I’m in the first stages of this wedding planning thing, and one of the first things we’ve started to talk about is the bridal party. My fiancé and I both volunteer with people with disabilities (specifically, we’re YoungLife Capernaum leaders, if anyone knows what that is). Some of our best friends are adults with learning disabilities. In fact, one of my FH’s groomsman has an intellectual disability, and one of our readers will be a great gal who happens to have spina bifida.
That said, my fiancé really wants to honor two of his friends by having them involved in our wedding. Initially they were on his list of potential groomsmen, but the fact of the matter is there is no way to articulate to them all of the expectations related to that role and know that they will do their best to comply (especially if they’re bored, or distracted, or being grumps the day of the wedding). As much as we love these two friends, we don’t want them reenacting Batman Begins at the altar when we’re saying our vows. They are not very verbal, so reading is out, and being an usher is perhaps more difficult than being a groomsman. Most of the “non-traditional” roles either seem childish or require language skills.
I’ve heard of ways to honor stepfamilies, and deceased parents, and children. How do we include two adults with severe learning disabilities in our big day?
Like you said, this is an important topic and we’ve touched on similar questions before. Over here in particular, we talked about different ideas to incorporate all of your loved ones with special roles. Starting with the ideas from that post that might work, let’s hash out the possibilities and then hand it over to the ever-brilliant Team Practical commenters to brainstorm.
Walking down the aisle at a specific time while special music plays can be enough to point out these folks as important to the wedding (even if they just take a seat after they walk). They can even carry stuff while they walk. Sure, like you mentioned, we all have this concept of little kids carrying the ring or basket of flowers, but there can be other important ceremony components (like candles or holy books) that can be carried to the space without feeling juvenile or silly. Another idea is to skip incorporating them into the ceremony, and instead honor them by pointing them out—either by listing them in your ceremony program, or mentioning them in a special toast at the reception. In the same theme, loved ones who dress to match the bridal party or wear flower corsages or boutonnières will stand out as special and important, even if they’re not active in the ceremony.
But, my absolute favorite way to include friends of all kinds into a wedding is to think about their talents. Instead of starting with, “Where can we fit these guys?” start with, “What do they do best?” and see where that takes you. Is somebody a really excellent artist? Have them design the program cover or paint a backdrop for the ceremony. Someone else is super at greeting and smiling? They’re now the official program-hander-outer. This angle takes a lot of thought, but may help you come up with more out of the box ideas that better fit your loved ones and your wedding.
Team Practical, I know someone out there has got a great answer for this. How do you involve loved ones with disabilities in your wedding day?
Photo by APW sponsor Gabriel Harber.
If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com or use the submission form here. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up a totally ridiculous sign-off like conflicted and rageful but deeply in love in Detroit (CARBDILID, duh). However, don’t let thinking up a sign-off stress you out; we’ll love you regardless. You’re already writing in for advice, don’t you have enough to deal with, sweetie?