As a proud wheelchair user and lover of fashion, I have been both eagerly awaiting and dreading the day that I need to find a wedding dress. Now that my wedding is less than a year away, I’d say it’s definitely time to start the hunt for the perfect dress. The reasons I am excited about looking for a dress include the fact that dress shopping is fun, I’m thrilled about getting married and this is a big part of the planning process, and I’m excited to find a dress that perfectly complements both me and my wheelchair. However, the reason I feel a bit of dread when thinking about this process is that many wedding dresses are designed to look beautiful when the bride is standing – not many dresses are designed to look incredible when the bride is sitting – because for most brides sitting is an afterthought. I want a dress that looks absolutely stunning when I’m sitting. After all, I’ll be sitting the entire time!
While I haven’t found my dress yet, I have started the process. Last weekend I took four of my bridesmaids and my mother in law to a bridal shop to try on dresses. We had a ton of fun, I tried on a LOT of dresses. Some of the dresses looked terrible but some of them looked great. However, in the end, none of them were my dress.
From the start we ruled out ball gowns. While I love the poofy look of ball gowns on women who walk, I’m afraid I would look like a giant cupcake sitting in my wheelchair with a skirt that is quite literally bigger than my chair! We also ruled out Mermaid dresses because that shape just did not look flattering on me. After trying a few dress shapes, we decided that A-lines complimented my figure and worked well with my wheelchair.
Next we moved onto colors and it wasn’t long before we learned that white dresses did not work well with my skin tone at all! Ivory looked much better and still looked nice with the pink of my wheelchair. My favorite though were the dresses that had hints of color, like blushes or even purples.
I think the most difficult part for me was envisioning how the final product would look on me. Every dress I tried on was far too long for me because I am pretty short. In fact, I am taller when I am sitting in my iLevel® than if I am standing up. Even so, all of the dresses were so long that I had to bunch them up or risk rolling over them. This means that whatever dress I end up buying I will have to shorten, which will substantially alter the look of the dress, unless, of course, I have a dress custom made which I am still considering.
Now that I have a better idea of what looks good on me and what works well with my wheelchair, I am looking forward to trying on more dresses. We have 11 months to go, so here’s hoping I find the perfect dress in time!
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. 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.