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How We Adapted Our Wedding for My Disabilities

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I got married in January of this year to my partner of four years.  After we got engaged, we knew the wedding would have to cater to my conditions, especially my fibromyalgia but also my autism spectrum disorder, anxiety and possibly my depression too. We thought a lot about what we could do to to make the day easier for me and also our guests.

When we were getting ready for the wedding, we made some choices to help with my conditions. The first and probably most important was that we hired a wedding planner! This would help ease anxiety and stress for both of us, and she could approach vendors on our behalf, so I wouldn’t have to struggle to do it because of my autism.

I also picked out a dress that wasn’t very traditional. It wasn’t tight with uncomfortable pokey bits as I knew that would become very painful on the day with my fibromyalgia. For my footwear, I just wore some comfy new trainers instead of high heels for the same reason! Our wedding planner helped me pick out a make-up artist that would do very light make-up, as I was worried I would mess it up if I started picking at my face out of anxiety due to my dermatillomania. We also booked a nearby hotel so I could collapse quickly after it was over!

A wedding can last four to 12 hours, and all the weddings I’d been to had been towards the longer end of that number! I certainly didn’t want a lengthy wedding for myself, for a few reasons. Firstly, fibromyalgia causes me to fatigue easily, so this is a big reason we went for a shorter wedding of four hours. Secondly, weddings are often very social affairs, and long-lasting social interaction is difficult and exhausting for me. A shorter wedding also helped my anxiety surrounding the day; less time to worry about was much less daunting!

Guest numbers at a wedding can reach dizzying heights of 50-100 people! Large numbers like this can be utterly overwhelming for me, as I feel self-conscious and become worn out very easily. For our wedding we went for a very small number, 10 people, which helped both my autism and social anxiety. We had an adult-only wedding as the unpredictability of children can make me very anxious. Instead, we had my mother-in-law’s dog be our ring bearer! We also stuck to very close people we knew well, again, reducing anxiety on both our parts. It also reduced stress in general as we had fewer people to coordinate, organize and look after!

Most weddings have speeches but we didn’t have any. Part of the reason for this is my social anxiety from my autism. I didn’t want to give a speech myself. Of course, other people also give speeches at weddings, not just the bride, but my husband didn’t want to give a speech due to social anxiety and we felt when you don’t want to give speeches yourself, you shouldn’t expect anyone else to, either. That suited our best man and bridesmaid fine, being rather introverted themselves. I did offer my future mother-in-law a chance to say something if she wanted, as I didn’t want to deny her the chance, but no speeches was fine all around! This reduced my anxiety around the day massively, both on behalf of myself and other people.

A common tradition at weddings is to have a first dance, dances between groomsmen and bridesmaids and guests dancing. Dancing would have been difficult for me in a big dress due to my fibromyalgia, not to mention I would have been standing for the ceremony and might have felt tired. I would also feel anxious dancing, as due to my autism I dislike being in the spotlight and our half-hour wedding ceremony would be about all I could stand. Moreover, dancing didn’t really fit with our shorter wedding, nor our wedding at an observatory! Instead, we just had beautiful background music played by a harpist for both the ceremony and reception.

Entertainment at weddings usually consists of a DJ or a band, but since we didn’t focus around dancing, our venue helped take the attention off us for some of the reception. Guests were able to check out the planetarium and telescopes while they were at the observatory and a laid back buffet meal was served so people could eat when and what they wanted, and check everything out. This really helped with the social aspect of the reception and allowed us to be relaxed for the evening. Due to my depression medication, I do not drink alcohol, so although people were allowed to bring their own booze, we didn’t provide drinking and the event wasn’t focused around that either.

Our wedding was pretty different from a lot of weddings and I was somewhat worried that people wouldn’t enjoy it. But we got so many compliments about the ease of the day, the lack of waiting for food, that it was chill and laid back. Guests said it was the best wedding they’d ever been to! That really meant a lot. Part of the reason I wanted to write this was to spread the message that you shouldn’t be scared to make the wedding you want and the wedding you need.

Getty image by Saiva.

Originally published: April 15, 2020
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