What’s more stressful than wedding planning? Finding the perfect wedding dress! Or in the case of the bride in a wheelchair, trying on wedding dresses. Here are some tips to help you make sure you get that dream dress for your big day of magic!
Think fabric & material.
Beads on the butt are not the greatest idea. Silk or satin can be very slippery if you have a certain type of chair cushion. If your skin is sensitive to certain fabrics, keep that in mind as well. Some fabrics can irritate the skin if you endure lots of friction. Such as, if you lean on your right side a lot or you move your elbows on the armrests all the time, find fabrics that won’t give you a rash from constant movement on certain body parts. Some dress designs that elongate the neck/face can take away from the focus of the wheelchair, while other dress designs will make you appear shorter.
Zippers and buttons are pretty. So are long gold chains that drape down the back. But if Velcro or magnet clips work better for you, see if that alteration can be made. The last thing you want to do is spend an hour putting a dress on to only be really uncomfortable the entire time. Every body comes in different shapes and sizes, and maybe you have a more curved-to-one-side-body, than the average person, so your unique body shape cannot even try on a corset dress or a dress with lots of boning which is popular in wedding dresses. Keep a list of yays and nays for dress material, accessories, designs, and clasps.
Take advantage of dream boards & international inspirations.
Social media is full of millions of pictures of different wedding dresses. This includes custom made ones and others that are not traditionally found in magazines or stores. Keep track of dresses you love. This will open you up to having many more options to choose from. You may ever come across a design you never knew existed in another country. Most magazines, movies, stores, and wedding events only cover American styles, so think internationally. You may come across a dress on social media from Germany that is just magical. Or even something from France or the Netherlands. So don’t limit yourself to locally designed dresses, and let your dream dress inspirations come from all over the world.
Don’t forget about the wheelchair.
Let’s not get your gorgeous dress stuck in your wheels. If you have lots of fabric, see what alterations can be done, like having a pin hold together the bottom edges of your dress behind your legs. Will it be easy to put the dress on while in your wheelchair, or will you need to lie down to get it on? Can the veil work in the favor of your headrest, and will the train be an option if you clipped it to the bottom and back of the chair? As much as you may think the wheelchair will be in the way of giving you a great wedding dress experience, think about the ways you can take advantage of your wheelchair. Add a hook under the chair and a hook to the bottom of the dress in order to clip those two hooks together. There are always ways your wheelchair can enhance your wedding even if sometimes it feels like your chair is a disadvantage.
Don’t ask, “Can I survive in the dress for eight hours?” Try the question, “Can I have fun and be comfortable in the dress for eight hours?” If you need to go to the restroom, is that realistic? Or maybe you’d consider wearing adult diapers or pads for emergencies? Maybe you use a catheter? How will that option fit with the dress? If you still want the dress but know it won’t be super comfortable, pick a reception dress that will give you the dancing room to not constrict your dance moves. Try on the dress and sit in in for at least an hour (if possible), or at least go through the motions of rolling down the aisle, cutting the cake, posing for pictures, dancing, and eating. All in all, focus on dress fit rather than size. Most brides will have a ceremony dress (the one you roll down the aisle in and take fancy pictures in), and a reception dress (the one you jam in on the dance floor),
Have a support team.
Now if this list has made you feel that your dream dress is impossible, think again. Do you want that puffy dress with a large zipper in the back and a lace train? Go for it and try it on, it may fit just right. Maybe there will need to be some adjustments, but all is possible. So don’t give up on what you want and find ways to make it work. Make sure to have 2-4 people who can not only help you in and out of the dress, but also tell you honestly how it fits with your body shape and your wheelchair. They can also have ideas on how to make it all work and are aware of your comfort level (most likely). Have someone take notes for each dress you try and and why it can/can’t work.
Good luck, beautiful bride! Your future wedding dress is practically calling your name!
Stay up to date on new blog posts and announcements by signing up for the Brides In Wheelchairs Newsletter or joining our Brides In Wheelchairs Facebook Group!