By planning ahead, you can almost guarantee a predictable, comfortable wedding day. Check out some of our ideas and see what else you may want to include in your very special day.
Some autistic couples decide to forgo guests and have their wedding be just about the two of them. Others have just a few guests. If you are looking to include more than just a couple guests at your wedding, check out these potential ideas for making it a beautiful wedding day for all.
Communicate the Wedding Day Schedule with Your Guests
Holly Winter of Holly Winter Couture suggests sharing a plan of what the wedding day will look like. Amy Brailey of Poppyseed Design Weddings takes things a step further with an Order of Events poster, which includes contact information of key individuals for guests’ questions or needs of assistance and a venue map. Providing a detailed, “no surprises” itinerary will help alleviate anxiety for autistic and other neurodivergent guests, as well as the couple.
What to Share about Your Wedding
Include with your invitation an explanation of what steps you are taking to increase your guests’ comfort on your wedding day and ask if there is anything else you might be able to do. Include an option for sitting furthest away from music and lights for your sensory sensitive invitees.
Share your wedding itinerary and menu options and ask about dietary restrictions. Consider a buffet style wedding, which allows guests to pick preferred foods. Parents of autistic children may opt to bring food that they know their children will enjoy.
So that everyone can enjoy themselves on your wedding day, ask guests to leave distracting scents and sounds at home. Wedding participants will enjoy the day more if sensory overwhelm is avoided by not bringing noise-makers or wearing perfumes or strong scents.
Venue and Vendors
For autistic couples, having a few rehearsals of the big day will decrease the chance of surprises. Don’t be afraid to ask your wedding organizer to run through every step at the wedding location. Also familiarize yourself with each area of your wedding venue, including bathrooms, a quiet “get away” room, seating areas, and any other details that will make you feel comfortable.
Determine if your wedding venue will also allow autistic guests to stop by a day or two before the event to see everything ahead of time. If they will, add this information to your invitation details.
Discuss the significant possibility of overstimulation of you or your guests with your vendors ahead of time. Autistic guests may find flashing lights, loud speakers, or otherwise noisy or bright parts of the room or strong smelling food overwhelming.
At the venue, you can provide additional comfort by providing a quiet, lightly lit room. Include the location of this room on your venue’s map. If able, offer sensory and relaxation amenities in the quiet room as well as make these items available in the seating areas. A second option is to provide outdoor activities so that overstimulated guests can take a break from the sensory stimuli inside.
Autistic Couples Share the Planning of Their Weddings
While some couples like to think through all the details to create their special day, others may find all these options exhausting. Autistic art therapist Jackie Schuld talks about the overwhelm when she writes about her wedding in “The Intentionally Left Out Autistic Bride.” She explains that her husband-to-be was also her maid of honor, handling many of the details of their wedding for her. Jackie wanted a simple wedding and found she was still getting hit with overwhelming decision fatigue quickly. Having her partner manage the details allowed her to relax.
In ArtfullyAutistic, Kristy Kendall shares “Five Weird Neurotypical Wedding Traditions,” and that a typical neurotypical wedding would never be appealing to her. Kristy really felt uncomfortable with the idea of a girls’ night out before her wedding. Because she likes time with her girlfriends one at a time and they do not know each other, the thought of having everyone together sounded awkward at best. Kristy also did not want any of the surprises that could come with a bachelorette party. After giving the many wedding traditions much consideration, Kristy asked herself, “ why copy other people on the most important day of your life?” She came up with another option that suited her sensitive nervous system and personality.
Allow yourself to move in a way that is enjoyable, including stimming. Stimming as you see fit will help you get through this beautiful but unusually stimulating day! Couples also suggest making sure all your wedding clothing is comfortable for you for the whole day. If you are in love with your wedding clothing but feel it would be difficult to wear for the whole day, select more comfortable garments to switch into whenever you see fit.
In "What I Never Expected About Planning My Wedding as an Autistic Person," Fin Leary Lavoie explains that as an autistic queer person, the planning of their wedding fell into place as once they found the right vendors to fit their needs. Fin talks shares that "(t)here's also something deeply soothing about the planning process...It's a chance to create an event that celebrates our love and honors the community of people who support us..." Moving away from the old traditions and creating the day of your dreams can be a lovely, fun experience.
Check out guest writers James Cleves and Fiona Robertson's wedding planning details here.
If you are planning your wedding and would like to share, feel free to email any photos or experiences to us at Jackie.SacredSpace@gmail.com for future articles.