Richard and I have been happily married for over a year now but when Quirky Weddings asked us to feature their accessible wedding fayres, we were so excited! Throughout our wedding planning process, we came up against so many access barriers for myself and my guests. These began right at the start of the planning process with even wedding fayres not being necessarily fully wheelchair accessible or inclusive. I was so excited that a wedding fayre (and wedding awards) company who works across the UK were asking someone with lived-experience of disability for help to include everyone!
A wedding fayre, for those lovely followers who have never heard of one, is a fun event where wedding suppliers and vendors create stalls or booths to showcase their craft or products. For example, at the Quirky Wedding Fayre in Sheffield there were suppliers such as jewellery designers, photographers, event planners, florists and even a wedding entertainer who read your mind! These sort of events are really fun to show prospective brides, grooms and future spouses the sort of suppliers who work in their area. Some suppliers work across the UK (often for the cost of travel fees) but others are absolutely better to source locally due to them transporting your products to the venue on your wedding day. These are suppliers such as florists or bakeries often.
The vibe of this wedding fayre was really vibrant and bustling; I loved the energy of the suppliers and how involved the couples became in viewing their products. There was everything from cake samples to try, dried floristry to take as a gift and photos to view of previous work. Some of the suppliers had absolutely gone above and beyond to ensure everyone could participate in the discussion about their services. For example, we met Vicki Clayson Photography who had accessible features such as photos printed in a hardback album for those who have sensory needs (it’s easier visually to view that than a brightly coloured framed photo which may reflect the light through the glass front) and also an iPad showcasing her work so you could zoom in on certain shots if you are partially sighted or blind. The iPad was also a great accessible feature for those that perhaps had a large manual wheelchair so struggled to pull up directly beside the stall. I also loved to see Jojo’s Vegan Bakery present as it is so important to include guests with dietary requirements in your meal planning process.
Despite it being a busy and bustling event, I did find the venue of the Quirky Wedding Fayre in Sheffield (The Furnace) to be really accessible. There was plenty of space between each stall for me to wheel around in my manual wheelchair despite how popular the fayre was with couples viewing each stall. As with any busy area, I did have to ask a few people to tuck themselves in as a I passed in my wheelchair but that was absolutely no big deal for us. The terrain was flat inside the venue and there was level-access to both floors. It was a lovely, brisk autumnal day when we visited so this was not an issue for Richard and I but you did have to exit one floor and leave the building for an exterior ramp to enter the floor below/ above unless you could manage stairs.
On the top floor of the venue, there was an accessible toilet. This had the red emergency pull cord all the way to the floor but it may have been hard to reach in the event of a fall since it was located between the toilet and wall. You could easily perform a side-transfer from your wheelchair onto the toilet and the sanitary bin was within easy reach of a seated position on the toilet. There were plenty of grab rails to support transfers and there was even a mirror placed within the bathroom (you would be surprised how many disabled toilets don’t actually have a mirror present!). There was a baby-changing table within the disabled toilet but this was securely fastened against the wall and did not impact my transfers or wheelchair movement.
The exterior of the disabled toilet did have a very cool wheelchair icon utilising shadow to showcase the location of the disabled toilet. Despite how fun this sign was, it was easy to miss and also would be very difficult for the visually impaired to locate.
All of the passageways and entrances were left clear so I could easily access all of the venue in my manual chair with no issues. The staff were all so friendly at the fayre venue, particularly the Quirky Wedding staff member at the entrance who welcomed us into the venue and checked our tickets. She was very informed about the venue’s access and told us the location of the accessible toilet and how to exit and then re-enter the building to go through the second storey of suppliers on the ground floor.
We were also thrilled to receive our goody bags upon entering the building. These included really fun contents such as a disco ball keyring with a “Badass Brides Club” acrylic insert, the Quirky Wedding magazine for inspiration during your wedding planning, a unique “Wedding Planning Mug”, sunglasses and fun snacks such as lollipops and edible straws! The magazine is also available digitally if you utilise screen readers or need to zoom into details. The edible straws were a really fun touch as many disabled people use these to access their drinks and they are also very eco-friendly which I love to see! Perhaps I would suggest a little card within the tote bags with allergens listed for edible elements and also I would love to see a gender-neutral option for the pencil case and keyring that use the word ‘bride’. Perhaps a fun slogan such as “Future Spouse in the House!” or another gender neutral term. Then the welcome staff member could ask whether you have any allergens and whether you would prefer the contents of your goody bag to include gender neutral terminology. I also loved the fact that we were given a glass of prosecco with this ticket as an engagement is certainly a big thing to celebrate!
I loved that the Quirky Wedding Fayre was located right by a NCP car park which had Blue Badge parking spaces. You could easily wheel around the surrounding terrain in any form of wheelchair or with alternative mobility aids. The online events did include access information that the venue is accessible but perhaps a little more detail would be even better (e.g. level-access entry, large accessible toilet with grab rails etc). I am thrilled that the Quirky Wedding Fayre team have included this information!
Thank you so much to the team at Quirky Wedding Fayres; it was such a fun day out for Richard and I. Plus, it is wonderful to see a country-wide company represent those in the quirky, alternative communities whilst also being inclusive! The wedding industry have so far to go in order to become truly inclusive so it’s just wonderful to see how much the Quirky Wedding team cares about all future brides, grooms and spouses!