I am planning a wedding with a disability

Brides is committed to guiding ALL couples not only through their wedding planning journey, but also through the stages of the relationship and the ups and downs. Every love story is beautiful, has its own distinct story and its own trials – no relationship is alike. To celebrate this uniqueness, we’re asking couples to talk about their romance, for our latest column, “Love Looks Like This.” Below, Samantha Mannis tells her love story.

After more than five years together, I knew I wanted to get married quickly. My health was getting worse, and I said [my partner] I wanted a reminder that he would be there for me on my swollen sausage little finger. A few months later, he surprised me on the beach with the ring I had been coveting: a vintage Cartier pink sapphire from the 80s. It was unlike anything I had seen and reminded me of our first discussions in line: talk about our love for cheesy 80s music.

My love story doesn’t necessarily look like the ones you see in bridal magazines: all in sepia, rose petals and pressed gold leaf. Most of the time my fiancé and I get out of bed and start the day with sharp pains. But, we get by, usually with leftovers to go, a laugh, a game of tennis, and looking forward to our next activity or weekend getaway. While it’s not a perfect bridal paradise, it is a wedding. And, it’s undeniably two people madly in love.

To be perfectly frank, my experience of romance — and the world in general — hasn’t really encouraged me to be myself with all my bumps and bruises. When I first started dating, the idea of ​​me, a chronically ill and disabled woman playing the romantic lead, was mostly met with skepticism, anger, ableism, and a lot of rejection.

Yes, it’s true. I am planning a wedding while living with disabilities and health issues, some diagnosed and others to be determined. It comes with immense joy, privilege and fear all at once. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s not all tulle and inspirational quotes. There are still marriage inequities for people with disabilities in the United States, and I constantly struggle with the fact that if my medical condition improves, I may not be able to afford the care I need. It can be hard to keep this in mind when trying to plan for one of the best days of your life.

But, we get by. Like many people with disabilities, my fiancé helps me with more than wedding planning. He takes me to doctor’s appointments, picks up my meds, and his butt has been in way too many hard doctor’s office chairs and dirty emergency rooms than the average pre-30 year old. It can also be a huge pain in my ass, but what’s a little peach pain between two souls in love?

We had talked in the past about doing something small abroad in Sicily (we both have Sicilian heritage). But after a long and isolated pandemic, that dream began to change. He wanted to share this moment with his big family and an even bigger group of friends. I didn’t want to have to worry about a destination wedding with a very long flight, away from home and the doctor’s office (at least not for a more stressful event like a wedding, which I was planning myself) .

So when my fiancé suggested we get married in Vegas, I immediately laughed and dismissed the idea. That could never happen there, could it? Vegas? The place we go a few times a year to get away, see our favorite musicians and comedians, go back to beloved restaurants and play poker tournaments together. How could we have a serious life event like a wedding in our beloved Vegas?

To our surprise, most of our friends and family were thrilled to receive our Vegas save the dates! They understood why this is a great place to celebrate our wedding: catalogs of Elvis officiants, accessible to us and our friends and family by plane or car, a plethora of hotel options, and above all, a place that my fiancé and I enjoy spending time together.

To our surprise, most of our friends and family were thrilled to receive our Vegas save the dates! They understood why this is a great place to celebrate our wedding: catalogs of Elvis officiants, accessible to us and our friends and family by plane or car, a plethora of hotel options, and above all, a place that my fiancé and I enjoy spending time together.

My fiancé and I are planning this wedding because we do a lot in our lives: together, with shared responsibilities, combining our strengths, and bringing a lot of ourselves and our passions into the process. No, unfortunately there won’t be any quick-change shows or piano acrobats… but Elvis is still in discussion.

Courtesy of Samantha Mannis


A lot of things come up during the planning process: what music we want during the reception (lots of pop punk, oldies, eighties, and an overall mix of great jams), whether the hotel we’re staying at is accessible to me (someone one with physical disabilities), and if there is room in the budget for designer shoes to go with the dress I have chosen, which can be specially modified if I gain or lose weight during the process of planning. When I talked about it with my able-bodied friends who recently planned weddings, they said they had had similar conversations with their fiancés. It’s funny how the demands of a disabled bride don’t stray so far from anyone else getting married: we all have things we need and want on our wedding day!

Although there may be some fear for the future surrounding my moment of joy, I certainly feel lucky to be able to roll the dice while advancing for myself, the representation of persons with disabilities in the media and the marriage equality for the disability community. I hope my story can encourage others to try their luck with someone different from them in life or love, whether it’s with a relationship, an opportunity, or speaking up for a worthwhile cause. To me, that’s what love looks like. No doubt about it.

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