So to steal/paraphrase a few of Jane Austen’s words “yes reader, I’m going to marry him” (well it’s close enough eh….?) Yes, the fabulous P and I are getting hitched! After two and a half years of sheer hell, we wanted to make 2017 a year of positive focus and decided not to it put off anymore, we really need something positive to concentrate on and boy will this be a task and a half…..!
Put together a hunt for a venue for a very special occasion, a very small budget and a whole heap of accessibility needs and we were definitely in for a big adventure!
To begin, as my life often does these days, I started at my keyboard scanning the internet for suitable places, preferably in the Abergavenny/Brecon/Monmouth areas. As I typed the words “wheelchair accessible wedding venues” into Mr Google, the words “wheelchair accessible” or “disabled rooms” weren’t something I was seeing all that often so for each venue, I went through their websites with a virtual tooth comb. The majority of them had absolutely nothing mentioned at all, no access statement, no accessibility statement, nothing at all so after a load of phone calls with the same result “sorry, but due to the age of the building, we find that wheelchair access isn’t available” or the ever present classic “oh yes, it’s wheelchair accessible, there’s only a few steps“, I felt slightly deflated. Undeterred and determined to find something, I struggled on, more scanning, more phone calls, more and more frustration. Eventually I found two (yes, TWO venues in the whole of three counties!) venues that had decent access, accessible bedrooms and suitable wet rooms. At this point, budget wasn’t top of the list as anywhere cheap was inaccessible and everywhere expensive and classy was completely inaccessible. So appointments were made for us to view and hope that maybe one of them would fit the bill.
The first was a real find actually, it had recently been refurbished and had an air of freshness about it. The wheelchair access was ’round the back’ (why do I have to always go round the back? Why can’t I just go in the front door like ‘normal’ people..?) but it was an easy wheel in and everything else was on one level. The function room was upstairs but they’d just installed a brand new lift so that was no problem. For this special occasion, the ‘special occasion room’ (oh for goodness sake , let’s just call it the bridal suite shall we…?) wasn’t available because…. yes, you guessed it, it only had a couple of steps up to it (what a surprise!) so that was out but a different and actually really nice room on the ground floor next to the lift was offered in exchange. Everything about it felt new, fresh, clean, shiny and inviting so we really thought we’d found THE place.
Filled with thoughts of shiny chrome fittings and chairs so new they still had their tags attached, we visited the ONLY other place which seemed to tick all of our boxes. Now this place was the polar opposite, old and wedding-worn with a smell of experience and safe hands plus, it had an entrance I could actually use, nice! We had the usual tour showing us the big room, the bar, the all important toilets and the guest rooms. Now whilst this place didn’t have a lift, all the downstairs rooms were lovely and the outside cottage suite was to die for, a bedroom, bathroom, plus a living room so my heart was slowly turning in its allegiance. The main area of the hotel was all on one level, no ramps, all easy access and the main room was stunning. The late afternoon sun was streaming in through the huge windows reflecting off the seemingly hundreds of mirrors on the walls and Pen y Fan, our favourite mountain could be seen through the mist. We were captivated but also concerned; the word ‘budget’ that had taken somewhat of a back seat now started shuffling to the front and was demanding answers. Answers that I was terrified would leave us exiting the building with disappointment and sunken hearts. But then appeared the Lovely Laura, who calmed our fears and worked with us to find a compromise that ensured we were all happy. Who would’ve thought eh? A fantastic venue, an acceptable budget AND completely wheelchair accessible! (Well, I say “completely “, there are steps onto the grassy area and there were a few places that needed an extra ramp so it’s not “completely ” accessible but hey, my chair doesn’t too so well on the green stuff anyway and nowhere’s perfect and I LOVED it so to me, hell yeah, it’s accessible….!!)
So with bundles of information, hand written notes and an agreed compromised budgets we emerged with huge smiles on our faces! The job I thought would be so so difficult was done! A wheelchair accessible and completely beautiful venue for our very special day was booked!
Now I just have to sort out all the other things that come with a ‘second time around’ special day; the usual list of photos, seating plans, hair and makeup and most importantly (and probably most challenging) what the hell does a ‘second time around’ wheelchair user bride WEAR …….!!!!
That hunt is to follow, wish me luck, think I’m going to need it………..