Here are 5 Ways to have a Neurodivergent, sensory-friendly wedding in Philadelphia

Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Being neurodivergent doesn’t mean you can’t have the wedding of your dreams. You’re getting married! Congratulations on embarking on this fabulous journey. You’re excited to plan what will be a magical day spent with the love of your life and make it a memory to look back upon for ages. Whenever we think about weddings, we see large parties, gorgeous decor, and grand-scale celebrations fit for royalty or beyond.

Some might assume this is the wedding you’re hoping to have, and maybe it is! Yet for many, the mere idea of the wedding itself is nerve-wracking. If you’re like me, you’re not one for being the center of attention, even if that’s the entire point behind a wedding. You want to celebrate something to commemorate the day you chose to make a vowed commitment with your significant other.

What if I told you that you could get married the way you want? You can have a relaxing wedding that moves at your own pace and without the whirlwind of chaos that a more significant event might bring. Whether you have sensory needs, social anxiety about crowds, or just someone who prefers an intimate arrangement over a large one, throwing a wedding doesn’t have to be stressful. With the rise of awareness of those who are neurodivergent, now it’s easy to create something that caters to your mental needs and provides something that makes getting married not the most stressful day of your life but the most enjoyable.

Your mental health should be just as important as enjoying your wedding day.

I am sure you have heard the saying that one needs to make sacrifices to get things done. I’ve always found it somewhat demoralizing to sacrifice the security of feeling happy so that others can enjoy something with you. When it comes to weddings, the question of who will attend is always raised when friends and family are in your life. What seems like just a few immediate family members transform into nearly two to three hundred people from all stages of your life, some of whom you have never met!

Hey, you don’t have to succumb to these methods of celebration if it’s not your preferred style. You don’t have to throw a big ceremony to make it official, and there’s no reason family and loved ones can’t support your decision to do things differently.

There’s no reason you can prioritize your mental health during one of the most important days of your life—the wedding with your life partner. It’s not a trend; it’s a movement that I think everyone should start embracing.

The last thing we want is a wedding that doesn’t feel like you can enjoy. If you or your partner falls under this umbrella, talking about ways to make the experience smooth and relaxing is essential to planning your day. It’s okay to want to get the most out of your wedding without sacrificing your mental well-being. Because let’s be honest, weddings can be stressful! I say this as someone who has witnessed plenty of weddings feel like a marathon where the only time the couple could relax was when they escaped to their

I am here to give you some validation that it is entirely okay to want to make a special day a comfortable and relaxing experience instead of something extremely stressful to the point of sensory overload. While doing this, I have realized that elopements and micro-weddings are some of the best methods for couples who fall under this umbrella to get married.

I want to share some thoughts on why you or your partner can find a way to make this day enjoyable with a focusing care on your mental well-being.

It’s possible to have a neurodivergent, sensory-friendly wedding in Philadelphia.

In August of 2004, my husband and I got married in a small family church with only a few in attendance. My wedding was not what I may have imagined, but the overwhelming love I felt during it will never be forgotten. I remember feeling bad that it wasn’t huge like most traditional weddings. I constantly told myself I would throw a bigger and better one a year later.

That was almost twenty years ago; my husband and I have yet to do it. Do I still want to? Oh, of course! I have been dreaming about renewing my vows now that we’re hitting a significant milestone in the coming years. I also want to change the one thing I regret not doing at the time—hire a photographer! The fact that I did not have one is a decision I regret even now. I won’t make the same mistake twice!

I recently recalled seeing this viral TikTok of a couple who shared their sensory-friendly wedding! It was a perfect example of a neurodivergent wedding ceremony and how you can make it your perfect day and still have a wedding that makes you and everyone around you happy. I loved that they took breaks, used earplugs, and even sat with their friends and family instead of in the front where everyone could see them. I related to that so much and loved they did what I wish I had done for my wedding day. Now that I know I can have a wedding that meets my needs, I fully intend to explore that when and if I consider renewing my vows!

