Confessions of a Disabled Bride #6 ~ Searching For *The* Dress

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I love fashion – Ever since I was a child I have always loved dressing up and expressing a story or a mood with my outfit.  Naturally, you would think that I rejoiced at the prospect to get my wedding dress. Except that I didn’t – while I took great delight in planning all the other details for our wedding, I kept putting my search for ‘the dress’ on hold. I even knew what kinds of bridesmaid dresses I wanted before I had a clue what my wedding dress would look like.

To be quite honest, wedding dresses have always scared me a little. They seem lovely enough on other people, but they always seemed too white, too ethereal, too angelic to fit me. They also seemed to be made for the fragile, doe-eyed models with ringlets in their hair on wedding magazine covers, not for a woman in a wheelchair who owns the title ‘Burger Queen 2011’ (which was NOT an eating contest, but an ironic beauty pageant for fat people. Most other competitors were drag queens).

Bridal magazines with their massive lack of diversity on their pages did nothing to inspire me, and instead made feel increasingly anxious that there would be no dress out there that a) I wouldn’t find bland, white and boring and b) fit me.

A wedding dress that inspired me....

Image Copyright (c) 2013, Dottie Photography
See the wedding in full here on Love My Dress


I don’t know why I found it so difficult, because my bridesmaids come in all shapes and sizes, and one of them, my friend Christina, is in a wheelchair too. I found it easy enough to find a beautiful dress that suits all of them, but I guess there is such an importance attached to the wedding dress that thinking about my own outfit it was a different story.

Luckily, some wedding blogs are bolder with the brides and dresses they feature, and I eventually found inspiration for my dress on this very blog, the wonderful Love My Dress. I read of other brides who wore gorgeous, bespoke dresses at their weddings – short ones, colourful ones – suddenly I realised that this was MY wedding and that everything was possible. I was going to wear a fabulous dress, and I was going to have fun with it!!

A wedding dress that inspired me....

Image Copyright (c) 2013,Annamarie Stepney
See the wedding in full here on Love My Dress


However, the first dressmaker I met was not very helpful with creating my vision – suggesting I should wear ‘floaty’, ‘airy’ fabrics because they would ‘work with the wheelchair’. It’s well possible that floaty fabrics work well with wheelchairs, but they certainly don’t work well with my chubby thighs, thank you very much. Without giving too much away (as my beloved fiancé is likely to read this!), I knew that I wanted a dress that gave me some structure and that highlighted my hourglass figure, and nothing that could be described as hippyesque or ethereal – that’s just not my style.

On Love My Dress I read a feature about The State of Grace, who create bespoke dresses. Since The State of Grace ladies are still putting the finishing touches to my dress, I can’t reveal any details about the dress, but Lucia and her team instantly understood my vision and saw first and foremost me, my body and my personality, and then wheelchair. They did make some brilliant suggestions to accommodate the fact that I will spend most of the time of my wedding dress sitting, not standing, and made sure that my arms are not restricted to move in any way, but they never made me feel like my wheelchair created a problem for the dress design.

A recent post on Love My Dress featured past designs from The State of Grace in which you can see some most fabulous designs, including a sassy knee-length number and visions in bright blue and mint green!


Image Copyright (c) 2013, Tobiah Tayo
See the wedding in full here on Love My Dress


I also had an issue with shoes. I cannot wear heels and I usually wear orthopaedic boots, which look a bit like Doc Martens boots – not exactly romantic! I was really worried about finding shoes that fit my feet, since they are quite small but wide, and unusually shaped. Open shoes, like ballerinas, just slip off them. Luckily, my mum thought of the perfect solution – to have sheer, nude socks that fit my feet well, and then sew ballerinas around them. The whole solution was actually not expensive at all, as I found wonderful, cheap, sparkly ballerinas that will make me feel much more glamorous and girly than my orthopaedic boots.

I am very excited to show my dress – and shoes – to everyone (at the moment, the State of Grace ladies are still giving it its final touches) and I am so relieved I will be able to have a dress that fits me perfectly. In hindsight, I wish I would have overcome my fear of wedding dresses sooner and would have just gone to a few bridal shops to try some on, but at the same time I know I would not have found anything like the dress that State of Grace are creating for me.

I am wondering whether other readers of Love My Dress, and other brides (or grooms) feel that traditional wedding wear is just not quite for them – Are there other brides who were frustrated or scared about the dress hunt?

This will be my last post for Love My Dress before I am getting married next month, and I can’t wait to share my wedding pictures – and to show off my dress!   In the mean time, you can read my previous blog posts which examine an access checklist, finding a venue, how I plan to  roll down the aisle (with flashing front wheels!), my thoughts on love and how I have organised an accessible honeymoon.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and read your comments below – thank you so much everyone.



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.


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, getting in the sea, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.

