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They often say that the wedding ceremony is for the couple and the wedding reception is for the guests. After all, they're gathering from far and wide to support your marriage, so creating an evening that honors and celebrates the role they play in your lives is a priority (as is the fun!). A big part of playing host or hostess is making sure all of your guests are comfortable, and this includes guests that have limited mobility, whether it's a permanent disability or they're pregnant or have a broken leg. How can a couple make sure everyone feels attended to and taken care of? Here are some tips from our experts on accommodating guests who have a harder time getting around.
If you know you'll be inviting guests with limited mobility, keep it in mind from the start. When you're looking at venues, think about alternative options for moving around the space. Is there a ramp that circumvents the dramatic front steps? An elevator to bring a guest who isn't steady on the stairs from the entryway up to the reception space? A paved walkway that leads across the lawn to the ceremony site? And don't forget to check out the bathrooms! Make sure there is at least one accessible bathroom available on-site (meaning it's got enough space for a wheelchair or walker, and has a handrail on the wall to provide extra stability). If you can find a venue that has a lot of these accommodations built in, you'll be able to rest easy knowing those guests who have a harder time getting around have an alternative option.
You can also take measures to make the space a little more accessible. If there are only two or three steps from the driveway to the front door, be sure to station an usher or a member of the waitstaff at the door to offer a hand to anyone who needs help getting up the stairs. You could also have a temporary ramp installed for easier access. Encourage a guest who needs a little more time to head toward the ceremony and take a seat early (again, with help from an usher). And rent a few extra chairs for cocktail hour to make sure there's a spot to sit for anyone who might like it. If someone in the wedding party or your immediate family has a disability and uses a wheelchair or walker, design a wider aisle so they can get to the altar with ease. Have a pregnant bridesmaid? Consider placing her on the end, and have a chair or stool available for her perch during your vows. Be mindful when planning the seating chart, too. Seat guests with limited mobility closer to the door and on the side of the table that is more open — this way they won't have to weave through a sea of chairs to find their seat.
And of course, check with any of your guests who might have limited mobility to see if there are accommodations you didn't know they'd need. It might take a little extra planning on your end, but you'll be happy to know they're comfortable when your wedding day arrives.