We truly love to share our incredible couples’ wedding days and love stories. Sometimes we get even luckier when one of these couples offers even more insight into how they brought their wedding to life. And when one of those brides happens to be a wheelchair user, we just knew that sharing her wedding planning wisdom would be so invaluable to many of our readers. While we are still early in our journey of learning and celebrating inclusivity, we have the very good fortune to feature fabulous brides like Sian, as she shares her wedding planning experiences with us in “Planning A Wedding With A Wheelchair: Sian Tells Her Story”.
There were a few big challenges in planning our wedding; the venue, the dress, and the honeymoon. From the get-go, we said we did not want a big city ballroom wedding. We wanted somewhere that would fit our vibe, not have to compromise due to accessibility. This proved to be a time-consuming and challenging task as it can be hard to determine true accessibility without an in-person visit.
Navigating this through a pandemic then brought with it its own challenges. As a bride who uses a manual wheelchair, the ‘walk’ down the aisle was one of the key access areas. Thankfully I knew I would have my father assisting in getting me down the aisle so I could still look at outdoor ceremony options. Navigating grass or stones independently was not an option and we could not source an appropriate aisle runner to create a stable surface.
The venue we chose, Bellingdale Farm, was amazing, as were the staff there! My now-husband is able-bodied so it was important that our choice wasn’t just about what was suitable for me but ticked his boxes as well. It was a new venue that was still in the building phase when we booked so we were able to ask as many questions and discuss accessibility at every phase. They shared their layouts with us and were really open to any suggestions we had. In any location, having the venue so willing to work with you to make it accessible to your specific needs was key.
A villa on-site came as part of our package and the venue rearranged the furniture to provide more space to manoeuvre around. They had a ramp into the bridal villa but also made another for a friend with reduced mobility who was staying the night on-site too. They gave suggestions on where on-site the photos could take place with ease of access and worked seamlessly with our photographers. Their proactive problem-solving approach gave so much confidence and really reaffirmed our venue choice.
The next challenge faced was what to wear. As anyone in a wheelchair knows, trying on clothes can be a workout! Add a long train and countless buttons into the mix and it was an experience I was dreading. Instead, I chose to have a custom-made dress. I had found Susan Ogg a few years earlier where she made a custom bridesmaid dress for my best friend’s wedding. She was incredible with knowing how to cut the material, so it was complimentary when sitting, not just a bunched-up mess. I cannot sing her praises more.
Susan’s workshop had stairs so over a period of a few months she came to my home and created my dream dress. I also had the help of my mother and a beautiful friend who came along each time and between the three of them got me in and out of it. I would not have had it any other way. A custom-made piece was the best and only choice for me. I was initially worried it would be far more expensive, however, it was so comparable with the price of off-the-rack wedding dresses out there and the hassle it saved me was priceless!
The honeymoon like any holiday in a wheelchair was a challenge. It is an unfortunate reality that not every hotel offers accessible rooms. Those that do are in the standard pool and hired out to able-bodied people as a standard room. Alternatively, you have to book whatever accessible room is available. As the honeymoon was just my husband and I, we only needed a one-bedroom, however, if there is only a two or three-bedroom as the accessible room you are forced to pay the higher rate and take what is available. This is the unfortunate reality of the tourism industry and the price you pay to have a holiday or in our case, our honeymoon.
For a full list of the vendors involved in Sian & Gavin’s stunning day, and to see more from their beautiful wedding be sure to check out Sian & Gavin’s Romantic Blush Farm Wedding. Sian also lent her experience and knowledge as a wheelchair user to Ms Polka Dot for this piece – Top Tips For Making Sure Your Wedding Is Accessible (From Those Who Know!)