Life's Special Moments: Father - Daughter Wedding Dance

14 July, 2015

After I got engaged and began planning my wedding, I had to consider how I’d adapt all the traditional elements with my dad to accommodate his wheelchair. My dad was happy to wheel me down the aisle, but the father-daughter dance was a touchy subject. My dad used to love dancing, but had never done it in a wheelchair and wasn’t a fan of the idea. When we finally discussed our options, he admitted he had been planning to creatively avoid it by making a speech and passing the dance on to my then-future husband. I understood my dad’s discomfort, but I had almost lost him in the accident that paralyzed him when I was 12.

"I understood my dad’s discomfort, but I had almost lost him in the accident that paralyzed him when I was 12. I couldn’t give up the opportunity to share this father-daughter moment."

I couldn’t give up the opportunity to share this father-daughter moment. After some discussion (and a little persuasion), he reluctantly agreed to do it, but it was up to me to figure out how.

I had never slow-danced with anyone in a wheelchair before, so although I knew plenty of people in wheelchairs danced, I had no idea where to start. I sent out a plea for advice two months before my wedding, which thankfully reached Diane from Roll Call Wheelchair DanceIn addition to the other tips and words of encouragement we received, she reached out and offered to choreograph our dance. Dad and I took a leap of faith in the form of a 3 hour dance bootcamp and got ready for the big day.

June 6th came fast and after lots of practice we did it!

Sure we had some missteps. Sure my dad had to remind me of our moves. Sure I almost tripped on the hem of my dress. But none of that matters because I danced with my dad on my wedding day. For the first time in almost 17 years my dad was on a dance floor, and we have a memory we’ll cherish for our lifetimes.

Brittany Déjean is a Singapore-based American whose dad has lived with a spinal cord injury since 1998. She loves travelling, dancing and deep conversations and is the founder and executive director of AbleThrive.

Tags: Blog, Parenting & family