Weddings are a time of celebration with the people that you love and who mean the most to you, and you want them to be able to enjoy your day as much as possible. If you have someone attending your wedding that has dementia, there are some ideas you may want to consider that may help support them to enjoy your special day.
For some people living with dementia large social gatherings can present challenges. It may be a day where they are expected to remember faces and names of people they may not have seen for some time and a day where the normal routines of life are interrupted, which can cause higher than normal levels of stress. High levels of stress and anxiety can make it even more difficult to remember things and to process information about the environment. The following are a few suggestions that you may want to consider to reduce stress and anxiety on that big day for someone in your life who has dementia:
Create a quiet space
Weddings can be busy, noisy and overstimulating at times. One way to reduce anxiety is to reduce the amount of stimulation in the environment from time to time, so if possible, have a small designated “quiet room” near to the festivities where someone can retreat for a bit if they begin to feel overwhelmed. Make sure that your guests are aware of this provision, as you may have other guests who struggle with prolonged social events. You may find such a space is appreciated be a number of your guests whether or not they have dementia.
Have some memory supports in place
It can be daunting during these events to keep up conversations when someone has anxiety about remembering names and faces. One way to ease this is to provide a table seating chart for the individual with dementia which has the names of people seated around their table. It may also be really helpful to have someone sitting next to them who is aware that they may need an occasional prompt, and who is able to carry the conversation when the person with dementia becomes tired.
Whether it is during the wedding ceremony or the reception consider reserving seats for the person with dementia that enable them to hear and see well, but also allow an easy exit route if the person needs a break or a comfort stop. It may be helpful for this exit or signage to this exit to be in the person’s line of sight when seated.
You may want to enlist the help of a select family member to accompany the person with dementia throughout the day. They can focus on supporting the needs of the person with dementia on the big day. It is often important to have one person who does this on the day, as it is easy for the person with dementia to fall through the cracks when it comes time to take pictures or during times of transition during the day. It is also something that will provide you with more peace of mind, as you will know that they have someone available to them who can help them should they need it.