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Disability in Weddings

Planning a wedding can be a difficult task but let me add another dimension to this, imagine if you were disabled. Imagine being an amputee needing a specially made suit (yes there are companies that do this) or being deaf, or blind. You want to invite your Grandma to the wedding but she needs a walking aid, your nephew who is autistic, your sister who has epilepsy – now you have to ensure that your special day not only accommodates what you want, but also allows for the needs of others.

Flashing disco lights will trigger an attack, a disabled toilet being placed 1/2 a mile away through a maze of corridors, where do we start and where do we end?

Before you all think I am some do-gooder trying to re-invent weddings or the wheel, please understand that having broken my neck twice, I know what it is like to be in a wheelchair and for people to treat you like a complete idiot. They see the chair and think that my brain is non-functioning. Why people feel the need to speak louder and slower when they see someone with a disability makes me giggle, never cross, just found it amusing (somewhat frustrating).

People with disability (physical or mental) have a very different perception of their health than others, you see disability, we see ability. Whether our couples are suffering a loss of hearing, sight, mobility or mind – it is our duty to ensure that everyone can have the wedding of their dreams and that suppliers we recommend have a genuine understanding of people’s needs and requirements.

As every new law is passed, our Government is recognising the need for change, the need for recognition. The Disability and Equality Act 2010 states that all new buildings are to provide disabled access as legislated, which is great, but for the hundreds of venues across the UK already established, are they stepping up to the mark? Does the simple inclusion of a ramp suddenly make them more friendly, more attractive, more accessible?

We see countless reports of where restaurants fail to meet even the basic needs of someone who needs that extra helping hand, and this is a theme continued in hotels, venues. Definitely time for a change, time to wake up people!

Gemma Flanagan Pose Pink Dress
Gemma Flanagan / Photo credit: Rebecca Raistrick Photography

What has astounded me is the lack of information available! Now if this sounds like I am on a campaign, a mission, well YES I AM! I refuse to apologise for taking up the challenge and creating something wonderful for those thousands of couples across the UK who are struggling to find the right suppliers for them.

I have spoken to the relevant Government office, I have spoken to various disability charities in the UK – now I am telling you, our fabulous readers! I want to hear from anyone who has planned their wedding and found it difficult to get the right venue/suppliers for them.

I want to hear from charities who want to connect, I want to hear from venues who are proud to say they are welcoming and understanding of disability.

Disability covers a multitude – deafness, blindness, mental health, physical disability, birth or illness caused defects – how much do I hate the word ‘defect’? There are plenty of people walking around who may look amazing but are mentally defeated in their attitude. That is the real issue here, it is attitude, perception and how we can make a change.

We are delighted to welcome Gemma Flanagan to our UWM blogging team. Gemma is a bride planning her special day and finding it difficult to find the right suppliers. Join Gemma on her journey as she shares her planning with us, hopefully inspiring others. Look out for her editorial in issue 23 July/August 2016!

Together we can make a change, if you want to help please contact me! In the coming months, we will be running various editorial features both on our website and in our digital magazine. Whether that be venues that are fully wheelchair friendly or suppliers that can sign language. We aim to make finding these suppliers easy!


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