What Special Needs Can Look Like at a Wedding

My friend Kim’s girls were excluded from a family wedding and it’s caused a whole heap of pain for all involved. What were the bride and groom afraid of? Most special needs parents are not going to let their children disrupt a special occasion. We will get our kids out of there pronto if things aren’t going well. We live on hyper alert. We’re not here to ruin special occasions, but we would like to be part of them.

I grew up with a boy in my extended family who has Down Syndrome. He is one year older than me. He was ring bearer in our wedding. What he brought to our special day was joy multiplied. Was there a chance Jack would do something unexpected? Yes. And I had point people assigned to him just in case.

The people there loved him. He was in his glory. He had the best day. Jack did his ring bearing duties beautifully. He let out a huge WOO-HOO! when the priest said, “You may kiss the bride.” He made the reception even more fun with all his dancing, at one point landing himself in the middle of a huge circle of cheering fans screaming, “Go Jack! Go Jack!”

We gave him a copy of the reception video, and he took it back to his group home and played it incessantly for months. 

Just thinking about it again, I have goose bumps. It makes me happy, to think of him so happy.

How sad that some choose fear over love. Weddings are stressful. People get caught up in wanting to control every detail. But what’s more important, having the perfect wedding? Or¬†valuing the perfection in everyone you love.

 

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11 Responses to What Special Needs Can Look Like at a Wedding

  1. Meg says:

    What happy pictures from your wedding! You are so right – love needs to be stronger than fear. Being included – isn’t it what we all want, special needs or not? I get a little weary of the “it’s our day and we want it to be perfect” mantra of the affianced these days. It’s about family, people; it’s not just about YOU!

  2. kario says:

    And can I just say that there is no such thing as a perfect wedding? If you can embrace the uncertainty as well as keeping your eye on the prize (the purpose of the day as it is), you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.

    I am so sad for Kim and her family. I can only hope that it won’t affect future family interactions. Thanks to you for speaking up for what you believe in!

  3. GB's Mom says:

    Beautiful post. My special needs daughter was a flower girl at her grandparents wedding. She did beautifully and has those wonderful memories that can not be taken away. She did not last the whole reception, but we say when she was approaching overload and left. I feel so bad for Kim and her girls.

  4. Jamie says:

    I could NOT agree more – one of my bridesmaids became preggers three months after our engagement which placed her very near her due date when we got married. I had told her that I didn’t mind if she stepped out if she thought it would be too much, she said she wanted to be in the wedding party but understood if I wanted her to step out. I caught a lot of grief from folks that because she wore slippers (which matched her dress perfectly) and because she was soooo huge she ruined my wedding pictures and wedding in general. It makes me think just thinking about those lines of thoughts. I cannot imagine how anyone could ever think this way!!!!

  5. KFuller says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

  6. danielle says:

    A friend of mine who worked in a group home when she got married invited one of the residents who has Downs Syndrome. He was in his GLORY – probably the absolute best day of his life. I got goosebumps when she told me the story. Love makes the world go ’round :)

  7. Carrie Link says:

    Made me cry thinking of him watching that video over and over…

    love.

  8. Dee Ready says:

    Dear Michelle, All the comments here say exactly what is in my mind. Thank you for posting this story which surely does show through picture and text that happiness comes from being part of the whole.

    I feel sorry for Kim and her family. And sorry also for those people who seek perfection and trample the feelings and joy others trying to find it. As Kari said, there isn’t perfection in any wedding–nor in any aspect of life.

    I wonder if at the end of life anyone will regret not having a “perfect” wedding?
    I suspect their thoughts will be about a kindness that wasn’t shown and about the failure to appreciate that we are all a community of differences and that it is in finding how we are alike that we find ourselves.

    Peace.

  9. Betsy Hicks says:

    My family lives far away and they never seem to know how to approach my 18 year old son, Joey, but being in a huge family, and having many nieces and nephews getting married, they all make sure that the wedding situation is suitable for Joey. They all tell me, when choosing the reception hall, they always think of, “How will Joey do here?” It’s kind of a turn around from above because, in need of a break and having to travel for the wedding, I would love to occasionally attend without Joey, but they all work so hard assure his happiness, that I feel obligated to bring him.

  10. Amanda says:

    I just couldn’t beleive it when I read about Kim – how will the bride feel having to answer all those people asking why her brother isn’t there? I hope she feels the shame of excluding them.

    My two girls were flower girls this summer – severe autism, intractable epilepsy and all. They did a brilliant job doing their bit, even piping up “Aww Jen!” when the bride blubbed doing her vows.

    At the second wedding this year the bride invited the girls but said she understood if we didn’t want to bring them as it was going to be really crowded. We decided not to take them as they just wouldn’t have been happy but the bride made sure they each had a favour and she saw them right before the big day.

    Wounded as Kim and Mark will be, it’s the bride who will lose out. I hope all the messages of love and support for them will be a comfort in some small way.

  11. amber says:

    Amen, beautiful.

    ;)