Blind women get married too

Guest post by Elsa Sjunneson
Photo of Elsa aka Snarkbat by Stephanie Jones Photography
Photo of Elsa aka Snarkbat by Stephanie Jones Photography

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!

Comments on Blind women get married too

    • Ditto what Laura said 🙂

      And I completely get not going with vendors because they don’t get the decision to not fall in step with outside expectations.

      • Totally! You’re paying the vendor, which means that they’re working for you. I’m not paying someone who is working for me to do something other than what I want. I hired you, I’m the boss. Employees do what the boss asks.

    • WOW. That’s a whole lot of people that agreed with you.

      *blushes* Thank you!

      • Honestly, I kinda wish I could have a cane like that for my wedding (not blind, just steampunk-loving). Kick ass!

  1. You rock, I love this post. My best friend is legally blind and I know at times she struggles with the same issues. But she is one of the strogest and most awesome people I know and your story reminds me of her. The best weddings are those made by the happiest of people and almost never fit into whatever image is portrayed out there of what a wedding and bride “should” be. Ignore the nay-sayers, they apparently have no idea how awesome your wedding is going to be.

  2. You are amazing! I’ve been wrestling with whether I’d like to do glasses or not, but they are apart of me, and they’re likely to stay. I’ve seen so many beautiful brides on the site with glasses.

    I would love to know more about Snarkbat, but the link is only for Tribe members. I hope we get see your wedding on the site!

      • Ms. Sjunneson, you are awesome!

        I love this: “My glasses are a part of my face. And he loves my face. So they stay, too. :)”

        I’m not blind, but I have bad eyesight. I wear glasses and have done so since Grade 1. So does my man. He loves my face, and I love his. Sometimes our glasses click when we kiss or hug. I think it’s a wonderful sound.

        So many people, vendors and loved ones included, have asked us “you aren’t wearing your glasses in your wedding photos, are you?” It irritates me to no end. How about asking “aren’t you going to dye your hair / get a tan / have cosmetic surgery so you can look pretty in your photos?”. No, I’m not drastically changing my appearance for one day so I can look “bride pretty”. We’re just dressing up a bit. I want to look like me. I want to recognize my husband.

        My man and I are wearing glasses at our wedding, in wedding photos and probably for the rest of our lives. We both want the wedding photos to reflect who we are, not a “picture perfected” version of ourselves.

        Sure, we’re wearing nicer clothes and I’ll have my hair done. But to take our glasses off would be a far too drastic change. We wouldn’t be “us”.

        Ms. Sjunneson, I’m so glad you aren’t giving into all the “photogenic bride” hype. Thank you for your integrity! It makes me feel more confident about my choice.

        • I plan on wearing my glasses at my wedding too! I’ve worn glasses every day of my life since I was 12. I’m 30, and not about to take them off just for one day. My glasses are my trademark, I am not taking them off to look “bride pretty”. But considering I have dreadlocks and tattoos, i don’t think too many people expect me to be “bride pretty” 😉

          • YAY! Bespectacled brides FTW!

            One thing I WILL do with my glasses is to have them re-adjusted so they sit correctly on my face. This pair seems to not want to hold the adjustment on one side : (

        • I’ll most likely be wearing my glasses, too. I have too much face without them. Does that make sense or do I sound crazy just now?

        • I asked my partner to at least try to wear his contacts for the wedding. He only wears them rarely because the old ones he had were dumb. He’s going to test new ones to see if they’re more comfortable, and if he hates them I’ve promised that I’m not pressing the issue. But we fought with a lot of issues regarding glare & tinting on his particular glasses with our engagement photos, and there are already a lot of issues with photos due to my disabilities and his distractibility and a somewhat tight timetable. Plus his eyes are gorgeous and pictures NEVER capture that with his glasses on. Putting him in contacts, assuming these new ones are more comfortable, is just one of the multiple ways we are managing the situation to set us up for success.

    • Yay bespectacled brides! Personally, I’m planning on finding another pair of kick ass glasses to wear that will coordinate with my ensemble a little better. But I normally rotate between a few pairs, so it doesn’t feel weird to me to wear another pair. If you usually wear one pair, there’s no reason to feel un-bridal for wearing them. I’m sure they look awesome on you, so why would they look any less awesome on your wedding day?

  3. You sound amazing! I wish you the best of luck on your wedding and I look forward to seeing it on here too!

    As a side note, with the comment by a vendor about a guide dog, is it even legal in the US for them to not serve someone because they have a service animal? It really seems like it wouldn’t be…

      • props to you! That was totally my first reaction–so not cool! I hope you show the offbeat empire your wedding, I am sure it will be beautiful. OH! And I totally dig the steampunk cane.

