Blind women get married too

Guestpost by Elsa Sjunneson on Jun 1st

I am completely blind in my right eye. I'm super nearsighted in the left. Not allowed to drive, no depth perception, limited peripheral vision, and calcium deposits in the right eye that cause me migraines if I don't wear a scleral shell. To the left is what my eye looks like when I wear the clear shell that I have. It is my preferred way of going about things. I do have a painted shell, it makes my eye match my other one, but after twenty-five years of having mismatched eyes, matching feels weird and untrue to myself.

I carry a white cane. It helps me to warn sighted people that I can't see them, since I lack all the things I mentioned above. Furthermore, it has made my life better. I can look around and not stare at the ground. The cane has changed my life.

So what does this have to do with weddings? It has everything to do with my wedding.

Families can have a specific picture in their head of what a bride will look like; people on the street will even have images in their head. I am not that picture. It is no one's fault though, it's the fault of the Wedding Industrial Complex. The WIC likes to project the image of a bride to be one specific thing, possibly so that we all try to look like their models. Which would be why I've always envisioned myself as having an "offbeat" wedding.

I am not wearing a veil, because I know that it would prevent me from using what peripheral vision I DO have. I am not wearing a white dress, because I would not be able to see the detail on my own dress. I am walking down the aisle by myself because the idea of a bunch of people on either side of me and one person really close to me makes me very nervous.

And this doesn't really get across with some people.

Within three days of becoming engaged, I had already been told that I shouldn't wear my glasses, because they're not bridal. I was told my cane wasn't bridal. I was told my eye (featured above) was not bridal.

And I realized that if I was going to be "bridal" in their eyes, I was going to have to change who I am. I am proudly disabled. I am the blind woman who moved across the country by herself to live in New York City. I am the blind woman who has done sword fighting and parkour. I am the blind woman who loves to lindy hop on a crowded dance floor — and I will not change to meet what the Wedding Industry believes is bridal.

When I was told that I shouldn't carry my cane, my fiance's comment was this:

Him: I think you would look very pretty walking down the aisle with your cane.
Me: But it'll be a flat aisle, right?
Him: Actually, I was thinking speed bumps and broken glass!

My glasses are a part of my face. And he loves my face. So they stay, too. :)

When a vendor commented that they weren't comfortable with a guide dog (even though I don't have one), or when another venue told me that they were impressed with my typing skills and asked if I was the "helper" for the bride, we chose not to hire these people because they were not supportive of who I am, or who we are as a couple. I am so glad that my fiance chooses to combat my frustrations with laughter, and to support the decision to never give our money to someone who doesn't get the fact that blind women get married too.

So, what did I do about the cane, you might ask? Well, a very dear friend of mine Michael Angelus Salerno made me this cane:

This is the Steampunk White Cane aka, "The Steamcane." And lord help anyone who tells me it's not "bridal." I will carry it with pride on my wedding day.

Updated to add: be sure to check out Elsa's wedding profile!
Down the Aisle

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About Elsa Sjunneson

Elsa (Tribe member Snarkbat) is a burlesque historian and performer (second generation burlesque performer!). She just received her Master's in Women's History, she's an ardent feminist, and is a disabled woman who enjoys referring to her white cane as a "thwacky stick of destruction."

http://offbeatbride.com/2013/03/new-jersey-dinosaur-wedding