Naomi: You may remember our recent article from Recommended supplier Celebrant Kathryn on Humanist Ceremonies. As well as being a wonderful person and Celebrant, Kathryn is also an Inclusion Professional who has kindly offered to give some advice for those planning weddings who are Neurodiverse. Over to Kathryn...
My number one recommendation is to choose a Celebrant-led ceremony! This way, you’ll get to know the person marrying you before your wedding, this should help you feel calm and comfortable on the day.
When you’re planning your wedding and Neurodiverse, there may be elements of the day that you want to give extra thought to, this will help ensure that you have a really fabulous wedding.
My number one recommendation is to choose a Celebrant-led ceremony. This way, you’ll get to know the person marrying you before your wedding, this should help you feel calm and comfortable on the day. Be as open and honest as you can with your celebrant. I work with couples to make sure their ceremony works for them both as individuals and together.
It can feel like there’s a lot going on during a ceremony; The words, the emotion, unfamiliar sounds, sights, and smells. Here are some tips that could help your ceremony feel good.
Have a rehearsal
If you feel more comfortable in situations where you know what to expect, I cannot recommend having a wedding rehearsal enough. A celebrant can usually offer you a rehearsal. Be sure to ask when booking.
At the rehearsal, your celebrant will run through the logistics of the ceremony. It’s really helpful to get a sense of where everyone involved will be positioned and what will happen when so you can feel confident. Your celebrant will share your personalised ceremony script before your wedding, but you can ask them to provide an outline of what will happen during the ceremony too.
If you find it tricky to focus on questions you’ve been asked or remember things you want to say when there are lots of other stimuli around, cue cards may help you feel confident. Lots of couples use these anyway, especially for remembering personalised vows. If the written word is a barrier, ask your Celebrant to help you learn what you are going to say when. Another good reason to have a rehearsal.
Consider the lighting in your ceremony space
Visit your venue beforehand and check if the lighting might prove to be a challenge, maybe fluorescent lighting that could be turned off or switched out for daylight lamps on the day.
If you are having an outdoor ceremony it’s a good idea to visit at the same time of day to get an idea of the light. This will help make sure you’re comfortable at your ceremony without the sun in your eyes.
Maintaining a comfortable temperature
Again, visiting your venue helps you understand the likely temperature of your ceremony space. If you are indoor, check if there will be heating or air-con and if that can be adjusted if you need.
If you are having an indoor wedding, the number of guests may make the temperature of the room feel different. Also consider what you will be wearing on the day.
If you are having an outdoor ceremony, identify a quiet spot where you can wait outside for a few minutes after getting ready to acclimatise to the temperature change before heading into your ceremony. This will help ensure you’re not processing a temperature change at the same time as processing everything else.
Making your ‘entrance’
If you’d rather avoid a full aisle then why not consider alternatives. You could come in from a different entrance, walk in together or even be already at the front when your guests arrive. Talk with your celebrant, they will craft a ceremony entrance (or non-entrance) that will start your ceremony off in the right way and make sure you feel comfortable from the very beginning.
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Have calm spaces for before and after your ceremony
I really recommend finding somewhere calm and quiet for you to both spend time before and/or after your ceremony nearby. In fact, I’d suggest this to all couples. If you do want some ‘decompression’ time after your ceremony, let your celebrant know. That way, they can include this in their ‘housekeeping announcements’ or in the directions to guests after the ceremony, making sure you get the time you need.
Find strong scents difficult?
For some people strong or unfamiliar scents can be overwhelming. If this is the case for you, talk to your celebrant and your florist (if you're using one) about ways to minimise any unfamiliar fragrances. You can also make sure that your displays are smaller or not positioned too close to where you’ll be.
If you are still worried, maybe think about artificial or paper flowers. Or consider alternative decorations completely.
Ask your venue to limit background noises
Is there an aircon unit humming in the background that could be switched off? Do you need to ask the catering staff in the next room to be mindful of background noise in the moments before you enter the ceremony, make these requirements clear with both your venue and celebrant.
Have a ‘fidget toy’ or sensory items to hand
There’s no reason why you cannot use solutions you’d use in any other situation during your wedding. If you’d usually use fidget toys in moments where you might feel overstimulated, there is nothing to stop you here. Hold a sensory item in your hands or in your pocket and use it during the ceremony if it will help you stay focused in the moment. If you don’t have a pocket or are worried about forgetting it, let your celebrant know and ask if they’d keep it for you and hand it over when you need it.
It might feel like there is a lot to think about, ultimately my advice is to talk to your celebrant. Not all of these tips will work for everyone who is Neurodiverse as not everyone faces the same barriers - of course - everyone is individual.
Worth remembering... Every couple getting married has certain fundamental needs to be met as part of their wedding. It’s just that some requirements have been normalised and accepted, while others are seen as extraordinary. Everyone can and should have a fabulous day, their way.
Naomi: This article shouldn't even need an outro after that final paragraph from Kathryn. She nailed it. I'm just going to end by saying go and visit her full article Engaged and Neurodiverse if you've enjoyed this content and would like more tips on how to make yourself or your loved ones more comfortable on your wedding day.