Consider The Special Needs Of Your Guests!
Venue? check! Perfect dress? check! Detail after detail...check!
You have planned this special day in your head ten thousand times over and it is going to go as planned. You've thought about the aesthetic and the mood you want all of your guests to walk away with. Well what if your guest has a disability or special need? Consider the special physical, mental and dietary needs of your guests as you plan your day as well.
While helping our clients plan their Central Florida weddings and events, we always ask about guests that have special needs because we believe that is an important element to keep in the back of our minds as we are planning with the client. Joie de Vie recently had a wedding where the special needs of a guest had to be accounted for. Special seating had to be arranged to ensure that the guest was comfortable and able to enjoy the wedding day as well. First and foremost, you don't want that guest to feel that their disability is a burden. I always tell my couples to make their guest list before they start looking at ceremony and reception locations for their wedding. As you look through your guest list, take a moment to consider if any of your guests have any special. A few things to consider or ask:
- Will the table be a comfortable height for them?
- As you start to visit your location options be sure to ask the venue whether or not there are accessible walkways, restrooms, and seating available for the specific need of that guest.
- Will the room configuration permit for them to enter and access various parts of the reception room easily? You want to be certain that you leave extra room around the tables to ensure ease of access.
- If they are not in a wheelchair, but have a physical disability also look at the chairs. Know and understand the weight limit on banquet, chiavari or folding chairs. You may have to have a special seat brought in to accommodate the guests specific needs.
- If your meal service is not plated, how will they access the food stations or buffet?
- Are the restrooms equipped to meet their needs.
- If the ceremony and reception are at the same location, consider how the transition will take place from ceremony to cocktail hour to the reception. Be certain that the guest will not have any trouble with the transition.
- Location of a power outlet in the room is also important. You want them to have easy access to the power should they need to recharge the batteries on their electric powered chair.
- What hotel accomodations will be needed for guests with special needs? Because of the ADA most hotels have the rooms properly built to meet those needs. You want to ensure that your rooming options reflect that.
Central Florida is fortunate in that our wedding professionals have great experience with accommodating guests with special needs. As you speak to your vendors other than the venue, it will be important to ask about how the guests can be seated in the ceremony area, will access to the dance floor be easy, the position of apparatus for lighting or sound and your photographer may have to consider how he/she will position those guests for portraits.
If members of your bridal party have a special need, you should also consider how they can partake in all of the bridal party duties on the day of the wedding. Look at your ceremony altar space to ensure there is enough room to accommodate for wheelchair(s).
Of course, you will only know the needs of your guests that you've listed. If your guests are bringing a date, it is possible that you will not know what their needs are. If you are uncertain of what those needs may be, utilize your website to list information about guests with disabilities or have options for special dietary concerns. Also consider letting them know that they can contact you directly to address any concerns. More importantly, communicate with your planner, venue and vendors regarding the special needs to ensure that all of your family, friends and loved ones have an unforgettable experience on your wedding day.
Until next time,
© 2005 - 2009 Joie de Vie Weddings & Events, Inc. - All Rights Reserved. Photo credit: Dubi Feiner.