Your wedding dress is an important decision, and for wheelchair users who need their dresses to be non-obstructive as well as beautiful, it’s an even bigger consideration.
JACK JAHAN, from the wedding experts Ramsdens Jewellery, rounds up all the things that make for the perfect bridal outfit.
IF YOU are approaching your wedding day, you will, of course, be planning your dress and accessories.
Shopping for a wedding dress is always overwhelming, but it can be particularly challenging when you are a wheelchair user, as many shops only display dresses on non-disabled mannequins, or focus on dresses with ultra-long trains that would be inconvenient when paired with wheels.
There are lots of things you can look out for, and ask dressmakers for, to make choosing the dress for your big day less stressful. We’ve picked out some tips to ensure you can be stylish, romantic, and most importantly, comfortable on your wedding day.
Comfort, fit, and fabric
One of the most important things to consider when you’re looking for a wedding dress is how comfortable your outfit is going to be.
This includes whether the fabric is breathable and comfortable and whether the finished piece fits you well. Plus, you don’t want any irritating clothes or fabrics ruining your big day.
Things to look out for are embroidery and beading on the back of dresses, which might make sitting down in them less than pleasant. Silk and satin fabrics can also be slippery and inconvenient if your wheelchair cushion is also upholstered with a smooth fabric.
It may be obvious, but it’s also very important to try out dresses in the wheelchair you intend to use at the wedding if possible.
The way you sit, lean, and move in your wheelchair is very personal, and some outfits will cause friction and skin irritation if you repeatedly lean to one side, or lean on the armrests.
ry moving around, sitting in the outfit for a bit, or doing a practice run as if you’re going down the aisle.
Ideally, you should look for fabrics that are soft and breathable without being slippery, and a dress that fits you well, but allows you to move your upper body freely, so you can be unrestricted all day.
Don’t be afraid to ask for alterations, especially to fastenings. If a dress comes with buttons or hook-and-eye fastenings, but Velcro or magnets would make dressing for the wedding easier, ask if the designer can change this for you.
Most wedding dresses are made at least partly to order, so this is often possible.
Hemline and sleeve length
Look out for long skirt trains that might get in the way of your chair’s wheels, and if there is an option to personalise the train length, consult with the dressmaker in advance to ensure the hemline is suited to your needs and the look you want.
If there is a lot of spare fabric in the skirt of your favourite dress, consider whether you want to get that altered too, or whether you want to pin it out of the way.
Then, consider the sleeve length. If you need plenty of movement in your arms, full-length sleeves might feel too restrictive.
Or, you might want shorter sleeves so they don’t get in the way of your chair’s wheels. There are also designs like off-the-shoulder dresses, which have sleeves but leave the shoulders free, so you might find this gives you a good range of movement.
Statement jewellery and accessories
Having statement jewellery and accessories is a perfect way to finish off a beautiful dress. You might also have pieces of jewellery that are sentimentally important to you, and which you want to wear at your wedding.
But if you’re shopping for new jewellery and accessories, you should make sure they work with both your wheelchair, and the rest of your outfit.
Firstly, if you’re wearing a veil, make sure to also try this on, and check the length against the headrest of your chair to make sure you like the way it looks when matched with your dress.
Ask for the veil to be shortened a little if it’s getting in the way of your wheels, or try pinning it back if you want to keep the longer look.
Then, consider whether you want to keep things very subtle with other accessories, or if you want to make a statement.
You might go for small jewellery that adds a touch of sparkle, or a bigger piece that draws attention. This should be paired with your dress, so the dress and accessories aren’t fighting it out to draw the eye.
A good way to start with choosing necklaces and earrings is by looking at the neckline of your dress.
This is particularly true of necklaces, where you might want to go for a longer chain to suit sweetheart or off-the-shoulder necklines, or a shorter chain to go with a higher neckline.
If your neckline is higher, decide if you are okay with the necklace going over the dress or if it will look neater not touching the neckline. Lastly, deciding on either all silver or all gold jewellery will make your outfit more coordinated and elegant.
When paired with either silver and gold, diamonds make a classic, timeless choice for wedding jewellery. You might go for diamonds for your wedding ring, and add a matching necklace to complete the look.
A wide variety of diamond designs are available for wedding jewellery, so you should be able to find something to suit your neckline and veil, as well as complementing the overall look you’re creating.
Styling the wheelchair as part of the outfit
There are lots of ways to style and coordinate your wheelchair with your bridal outfit, and you can match your wheelchair accessories to your dress. Popular additions for weddings include tulle and rhinestones, as these can be bought in neutral colours like white, cream, and silver to go with the theme of the wedding.
You could also consider ribbons, glitter, and flowers that match your wedding flower arrangements. Just be careful of attaching anything that you can’t take off easily, as this can cause a hassle in the days after the wedding.
So, avoid permanent fastenings and tape — ribbon, tulle and other decorations can be tied onto your chair, which makes for easy removal.
Hair and makeup
And finally, after you’ve carefully considered every other part of your outfit, it’s time to think about your hair and makeup.
These finishing touches are a great way to complement your dress, highlight your face, and give you the perfect glow for the all-important wedding photos.
Many people hire a makeup artist for their wedding makeup, but many choose to do it themselves too. Hiring a makeup artist can feel luxurious, and give a sense of occasion, but you can also save money and get creative by opting to do your own makeup — or you could ask a talented family member or friend to do it for you.
Then, consider your hairstyle, and matching it to your jewellery. If you’ve set your heart on a pair of statement earrings, you’ll want to wear your hair up to show them off. If you’re focusing attention more on a large necklace, you could wear your hair down and the necklace will still be seen easily.
If you are wearing a veil, match this to your jewellery too — and make sure the veil doesn’t completely cover up your earrings. If you’re not wearing a veil, consider hairpieces, flowers, or accessories that will colour coordinate with your jewellery choices.
Getting married is such an exciting time in anyone’s life, and we always want the day to be perfect — our style is no exception to this.
Think about your ideas beforehand, and perhaps create a mood board using Pinterest, or just store images on your computer. Then, take your ideas with you as you look for the dress, veil, jewellery and any decorations you might want to add to your wheelchair.
With enough time allowed for planning, your wedding style can be a fun activity, and another way to make your big day extra special.
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