I had a few concerns. If you have a child with CP like Elena, you know what I mean. Will I find appropriate shoes that will stay on? Will she be able to carry a flower basket? Will she fall? What is the terrain like (is there a fabric runner, or is it on grass)? Will she need to stand for a long while? My most immediate issue was what will I do with her crutches? As you can see, they are hot pink. Not traditional wedding appropriate.
I brainstormed for a long time in my head. I settled on using ribbon. I figured it wouldn't fray, and I'd twist it around or make a "tube" with it and hand sew it. I settled on wired wide white ribbon, just to see if it would take shape. It did, sort of. But it was thin, so the hot pink still showed through. I ended up using double-sided hem tape--LOTS of it. First I'd tape the crutches, then I twisted the first layer of ribbon around them. I put on more tape, and wrapped another layer. The crutches sort of looked mummified. I then sewed double-ply fabric flower trim around the crutch joints (where the ribbon wouldn't take), wrecking a whole lot of needles in the process because they ended up being coated with the layers of hem tape underneath. Still, overall, I was pleased with the look--with the exception of the dirty arm cuffs, but I forgot all about planning for that. Now all I needed was for her to keep these white crutches CLEAN for two days (day of the rehearsal and the wedding). WHICH SHE DIDN'T, b/c she got them all dirty at recess--she left them on the ground and kids (including her) walked on them while catching cicadas. A little laundry detergent and water saved the day (WHEW).
|you get the idea|
As for shoes, I wanted a thick-soled white mary jane flat that had LOTS of buckles and/or straps to try to keep the shoe over her sure step AFOs. That didn't really exist, so I settled on a very low heel (since she was on her toes anyway, her gait didn't look too bad) and one strong (but thin) strap. There wasn't much to choose from. I considered trying to get her orthotist to alter the heel of her shoes (since she has a leg length discrepancy, and we do this for her regular shoes) but I didn't have time. Elena's foot came out of her shoe a few times, but after we strapped it REALLY tight (it didn't hurt her foot b/c of her AFO) it seemed to be set.
The terrain was outside (gulp). The procession was down an old, uneven, sometimes crumbling brick walkway (double gulp). It was relatively flat, but problematic for Elena if she wasn't paying attention. She knew she was supposed to smile and look forward as much as possible, while staying safe--she knew the walkway could be trouble.
Neither Elena nor Vivian carried a flower basket (we had been practicing carrying a basket on her crutch and using the hand to throw things out of it). Melissa decided the girls would wear flower crowns on their heads instead of throwing petals--I was actually quite happy about that, given the brick walkway.
Everything seemed in order. The rehearsal went well, but it was hot--SUPER HOT AND HUMID. E seemed comfortable with the flower girl duties, but not the heat. Then it rained. Then it got cold.
REALLY COLD. It was 60 degrees and WINDY--compared to they day before, it was downright frigid. After breakfast that morning, we took the girls to Gravelly Point--a great place to get close to airplanes as they take off from the airport. It was pretty cool.
|Fast and loud|
Then we all got ready for the ceremony--major excitement on Elena's part. Vivian was tired (I knew this might happen), so we packed a few snacks just in case.
|Me and my girls|
|Dressed up beauties|
I decided we'd take off the girls' sweaters (not part of the flower girl uniform) and they'd have to be cold for a few minutes. They ended up putting on their sweaters during the ceremony. No biggie.
|Waiting patiently--this room was warm|
The photographers requested no cameras at the ceremony--which makes sense, no one wants their wedding pictures to have photos of all their guests taking pictures with their phones! So I don't have shots of the actual ceremony. If I get any digital copies, I'll put them up here. Elena was AWESOME. Super great smile, walked slowly, didn't fall, and walked nice and tall. Just perfect! Vivian walked a little fast--but she was totally adorable, especially when she wanted to stand with the bridesmaids (she did, until she got too cold and she put on her sweater). Needless to say, the ceremony was beautiful, and I couldn't be happier for my brother and Melissa. They are a perfect match.
|Heading to the reception!|
At the reception, my camera ran out of battery life. The girls (especially Vivian) worked the room and talked to family and friends. They both loved the photo booth and seeing everyone all dressed up! I was hoping that they would last until the dancing started. I got one dance with Elena--she was extremely tired and I held her. Vivian was already asleep upstairs at that point. A few moments after our dance, Elena went up to join her. It was a very special day--but by that point, both girls were pretty exhausted. Jason put them to bed while I got to catch up with family and friends, which was great fun.
Congratulations Andy and Melissa! Thank you so much for allowing us to be a part of your big day!