Now planning a wedding can be difficult enough on its own, but just imagine having to plan a wedding if you and most of your guests suffer from a disability. How would you cope if you were deaf and couldn’t make the necessary phone calls? Or were blind and needed to make provisions for guide dogs? And if you and some of your guests were wheelchair users and needed disabled access for both your ceremony and reception?
Government statistics show that there are over 10 million British people who suffer from a long term illness, impairment or disability and that can range from suffering anxiety to being wheelchair bound.
And shockingly around a third of disabled people experience difficulties in accessing public, commercial and leisure goods and services.
Now as a mother of two small children I know how difficult it can be at times to negotiate a wide buggy through small shops, fitting in through narrow doorways and getting it down steps; things I didn’t even consider before I had children. Just imagine having to think about these access issues every day and especially as a main consideration for your wedding day.
Access for disabled people is getting better with the law now requiring new buildings to provide disabled access as set out by the Building Regulations. Also the new Disability and Equality Act 2010 which replaces the Disability Discrimination act 1995 (DDA) gives disabled people the same rights to access goods, services and facilities as the able bodied. However many older buildings do not have such access and can get away with providing only the very basic of facilities under the clause of what is ‘reasonable’.
Wedding Venues for the Disabled
Knowing your rights does not necessarily help when it comes to planning your wedding; you may know that you are within your rights to ask for a ramp to be provided for access to the Registry Office but would you want to get married in a place that doesn’t have adequate facilities in the first place?
Searching for suitable venues can be a time-consuming process. The entire venue can often be required to be wheelchair friendly with access to disabled toilets; a simple enough request but one that is surprisingly difficult to arrange with some wedding venues. Many older hotels will have steps to the front entrance and will have their wedding suites located on upper floors. Whilst some may provide disabled lifts, it’s not much good if they can only take one guest at a time.
Roz, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis discovered that many hotels had their own solutions which were far from ideal!
“Several places we looked at were cramped and not wheelchair-friendly, and one hotel had no lift, with the wedding suite up a flight of stairs. They said Roz could be carried up and down in her wheelchair, but we would both have felt very uncomfortable.”
Source: When Ray Met Roz
However there is help out there, if you know where to look. DisabledGo provides some useful information about disabled access to a variety of public places from hotels to hospitals. They also have detailed information about Registry Offices across the UK with specific details about accessible provisions and facilities complete with photographs. This information is difficult to find on their site but we’ve created a handy list with the help of Google here: Registry Offices with Disabled Access.
And if you are looking for hotels then the Good Access Guide has a list of disabled friendly hotels in the UK with information, some photos and contact details.
Of course once you’ve found the ideal venue the planning is far from over – you have the honeymoon to organise too! Luckily we’ve found a site that does all the research on finding suitable honeymoon locations with disabled facilities. The Disabled Holiday Directory lists hotels and resorts with full details of access and facilities for the disabled provided.
Planning a disabled wedding is hard work, there is no doubt about it, but with a little perseverance and determination you can have the wedding of your dreams. If in any doubt, read the following inspiring stories of couples who overcame difficulties to achieve the happiest day of their lives!
- Dept. of Work and Pensions – Family Resources Survey 2008-09
- ONS Opinions Survey 2009
- Facts and Figures from Office for Disability Issues
- Disability and the Equality Act 2010
- The Building Regulations – Part M (Access to and Use of Buildings)