While we’ve long talked about the pretty, the sentimental, the romantic when it comes to weddings, we’ve missed one very crucial part of planning a wedding that is truly feel good. Inclusion & accessibility.

We’re not talking “oh it takes ten minutes to get there” accessible or the “everything is in the one spot so it’s easy” accessible. We’re talking about making sure your wedding can accommodate every single one of your guests, and support them in having the time of their life.

This also means inclusion for not just visible disabilities – such as guests who use wheelchairs and walking sticks. We know that accessibility stretches much beyond that, from a chronic illness that impairs everyday functionality (like, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, POTS, Orthostatic Intolerance,  to name just a few) to disabilities like vision and hearing impairment and mental disabilities too. No matter your guest, every single one of them deserves a brilliant time at your wedding, and this post is all about encouraging you to think beyond the pretty and make sure your wedding is accessible for your guests who need a little extra thought.

Everyone has different needs unique to them. If you do have a guest with a disability or chronic illness, the best thing to do is chat directly to them to find out what they need. Consider this guide a head start, to contemplating what you need to start the thought process.

We are lucky enough to have two guests with us for this post, Sophie, who is engaged and lives in Brisbane, who has Ehlers Danos Syndrome (a connective tissue disorder) amongst other conditions and Sian, a wheelchair user (and newlywed!) who we recently shared the wedding story of here. Both Sophie and Sian have generously shared plenty of golden advice on how you can accommodate guests with disabilities and chronic illnesses throughout your day.

Your Accessible Wedding Ceremony


There are many, many things to take into account when making sure your wedding is accessible. But of course, the most important is choosing an accessible venue.

The most important thing is to communicate with your guests in the first place, says Sophie. “Outside of a few basics like adequate seating and suitable food, the ultimate wedding is one that utilised communication! I would never expect, nor want a loved one to compromise something important to them for my benefit, but a lot can be achieved with open communication and understanding.

For example, if your dream ceremony is on top of a mountain, that’s incredible! But if you can reach out and let me know that you are happy for me just to attend the reception, or to simply enjoy going through the wedding photos together over a nice dinner (my treat), that would be greatly appreciated.”


Make sure you think about the parking capability of your ceremony venue. Is there disabled access parking available at the venue? Is there enough space so guests can get out of their cars? Is the ground safe enough for guests who have mobility issues? Will they have to be dropped or walk long distances? Do you need to reserve parking spots for guests who need them?

Physical Access

How do your guests get to your ceremony spot? Is there uneven ground? Are there stairs? Can the access points accommodate a wheelchair or a walking stick? Are there alternative entrances disabled guests can use if they can’t access the main one?  Sian tells us she doesn’t want you to ever reconsider your venue, but do make sure you consider and communicate with your disabled and chronically ill guests. “Look at the location, I would never want someone to base their decisions around my access needs but consideration and communication are always appreciated.” It can also help to have someone from the venue advise your guest upon arrival of the different accessibility facilities or access points.


For your ceremony, while it’s often cheaper to offer only limited seating, you do risk putting guests who are unable to stand for long periods at risk of becoming uncomfortable and unwell. If you know you have guests who will struggle to stand, provide enough chairs (better yet, provide seating for everyone!). Also, ensure there is companion seating available for those who need it.

Sophie adds that it is important to consider the needs of guests who have invisible disabilities or chronic conditions. “I have been to a few weddings in recent years where most guests were standing behind a few rows of seating. Luckily at one of these weddings, the bride kindly reserved me a seat after reaching out and asking how she could best accommodate my needs on the day. I will note that as I appear able-bodied when not using any mobility-aids, I have been subjected to rude stares and comments at multiple events for “taking up a seat”. It makes for an uncomfortable experience, but I try not to let it impact my enjoyment of the day.”

Sound & Vision

If you have guests who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, you will want to ensure they are included. Can you include an ASL interpreter on your day? A hearing loop? Or a written version of the ceremony? For vision impaired guests, is it easy to find signage to lead the way? Are there any issues with the pathways and access points – are there obstacles that need to be navigated?

Shade, Heating & Water

You may need to consider how temperature can affect your guests. Providing shade or heating and plenty of water (especially on a 40-degree day) is a must. If you’re inside, think about air conditioning or heating- the extremes can make guests feel very uncomfortable and unwell.

Support people

Sian says that it is important for her, as a wheelchair user, that she knows someone will be available to help her get to the right spot. And if there isn’t she needs to know. “If the couple knows I will be attending a wedding then it would be great to know of an usher or someone nominated by the couple to help me to the ceremony location and then to the reception. Otherwise, I would gladly pay the cost of a plus one to have a support worker attend.”

