have no fun or meaningful memories of planning my day.
Be a Team

It’s ironic that the day of love and commitment you are planning for you and your partner can actually be one of the most argument-inducing subjects and times in your relationship. For anyone who is chronically ill, stress can be a huge trigger for flare. As my husband is neurodivergent, he isn’t always the best at communicating, especially when there is pressure or in a time sensitive situation.

We used an approach, that we actually still to use to this day, for any stressors or conflicts during planning. We planned a time in the day where we could begin discussions calmly and without distractions.

Continue reading

Hillside Hobbit Wedding in Scotland with Secret Ceremony and a Pub Quiz

Eleanor has dreamed of her perfect wedding day since she was little. Add to that Dean’s dream of an outdoor forest wedding, and Marthrown of Mabie in Scotland gave them the perfect location for their low-key hillside wedding weekend. On day one they had a pub quiz night, where they snuck off to have their secret ceremony under the stars and day two was spent on a hillside with incredible views over the Solway Firth and to the Lake District.

They were keen for the wedding to be as environmentally friendly as possible, and told us, “We used a lot of what the venue had already, and fitting in with the natural surroundings – gathering fern to decorate the marquee, and picking flora from the roadside to make my bouquet. The venue catered, and sourced everything locally, donating leftovers to a local animal shelter (except for the piles of it that our dog ate).”

Continue reading

Budget-Friendly Halloween Wedding with Their Pet Kittens and Pig!

It’s important to have everyone you love close to you on your wedding day. For Alexandrea and Mark, this included Hammy the pig and two kittens, who, along with Alexandrea’s daughter, played a very important part in the day. 

Keeping things small and holding tight to their $5,000 budget was really important to Alexandrea and Mark. They planned their wedding in less than two months, with a wedding dress purchased from an online marketplace and a lot of DIY elements. Alexandrea designed her own faux flower bouquet and styled the day as well as doing her own hair and make-up. She told us, “The bouquet was actually one of our biggest expenses. Fake flowers are so highly priced, for what would fit the theme, we created our own.”

Continue reading

The Disabled Couple’s Guide to Venues

Disabled couples are getting married every day. However, there is very little information available on the things you may need to consider. Author of Wedding Planning for Spoonies, Meara Bartlett, is here today with some advice when it comes to finding your venue.

The venue is one of the most important aspects of the wedding. The venue starts off your planning as everything else revolves around where the day will take place. You should book it as soon as can after you get engaged, as some venues are booked years in advance for the most popular dates. I’m going to break it down by needs for what to keep in mind for a venue if you or any of your guests are disabled.

Do keep your guests in mind of all abilities, distances, and budgets.
Don’t put yourself last.

If you have mobility problems or extra things you consider, don’t rush yourself. Allow more time in your wedding planning schedule to find a wedding venue. This article is intended to inspire you, not restrict you. None of this is fully comprehensive. Toss out ideas and keep what you like! Have fun, and we’ll see you at the end of the aisle.

Requirements you may want to consider:

Easily accessible bathrooms
Plenty of individual toilets
Wheelchair access
Smooth terrain
Ample parking
Enough seating with extra space if needed

Continue reading

Head in the Clouds: Yes, Disabled People Get Married Too!

As the brand-new issue of the magazine is now available for pre-order (did you grab yours yet?) we thought we’d share a few more of our favourite shots from the current issue’s editorial shoot, many of which didn’t make the final spread.

We absolutely LOVED shooting Gemma and Renee from Zebedee Talent Management and we’re excited to share even MORE of their stunning faces with you today.

When we put together the looks that both Gemma and Renee wore, we were careful to choose items which the girls could actually comfortably wear if this was their wedding days. There was no point putting Renee is a big dress while in her chair as it would get caught in her wheels, and giving Gemma something with a long sleeve would hang awkwardly beyond her elbow!

When you’re disabled, planning a wedding can feel even more daunting than usual, especially when it comes to figuring out what to wear. With this dreamy editorial we wanted to give you some fun options that still scream Rock n Roll Bride through and through.

You deserve to feel like your most fabulous self on your wedding day, no matter what your body looks like!

Continue reading

Rose Gold & Navy Themed, Family Friendly Winter Wedding

Jon and Steph’s love story had a rocky start – they met at a military charity boxing event on the army base where Jon was posted, but just a week later was posted over 180 miles away. Undeterred by this, they spent every night together in the time they had left, and Jon promised when he left that he would come back to see Steph at weekends. “I don’t think I really believed he would, so was happily proved wrong when he came back two weeks later!” Their determination to make things work paid off, and they were married in December.

With no set theme, the couple focused on using Steph’s favourite colours of navy and rose gold to tie everything together, and to make everything as family friendly as possible. “Our marriage was not just about us but was about our children, too,” she explained. “Jon has an 11 year old daughter from a previous marriage and I have a two and half year old son. Our marriage was about bringing us all together officially and celebrating the fact we all have each other.”

