Wedding Guests Wear Blindfolds In Solidarity With Bride Who Lost Her Sight At 27
It's no secret that a lot of women have fantasised about their wedding day from when they were very young. And overzealous though it may seem, some women have the entire day planned out from beginning to end in their heads, years before taking the plunge. They know what sort of venue they'd like to get married in, what song will be playing for their first dance, and even where they would go on their honeymoon.
And although it's something that we don't really take into consideration - primarily because we've always taken it for granted - weddings are massively based on our sense of sight. It's all about bridesmaids wearing pastel colours, the guests and their fancy hats, a breathtaking white dress with a sizable train, and how handsome your soon-to-be-husband looks in his tux.
But what if you weren't able to take advantage of all the colours, beautiful patterns and stunning venue? What if you simply couldn't see any of it? What if you didn't even know what your own groom looked like?
Well, that was exactly the case for Australian bride, Stephanie Agnew who married the love of her life, Robbie Campbell, in an absolutely stunning ceremony in Maleny, Queensland.
This particular wedding was like any other, in the sense that it took place in a beautiful venue and was filled with loved ones of both the bride and groom. However, there was one major difference. The truth is, the 54 guests in attendance didn't really "watch" the ceremony at all. Indeed, they were asked to wear blindfolds so they could experience the entire wedding exactly the way the bride would - without being able to see anything.
Thirty-two-year-old Agnew and her mother both have Cone-Rod Dystrophy, a condition which has left the bride only being able to see some light and dark shapes. Her mother, on the other hand, is completely blind.
"The staff were amazing and spent a lot of time with Steph describing the visual features of the whole venue. They were instrumental during the day by helping her feel the tactile elements that were a part of the ceremony and reception," Campbell told FEMAIL.
"We chose the venue as it was on the same road as Steph's great aunt's house. It had the same amazing view over the Glasshouse Mountains that she remembers seeing as a child when she had sight. She was able to picture the view on the day."
Each and every part of the big day was carefully planned. Firstly, Agnew's bouquet consisted of fragrant flowers that staff members described to her in great detail. Plus they also had an owl from Raptor Vision fly down the aisle, land on Agnew's arm and deliver the rings. And of course, there were the blindfolds.
"The blindfolds were received well by the guests as they were experiencing that moment in the same way Steph and her mom, who is also blind, were experiencing it," Campbell said.
The wedding photographer, James Day, allowed the couple to take advantage of the tactile element by giving the bride different kinds of fabric infused with various essential oils so she could be reminded of the different parts of the day in the future. "It is a moment I will never forget," Day said.
Agnew recalls feeling absolutely beautiful during the ceremony, and Campbell felt exactly the same about his beloved bride. He couldn't contain his emotions when he saw her in her gorgeous dress.
"I couldn't control my emotions as she walked down the aisle - she looked like a true princess bride in the dress," he said.
"All of our vendors put in special efforts to make sure that Steph could appreciate all of the sensory elements that made the day, especially the videographer, Lemon Tree Film House, who is putting together a film with extra audio descriptions from the day so Steph can experience it audibly instead of visually," Campbell said.
"My mom was diagnosed with Cone-Rod Dystrophy when I was 18. At first, they thought she had a brain tumour but it was this retinal dystrophy that leads to blindness," Agnew told FEMAIL at the time. "They thought it was a new gene mutation as we had no family history but I was diagnosed a year later when I was 19 and now three out of four of us [my siblings and I] have been diagnosed."
"I gave in my license when I was 23 which was really hard as I was a property manager and my sight then stabilized as it was for a while before deteriorating very quickly between the ages of 27 and 30. I'm now left with light and dark perception and can see some shapes and shadows."
Agnew met Campbell back in October 2016, after having lived next door to him for a year and a half.
"We had been living 1.5 meters apart but because I was in real estate and he was a policeman we never really crossed paths," Agnew told FEMAIL. "We met that October at a drinks function our building was hosting, and we didn't really get off on the right foot - he was almost too much - but then he wooed me and a month later we went on a date and it was fantastic.
"I've never seen him. I know his build - he is six-foot-four and I am five-foot-four, so he is a lot taller than me - and I know he has broad shoulders. But other than that, I have to rely on descriptions."
On Christmas Day, 2017, just over a year after they first met, Campbell proposed. "We had spoken about marriage and I said if he ever proposed I would want my family there or involved somehow," Agnew said.
"We were all there and I felt the box and he had given me an Apple TV but apparently, my face dropped because it wasn't a ring box but then he surprised me and got down on one knee and did a little speech. I was so thrilled and it was just a beautiful, surprising moment."
Agnew, who continued to work in real estate for 11 years in spite of her condition, says she has "completely accepted" her loss of vision and is thankful to have had her mom by her side as her biggest role model.
"If they don't find a cure, I'll be okay. I'd love them to, I really would, but I'll be okay," she said.
Agnew hopes that by speaking out about her own experience, she can help others who are in a similar position.
"When people tell you that you can't do something you can't let that affect you," she said. "It has pushed me to want to succeed even more. I was really unsure about the whole bridal process to the point where I wanted to just go to the registry because I didn't think I could deal with it."
"But it's been such an enjoyable process. Everyone has hurdles so it's important to dig deep within yourself and understand that life can be hard but there are always ways to deal with things."
And who can deny just how well Agnew has dealt with her particular situation? It can't have been easy losing her ability to see, yet she continues to walk with her head held high and with the love of her life firmly by her side.
We wish the pair the best of luck for their future!