It’s Neurodiversity Celebration Week!

This week is Neurodiversity Celebration Week, a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences, so what better time to bring up providing services to those who are neurodiverse than now. For those of you unsure what neurodiversity is, very simply it’s the variation in human brains leading us to all think differently, some more so than others. Neurodiverse conditions include ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia and tourette syndrome amongst others. If you consider yourself to be neurodiverse or neurodivergent and think this blog post is looking a little long, rest assured there’s a Tl;dr at the end you could always skip to!

Neurodiversity and weddings

I don’t see much conversation around diversifying the wedding industry to make it more welcoming and approachable to couples where one or both might be neurodiverse. There’s been a lot of discussion, particularly over recent years, that the UK wedding industry has a history of being white and heteronormative focused. I’m pleased to see so many suppliers striving to change that and make wedding planning a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone. Making accommodations for couples who might perhaps think slightly different to what we might expect is another great way to help make that happen. 

I myself am neurotypical (as far as I can tell, though my husband thinks I show certain signs of being neurodiverse too!), but from having plenty of neurodiverse friends and colleagues in my life I know how important it is to be inclusive of different people’s wants and needs. Whether that’s being open to particular levels of planning or scheduling, keeping space for quieter moments, or being able to be direct and clear with communication. Accommodations we make for people who consider themselves neurodiverse can end up helping a wide range of people including those who are neurotypical, as well as those who might have a disability or chronic illness, whether it’s visible or invisible, or those with mental health issues. 

For my own wedding we chose a venue that had multiple rooms available for us and guests to use, rather than one large room playing loud music. This allowed people to enjoy a dance and then escape to somewhere quieter to talk or have a moment to vibe by themselves, which my friends (and husband!) have expressed was very helpful for not getting overwhelmed the whole evening.

At my friends’ weddings it means taking my Loops, a type of earplug that filters noise, so that as the night goes on I can keep dancing or being in the same spaces as my friends even if the music feels too loud. Without the Loops I’d start getting anxious about my hearing, so this allows me to stay focused on enjoying my time without that extra worry.

Photo by Brightsight Photography where you can see me wearing my very on-brand coloured Loops!
Photo by Brightsight Photography where you can see me wearing my very on-brand coloured Loops!

Accommodations during planning

Being a part of other people’s weddings as an independent celebrant means that I can curate the whole process from start to finish myself, doing whatever works best for each couple! Every couple hopefully gets to know me fairly well as I get to know them too, so hopefully they trust me to help them have a wonderful ceremony that they can enjoy. 

In the planning process accommodations might look like:

  • Information presented in a way different, perhaps through bullet points or infographics, including changing up the fonts or colours used.
  • Curating how many decisions a couple needs to make or providing all the options that are easy to choose from, to help limit decision paralysis or fatigue (a very real problem I started to reach when planning my own wedding!).
  • Communicating in a way that best suits the couple, whether it be by DMs, emails, phone calls, video calls, etc. As a young millennial I myself am slightly adverse to phone calls, particularly if they’re in an official capacity and feel important. So when I say “how about a call” that might make some couples nervous, even if they know that speaking might be an easier way to discuss ideas. If I work with couples who game online (video games or TTRPGs) I nearly always suggest using a Discord call instead of Zoom or a phone call, because that’s what I know they’re likely to all be most comfortable with. It’s all about finding the process that works best for each couple and their own comfort level, which can apply to everyone.
  • Talking through the Couples Questionnaire if asked, rather than leaving a couple to fill it in by themselves. 
  • Visiting the venue together or going through a rehearsal, to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the plan and knows what is happening.

To some these may seem obvious, but it can be really helpful to know what is possible.

Natalie stands in the doorway of a traditional red telephone box, holding the black phone to her ear and with a big smile on her face.
Photo by Kirsty Rockett Photography, who also made the bracelet I'm wearing that is great to fiddle with!

Accommodations on the wedding day

On the wedding day accommodations for the ceremony may look like:

  • Seats for the couple during the storytelling aspects of their ceremony, or throughout if needed.
  • I always suggest couples hold hands which can help to ease nerves, but you can always have something to fiddle with on hand too. 
  • Particular formatting of the vows for ease of reading.
  • Offers or suggestions of another person reading the vows in the ceremony, or even suggesting private vows together during another part of the wedding day.


In Summary...

Having a wedding and getting married can be an anxious time amongst all the happiness and joy. Planning a wedding is a lot of spinning plates and moving parts, may include possible family drama or financial stress, and for some people the wedding day itself may include their first time ‘public speaking’ in front of so many people in a long time. So the more I can help my couples be comfortable for the creation of and during their ceremony the better!

All this is to say that if you’re a couple working with me and at any point on your ceremony journey with me you feel you need any adjustments or would like to work with me in a slightly different way, please just say and I’ll make sure to do what I can so that your ceremony journey is a smooth and enjoyable one! And if you’re a fellow wedding industry colleague I’d love to hear your take on what you do to make your services accessible to all couples, as we want everyone to have the absolute best wedding day possible.

I’m hoping to catch more sessions this week from the Neurodiversity Celebration Week schedule, as I am always trying to continue my learning journey and help make the wedding industry and the world as inclusive as possible! If you watch any too feel free to drop me a DM to chat about what you found interesting.


The promised Tl;dr

I talked about why accommodations for neurodiversity could be useful to all couples, how I’ve helped my ND husband and friends in my own life, and suggestions of accommodations during the planning of a ceremony and the wedding day itself. 

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