Your Accessible Wedding Reception


As with your ceremony, taking into account your venue is the first place to start. Is there adequate space? Is there good lighting, stable ground and pathways? Be sure to chat to your venue too about guest’s needs and requirements so they are aware of them and can help you accommodate guests. Maybe the venue could designate a staff member to be aware of any disabled guest’s needs and be ready to assist them if needed – for example, to find their seat at the table, or to assist with storing and retrieving of mobility aids during the meal.

Parking & Transport & Parking

Are you wanting your guests to walk from one venue to the other? To jump on a  tram? Is this an accessible option for your guests? Is there disabled access parking available at the venue? Is there enough space for someone with a mobility aid to park and get into the venue? Can you reserve a parking space for guests with additional parking needs?

Physical Access

Again, just like with your wedding ceremony, you need to consider the physical access of the space you choose for your reception. How do guests get into the venue? If there are stairs, is there a suitable lift which will be easy to access for guests who need it? If there are ramps, are they suitable to use? Are doorways wide enough for wheelchairs? If space is outside, can you lay down carpet or planks to make uneven ground safer? Is the floor non-slip? As with your ceremony, it can also be helpful on arrival for someone to guide your guests through the different accessibility options so they don’t have to try and find them themselves.

Bathroom Access

Bathroom access is so often an afterthought, but it doesn’t need to be. Consider the disabilities of your guests, and whether the bathroom onsite has enough room for their access needs. Do they come with bars and access rails? Sian says “Alert the venue to the fact there is a wheelchair user in attendance so they can clear their storage out of the disabled bathroom in advance if they do have one. The biggest challenge as a guest for me has always been whether or not there is an accessible bathroom. I have been to many that do not so you either have to withhold liquids and hold it or leave the reception and travel to a nearby petrol station or public toilet.”


At your reception, ensure any guests with mobility devices can be accommodated. For wheelchair users, you’ll need to take into account table height, room to manoeuver a wheelchair (in amongst dining chairs for example), and whether there are stairs. If the chairs are hard consider providing soft cushions. Make sure too, that the seating is not flimsy and can accommodate different weights. You also need to consider that not everyone can stand for long periods of time, so if you are having a cocktail hour or cocktail reception, you may need to provide furniture for guests to sit if they need to. (Older people are also appreciative of somewhere to sit at a ceremony or reception).

Sian says that being proactive with disabled guests when it comes to what they need is the most important thing you can do. “Be proactive with communication. Ask the width and height of my wheelchair. There is nothing worse than not being able to fit under the table or not being able to get through to speak with other people, to the dance floor or the bathrooms.”

Catering & Drinks

When you are considering your menu consider your guest’s dietary needs. You may have guests who are coeliac (which will require separate prep area and fryers if prepared alongside with gluten-laden food), you might have guests on special diets like FODMAP etc and you might have guests who don’t drink alcohol. You’ll want to ensure you leave space for your guests to note these requirements on your RSVPs, and chat to the kitchen & caterers about them so that they are clearly labelled or accessible by guests who need them. Serving food up in a special way like a food truck? Is there a way for guests who are disabled to access this? A buffet? Is someone able to assist guests who may not be able to serve and carry their dishes to the table themselves? Is a waiter able to bring food to guests who may not be able to get to it? If you are not having a seating chart, how will the staff know about guests with special dietary needs? You may need to consider assigned seating.

You want every guest to go home with a wonderfully full belly!

Sophie has had multiple negative experiences at a wedding when communication about her dietary needs fell through the cracks. Ideally, the couple would supply a meal that meets dietary requirements, or at least communicate that this is not possible before the event so guests can plan accordingly. I once went to a wedding where the team even communicated my dietary requirements back to me as they placed the plate down, unfortunately, it took me a few bites to realise that it didn’t follow my restrictions and I ended up being quite sick by the end of the night.

At another wedding, I took my medication (which needed to be taken with food) as meals were being served. Unfortunately, the venue accidentally gave my dietary requirements meal to another guest, and I wasn’t able to eat. As you can imagine, once again I was left feeling quite unwell. I have since learned to always pack a protein bar in my clutch!” Kitchen and wait staff need to be educated in how very important adhering to dietary requirements are, and providing suitable meals for those who need them, so like Sophie, your guests are not left feeling unwell – sometimes for days afterwards.

Spoken word

If you have guests who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, you need to make sure they can understand what is happening throughout the night. Particularly with your speeches! Consider providing a hearing loop, ASL interpreters or even written versions of what is happening. Additionally, guests may need access to ramps, chairs and assistance with microphones to make the speech.


Lighting can be difficult for some guests – especially if they have a light-sensitive condition such as epilepsy. Consider the placement of spotlights, whether you will use or omit flashing and site lights. Even consider it in regards to access needs – are pathways well lit?


