I wanted to kick off my accessible wedding series through featuring a company that is very close to my heart. Grace and Brad from Keeley Films (@keeleyweddingfilms) are the couple who were the videographers during Richard’s surprise proposal. If you’re new to this blog, first of all I want to welcome you of course, but also show you the full proposal post where all of those juicy details are revealed (https://disabledtravelwithgeorgina.com/2020/11/16/my-surprise-proposal/).
Weddings are a huge deal, some people see them as a major life event and it certainly is a significant commitment to your future spouse. Wedding planning is a daunting struggle at the best of times but Richard and I are also planning our celebration in amidst a global pandemic AND with a bride whose fluctuating health conditions make all forms of event planning challenging at times. The reason I wanted to write this detailed wedding series was really to be honest about the difficulties that a disabled bride, groom or partner might face throughout their wedding planning process. A wedding should be perfectly suited to the tastes of the couple but ensuring a venue and your vendors are perfectly suited to the limitations and abilities of that couple can add an extra layer of challenge into the mix. I love supporting small businesses and the wedding industry has been particularly hammered by the effects of the pandemic but I also want to support vendors who have a focus on inclusion and are helpful in making our day as perfect as possible, in despite of my collection of 16 complex chronic health conditions!
When I first became a wheelchair user, I often hid my mobility aids from social media. I have spinal nerve damage that causes severe pain so I can stand or transfer out of my wheelchair. When I visited Disney Paris with my sister, I stood and hid my wheelchair so much that I was in agony and couldn’t enjoy a section of the last day of the holiday. I think the wheelchair became a symbol of my new, “sick” body that needed adaptations and help. I’ve come a long way since then and really want to represent the beauty of my wheelchair. To me, it is my freedom to explore and to move around independently, it is my freedom to power around whilst holding Richard’s hand. I wear glasses to help with my sight so why did I shy away from showing this mobility aid that helps me to move around? This reluctance to share these images was just internalised ableism as I felt less beautiful and less strong when showing the chair. The truth is though that my wheelchair actually shows the strength of my body which continues to carry me around in the face of pain, sickness and fatigue. This wheelchair represents the respect and love I have for my body for doing this, making me more body positive and true to myself. My disabled body deserves representation online and I now love sharing inclusive photos that truly represent the reality of my current health and mobility. My love story deserves sharing as much as the next couple.
This is why I loved my experience with Keeley Wedding Films (@keeleyweddingfilms); Grace and Brad created such an emotional video with us and treated us with the same welcoming, friendly faces that they would show to any couple. I loved that they managed to showcase these small, intimate moments like the way Richard instinctively puts his hand on my shoulder as we wheel around or the way I look at him. As soppy and wet as that sounds, it’s the little things that I loved seeing during the filming rather than watching posed, static moments that have been forced by the videography team. My body can’t do everything that an abled person can do and I really appreciated how comfortable I felt around Grace and Brad. They were so friendly and were conscious of my body’s thresholds. I personally struggle with bumpy, rough terrain or with overly energetic movements due to my nerve pain and Keeley Wedding Films honestly went above and beyond to ensure the shoot was accessible and inclusive. I had such a great experience with them, please go ahead and check their website out! (https://www.keeleyweddingfilms.com)
I asked the lovely videographer, Grace, to spill her secrets as to how she always manages to make clients feel endlessly comfortable and she said:
“I’ve never liked being on camera myself, it’s part of the reason I’ve ended up in a career behind the lens – growing up I was always the one taking the photos to avoid being in them! Now I have filmed hundreds of people, and honestly the vast vast majority of those people have always said how much they don’t like it and how awkward it makes them feel! What I’ve learned with experience is that’s okay, it’s normal!
So often our couples will say to us, we don’t want to do any awkward posing or make it look unnatural – and my response is: me neither! I’m all about capturing the real emotions, and natural moments as they unfold, and that’s to going to happen if people feel awkward or worried.
For me, being a good videographer isn’t just about knowing my camera settings, it’s about making the people on the other side of the lens feel as comfortable as possible to get the most out of them. That usually means a little bit of direction and guidance, and lots of encouragement!”
