Everyone deserves a beautiful wedding that suits them down to the ground. This might mean getting married outside, or involving your children. Or it might mean making sure your wedding is accessible.
There are a lot of decisions to be made when planning a wedding, from location to wedding venue to the size of the event. Would you like a small wedding or something on a grander scale? Each of these choices will have an impact on how accessible your big day is. That’s even before you start thinking about the ceremony.
The ceremony will be the heart of your wedding. A good ceremony will express your love story. It puts into words the bond between you and your partner, celebrating and cementing it in front of your nearest and dearest.
It’s worth saying here that a traditional wedding ceremony could present barriers. That could make you, the happy couple – or your guests – feel excluded. But with good planning that needn’t be the case and you can have a truly accessible wedding.
One of the wonderful things about a humanist wedding is that it allows couples to shape the ceremony to fit you and tell your love story.
Wedding planning can be joyful, but it can also be tricky, with lots of different priorities competing for your attention. These tips will make it easier to plan your wedding to be inclusive and welcoming for all.
This is excellent advice for anyone planning a wedding, but it’s especially important for disabled brides and grooms. You need to feel completely happy that your celebrant ‘gets it’ and will help make your day fun, memorable and accessible. From this decision everything else will flow. Celebrants in our network are all trained in providing bespoke ceremonies. Some even have specific access experience (see below for their details).
Traditions can be wonderful things that link us together in time, but they can also be restrictive. Your wedding doesn’t need to include any tradition that isn’t comfortable and fitting for you. Lots of standing is inaccessible? Have a seated ceremony. Don’t want to read vows aloud? Ask your celebrant to read them for you. There are lots of small things that can make your day work wonderfully for you.
A humanist wedding doesn’t have to fit a traditional format. You can pace it out to suit you. If a long service would be difficult for you to participate in, or for your guests to make it through, let your celebrant know. Together you can build a ceremony that suits you. A humanist wedding can also take place anywhere. Yes, this means that you can choose a personal and significant location to get married. It also means that you can pick a space that you find accessible. Perhaps because it has soft lighting or gentle acoustics. Or because it offers enough space to allow a comfortable distance between you and your guests. The flexibility of a humanist ceremony means it is never a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
That flexibility includes timings. With a humanist ceremony you can have it at a time that suits you. If getting up and out in the morning is a slow process, have the ceremony at night. If you need breaks during it, let your celebrant know. Your nearest and dearest, family and friends, will be there when you’re ready.
Perhaps the most important tip of all. Modern weddings offer a wonderful chance to express creativity – including being creative with access. You could swap your bouquet for a wheelchair flower train, like this bride. If you’re visually impaired we could find a ritual that engages the different senses, or include your dog in the day. Good access is generally good for everyone. So get creative and have fun making your day uniquely and memorably ‘you’!
With a humanist celebrant you can have a unique, heartfelt ceremony which meets your access needs. We guarantee that you don’t have to compromise on your ceremony to have an inclusive wedding.
In our Humanists UK celebrant network we have people with specific access experience.
Our first example is Kathryn, who has 15 years experience in inclusive participation and a lifetime of lived experience as a proud Disabled Person. She has a great blog about accessible weddings on her site. Here are some of her examples of ways to make your wedding ceremony inclusive:
If you, or any of your guests, are D/deaf, you could work with Audrey who is a qualified BSL interpreter. She can plan your day and deliver your ceremony using BSL. This is especially helpful in the meetings beforehand. Or, in Northern Ireland, Fleur, has just completed her Level 1 BSL qualification, so could include some elementary signing to make everyone feel welcome. Plus, she has a video intro on her site for anyone who finds video more accessible.
Whatever your final choices when wedding planning, we hope that your day is filled with love and laughter throughout. And that every bit of it makes you feel comfortable and fabulous!
Looking for more inclusive wedding inspo? We have lots of great content to explore across the site, like this article about the most inclusive type of wedding ceremony. And, for even more wedding ideas and inspiration follow us on Instagram.
How do you know if you’re a humanist? Take our quiz and find out!
Planning your wedding and would like to explore having a humanist ceremony? Find your local celebrant on our map and get in touch.
Your ceremony will focus on your love story. It can include unique vows, readings, poems, and any symbolic acts you choose.
Are you at the beginning of your wedding planning journey? We have top tips and real wedding stories to inspire you.
There are exciting times ahead as you choose your humanist celebrant and plan a personalised wedding that's unique to you.