The warmer weather and lovely sunshine of the Summer season make it the perfect time of year for a wedding. Weddings are generally a source of joy. They mark an event where two families become one and are often a celebration of love.
When friends and family gather to celebrate a wedding, it’s often a pretty diverse crowd. Most wedding guest lists feature one’s cousins, school friends, co-workers, younger nieces and nephews, grandparents, and everyone in between. Trying to accommodate the needs of all one’s guests is no easy task.
But what happens if some of your guests have hearing loss? If we consider that approximately 12 percent of Americans have some sort of hearing loss, then in a guest list of even 100 guests, about a dozen people are likely to have at least mild hearing loss.
While weddings can be exciting and memorable occasions, it can be difficult to join in on the fun if you can only understand a fraction of what’s being said. This can leave many newlyweds concerned and confused about how to make sure they create an event that’s welcoming and inclusive of people with hearing loss.
It All Starts With a Plan
You’ve been planning your wedding for a while, so think of accommodating your guest’s hearing loss as just another thing to account for. It might seem overwhelming at first, but accommodating someone’s hearing loss starts with understanding their needs.
First things first, make a list of your guests who might need extra hearing support during the wedding. How severe is their hearing loss? Someone with mild hearing loss has different needs as someone who is profoundly deaf, so it’s important to know what support your guests need.
It’s important to be sensitive to people’s privacy and needs, but it can be worth having a conversation with your guests to determine what they generally do to work with their hearing loss and to see if there’s anything in particular you can do to help them during your wedding. They’ll likely know their needs better than you do.
Once you determine who in your wedding party needs extra hearing support, you can start making solid plans for accommodating them. Here are some things you can do:
- Work with the venue managers. If you’re having your service at a place of worship, it’s worth asking if they have a loop system (technology designed to connect PA systems directly to hearing aids) installed.
- Consider seating arrangements. For the service, you’ll want to be sure that people with hearing loss are seated near the front of the audience. If you have a seating chart for the post-service festivities, it can be nice to place people with hearing loss toward the front of the room and as close to the main table as possible.
- Provide a written text of the service and reception. It’s nice to provide a written text of any ‘speaking’ portions of the wedding, like speeches, readings, and vows. This allows people with hearing loss to follow along with ease.
- Hire an interpreter, if necessary. If any of your guests are profoundly deaf or are predominately ASL speakers, it’s highly recommended that you consider hiring a certified interpreter. While this is an additional cost, your deaf and hard of hearing guests will sincerely appreciate the very kind gesture. ASL users generally get forgotten at large events and are often left unaware of what’s happening, so hiring an interpreter can mean a lot. It’s best to have a conversation with these guests to figure out what’s best for their needs.
- Have a hearing loss-friendly reception. There are a number of things you can do to have a hearing loss-friendly reception, many of which tend to be small details that are easily arranged. Tall centerpieces are not great for people with hearing loss as they make it difficult to read lips across the table, so ask your florist for a shorter alternative. Also, it’s worth finding a venue with good lighting, so people who need to read lips don’t strain themselves to do so in a dimly lit room.
Hosting wedding guests with hearing loss doesn’t have to be a negative experience. With some foresight and pre-planning, most nearlyweds can accommodate the needs of their guests with hearing loss so everyone can join in on the fun.