Here are 5 Amazing places to have your Philadelphia Elopement!

There’s something so special about intimate weddings that I cherish and love when I’m given the chance to do it. People with sensory issues with large crowds, loud noises, or an abundance of attention can find an alternative avenue that lets them enjoy their big day in their unique but intimate. Your wedding having less than ten people isn’t sad, it’s excellent! And even if the couple getting married is just you and your partner, I feel those pictures will still matter for you both to look at years from now.

There’s a strong reason why I am such a fan of micro-weddings and love the explosion it received during the height of the pandemic in 2020. They are the most sensory-friendly ways a couple can get married and allow you to enjoy the wedding elements while being attentive to your unique needs. For those of us who are neurodivergent, you can now find methods to make your ceremony fit your needs and not sacrifice your health in favor of celebrations that can overstimulate you. Elopements and micro-weddings in the Philadelphia area are possible and something I’m happy to help you with in planning.

Here are five ways you can have a neurodivergent-friendly wedding:

  • Consider doing a micro-wedding or elopement! This is perhaps the biggest suggestion I can make as someone who is neurodivergent. Big ceremonies are fantastic when you want to do it big, but smaller ones are just as beautiful and perhaps even more rewarding. You can go at a pace that isn’t rushed and drink in the day the way it was meant to be enjoyed. Large numbers are not everyone’s favorite. If the idea of noise and being surrounded by people for hours seem draining, then maybe a micro-wedding can help with that!
  • A smaller wedding can be a great compromise to letting your family be part of the moment. Some people dislike Elopements because parents or loved ones express wanting to be present in what they see as a monumental change happening in your life. A benefit to micro-weddings is that you still get the smallness factor of an elopement but can include your close loved ones without sacrificing the privacy and intimacy of your day.
  • Take as many breaks as you need during the day. If you plan on doing a more extended ceremony, the overall day can be a lot if you’re unprepared for all the elements that make up a day. There’s getting ready, putting your outfit together, getting prepped, doing a first look, traveling to the ceremony, getting bridal portraits—so much! If you have already planned your wedding and going smaller isn’t an option, consider making breaks to take a step back and breathe. Escape into your bridal suite, or maybe take a walk around the venue area (great for pictures).
  • Consider earplugs or something to lower the amount of sound during the day. If you already have your wedding planned and can’t locate an ideal area for little noise, try wearing earplugs to lower the noise level and keep you grounded. Large wedding parties can be thunderous, especially if you have a sensitivity to sound, so use whatever method you find helpful to lower the volume of the festivities.
  • Set expectations and boundaries before your day. It will not make you a Bridezilla to have specific wishes during your day. I made a mistake once of not realizing a bride wanted a wholly relaxing and calm experience during her wedding day, mostly because I wasn’t present when she expressed this to her party. I only learned afterward when my assistant and I discussed arranging her details. Please ensure you communicate to your wedding party and the vendors what you want to see during the day. If you want your wedding day to be calm, quiet, and serene, express that. Vendors, including photographers, should be happy to accommodate and make the experience enjoyable.
  • Finally, your mental health should come first for your important day.

My goal for this year is to compose a list of sensory-friendly wedding venues for neurodivergent couples getting married in the Philadelphia area. I know of some great haunts for beautiful locations that are not population heavy for those who might have anxiety with crowds or public spaces, quiet and relaxing areas for those with sensitivity to loud noise, and provide support in getting you comfortable in front of the camera.

I get it, we all get nervous, and sometimes it’s more than just being awkward! Over the next year, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on navigating neurodivergent wedding planning and some of my favorite places in the area in hopes that other neurodiverse couples getting married can find it as a helpful resource in their wedding day planning.

Getting married doesn’t have to be mentally draining (literally and figuratively), so letting a professional help you with the process is a definite must if you are neurodivergent and getting married in the Greater Philadelphia area or anywhere in the world.

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