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Accessible Wedding Planning for Wheelchair Users

By Stephanie Woodward
March 24, 2019

On April 12th, my boyfriend Ryan proposed to me and it was absolutely wonderful. Ryan and I have been dating for about a year and a half and I'm so excited to marry him because he truly is the greatest person I've ever met.

As we were basking in the excitement of our engagement, all of our friends and family immediately began to ask when and where we would get married, what the wedding would be like, what the dress would look like, and a million other question about things that we hadn't even thought about yet! So, after a few days of enjoying our engagement, we decided to jump in and start planning. However, Ryan and I won't be having a typical wedding. You see, we're both wheelchair users and many of our friends have disabilities too, and there is a lot more to think about when planning a wheelchair accessible wedding!

Here's a few basics that we've determined are necessary for our wedding:

1. A BIG dance floor

I love dancing and Ryan tolerates dancing to make me happy, so we plan to spend a significant amount of time on the dance floor. It's no secret that wheelchair users take up a bit more room on the dance floor, especially when spinning or pulling out the really fancy moves, so we know that our dance floor is going to need a lot more space to accommodate us and all of our wheelchair-using friends. A big dance floor will allow us to have the space we need to dance the night away without having to worry about running over any toes!

2. NO STEPS!

Almost every wedding I've been to has had steps to get into the ceremony or reception site. Even worse, most ceremony locations have steps that the couple must ascend in order to get married, such as steps to an altar in a church or steps to a pergola or gazebo at an outside venue. There's no way Ryan and I are climbing steps, so we need to find ceremony and reception locations that are completely flat.

3. Outside path without grass

We want to have an indoor/outdoor wedding in one location. This will save on driving time, which means more time for fun! Our hope is to have an outdoor ceremony, with an indoor reception. However, neither of us wants to roll through the grass (or sand!) as we make our way down the aisle. Yes, we both could roll on the grass, but it's a bumpy ride and if it rains before the wedding, that means we'll be very muddy by the time we make it to the altar! This is why we need to find a venue that has a nice paved path that we can use to roll down the aisle smoothly. Ideally, we'll find a place with a patio or large paved area so that our wheelchair using guests don't have to roll in the grass either!

These are just a few considerations as we begin the wedding planning process, but there are so many more details to think about to ensure our wedding is both awesome and accessible! Be on the lookout for future blogs on planning a wheelchair accessible wedding!

About Stephanie: Stephanie Woodward is a consumer advocate for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She is the director for the Center for Disability Rights, an organization that hosts many events for the disability community. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.

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