Comfort is key for me and my pain and fatigue-based conditions but it goes without saying that there is a huge number of factors that you consider when choosing a videographer. These include things like package prices, length of time you’d like recorded, vendor availability on your chosen wedding date and also the recommendations and feedback from people you know or those online. All of these things are so important to consider and how you weigh these up will differ for every single engaged couple. Beyond the conventional things that every couple probably considers, there were a few things I looked for that I think relate specifically to accessibility when I was researching our videographers.
Diverse, Comfortable Couples
Grace has become a good friend of mine since she filmed our surprise proposal and that is what I would search for in a videography team; not only someone who I love the creative shooting and editing style of but also someone I can relate to and feel comfortable discussing the things that my body does differently to those of other brides or grooms. This diversity is immediately something that I look for in videography websites – even if they haven’t shot an event including disability, I want to know that they’re prepared to “step outside the box” and move beyond the same clips that videographers shoot across the country. That ‘walking towards the camera holding hands’ moment is beautiful but it’s nice to see videographers that show clips of the couple in natural, dynamic moments that aren’t posed. I love to see comfortable couples who are at ease with the people behind the cameras as this allows them to capture the dynamic and spark that the couple have together.
This is really important for every couple, whether chronic illnesses are involved or not. Communication is really key for me when I book any vendor but especially those that will be following us around during the wedding event itself! I love to see vendors that include all of their social media details and pictures of the team members on their sites as this makes reaching out to them easier on any app and adds a personal connection to the experience. It’s really great to see that a videographer gets back to couples quickly too, obviously making sure that you are reasonable and understand that the videography team also have a life outside of their work. Even the most laidback partner might be searching for answers to specific questions that only relate to their event and aren’t covered on the website so these replies from the vendor are vital. I think communication is even more significant when there are disabilities within the couple as it’s essential to discuss what sort of movements and shots are comfortable for you. Every person’s body is different and chronic illness can fluctuate every day so it is wonderful to find a videographer that is as friendly and understanding as Grace as this allowed me to communicate openly about the things I find difficult or painful.
Going the Extra Mile
There are certain things that you pay every videographer to do that, hopefully, go without saying. You want the team to film that first kiss, the journey down the aisle and the thrills of a confetti strewn exit. I think one of the reasons that I clicked so well with the team at Keeley Wedding Films was how far they went outside of their official job description. Grace used her bubbly energy to distract me from any nerves I had whilst being a model for a bridal promotion shoot and Brad was such a calming presence, helping all of the other suppliers out to fetch items and generally make everyone’s day smoother. This obviously wasn’t a real wedding ceremony but was just a promotional shoot for the suppliers to use in their marketing but I think the same concept will definitely apply when I am hunting for the perfect videographer for our wedding. I would love to book a team that make our day simpler through their personalities but also through helping out with bits and bobs along the way. If one of my bridesmaids forget their bouquet (I’m looking at my little there haha!) and we’re about to film a fun shot of us throwing the flowers into the air then I would love a team I can depend on to be happy to grab that or to find a stress-free way to work around any problems that crop up throughout our wedding day.
A videographer that is accessible to me might not be your personal preference or might not work for your disability/ chronic illness but I hope that this post has allowed you to consider the factors that make these vendors more inclusive. Feeling comfortable is of paramount importance on my wedding day, whether that is comfort with the rapport with the videographer or that is comfort in terms of them being aware of how my body may move and function differently. My personal thoughts are that a team that communicate really well with me and are happy to “think outside the box” to problem-solve if any issue pops up that is disability or general wedding related is so important! Plus, I love seeing diverse couples and filmography represented on a website where possible – show me that you care about our love story whether I am a beautiful disabled bride or a stunning abled partner!
Thank you to all of my wonderful subscribers for all of your support with the new website launch! My blog posts may still be slightly sporadic as I’m battling with worse health than I’m used to so thank you for being patient with me and inspiring me to keep reaching out. I love all of the emails and social media messages I’ve received and I appreciate all of the support for my health and the website launch – I promise I am slowly getting around to nattering to all of you!
As always, feel free to drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to reach out, or follow me on Instagram @disabledtravelwithgeorgina. Thank you to Grace from @keeleyweddingfilms for your videography skills during our proposal and also for the help with this post. Check out their website for more info – https://www.keeleyweddingfilms.com.
Engagement Shoot Credits (Instagram)