Planning an Accessible Wedding

I got engaged in May of 2019 on a trip to Boston, Massachusetts. My girlfriend (and now fiancée) had taken a trip there to go see one of our favourite musical artists, Frank Turner, play a few concerts. It was a wonderful trip, and the happiest few days of my life thus far. I proposed in the scenic Boston Public Gardens – and I was an absolute bag of nerves leading up to the moment of truth! Long story short, it went even better than I ever could have imagined, and the enthusiastic “Yes!” I received from her put me on cloud nine for the duration of the trip and every day since.

Jared and his fiancée

Once we got home, we realized we had a large task at hand. We had to not only plan our wedding for 150+ guests, but we had to make sure that every aspect of the day was accessible and easy for myself, and for her, so that we could both enjoy our special day to its fullest. We settled on a wedding date on May 2, 2020, and got to work.

Selecting A Date

Selecting a date was the first thing we did. While for many people it may seem like picking a day would be easy, for someone with a disability, it’s not as clear cut. It would be extremely difficult for myself to get married in the winter for example, as I do not do well getting around in icy and snowy weather. A date in the middle of summer also wouldn’t be ideal either, as the extreme heat and humidity can tire me out quite quickly, and often zap me of much needed energy. The beginning of May seemed like a perfect time for us, so that is why we decided on May 2nd – not too hot and not too cold!

Finding A Venue

Arguably the most important thing for the two of us was to find a wedding venue that would be as barrier free as possible for myself. Not only would this make it easier for me, but it would also take the stress and pressure off of those close to me so that no one would have to worry about how I would get my power wheelchair in/out of the venue, the washrooms, or move around freely once all the guests were there. We settled on a roomy venue and made sure that they had a wheelchair-accessible ramp entrance which I could use easily, as well as a designated washroom for myself and anyone else who may need it! We made sure that there was plenty of room inside so that we could easily navigate through the room from table to table, to the outside patio, the bar, and maybe most importantly – the dance floor.

Jared in his power wheelchair with his fiancée

Finding an Accessible Photo Location

In Southern Ontario, we have a wide selection of picturesque locations which have been the scene of many wedding photo shoots. But much like finding a venue, it was paramount that we find a location that is easily accessible. After a lot of searching, we decided on a few different locations, one was a brewery with flat vineyards behind the building, as well as the grounds of the wedding venue (situated right on an inlet of Lake Ontario). Both locations provided barrier free access and stunning backdrops which we knew we would be happy with for our photos.

A Change of Plans

Unfortunately, a few months before we could say “I do,” the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Despite holding off as long as we could, we ultimately postponed our wedding date to the following May of 2021. It was definitely a disappointment for both of us, but ultimately, it was out of our control – and the safety of ourselves and our guests was extremely important to us. On that note, it has given us an extra year to further think of plans and ways to make our wedding as accessible as possible for everyone, and we know that when the special day eventually comes, we will be more than ready and prepared to celebrate what will surely be the best day of our lives with our family and friends!

About Jared Wayland: Jared is a graphic designer and lives in Ontario, Canada. He uses an Edge 3 Stretto for mobility and enjoys cooking and spending time with his fiancé. Click here to learn more about Jared.