Kirsten Ott Palladino hearing-impaired editor Equally WedTo look at me, you might not think anything is wrong. But I’m hearing-impaired. I wear hearing aids in both ears. I hear 9 percent of sounds in one ear and 25 percent of sounds in the other. When I can’t hear what people are saying, I feel isolated and alone. It’s tiring to continue to ask people to repeat themselves so often I just smile and nod because I’m exhausted.

When people like me attend events, there are ways you can be accomodating. And since you might not know if a hearing-impaired person is attending your wedding, I recommend you just do these things anyway. Here are five tips to make your wedding more inclusive of hard-of-hearing or deaf guests.

1 / Wear mics during your vows and have a mic for toasts and speeches. Everyone who came to the wedding desperately wants to hear what is being said, and not everyone speaking is an expert at projecting their voice.

2 / If you anticipate deaf people (whether they’re invited or their plus-one is deaf), plan for a sign-language interpreter at the altar and at the reception for vows, speeches, performances and announcements from the DJ or band.

3 / Having a socially distanced event during the pandemic? Offer clear masks to the guests so people who are deaf and hard of hearing can read the lips of everyone else.

4 / Playing a video during the reception? Add captions so we can enjoy the show too.

5 / If any hard-of-hearing or deaf guests are attending, make sure to offer them (and their plus-one!) a reserved seat in the front row of the weddingso they don’t miss a single word.

photo of Kirsten Ott Palladino by Heidi Harris, photo of two people signing the word love by Sincerely Media