      • Did he say *why* he had a problem with it? I’ve definitely seen some people who are so afraid of dogs they just *shut down* and curl up in a ball, or worse, try to attack the dog even if it’s not acting threatening.
        …OF course, some people just hate dogs, not to mention telling you that without even inquiring if you HAVE a dog is lame. “oh you’re blind? I now know everything about you, and decide you’re not what *I’m* looking for” -lame.
        So if the white stick is “thwacky stick of destruction.” What shall you dub that awesome wedding cane?

        • Well, even if someone is afraid of dogs the ADA is pretty strict about allowing for mobility accomodations which a guide dog IS. That being said, they said it was for health board reasons not for fear reasons, which is not cool.

          Secondly – the cane is named the Steamcane 🙂

    • That’s what I was thinking! I was completely shocked that a vendor would even suggest it.

      Also rock on with the lindy hop. My heart gives a little swoon for my fellow swing dancers 🙂

  4. The part about the speed bumps and broken glass had me laughing my guts out. I do want to see/hear more about your wedding!

    I had never thought about it before, but clearly being blind, or even physically disabled in general, is the best litmus test for awful to work with vendors. If they can’t accommodate a bride with functional requests, you clearly can’t trust them with aesthetic requests.

    Also, how can your eyeball not be bridal!? It seems to me the eyeball of the bride pertains to the bride. How ridiculous.

    • That jumped out at me too! “Your eyeball isn’t bridal.”

      “Your ankles aren’t bridal.”

      “Your left ventricle isn’t bridal.”

      Absurd!

      • It’s the same concept as suggesting an engaged woman lose weight, solely because she’s getting married. Really? How did one little ring make me look so fat to everyone I know?

      • Your left earlobe isn’t bridal!

        I think everyone on OBB needs to start using this format to throw joke insults at other.

  5. You rock! Your wedding should be exactly the way you want it, however that may be.

    I have a friend who’s lost 90% of the vision in one eye; she’s a bellydance instructor, so her solution to the issue has been to create her own line of custom eyepatches. Check her out at http://www.oneeyedjills.com!

    • Oh that is awesome!

      I’ve got a friend who has a glass eye and she’d probably love these. She doesn’t need an eye patch but she’s always up for fun ideas and some of those look truly fantastic.

      • Sometimes it’s nice to have an option other than the insert; I also have a friend who has a prosthetic eye, and there are times it’s simply too painful for him to wear, so I do get it.

        • I wish I could wear eyepatches. Unfortunately, I NEED to wear my glasses all the time, and eyepatches and glasses don’t really mix…

          • Snarkbat!
            You could wear an eyepatch and a monocle!
            now there’s a bridal look for you 🙂
            x
            Mich

          • Actually, Holly (of One-Eyed Jills) has the exact same issue, so she’s working on making designs specifically to be worn *with* glasses, if need be.

          • They make sticker eye patches. My mom’s done daycare for a young child with strong eyeglass prescriptions, and they had to give her a patch to correct her lazy eye, which she wore under her glasses. Granted, they aren’t as fancy as the ones from think, but nothing a bit of rhinestones couldn’t fix!

          • You can get eye patches that slip over your glasses, there is a slit on them where the wing of the glasses go through. I saw a little girl wearing a GORGEOUS pink leather one the other day :)!

  6. I made a lot of similar choices, but for aesthetic or personal reasons, rather than practical — I wore my glasses, didn’t have a veil, had a dress that was as much green as white, and my husband and I walked toward each other from either side of the front of our (outdoor) venue rather than having someone walk me up an aisle to where he was waiting.
    Fortunately, most of our choices weren’t questioned (or at least not much) by our family, friends or vendors, and afterward even guests who said they hated weddings said they loved ours (and they sounded surprised and honest, rather than pandering).
    So don’t be afraid to make nontraditional decisions just because you want to, whether there’s a practical reason or not!
    Also, *awesome* cane!

  7. That’s a gorgeous cane, you’re going to rock it. It’s like decorating or getting an awesome wheelchair for brides who can’t walk down the aisle at all…the point shouldn’t be shedding who you are but gussying up who you are and what you want/need for your day. I hope you find more vendors who “get it” and that your wedding goes wonderfully.

    Also, I know some people who’ve gone without glasses for their big day, but my take is to wear them if they help you see it better. Better to see your wedding.

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