20 thoughts on “Confessions of a Disabled Bride #6 ~ Searching For *The* Dress

  1. Good luck with your wedding and enjoy the final run up ! I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts about your wedding planning and I’ll look out for photos of your special day! N x

  2. So kind of you Nicola, thanks for taking time to leave a lovely comment. My family and I are actually attending Nina and Bob’s wedding and can’t wait. We’ll hopefully be featuring some kind of wedding report on here in due course too – Nina and Bob have appointed some amazing photographers!
    Thanks so much,
    Annabel xXx

  3. Hi Nina,
    i got married 4 weeks ago and I was scared about the dress hunt as well. I live in Germany and I was working as a weddingplaner. That is why I know about the dress hunt and the trends in the wedding dress industry. I saw a lot of dresses and couldn’t imagine myself in one of them. When I started reading wedding blogs, especially the English ones, I fall in love with petticoat dresses like the ones from Candy Anthony, for example. But there are little chances to get this dresses in Germany (although I’m living in Berlin). I visited one bridal store and they were lovely but didn’t had anything which came close to my sixties dreams.
    In the end I contacted a sixties tailor via internet 10 weeks before my wedding. She never saw me in reality but did here best to fulfill my dress idea. The dress arrived early and I had enough time to let it alter a bit (I disregarded that the final fittings should be made “on” me).
    But thats not all. I got married in Vegas six months before and was wearing an elegant cocktail dress. This dress was the most perfect one for me and my figure – not the petticoat one! And although some close friends gave me the advice to wear the cocktails dress at the church wedding as it is the most perfect one for me, I took the petticoat one for the big party. Yes, it wasn’t the best for my figure but it was the one on that I wanted deeply. And as my parents arrived on their motorbikes followed by a trike to pick us up for the church … I knew that my desicion was right. 🙂

  4. Hi Alexandra, thanks so much for your comment!
    I can relate, actually, because I’m from Switzerland, originally, and I know how difficult it can be to access British/American/cool things!
    Your dress sounds wonderful – and I think sometimes we should not care so much about what is ‘flattering’, but just go for what we really really want..xx

  5. Nina, I cant wait to see how beautiful you will look. I went down the aisle in a black skintight number at 8months pregnant so I am with you on the fear of white and fluffy xxx

  6. A friend of mine who is disabled but uses crutches rather than a wheelchair was walked down the aisle by both her parents, which was a lovely touch. After the ceremony, when she wasn’t on her husband’s arm, she had designer crutches which had been painted white to match her dress! Can’t wait to see how the dress (& the whole day) turns out for you, Nina!

  7. This is a great article. I would have loved to see a bride IN a wheelchair as a photo to go along with it.
    I was born with a club foot and am getting married on October 26, and although I am not in a wheelchair I do wear orthopaedic shoes daily and cannot wear geeks due to fused ankles so I DIYed some ruby slippers from my comfy orthopaedic shoes!!!
    I also have a disabled brother who is two years older than me and he’s in a wheelchair and is going to be my ring bearer 🙂 he’s so excited and I cannot wait for him to have a special part in our day.
    Best wishes to the bride in this story, I know you’ll be gorgeous xxxxxx

  8. Hi Donna! Thanks for your lovely comment, you know, you can see photos of Nina in her other pieces, which are linked to in the final paragraph above.
    And fear not, we will hopefully be featuring Nina’s wedding too – I’m going to be a guest and am so excited!! 😉

  9. Hi Donna,
    When are you getting married?
    I didn’t want to use other disabled brides’ pictures because I thought people might mistake them for me, and that wouldn’t have been fair to them. But there shall be pictures of my wedding.. and I’d love to see some of yours!
    I’d especially love to see your shoes – it’s such a shame we don’t get more stylish options when it comes to orthopaedic shoes.. usually what their catalogue considers ‘stylish’ or ‘hip’ would not even be considered stylish by grannies…

  10. So glad to hear of such a positive experience and as a designer(milliner) I realise that every customer can have the hat or dress of their dreams or nightmares which should be personal to them and their needs. People have problems sometimes with hats and whether they suit them, I have a wide selection of my own creations now and really enjoy clients coming to my home/office and experiencing different headpieces (hats, fascinators and tiaras)where they learn what actually suits them and more importantly what they feel happy in. Most people want to wear something on their head, if they are going to a special occasion, but it maybe something that is not as big as a hat. My clients are really happy that they can find something which is specially made for them as is the bride in this blog we all want to be special sometimes and may that continue!

  11. Hi Nina!
    First of all I wish you all the best, that your wedding day is everything you’ve ever dreamed of.
    I loved reading your posts and they are so inspiring, because you are amazing and so very strong.
    I think your posts should be translated to other languages, so that other girls around the world can share your experience too.

  12. A good friend Marsha Hall (bespoke shoes), makes pretty shoes, with a range of clients including those who can’t find shoes to fit well from the high street and usual sources.
    She is also looking to develop pretty orthopaedic shoes too in the near future so watch out for news on that one. Xx

  13. Feel so pleased to read this as I am sick of only seeing ‘normal’ people when looking at bits for my wedding. I have not seen one bride with a walking stick/chair so far or with a ‘big-ass’ limp like mine! Thank you

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