This week, as part of our LOVEROCKS💍 campaign (our mission to inject some much needed diversity in to the wedding industry), we are talking about disability (or being differently-abled) and the wedding industry.
Last year, we were fortunate enough to meet the absolute dreamboat that is Joy - a Rock the Frock bride who uses a wheelchair.
Joy contacted us, along with multiple other boutiques, via voicemail. In her message, Joy explained that she is a full-time wheelchair user and was looking for a wedding dress. "If you could help I'd love for you to call me back," she said. And we did. Nothing surpising so far, I'm sure you're thinking, but wait for it - of all the boutiques Joy contacted, we were the only one that called her back.
We won't dwell on why that is, because we don't know and we never will. The point is, we were lucky enough to have Joy come and see us and she really does live up to her name. We had a wonderful time with Joy, finding her her perfect dress.
All images by Emma Case Photography
We recently caught up with Joy, and here is what she had to say about her experience...
I went to four shops (before finding you) who wouldn't even let me look around. I was just told 'there's nothing suitable for you here' and, essentially, sent away. One even took the time to explain to me that, for me to come in, they would have to apply to the council to borrow a ramp! Basically, it would be too much work for them just to help me through the door.
I called LOADS of boutiques before you - I only managed to speak to one directly and as soon as I mentioned my chair the conversation was basically over.
I'd all but given up hope when I found you. I thought I'd have to wear my dressing gown or something! I has started looking for fancy kimonos, but that wasn't what I wanted. Thank god I found you.
I'd found one place in Birmingham, but I was dreading the journey to get there, knowing I'd need to go a few time for fittings, etc. Then I found you - I was so pleased. You had dresses that I loved, your shop was completely accessible and you were more than happy to have Jim [Joy's husband] in too, to help me in and out of my chair.
We had such a perfect day. My wonderful carer of 30 years, who recently passed away, told me, "I didn't expect you to look this beautiful" quickly followed by, "not that you don't always!" I'm so glad I have that memory of her.
Of course the day didn't go completely smoothly - we both forgot to take the rings! Luckily, our friend who's a taxi driver ran to get them from the hotel (the registrar told him he had 25 minutes to get them back and did it in 15). It was a bit stressful, but Jim's ring was his mum's - he'd had it engraved and resized - and it was too important to him to carry on without it.
I had my chair all done up and after the ceremony, when we were on our way to our reception, people kept coming up to us and congratulating us. It was so lovely. One woman who spoke to us told me it was her anniversary -18 years of happy marriage, and she wished us the same. It really was the perfect day.
Tilly [Rock the Frock Essex's awesome seamstress] was fantastic on the day - I was so worried that any one other than the Rock the Frock team wouldn't get me in the dress just right. I wanted it to look just like it did when Tilly helped me dress and she, very kindly, offered to come and help me. I'm so grateful to her. And to you all.
Definitely crying. We love you, Joy! <3
When it came to alterations, Tilly tells us that there are some differences in altering a wedding dress for someone in a chair -
The most fundamental difference is that the front needs to be shorter, or at least it did for Joy - every body is different! The most important thing was making sure the dress wouldn't get caught up in wheels or tangled in foot-rests, and Joy wanted to be sure that her calipers were covered. I created a toille first, so we knew just how the dress should fit before altering the dress itself.
Really, it was just the same as any other alteration - it was all about making the dress fit perfectly, which is what I love!
Beyond that though, we added some details for Joy because being seated did mean that some details of the design was lost. We added pearl buttons on the sleeve and I made a belt, which fastened at the side, rather then the back so it wasn't uncomfortable for her. I also made Joy a garter from off-cuts of the dress.
Dressing Joy on the day was an absolute pleasure - she's just such a wonderful person, I wanted to help her any way I could!
Whoever you are, we'd love for you to be a Rock the Frock bride - because we think your #loverocks.