Continue reading

Accessibility Issues & Wedding Planning Advice for Couples with Disabilities

This is a bit of a different kind of feature for us, but one I really hope you find inspiring and helpful. We were submitted this photo shoot by wedding photographer Emmy Gaines of Searching for the Light. She wanted to shoot a real couple and to show that even if someone has a disability they can still live their life to the fullest. So often, less able-bodied people are ignored by the wedding industry (thankfully this is slowly changing!) but on Rock n Roll Bride we want to champion the fact that EVERY BODY deserves to get married, to have the same wonderful experience and to be treated respectfully by their suppliers and vendors.

“I was inspired to do this shoot inspired because I face similar disabilities as the model, and we brainstormed together what work best to capture their relationship and her disabilities”, writes Emmy. “The inspiration was to create a scene that showed disabled or other chronically ill brides, that despite the challenges they face that they too can have their dream wedding. Being a photographer that loves adventure, I wanted to show that just because a bride or groom faces disabilities doesn’t mean that a couple has to sacrifice their dreams.”

As well as publishing their gorgeous images, I wanted to talk to the couple, Mairead and Lawshaw, about their experience too.

Hi guys! How did you meet?

Lashaw and I met in college in 2013. We had never crossed paths at school before our computer music class, which was a prerequisite for graduation. In this class we hit it off, and always tried to sit next to each other. Pretty soon after this, Lashaw asked me to study for an upcoming exam and we found that we had a great connection. I think it was unexpected for both of us, but we just went for it and our relationship has ended up being the greatest gift I could ask for! We have been together for 5 and a half years now and hope to get married in the next few years when we both complete graduate school.

What accessibility issues have you faced when planning your wedding and what would be your advice for others with limited mobility doing the same?

While we have not started planning our wedding yet, there are many potential accessibility issues that we will have to navigate. One of my most obvious concerns is finding a venue that is wheelchair accessible and ADA compliant. This is important both for me and for the community of other chronically ill friends I will be inviting. Our dream location would be a beautiful outdoor location by water, we will have to get creative to make that workable! Another potential barrier I see is my extremely limited diet and food allergies. We will have to find a catering company that can be careful of cross contamination and make a meal that works for me and also pleases our guests.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Wonky Bride Seeks Winning Wedding: A Disabled Bride’s Wedding Journey

Newlywed Kelly Heath talks to us about planning a wedding with muscular dystrophy and has some brilliant advice for other disabled brides.

Crystal chandeliers, plush carpets, huge white dresses, intimidating staff… I was standing in their bridal boutique with my raccoon print dress, pom-pom covered handbag and my bright purple walking stick and I have never felt more uncomfortable in my life!

At that time I was on bridesmaid duties and I was not even a bride-to-be but I remember distinctly thinking “I do NOT want to come somewhere like this if I ever need to look for a wedding dress”. Fast forward a few years and I was a bride-to-be (hurrah!) but I was DREADING dress shopping. I am disabled, I have muscular dystrophy which is a bit rubbish but I do not let this hold me back nor do I let it define me. I have a wonderfully wonky body with a curved back, weak legs and arms that cannot be raised easily.

I am ashamed to admit that when it was my turn to be the bride I agonised over the models I saw advertising wedding dresses. I knew I wouldn’t even be able to get half of them on and that even if I did they’d probably look ridiculous on me.

When you’re disabled, planning a wedding can feel even more daunting than usual. As I’m now a full-fledged Rock n Roll wife (!) I want to share some of the things I learnt along the way with you all.

The venue search

The internet is definitely your best friend when it comes to choosing a venue. You do not want to be physically visiting countless venues if they are completely unsuitable for your requirements. I had a long list of things we needed and at times I wasn’t sure we’d ever find somewhere suitable. Do not get disheartened if you are ruling out a lot of them, your ideal venue is out there! If your questions aren’t answered on the venue’s website, email or call them to check before you schedule a visit.

Our venue, Roadford Lake in Devon, was perfect for us because it was all on one level, had wheelchair access down to the lake for photos and the staff there were excellent. I also requested chairs to be dotted around everywhere so when I went round to speak to all our guests, I could sit down if I got tired.

Dress shopping

I was looking for a non-terrifying wedding dress shop that had patient staff that wouldn’t mind me potentially getting stuck in their dresses or falling into their beautifully set up displays. Luckily I found it in Eleanor Florence in Yeovil who were amazing.

If you mobility is limited, you need to make sure you’ll have easy access into the shop. It’s also good to give the staff a heads up about your specific needs so they can accommodate. Maybe they can give you a longer appointment or a larger changing room. I can walk and stand for a small amount of time but my legs become tired and weak quickly so I told the staff the styles of dresses I liked and whilst I sat, they brought them to me which was just brilliant.

I asked for only dresses that I could step into, as I knew I would not be able to get on any that went over my head. I also asked for a chair in the dressing room so I could sit down and manoeuvre my legs into the dress before standing up.

Continue reading