“It’s your day! Today is all about you” is a common saying that couples are told before their wedding day. While this is true, your wedding day is also a reflection of who you are and the values shared between you and your significant other. Your guests are likely traveling long distances and spending time and money to come celebrate your big day. After all, a wedding is a celebration of your love, and you want your guests to feel that love as well. Being mindful of the needs and situations of your guests will make a big difference, as they will feel comfortable, welcome and appreciated.
With your guests’ best interests in mind, we have listed 9 ways to make your wedding more inclusive:
1.Understand any limitations your guests may have
The first step in ensuring that your guests feel comfortable at your wedding is to learn about and understand any limitations they might have. You should reach out to your guests and ask if they have any specific needs or constraints. The best way to do this is to include a section in your invitations or send out a survey to gather information. You may not know of a medical condition someone may have and by providing them with a solution will make them feel welcomed and included.
2. Consider those that have visual and hearing impairments
You may not know that some of your guests have partial or full visual or hearing impairments. Having an interpreter and incorporating braille into programs and menus is a strong recommendation if you have guests that may be blind or deaf.
Some ways to enhance the experience for people with hearing issues are:
- Supply written materials such as programs, menus, or a script of the speeches so they can follow along.
- Use visual aids such as slideshows or videos with captions to provide context.
- Seat your guests strategically so they can have a better view of the ceremony and speeches.
- Be mindful of background noise as it can be difficult for those with hearing impairments to communicate.
For those that struggle with vision impairment, they will appreciate the following:
- Make sure your stationery items are easy to read. For example, your menu should have the right font and size, and bold colors to make it a lot easier to read.
- Use descriptive language when referring to visual details such as the decor, florals, and the dress so your guests won’t miss out on the small details.
- Provide audio descriptions of the event including the ceremony and any other important visual elements.
3. Make sure your venue is inclusive and accessible
A venue should have a welcoming environment for your guests despite their religion, cultural background, identity, abilities, or needs. Keep an eye out for diversity and inclusion policies as a venue committed to these values will have a policy in place to ensure all guests are treated with dignity and respect.
You should also check that the venue has access to ramps, elevators, wheelchairs, or other accommodations that may be needed for those with disabilities.
4. Allergies and dietary requirements
You should find out any allergies or dietary requirements from the limitations section you added to your invitation. However, it is still a good idea to have a variety of options for your guests, such as gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. While food is a common element when it comes to allergies, there are other things you should consider. For example, flower allergies can be common so be sure to let your guests know what flowers you will be including in your floral arrangements and ask anyone to speak up if there may be problems or concerns.
5. Avoid Strict Dress Code
By avoiding a strict dress code, you allow your guests to express their personal style and individuality. Having a strict dress code may also make some guests feel excluded, uncomfortable and even self-conscious, particularly if they are not used to dressing up or wearing certain types of clothing. Stress can even be brought on when a guest is unsure of what to wear and whether they are following the dress code correctly.
6. Be mindful of costs
It’s essential for couples to be mindful of the potential financial impact on their guests and to be considerate when making decisions while planning their wedding. Wedding guests can end up spending quite a bit of money for a variety of reasons such as; Travel, Gifts, Attire, Babysitting, and even time off work. You can help lower costs for your guests by providing accommodations or transportation options and making gifts optional so people don’t feel pressured to spend money on gifts. If you don’t want to have kids at your wedding then having an on-site babysitter would help reduce the stress on all those parents trying to figure out what to do with their kids.
7. Consider your sensory environment for your ASD/ADHD attendees
If you have neurodivergent guests attending your wedding, it’s important to be mindful and considerate of their needs. Certain light, sound, and textures can be quite overwhelming and become triggering for some. Consider having specific seating options closer to exit signs and away from loud music. Devices such as noise-canceling headphones and fidget gadgets can create sensory stimulation that provides a sense of comfort and relief to your guests. If you feel like the environment may be too loud or overwhelming, you can also work with the venue to designate a quiet room in case some people need a break. Any unknown environment and unexpected situations can be overwhelming and especially challenging for those who are neurodivergent. It would be beneficial to have an itinerary or schedule for the day of your wedding so these guests can have a better idea of how the day will fold out.
8. Have informal seating arrangements
Informal seating arrangements can be a great option for weddings, especially when you are looking to create a more relaxed atmosphere for your guests. Assigned seating arrangements can be restrictive and limit everyone’s ability to mingle. Guests can also encounter awkward situations and feel excluded when seated next to people they don’t know, especially if the arrangements are poorly planned (just because someone is single doesn’t mean they want to sit at the single’s table).
9. Make sure your vendors are using gender-inclusive language
Bringing attention to your vendors that they should use gender-inclusive language will create a positive space for your guests. Regardless of gender identity, using appropriate language is respectful and professional. Examples of gender-inclusive language that your vendors can use include “they/them” avoiding gendered titles (such as Mr. or Mrs.), and using gender-neutral terms (such as partner instead of husband or wife).
Creating an environment that welcomes and respects everyone, regardless of their background, identity or needs will make your wedding day memorable – not only for you and your partner but for everyone else that is present celebrating your love.
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