Today’s resources have made it much easier to plan your wedding while remaining mindful of special circumstances: With forethought from a good planner, everyone important to you can have an equal opportunity to enjoy your special day. Wedding specialists Debra Thompson, owner of Weddings by Debra Thompson LLC, and Heather Bell, President of A Perfect Plan, share five unique circumstances they encountered and tips on how to handle similar situations at your own event.
Thompson suggests looking at newer venues like Glen Island Harbour Club in New Rochelle, which are more likely to be wheelchair-friendly. However, there are some historic venues that have the same accommodations: Brotherhood Winery in Washingtonville offers a classic look and is 100 percent wheelchair accessible. If you can’t part with a limited accessibility venue, a little teamwork can go a long way. When Bell worked with a physically disabled groomsman, “The bridal party was with him every moment making sure that if there was not a ramp, they carried him. His father was with him as his aide, and there was never any problem at all.”
Communication with the new mother is the key to ensure she can enjoy her evening. “I worked with a bridesmaid who had her baby on-site and breastfed at the event,” says Thompson. She suggests hiring a babysitter for the evening and scheduling breastfeeding around bridesmaid duties and cocktail hour. If privacy is the bridesmaid’s preference, make sure she has a quiet room for alone time with her baby. The wheelchair/stroller accessible bridal suite at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor has a keypad lock that the bride sets, so she can offer her bridesmaid access to this room if necessary.
For guests with severe allergies, special accommodations are vital, especially if their food cannot be prepared in the same area as the catered options. Thompson suggests communicating your needs to the venue or hotel: “For a Mother of the Groom with severe Celiac disease, we reached out to the hotel to provide a small refrigerator. She could bring in her own food for the wedding weekend and the event itself.” Alternatively, look for a caterer who meets your party’s needs. “NY Hospitality Group in White Plains does an amazing job accommodating individuals,” says Bell. “I’m always impressed with the staff’s willingness to go the extra mile.”
Hiring a caretaker who specializes in working with the elderly and disabled – or asking the guest’s usual professional caretaker to attend in this capacity – will guarantee that your guest is being properly attended throughout the busy event. If this guest is a close family member, make sure he or she is integrated in your family activities: due to limiting motion capabilities, Thompson hired a vehicle specifically to escort a grandmother with dementia to and from the wedding prep, ceremony, and reception.
Creating a support network is important to any wedding and certainly plays a key role here. “I coordinated a wedding with a bridesmaid who has high-functioning autism,” says Bell. “Her mother and others were close by to be of assistance when things got hectic – as they do. I never once saw her experience any triggers. She had a ball that night!” It’s important to find an experienced planner who is prepared to set a comfortable and supportive tone for your bridal party. “The best coordinated plans will always have complications,” adds Thompson. “Ask many questions to anticipate solutions for any mishaps; be proactive, not reactive. This will alleviate stress for you and your guests.”