Consideration for wedding guests with autism

Heidi Reid of ‘Glorious by Heidi’ shares her tips and advice to help couples consider and accommodate wedding guests with autism

I’m Heidi, a UK based wedding accessory designer and Mum to a young woman with a dual diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome and autism.

As a family we know the difference it makes when we’re invited to an event where our daughter’s unique autistic profile has been considered and adjustments made to make her feel comfortable and in control. 

Ava and Heidi

Common Triggers

Events like weddings or work dos can prove unfamiliar to someone with autism and although people with autism differ in their profiles, there are common triggers to their anxiety which are often present at celebrations. Sudden, unexpected noise, unfamiliar people and places, activities or food, can put someone with autism under stress, making them feel uncomfortable and sometimes scared.

When inviting someone with autism to your wedding there are some simple steps you can take to make them feel more relaxed and in control.

Share the timetable

Sharing the timetable for your wedding day allows your autistic guests to choose the moments when they might want to absent themselves or take action to prepare themselves for triggers to their anxiety such as sudden loud noises. 

Champagne corks being popped, whooping and cheering during the speeches or the start of the evening entertainment can be very stressful for autistic guests. 

If they know when those things are happening they can either opt to temporarily leave the space, ask to be supported by someone during that spell, or take other action such as wearing ear defenders to obscure the sound.

Provide familiar touch points

A simple ‘You’ll be sitting next to your cousin Lily,’ ahead of the day can provide calm for your guest. If you know the disco is going to present a challenge, give them the opportunity to choose their favourite song from a few options for the tune that the DJ kicks the party off with.

Arrange a visit to the venue

Arrange for your autistic guests to visit your wedding venue ahead of the day at a time when the venue is quiet,

Give them opportunity to explore the venue to discover where toilets are, where parking is and whether there’ll be any specific triggers such as high ceilings or echoey spaces. This can help alleviate anxiety ahead of the wedding. 

It would also help if your guest could meet any key members of staff who will be present on the day.

If an in-person visit can’t be arranged then photos of the interior, exterior, the rooms you’ll be using and staff, can also work to prepare and reassure your guest.

Be mindful of sensory issues

Some autistic people find certain types of touch or physical contact overwhelming. It’s worth asking your guest if they have any sensory issues, especially if that guest will be taking an active role in your wedding. 

If you have a bridesmaid with autism they may struggle with the touching involved in having hair and makeup done. If this is the case you could look at adjustments like inviting them to do their own hair and makeup or maybe have the touching broken down into short periods with a timer set on a phone so they know how long they’ll have to cope for. 

To take their focus away from the touching arrange a sing-along to a playlist of their favourite songs.

Quiet areas for time out

Many of the triggers that lead to episodes of extreme anxiety for wedding guests with autism are around sensory overwhelm. Giving your guest the opportunity to escape the hubbub of your celebrations can mean the difference between them feeling able to stay at your wedding or needing to go home.

Ava and Heidi at Villa Park

Ask your venue ahead of your wedding day what comfortable, quiet spaces are available for your wedding guests with autism to retire to if needed. This might be one of the bedrooms or the bridal prep area. Wherever it is, ask that it doesn’t have other elements that might exacerbate anxiety such as strong scents or a speaker that could suddenly have loud music piped through it.


Food issues are common in people diagnosed as autistic. Some are sensitive to smells and tastes preferring to only eat bland food whilst others may need the sensory stimulus of strong tastes.

As with all these points it’s worth asking your guest if they have any issues around food and if they do, adjust accordingly. If required, you could ask your caterers to prepare a specific meal for your guest or explain to the venue that this guest will bring their own food.

No queuing

Being made to wait or queue is another common trigger for autistic people. This is often because the concept of time spent queueing can be too abstract. ‘How long do I have to wait?’ for example. This can cause sensory overload when standing in a line of people who are laughing, talking loudly, wearing strong perfumes.
To avoid this trigger appoint someone as ‘official queue jumper’. Someone whom takes your guest to the front of queues for food or the bar, quietly explaining why if needed.

Spare ear defenders

Ear defenders are a lifeline to someone who is autistic. They are used as a barrier to noise or by providing reassurance by simply being available if needed. If your autistic guest doesn’t own a pair or forgets to bring theirs, having a couple of spares to hand will help prevent sensory overload.

No pressure to join in

Make it clear to your wedding guests with autism that there will be no pressure to take part in things that make them feel uncomfortable. If they’d rather not be in group photos that’s okay. Don’t want to join the conga? No shame!

Check in after the invitation is accepted to ask about triggers

As the saying goes ‘if you’ve met someone with autism you’ve met one person with autism.’ Although there are common triggers to episodes of anxiety for people diagnosed as autistic, like everyone else they’re individuals and won’t share the same traits as another autistic person. Check in to identify any specific issues your guest might have with your wedding celebrations and plan accordingly.


Ava is an artist who already has several art exhibitions under her belt. When she’s not painting, Ava works as a Swimming Helper teaching children to swim

Heidi Reid is a Cheshire based wedding accessory designer. She is the owner and head designer at ‘Glorious by Heidi’.

Heidi is Mum and full time carer to her 21-year-old daughter Ava who has a dual diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome and Autism.

Heidi is passionate about better inclusion and improved visibility for underrepresented groups in relation to weddings and the wedding industry.

Utilising her understanding of the Autistic profile when working with neurodiverse clients, Heidi makes reasonable adjustments that allow clients to feel comfortable, seen and celebrated.

Contact heidi@gloriousbyheidi.com07904 301059

Images with thanks to Heidi Reid, Ava Reid, Folk & Tale and Paul Burdon