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Accommodating the differently-abled at a wedding

Photo courtesy of Allyson Magda Photography - found online...
As some of you may know, we have our own special needs child. We have been part of many organizations over the years that cater to those with mental and physical handicaps. We also made sure that our venue was accessible as well, with elevators, ramps, handicap bathrooms, and additional resources to provide all those attending a comfortable experience no matter their abilities.
Whether it may be the couple themselves that may have a disability, or someone that is coming as a guest to the event... it is imperative to think ahead on what type of experience you will be facing on the wedding day. Here are a few tips to help ensure that all in attendance can be comfortable and enjoy all aspects of the event.
It is important that the couple check all locations for accessibility concerns. For many if there are physical restrictions requiring use of walkers, wheelchairs, mobility devices, etc - they have found it much easier to host the entire event in one location to prevent multiple outings and transports. Otherwise - if multiple locations will be used it is important to check each location to determine all needs ahead of time.
The Ceremony and Reception locations: parking spots for those who need it should be set aside, if there is no reserved handicap spots that will allow for close proximity to the main hub of events. Historical buildings can be very difficult as most were never designed to accommodate special needs visitors. Hallways and bathrooms should be checked for accessibility with 32" minimum widths, along with handles/bars and lowered sinks. Aisles to accommodate wheelchairs and turnarounds need to be considered for ceremony locations. Be sure seats can be reserved in convenient spaces where special need guests can access and have visibility. If it is the couple that has the disability - they need to determine if aisles are wide enough for their equipment or supports. Be sure to provide ramps if needed at any entrances/exits.

Inform the venue, staff and caterers of any known attendees that may need assistance with transport, buffet lines, participation in ceremonial events. The more notice vendors have - the better prepared the staff will be to assist and keep all guests and party members safe and comfortable .
Your wedding should be accommodating for all to partake in that day- with the least restrictive environment enabling all persons in attendance to enjoy themselves and the reason for the event. Taking these small steps in advance will go along way in making those dreams come true for not only the bridal couple and party , but each guest on the wedding day itself!
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