Morning all, I’m so super delighted that my writing team contributor Nina Neon, our ‘disabled bride’, is back this morning with the 3rd instalment of her ‘Confessions of a Disabled Bride‘ series. We’ve had an amazing response to this project – both via blog comment sand private emails from readers too shy to comment online, and so I’m really so happy that Nina’s experiences are inspiring and reassuring brides out there with a disability. Nina has already talked about her access checklist and how she found her perfect accessible venue, and today she talks about how she plans on actually manouvering down the aisle to meet her beloved. Please join me in welcoming NIna today as she shares her very personal thoughts and experiences…
A few weeks after we got engaged, I had an interesting conversation with my friend, and bridesmaid, Christina. She asked me whether I would roll down the aisle in my chair, or walk with my crutches. I was a bit perplexed at that question, because it had never even entered my mind.
Christina and I have known each other since we were 6 years old. We shared a room at the children’s hospital, and hated each other with a passion back then, constantly getting into fights over toys and dolls. By the time we were 14, we became really good friends, and have been ever since. Like me, Christina has a walking disability, and we were, for a long time, the only girls in our school who used wheelchairs. We have gone through a lot together – different hair colours, different boyfriends, and now wedding planning! I am very glad that Christina brought that topic up, because I feel it is something I need to address, and might also have to bring up with some of my relatives.
I am very grateful that I can move around on crutches if I have to – when there are stairs, or when I visit someone’s house and it’s too narrow to maneuver around with my wheelchair. But I never feel safe or confident using my crutches, because I am cared of tripping and I can not use my hands, which means I am much more reliant on other people than if I am in my wheelchair.
Ironically, if I am moving around on my crutches, people are much less willing to help me, to open doors for example, even though I am unable to do it myself. When I am in my wheelchair, I can open most doors easily, but still people are almost falling over themselves to help me. I know people perceive me as ‘more’ disabled in a wheelchair than on my crutches, which is also why some of my relatives prefer seeing me on the crutches. But the reality is, I feel much more disabled on crutches – by my surroundings and by other people. My wheelchair makes me feel safe, free and independent- and it sparkles: the front wheels of my chair light up when I move around, and they flash orange, blue and green.
I don’t know why some grown ups have these negative feelings about wheelchairs, because children don’t have it. Last weekend, we spent a wonderful day at Bob’s sister’s house, and his two youngest nieces (and the flower girls for our wedding!), Hannah (3) and Naomi (5), loved to push me around, to sit on my lap and to figure out how exactly the chair works. They see the wheelchair, just as I do, as an amazing tool that helps me getting around and doing the things I want to do. There was another article on Offbeat Bride recently, where onelittlespark declared she was proud to describe herself as disabled and to use a wheelchair. I feel the same way – I’ve been disabled all my life, it is part of my identity and I am proud to show that part of me.
The artist Sue Austin, who is also in a wheelchair, did some incredible underwater performances to express the freedom she feels in her wheelchair…
Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Film Production Copyright (c) 2012, Sue Austin
So for me, it was clear from the beginning that I would roll down the aisle, because that is what will make me feel most comfortable and confident. Christina, as my bridesmaid, can choose for herself how much of the day she will spend walking and how much in her chair – most important is to me that both of us (and the rest of our wedding party and guests) feel at ease moving around.
On our wedding day, we will make sure our wedding guests will stay seated during the ceremony, so they can see me rolling down the aisle, flashing front wheels and all.
Nina Neon was born with a disability and has a mobility impairment. She is due to marry her fiance Bob in September 2014. Nina Writes our ‘Confessions of a Disabled Bride’ series, within which she documents and shares her experiences of planning a wedding.