You might have guests who are sensitive to noise and lights, are you able to provide a quiet room for them to escape the dance floor? Can you make sure they are seated away from the musicians and DJ? Be sure to let guests who might be sensitive know about sudden noises like fireworks and confetti canons too.


As with your ceremony, consider the temperature of the space. Do you need to bring in heating or cooling? Provide extra shade? Extra water? Extra blankets?


If your dance floor is on uneven ground, you might need to think about hiring a dance floor so the space is stable. If you’re opting for extra fun at your reception, like photo booths, make sure you consider the accessibility of these, says Sian “Communicate with vendors about how they could make something e.g. a photo booth, more accessible.”

The Little Details For Your Accessible Wedding

Wedding Invitations & Stationery

Colour contrast is a thing when it comes to accessible web design, but have you ever thought about it for your wedding invitations? Colour combinations like white text on peach invitations can be very difficult to read. Additionally, consider asking that the font size is large enough (and not too ornate) for easy reading. If you have a blind or limited vision guest, you might consider having the invitation produced with braille or creating an audio invitation.

Also consider, if you are relying heavily on digital assets like a website for information and an RSVP, guests who can not access these easily, will they still be able to get that information?

It is worth noting, that your wedding invitation is also a brilliant place to ask guests to advise you of their needs and accessibility requirements and open the conversation with them. For instance “In the interest of every single one of our guests having an amazing time, please let us know if you require any special accommodations or have any dietary requirements.”

Sian, in a wheelchair, kisses her husband on her wedding day.


How are guests getting between your venues? Is everyone travelling on a bus? Or a tram? Is it easy enough for guests to move between venues? Or will they be stuck? Do you need to organise a car for your disabled guests? “If you are organising a bus as transport for your guests, ask if an accessible option is available,” says Sian.

The Schedule

Not so little! Bear in mind the accommodations you will need to make in your schedule for disabled guests. We’re not talking big things, but things like giving guests a heads-up of when you might be shifting venues, or when dinner will be served, or the ceremony can conclude, so guests can make arrangements for their medication, transport, and even be able to schedule in rest. Knowing what is coming next can also help guests who deal with anxiety.

When it comes to planning your day, you might want to also bear in mind the energy level of your disabled and chronically ill guests. Making sure you plan the must-see moments of your day – like speeches and your first dance earlier in the night in case a guest has to leave and aren’t well enough to stay on until midnight, for example.

Your Wedding Website

We love a wedding website, especially in the instance of disabled and chronically ill guests as it can list out all the information they might need to know in one easy place. It also takes away the fear of guests who might feel uncomfortable speaking up.

Be sure though, that your website is accessible (there are a few plugins that can accommodate this). This is an entire thing, and there are so many education courses, articles and tips and tricks on how to do this. But the basics include using high contrasting colours, ensuring images have alt text for screen readers, that text is of a readable size etc.

Don’t Worry!

All of the above sounds like quite an intense list! And most of all both Sian and Sophie says that while thinking through all the above can be overwhelming, all they simply want is for couples to communicate with them, and to think about basic accessibility.

“For couples out there that want to be considerate of their guests but are already overwhelmed by wedding planning, my advice is to start with the basics” advises Sophie. “Is there adequate seating for my guests during each stage of the event (e.g. ceremony, garden party and reception)? Will my guests go hungry or thirsty? Will the weather/sun be comfortable for the expected period? Is there a quiet area people can retreat to if they need brief respite?

Am I asking my guests to walk/organise transport for sizable distances, and has this been communicated? Following that, if you can reach out to guests asking to be made aware of any requests or requirements, that is wonderful! Not all requests may be possible, but it is amazing the difference that small considerations can make.”

Sophie adding that planning for an accessible wedding allows her to be one of the guests that will celebrate you the hardest. “For me, attending a wedding can take a lot of planning and foresight, I need to manage fatigue and consider how much energy I can use. If I want to stay and enjoy the full event, I may need to put aside a couple of days on either side to not only prepare but recover.

I am always honoured to be invited to a wedding but the ability to stay and enjoy the festivities can wildly vary based on the event. There have been some weddings where I have been deeply touched by the thoughtfulness of the couple, and in turn have been able to be one of the last guests to leave, whereas at others I have had to politely leave at the start of the evening due to a lack of seating etc.”

Above all, this is the best party of your life – and you want ALL your loved ones to celebrate with you and feel the magic of the day, without feeling left out or unsupported in any way.

Photos by Figtree Pictures via Sian & Gavin’s Romantic Blush Farm Wedding

We have chosen to use the word “disabled” throughout the article as per the “Say the words” campaign which you can read more about in Carly Findlay’s publication here.