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

  1. That cane is beautiful. I hope your wedding is profiled on here! I’m sure it’ll be amazing.

  2. I love the cane! It’s going to look so awesome! And yes to glasses on your wedding day. I’m wearing mine. Amazingly only one person has said something about it, and that person just suggested a few pictures without them. But they’re part of who I am, I refuse to wear contacts, and I can’t see without them and/or suffer migraines if I don’t wear them.

    • I have black plastic frames and feel naked without them. They will be a part of my every one of my wedding pictures because they’re a part of me eveyday.

  3. Thank you so, so, *so* much for using the phrase “proudly disabled”! Your wedding is going to be awesome. You’re a bride, therefore whatever you’re wearing or using at your wedding will be bridal.

  4. How is being blind different from anything else? I have severe adult adhd and my husband is so rebellious that you’d think he was getting paid for it, we weren’t exectly accepted by the wic either. It just goes to show that all of us ‘special’ chics are way more hip than the squares that subscribe to the wic’s traditional way of thinking! I hope your wedding is everything you dream it’ll be and i can’t wait to see the amazing pics!

    PS. That cane would look aaahhhhhhmazing if paired with a funky tophat! 🙂

  5. You rock! You are my favorite person of the week! 🙂 I am seriously inspired by this. I’m so proud of you for sticking by who you are and not falling into the WIC trap. Your glasses are a part of your face. Why would your partner (who loves you for who you are and exactly what you look like) want you to look differently on the one major day he is pledging his eternal commitment and love to you? What a disappointment that would be. You stay true to yourself, the way that you look and the aspects that make you completely comfortable.

  6. That cane is amazing. And since you’re the bride an it’s your cane, then it is officially a bridal cane. Tell that to any haters, and keep being awesome!

  7. I’m not doing traditional – no bouquet toss, garter toss, wearing a costume as my dress- and get funny looks from family, friends, and even people who don’t know me. I’ve been asked to leave forums since ‘no one has such weddings’ and I am ‘not taking [my] vows seriously’.

    More power to you! And to your funny fiancée! This is about your love- who you both are individually and what you make together- and people are INVITED to share and celebrate your happiness. Be happy, be yourselves, and just do what feels right.

    I hope you have a day better than you imagined!

    • P.S.: Just an idea, but what about dressing up your glasses to match your cane a bit? Some gold pinstriping that you can put on a car (and remove later) would tie them together without changing the frames or who you are.

      Just a thought! (I love reasons to change my frames)

      • Believe it or not it was on the knot! I wasn’t kicked out, just rudely told ‘maybe this isn’t the right group for you’. Offbeat bride has been a lifesaver!

        • Andrell! Join the tribe! It’s a great sounding board and support system for us OBB’s. 🙂

  8. I love it! Your “Lord help anyone who says this cane isn’t bridal” makes me a very happy girl. THAT CANE IS BEYOND AWESOME. It is the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. You are one lucky girl to have that cane, and such good friends, and such a cute, cheeky FH.

  9. oh man…you lindy hop? this is me, over here, in awe. i mean, following with your eyes closed is supposed to make you a better dancer, sure, as an exercise. but trusting your partner like that on a crowded floor? you, my friend, are awesome.

      • I feel the same way. Dancing is probably the one activity that when I am doing it I just forget all the crap that is going on in the world or in my life at the time. It may not be dancing for everyone, but it’s so important to let yourself just feel care-free!

        Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is so inspiring to read something from a woman who knows herself, what she wants, chooses to be true to who she is and has the courage to find the way to make it all work, come hell or high water. I needed to be reminded that I can be that woman too…

    • This entire piece was so inspirational, but especially the part about lindy hop! Fiance and I started learning west coast and east coast swing, and blues, and lindy about a year and a half ago and we suck at lindy the most! So amazing that you learned how to rely on your other senses to dance! You and your fiance sound like amazing people and I hope that you have the wedding celebration of your dreams!

  10. Your fiance is hilarious. And lucky to have you. Wishing many years of happiness to you both.

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