A Hearing Loss & Late Deafened Blog

Getting Married with Hearing Loss

In advocating, Hard of hearing culture on December 21, 2014 at 5:29 pm

by Chelle George/Wyatt

Last October my boyfriend and I went to his nephew’s wedding. It was gorgeous with the bride in a trailing white gown, 3 beautiful bride maids and 3 good looking guys in tuxedos as best men. The hall had extra high ceilings with wood timbers, large windows ran along the walls so we could see fall colors outside and the dinning area had the same appeal with fall decorations on all the tables. What a beautiful place to be married. It was a wedding little girls dream of and it was so good to be there, to witness it. Even though I’d just met the bride and only known his nephew for a little while, I wished them a happy life and all the best. Both are very sweet people.

We’d known about this wedding for months and for some reason I never thought to prepare hearing wise. When I’m home and going to an event not only do I think about what I’m going to wear but I think about how I’m going to hear. Hearing never entered my mind for the wedding and I don’t know why I didn’t think about it once, not once! If I had made some inquiries I’m sure the family would have helped me hear. As it was, I sat through the whole ceremony and the dinner speeches not hearing a single word.

Sometimes these kind of events make me cry because not only am I happy for the people getting married but also because I want so badly to hear. As I sat watching the ceremony this time, I was too mad at myself to cry. DUH!!! Why hadn’t I thought of trying to hear? I deserve to sit here and not hear, I did this to myself! What happened to all my advocating skills?

The evening progressed and I did much better at the round dinner table where I could see everyone’s face and I did not feel deaf. We moved around the room after dinner talking to everyone and I held up my end of the conversation fairly well. It was not a total loss.

A few days later the family cornered my boyfriend and I asking when we were going to get married. My boyfriend and I had talked about it but couldn’t agree on a date and things were fine so we kept bringing it up now and then saying we should and letting it go. We’ve been through the good, the bad and the ugly coming back around and were now secure in our relationship, married or not. Marriage has a few more advantages legal wise but we already knew we had what it takes to be a couple. The point-blank questions by a certain family member and with the eyes of the rest of the family on us, we agreed we should get married.

“When?”

Soon? We’ll look into getting it done this year…we said at the beginning of October.

The mad rush was on. Our girlfriend who introduced us at Burning Man in 2007 became an ordained minister a few years ago so we knew who we wanted but had to find a date good for us all. The day became Dec. 6th. We wanted to do it near Vegas since a good portion of our family and our friends live near plus it’s easy to fly into if needed. With the ‘when’ settled, my boyfriend came up with the how, western style! Now for the where. Scouting locations a few weeks later we came up with the Techatticup Mine near Nelson, NV. All that settled by the beginning of November. Time flies and it the next month went even faster.

Neither Ken nor I are the formal type and both us wanted to keep it small and simple. Ha. I had no idea how much work a simple, small wedding would take. I didn’t know how much input other people would have. Questions kept popping up to which I research or ask others. I wouldn’t say we were under prepared but we weren’t on top of it all either but we got through it okay, especially in such a short time.

One thing I prepared for was my hearing. A few weeks before the wedding I told my boyfriend, Ken, “It will really piss me off if I can’t hear at my own wedding. I will take my FM system but we need to figure out if we have a PA system at the Friday night dinner.” No one knew for sure so Ken set up a small stereo system from all the parts of other systems hidden in corners in the basement. Shopping together we found a microphone and we would tape the FM system to the microphone like we have a ski patrol banquets.

After weeks and days of scurrying around to get things done, the time had come and we were as done as were going to get. The Friday night ‘rehearsal’ dinner came. It was a small crowd of about 22 of us, our families meeting for the first time. Since it was small crowd, no PA system was needed (although Ken was prepared) since everyone else could hear. Right before the speeches began, Ken got up with my FM transmitter and told everyone to speak into it so I could hear. Ken’s dad was the first to get up and he gave a warm, funny speech about how after 57 years, someone finally caught up to Ken. He never thought this day would come… 57 years! My FM transmitter went around from person to person and I heard everything. No one forgot to use it, including me. For some reason I held it up to my mouth as I talked too and afterward Ken reminded I didn’t need to do that to hear myself.

the Phonak SmartLink

the Phonak SmartLink

The rest of the evening passed in music, dancing and talking to family and friends. I smiled the whole time and I know that because I could feel my hearing aid ear molds digging into my ear. When my ears hurt I know I’ve had a good time.

The days had been rainy, misty, foggy but on Saturday morning we had clear blue skies in Nelson. As the morning got closer to afternoon, the temperature climbed into a comfortable 70 degrees. What a beautiful day, what great timing. We set up the picnic tables with vases of roses and baby’s breath, we set up the pulled pork lunch we made the night before and started greeting guests as they arrived.

Melissa came and we practiced our vows in the sunlight which was good because she wanted us facing the audience with her standing to the side. This was a good trial of how well I’d hear her because I didn’t put my hearing aids in that morning. My hat sits right on top of my ears/hearing aids and every time I moved or turned my hair or hat would swish on the microphones which is kind of distracting and leaves holes in words.

At 11:00 everyone moved to the large barn and all was quiet. No traffic noise, no heating/ac noise, just quiet, perfect for hearing. No need for microphones here either even though we brought it all with us again. Our dear friend from Burning Man started the ceremony and I stood facing her sure to catch every word. Part way through the ceremony, however, Ken turned me to face the audience/camera and I lost sight of Melissa so there was a moment of panic as I thought about turning back anyway. Luckily her voice carried over clear and I had no problem as long as my mind didn’t wander. Again I heard every word. It helped that Ken and I put the ceremony together ourselves so I knew what to expect too.

Before facing the camera.

Before facing the camera.

The ceremony was short and sweet, about twenty minutes saying everything we wanted. Our friend cried for us as Ken and I stood smiling at each other. We had a ring warming passing our rings to the guests for good wishes and my grandson brought the rings up. As he brought them up, he took the rings out of the box and an image of him dropping them in the dust appeared in my head which would make things interesting. As I watched every step he took, he kept the rings in hand and then I wondered if he was going to keep the rings but he handed them to me wanting only to keep the box they were in. We slipped our rings on each other one at a time and made a nice long kiss for the crowd. We were married.

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What a relief to have heard everything I wanted. What a relief it was done! After lunch was scraped clean, guests dispersed to wander around the fascinating remake of a old west town to take pictures and go on the guided mine tour. We went on the tour also and I explained to the guide I was hard of hearing and needed to be near him to lipread and hear so I heard there too (I put my hearing aids back in for this). What a delightful day and I’m so pleased it turned out the way it did.

The mine tour

The mine tour

If we the hard of hearing plan things out and step up for our needs we too can enjoy a good portion of life without feeling left out. Thinking things through before hand helps. Speaking out for our needs is another key. Most people want to help and most people want us to hear too.

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  1. Congratulations Chelle and Ken! Thanks for sharing with us, especially about being prepared to hear.

  2. Fantastic story Chelle and congratulations to you and Ken.

  3. Thank you both! It is good to be prepared and makes a big difference!

  4. I’m so happy for you and Ken! What a fantastic, detailed account of everything you put into making sure you would hear during the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. It’s wonderful how Ken takes the steps with you in preparing what you need in order to hear everything. I’ve never heard of a ring warming and had to laugh when your grandson wanted to keep the box. So typical of a kid! Congratulations to both of you!

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