Neurodivergent Wedding Planning
I am currently in the process of planning a neurodivergent wedding. (It’s my own wedding, I didn’t change careers again.) It is as exhausting as everyone says it is and we hired a wedding planner to do literally everything. Through this exhausting process, I’ve noticed there are really only a handful of articles discussing neurodivergent wedding accommodations or how to have a sensory-friendly wedding. So I figured I’d do what I do best and add my unwarranted opinions. Read on for some of my neurodivergent wedding ideas.
From the Beginning
Pretty much the first thing we did was hire a wedding planner and opted for her full-service plan. Not only will she haggle with vendors enough to cover most of her fee, but she also saves me from having to make dreaded phone calls. If I was the one who had to contact vendors, check dates, schedule and wait for phone calls, I would spend entire days stuck in waiting mode and get absolutely nothing else done. I would be consumed by research and looking through Pinterest and Instagram. For that reason alone she is worth every penny. However, she offers another crucial service. She will handle any restaurant reservations or anything else my family needs the weekend of. This is particularly crucial given I’ll have family flying in from America. Again, worth every cent.
Another consideration I made was with our engagement photos. I know not everyone has such an opportunity but I still want to mention this. If you can, get a neurodivergent photographer to do your engagement photos! I’m lucky enough that one of my good friends is an amazing photographer and happens to also be neurodivergent. It made the day so much more fun and comfortable. It helps so much to have someone aware you might need some quiet breaks, if you don’t like to be touched, or that you may need lighting adjustments.
This day was super exhausting though. From that point, I knew I needed to be aware of actively taking more downtime. With my alexithymia, I often don’t realize I’m drained until I’m actually beyond drained, sick, generally a hot mess, and need time to recover. The last thing I want to do is blindly pump my way through wedding planning only to be exhausted and in meltdown mode by the time my family starts arriving. Thankfully, my friends are used to me not being particularly social so they’re supportive and understanding.
Saving Our Sanity
Here are a couple of things we are not doing for our wedding in order to save our sanity:
- Not having a wedding party.
I have never enjoyed being in a wedding party. There is always drama because everyone is exhausted, drunk, and hasn’t had enough time to eat. There’s usually tension because of varying financial situations and the expectations put on people asked to be in the wedding. Add in jet lag and vastly different cultures and just no, I’m not doing it. Half of my best friends are currently pregnant on a different continent anyway. For those who can make it, I asked them to be involved in different ways. I still want them to get ready with me obviously. I also asked them to wear dresses within a certain color palette. I gave them a large, easy color palette to choose from and that’s as far as dress coordination will go. In fact, I sent them each this:
- Not registering for gifts.
This is actually the norm where we live but I’m forcing it on the Americans who are attending. Here, wedding guests give cash in an envelope they leave in a (locked) trunk at the wedding venue. The amount varies depending on how close the relationship is with the bride or groom. It can be admittedly confusing to navigate but not any more confusing than registering for gifts???? Okay, I know it’s not really that confusing to register. But it is tedious and time-consuming and just wearing out more of my decision exhaustion that’s already exhausted. That much exhaustion will very likely just lead to bickering between me and my fiance. Where is the fun in that? No thanks, I’ll just register a Honeyfund for the people who aren’t comfortable with the cash situation.
Neurodivergent Wedding Venue Considerations
There are, of course, multiple sensory considerations we made when it came to picking our venue.
1. I wanted a venue that was completely outside.
I love to dance at weddings and most of my friends and family are the same way. At indoor venues, the sound is so much more intense and often ends up frazzling the neurodivergents and there’s nowhere to escape without separating yourself from the wedding or going home early. We will be having absolutely none of that. I also didn’t want a setup where dancing was outside and eating was inside. Not everyone wants to dance the whole night but they should be included and able to hang on the periphery and watch the entertainment without having to be in a separate location.
2. Fairy lights are necessary.
I was likely to hoard in fairy lights to any venue we picked but luckily, we found a beautiful venue that already has an amazing fairy light setup. The softer lighting is so important, not just for the way it creates a romantic atmosphere but for the sensory relief they provide as well. A confession: I’m of the autistic type that tends to like strobe lights and lasers so unlike a lot of the other advice you see about autistic-friendly weddings, I will not be banning the DJ from using those. They will in fact be, encouraged (to an extent.)
Consider Having Quiet Areas
Have a Chill-out zone!
I want everyone to feel included in the layout but also don’t want to force them onto the dance floor. Dance parties can be overstimulating so it’s important to us there are cute sitting areas where people can take a break. Did I mention I’m obsessed with our venue? Not only is it stunning, but the layout of it naturally includes some quiet areas. Fruit trees and vines cover the venue, creating natural nooks where we can put additional seating areas. We’re also planning to have a nargila (hookah) lounge area for our guests who want to socialize and relax that way.
Neurodivergent Wedding Food Considerations
Food is often a difficult area for neurodivergent people, especially when overwhelmed. Here are two things I’m doing to accommodate my neurodivergent eating habits.
- Designated eating time.
I often get distracted and too overwhelmed to eat at weddings so knowing that everyone warns you to remember to eat on your wedding day, I know I need to be careful. My wedding planner will have a designated time when she demands we stop and eat before the ceremony. This is something she usually does anyway but she’s aware of my spicybrain situation and how vital it is she doesn’t let me flutter my way out of eating.
- Buffet style.
I can be a picky eater so the limited options that come with served meals often don’t suit me and waiting for other things while dancin’ music is on is too much for my impulsive self to resist. I tend to fare much better if there’s a buffet. Served meals at weddings often come with three bites of vegetables they’ve tried to make look as fancy as possible. That’s great and all but if I don’t like the rest of what’s on the plate, I’m in for a long night. With a buffet, I can fill up on the things I actually like or if I’m overwhelmed at the moment, I can pop over and graze whenever I don’t like the song. Buffets: good.
Give Yourself a Break
Pre-Reception Break. We have a post-ceremony break built-in for us but I strongly recommend it for non-Jewish weddings also. Jewish weddings require the bride and groom to spend some time alone together after the ceremony before heading into the reception. Yes, some couples use this time to ahem, fulfill their biblical requirements, and others use it to eat after being too nervous to do so before the ceremony. For others, it’s a nice ten-minute reprieve from their parents and new in-laws. Venues here have built-in rooms for this purpose so it wasn’t something extra we had to look for or coordinate.
And there you have it. All the neurodivergent considerations I’m making while planning our wedding (so far.)
Any suggestions I missed or questions you have about planning a neurodivergent wedding? Leave your thoughts in the comments!