Gemma Flannagan is back with her 3rd disability in weddings feature. We are so excited to continue working with Gemma in 2017 on new features and much more. Enjoy!
I’ve never been an ‘I need to get married now’ kind of girl, well not on the outside anyway! I think every girl has dreams of their big day from a young age and this dream changes throughout your adult life. It most certainly did for me! I have genuinely only ever thought seriously about marriage when I met my now fiancé, and even then it was still literally only a dream. Meeting a man who genuinely loved me for me and exactly how I am disabilities, flaws, wheels and all, was the most magical thing to happen to me, so anything else was going to be an equally magical bonus. I’m now a totally different person physically to the young girl I once was, who would never have imagined I would be potentially ‘rolling’ down the aisle as oppose to walking down it, my ‘big day’ visions had changed slightly, and even at some points disappeared as I struggled to accept the new me.
My dream turned into reality when I was whisked away to Disneyland Paris for what I thought was simply a surprise new year break (which I was so emotional & excited about as I am a Disney mad 33yr old!). The first night we were there Neil totally knocked me off my wheels and proposed! I literally could not believe that I was seeing the man of my dreams on one knee in front of me with the most beautiful ring I had ever seen, I was the happiest woman in the world and truly felt like I was in a Disney fairytale (a very forward thinking and disability inclusive fairytale).
Once the initial shock and emotion started to sink in I realised that we are actually going to do this, we are going to get married and I am going to be a bride! This thought also brought anxiety, as I know about anyone else but I had never really seen many brides with disabilities, well definitely not in the magazines I was now cooing over anyway. What was I supposed to do? What was I supposed to wear? What was our day supposed to be like?
I did some research online for disabled brides and disabled weddings and soon discovered I wasn’t alone in this journey, no matter how much I thought or felt like I was. Of course, I wasn’t, but I had just felt as though I was as I had no relatable experiences to draw upon. Disability doesn’t take away your humanity or your desire for love so why would it take away your desire to be married. The main thing I did notice was that when weddings of those with disabilities were reported on or wrote about, it did seem to be in quite a condescending manner. Which is everything I am so passionately against.
From then on, Neil and I began to plan our big day and put together a vision of what we wanted without really thinking about the disability part as a major factor. As we don’t in day to day life so why should this day be any different. We wanted our day to be about us first and foremost! And the disability part after. We did not want to compromise on things we wanted simply because of my disability. And we are most definitely not!
I’m in love with the thought that I will be a Mrs in just over a years time and have loved all the planning so far. I want to share my experiences and journey to help others in similar situations to realise that yes you may have a disability, but this doesn’t define you and it shouldn’t need to define your big day!
Like a little girl looking in awe at a perfect Disney princess, wondering when they will find their prince and whether they will have their fairytale ending. I want people to see those happy endings should be possible regardless of disability or imperfections. Dating with a disability can happen and it too can develop into your very own fairytale ending. This is real life, and it’s about time Disney caught up! Never give up dreaming and live your dreams.