Wedding Dresses and Wheelchairs
Since I was a little girl I dreamt of the day that I would “walk” down the aisle on my big day. I didn’t think about the logistics as a little girl but, of course, I always pictured myself in a big white wedding dress.
I started dating my now husband when we were in high school and we did the typical prom and homecoming dances, buying dresses was still a fun event I did with my mom and friends.
Hunting for the perfect wedding dress
However, when I became engaged the hunt for the perfect wedding dress all of a sudden became a daunting task to me. I pictured what I saw on all the videos and TV shows, the girls going in and trying on a ton of dresses, walking out in front of their friends watching their mother-in-law‘s eyes tear up as saw her future daughter-in-law in a beautiful wedding gown.
Because of spinal muscular atrophy, I knew that was not going to be the way it happened for me.
Even though that was a sad idea I still wanted it to be a special moment. I spent some time gathering pictures in magazines of wedding dresses that I liked. I had many different styles picked out.
I wasn’t sure what style was going to look best on me sitting in my wheelchair and what was going to be the comfiest. And to be honest I never saw a bride in a wedding magazine in a wheelchair. I prayed and prayed that this wouldn’t be a long process of trying wedding dresses on.
We made our first appointment and I showed them pictures that I had torn out of magazines. They just so happened to have two of the ones that I brought pictures of ready in their bridal shop. I wasn’t sure how the trying on session would go but I came prepared with some extra hands.
The first thing we did was make sure they had a fitting room big enough for my wheelchair and those who are going to help me change in and out of dresses.
Yes to my dress
I ended up trying on multiple ones but I end up falling in love with the very first one I tried on. You know they say once “you know” you know, well it was true. I put it on and instantly felt like a princess.
It was a huge multi layered giant A line strapless dress.
It was beautiful, but there were many adjustments we needed to make in order for it to work for my wheelchair. I figured out that I wanted the bell of my dress to cover the front of my chair completely.
Like I said it had layers upon layers upon layers of tulle that I could have sat on but it was extremely uncomfortable. The lady doing alterations had suggested we cut out all of the tulle in the back of the dress so that when I sat I was only sitting on one layer of the wedding dress.
Adapting the dress
I however had one more idea in mind that I wanted to try to make work. I took the back end of my dress and created a detachable train to go on the back of my wheelchair. I knew it I wasn’t going to be able to functionally drive around all over with a train on the back of my chair but what we did was tied it up with a beautiful bow and as I begin my descend down the aisle an attendant came up and let my train down so it could follow behind me as I “walked” to my future husband. It truly felt like a dream.
Another trick that I did on my wedding day was took satin material that matched my dress and created a hidden seatbelt to hold me that was not noticeable to the naked eye. I needed the dress to be functional, beautiful and safe.
My biggest advice on shopping for a wedding dress while being a wheelchair user is to get creative, be willing to cut up your wedding dress, and remember this is your special day so don’t let go of hope of looking beautiful. I got married in front of 400 people in the wedding dress of my dreams and you can too.
Have you found something to help you mentally cope with SMA?