In December, I got engaged! Yay! We live in San Francisco, CA, but our wedding will be in Atlanta, Georgia since it is where we both consider home. We met there originally before connecting romantically when I moved to California last year. I'm planning a large wedding cross-country, using a combination of modern technology, help from bridesmaids, and several trips to the ATL. I'm planning my big fat Southern, intersectional, interracial, accessible, and Jew(ish) wedding. Here are my perspectives…
I'm a person with both hidden and visible disabilities. For work, I am a disability and sexuality educator, writer, and advocate. I'm also Black, the mother of a tween daughter, Southern, queer, and Jew(ish). I'm obsessed with the style and politics of the 1960s. My fiance is white, Southern, and pagan. We're both geeks and enjoy being social with others. We love people! We are planning a wedding for approximately 200 people. Our guests will be a unique mix of the loving and supportive people from all of the different areas and aspects of our lives. My vision is for us to celebrate finding each other by throwing an inclusive and accessible party that our loved ones will never forget.
Priority: an accessible venue
The first thing I had to make sure that our venue was completely accessible. I have a spinal cord injury, and use a walker. One of my bridesmaids uses a wheelchair, has a service dog, and several guests of mine use power chairs. Two of the members of our wedding, and several guests are on the autism spectrum. After doing a search for venues who let you bring your own alcohol (because, priorities), I decided on a historic early 20th century house, that was ADA accessible. It is huge with open spaces and flow, had an elevator, the bathrooms were genuinely accessible, and they had a room I could designate as a quiet room for guests who become overstimulated.
The venue didn't blink an eye when I started rattling off these requirements, and were supportive in figuring out how to accommodate my needs. There was only one part of the house that wasn't accessible due to three steps (the part where the wedding party gets ready), but we are fixing that by renting a portable ramp. Also, some of my guests need to use MARTA (Atlanta's public transportation system), so having the wedding located with that access was important, as well.
Priority: practical wedding party outfits
I also had to think about the clothing for my bridesmaids. I wanted something someone could wear in a wheelchair, had clothing for a variety of body shapes and sizes, and fit my Southern retro theme, with a touch of geekiness. I finally decided on dresses from Torrid that had the vintage vibe I was going for, with stretch for comfort, ease of movement and wheeling, with a print that subtly featured pirates, which my fiance loves.
Priority: queerness and culture
Queerness is an important part of how I identify and build community, as well as Judaism. I am culturally Jewish, although I am not religious. I am fortunate that in Atlanta, I found a home at Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta. The synagogue's mission statement says “CBH's mission is to promote a bold and expansive Jewish identity and culture emphasizing inclusivity, creativity, spirituality, and social justice as we uphold our commitment to serve the LGBTQ and allied community.” This is why this was the first congregation I ever felt 100% welcome, as a Jew of color.
When the Rabbi said he would officiate our interfaith wedding, elated does not even begin to explain my happiness when he agreed! He is a social justice advocate from whom I learn so much, and is the only person I envisioned marrying us. We're blending pagan and Jewish traditions in expressing our spiritual union, and creating a ceremony that expresses and respects both of our belief systems.
The realities of planning and self-care
I have ADHD, anxiety, and clinical depression, so planning this wedding has been an exercise in working with mental illness and organisation. I have to take time to manage my emotions, and have self-care breaks from organizing. Having the support and help from friends has been great, too. I am learning that, just like I have to do in other areas of my life, I should ask for and accept help when needed. I finally made the most awesome decision for me and hired a day-of coordinator. The expense is completely worth it to me, mental health-wise.
At the end of the day, the wedding is about the two of us choosing to spend our life together. Our goal is to make sure that our guests to have a fabulous time, and enjoy being in a place where we are all able to have access to the celebration.